Did you know that there are 1,879 languages that do not have any portion of the Bible? And these languages represent 1.5 billion people. That’s roughly the population of the entire continent of Africa! This is not OK!
Can you imagine if every missionary had a Bible in their hands that was translated into the language of the unreached people group they’re working with? What if you could play a significant role in making that happen?
While some countries are closing off to the Gospel and others are turning from their Christian foundations, the time has never been more urgent to seize the moment and use our time, skills, and resources to make the Word of God available in every language.
Brother Andrew once said, “Where the Word is not available, we must make it available and then teach it. And then live it.”
So, in my small and humble perspective, Bible Translation is about impacting people’s eternities with God.
How is Bible translation transforming missions today?
Bible translation is a global movement inspired by God. Throughout history, God’s people have become translators because we are passionate that every person should experience the same life-changing encounters we’ve had in reading God’s word. But did you know that YWAM also has a long history in Bible translation. And I believe that it’s our legacy to share this with the next generation so that Bible translation continues until every single person has a Bible in their own language.
In 1967, Loren was leading an team in Mexico. After an open-air preaching service, a woman in a faded red dress came to Loren. “There’s no place in my town to get a Bible,” she said. “And there aren’t any in the towns around here. Do you have a Bible in my language?”
Since that moment, Loren’s passion has been to moblize hundreds of thousands of Christians to End Bible Poverty.
Our Christian Magna Carta proclaims: Everyone has the right to hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ; and everyone has the right to have a Bible available in their own language.
This document was elaborated on by Loren and the international leaders of YWAM in 1981. With that, we as Youth With A Mission officially affirmed the place the Word of God has in our lives, faith, beliefs and ministries. Our organization was challenged to get involved more and more in the movement that puts the Bible in high places among the nations.
When my YWAM journey began in Brazil, so many people were passionate for linguistics training and Bible translation in YWAM. In 1982 we ran the first School of Introduction to Ethnolinguistics and Cultural Studies in Belem, Brazil.
Dozens of languages have been learned, analyzed, and transcribed by YWAMers, and some of the trainees have been working in Bible translation consistently for more than 20 years. As a result, several previously-unwritten languages now have their own alphabets, grammar descriptions, and indigenous dictionaries. This opened the door for YWAM to get involved in a concrete way with Bible Translation.
In 2003 at our UofN Workshop in Singapore, Loren issued a compelling challenge to all YWAMmers around the world. “I urge you to put a Bible in every home in the world by 2020,” he said. “The Bible needs to be in their heart language, and available in a means which they can easily understand.”
We feel an urgency at our YWAM centers around the world: How can we encourage young people to get involved in Bible translation? How can we raise up a generation who not only can work with their hands, but also their heads? How do we create new opportunities to end Bible poverty around the world?
When we think about Bible translation and how many doors this area opens, we find it is not just about studying Hebrew or Greek, Linguistics or some other related subject. There are opportunities for designers, publishers, artists, writers, people who love to take care of others, managers, accountants, theologians, teachers, housewives, people who love to read, people who love to write, and common people like me. There is a place for extroverts but also for many introverts. There is place for every one of us who are born-again in Christ. And when we become unable to ‘go’ anymore, the Bibles we have translated will be free to be among the people who speak those languages. As the Apostle Paul said, “ … the word of God is not imprisoned.” (2 Timothy 2:9)
So let me end with this. What is your place? How could you become an agent for getting the Bible into the hands of people who have never heard the name of Jesus? The possibilities are endless. And I’d love to help you find your place. Let’s talk. I’d love to hear what’s on your heart.
By Helen, YWAM missionary from Brazil who worked among unreached people groups for years and now is helping with the Bible translation movement. Contact Helen to find your place in ending Bible poverty.Click Here To Read A Powerful Story of Bible Distribution Among the Police in Thailand!