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Bible translation

BosNewsLife reports on how one of the world’s leading Bible translators is using technology to keep translators safe in areas where Christians face persecution…

BosNewsLife (with STEFAN J BOS)

One of the world’s leading Bible translation groups says it is introducing technology to “keep Bible translators safe” in areas “where the church and Christians are in hiding due to intense persecution”.

US-based Wycliffe Associates told BosNewsLife that it provides compact, high-speed, digital printing systems that can be easily hidden by persecuted “mother-tongue Bible translators” who have been “secretly asking” for what is known as ‘print on demand’ (POD).

Bible translation 

SPREADING THE WORD: New print on demand technologies are being employed to help take the Bible to people living in areas where Christians face persecution. PICTURE: BosNewsLife


“Churches worldwide are clamoring for Bibles, New Testaments, even individual books of the Bible, whatever they can get their hands on, to share with their people”.

– Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates.

The technology enables them to publish small portions of the Scriptures or an entire Bible “discreetly and securely”, the group explained. A few, or many, copies of the Scriptures can then be distributed to churches.

“The moment they finish their work – even just a portion of Scripture – it goes on the printer,” said Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “Those translators will head home with the Scriptures in hand, ready to share with their people.”

Mr Smith said in a statement that “[c]hurches worldwide are clamoring for Bibles, New Testaments, even individual books of the Bible, whatever they can get their hands on, to share with their people”. He added that the POD systems “can answer the call and meet the need”.

Currently 30 translation groups worldwide need a POD system, which cost $US15,000 each, according to Wycliffe Associates. In addition to helping Bible translators in regions “where the church is in hiding”, the equipment is helping Bible translators in language groups from remote, desolate areas of the world with no printing facilities for hundreds of miles, the group said.

Wycliffe Associates explained that POD also makes the printed Scriptures accessible to those living in areas of deep poverty where it would be impossible for local Christians to cover the cost of printing Bibles through traditional methods.

Mr Smith also explained that the group’s Mobilised Assistance Supporting Translation (MAST) workshops increased demand for the printed Scriptures.

MAST, a collaborative, rapid-translation method first piloted by Wycliffe Associates in 2014, drastically reduces translation time, according to organisers. Bible translations that once took 25 to 30 years to complete are now reportedly reduced to several weeks or months. At the first MAST workshop piloted in late 2014, a team of 13 mother-tongue translators drafted half of the New Testament over a two-week period, Wycliffe Associates said.

“The wonderful truth is, Bible translation is now being launched in more new languages than at any moment in human history,” Mr Smith added. “These translations will move at amazing speed. With MAST, the work will be done in short order. We’ve seen it happen.”

Wycliffe Associates says it plans to launch 400 new Bible translations in 2017. Last year, the organization launched 315 new translation projects and assisted in 58 New Testament completions using MAST.

The group was founded in 1967 by friends of Bible translators to accelerate the work of Bible translation. It says it empowers national Bible translators “to provide God’s Word in their own language”, partners with local churches to direct and guard translation work – “harnessing their passion and desire for God’s Word,” and engages people from around the world to provide resources, technology, training, and support for Bible translation.

“Because millions of people around the world still wait to have the Scriptures in the language of their hearts, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as it can to see every verse of God’s Word translated into every tongue to speak to every heart,” the group said in a statement.

Wycliffe Associates said it is directly involved in supporting national Bible translators in the areas of technology, training, resources, ogistics, networking, expertise, volunteers, discipleship, church planting, and support. Last year, 7,097 Wycliffe Associates staff and volunteers reportedly worked to speed Bible translations in 76 nations.  



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