Why are we involved in Bible Translation?

As many of you know, we’re now in the business of Bible Translation. A couple of years ago, as we were praying about what God had for our ministry next, there were a couple of things that became clear through prayer: God clearly wanted us to focus on finishing the task of the Great Commission and secondly, that He wanted to use our experience in China to accomplish this through us. As we investigated what ministry projects fell within those parameters, Bible Translation fell squarely within those parameters and what a project that we’ve long had a heart for. It is almost impossible to do any meaningful ministry with a people group without at least some portion of the Bible. Here are 8 reasons why the ministry of Bible Translation is worth our time to do it and your resources to invest in it:

  1. Lives are transformed.

The Bible is the best tool we have for becoming more like Christ. First, it’s an incredible guide—a lamp for our feet (Ps 119:105). And second, the Holy Spirit can speak through it to change our hearts and minds (Rom 12:2). With God’s Word, entire communities can find freedom from sin, fear, selfishness, and destructive behaviors. There are 150 languages in China alone that have no portion of Scripture translated…. We have a lot of work to do!

2.    The local church is strengthened.

The Bible gives leaders and laypeople a strong foundation. With it, they can learn how to live as a community of believers—and watch out for false teachings. The Bible can also give new life to every aspect of a church: preaching, worship, evangelization, and discipleship.

3.    People can make sense of suffering.

Many people have faced war, famine, oppression, natural disasters, and epidemic diseases like AIDS. They may get physical help, but have no way to work through the deep emotional scars. God’s Word can speak into their pain. “It was written by and for people who [have suffered],” says Eddie Arthur, past director of Wycliffe UK. “It isn’t a book about nice, comfortable suburban living.”

4.    The story finally makes sense.

Many people speak three or four languages: One at home and another at school or church, and another yet in the city. But they might not truly grasp something until it’s in the language they know best—usually the one they grew up speaking, which is the challenge for us as Bible Translators. Going into an area, like we did last November, to assess what is the real language situation and who exactly is speaking it is an initial challenge.

5.    It connects to their hearts.

As Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” A translated Bible also redefines your entire relationship with God. He’s not an outsider anymore. He’s not the God of a different language and culture—he’s your God. This is exactly what the Qiang Christians in Sichuan are so excited about: Using a Qiang Bible to communicate about who Jesus really is!

6.    People gain pride in their identity.

For many minority groups in China, feeling inferior is common. Han Chinese sometimes ignore, mock, or discriminate against them. Their language might feel insignificant, because it isn’t spoken in school, the capital, or even church. But having a written form of their language—and a book as important as the Bible—can help people see how valuable they truly are. In fact, the local Qiang-run government in Sichuan is ready to official sanction our Qiang Bible because there are very few books written in their language.

7.    People learn to read and write.

That on it’s own can change people’s lives. Literacy can help someone get a better job. Read a baby’s medicine bottle. Learn about health, agriculture, or current events. Write letters themselves, rather than having a child write for them. According to a UNESCO report, literacy can even raise a person’s self-esteem—and empower her to take action in her community.

8.    They’re healthier.

Sometimes, a translation team will create simple, practical booklets on topics like malaria, hygiene, clean water, and maternal health. They might also give basic medical care or train local people. Literacy can also help: A United Nations study found that a 1% rise in women’s literacy is more likely to reduce children’s deaths than a 1% rise in the number of doctors.

Today, we have one Bible Translation project among the Qiang people group of Southwest China, with a second translation project emerging. Our heart and our prayer is that God would use One Eight Catalyst to have a significant impact in translating the Bible into the 150 language in China that have no portion of Scripture, and if He’s willing, to expand to other countries where God’s word is desperately needed. Pray together with us and if you’re led, we’d love to have you involved in the crucial need of Bible Translation!

Portions of this article were taken from the webpage https://www.jaars.org/why/translation.




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