UN Highlights Indigenous Languages
The United Nations has proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages—a decision strongly supported by the global Bible translation movement.
The UN seeks to “raise global attention about the critical risks confronting indigenous languages, and their significance for sustainable development, reconciliation, good governance and peace building,” and to strengthen international co-operation in those areas, UNESCO says.
Bible translation and its linguistics partners fit perfectly within that framework.
“Humanity and its cultural diversity is at risk if nothing is done to celebrate and promote the indigenous languages of the world,” said Dr. Michel Kenmogne, SIL International’s executive director.
Kenmogne, a Cameroonian whose first language is Ghomálá’, said this year’s commemoration gives him hope because it brings the world’s focus to language groups that often are marginalized. Rather than being ashamed of the languages they speak, he said, people “need to assert their value and worth by committing to speak them, to transmit them to the next generations, and to seek opportunities to use their linguistic and cultural specificities to enrich the communities around the globe where they find themselves.”
Milestone New Testament
In 2018 the Keliko people of South Sudan celebrated a momentous milestone: after 20 years of perseverance through the hardships of civil war and displacement, the Keliko translation team has completed the New Testament.
SIL International, a partner of the Wycliffe Global Alliance in the Bible translation movement, celebrated a milestone of its own: the Keliko translation is the 1,000th New Testament completed with engagement from SIL along with Wycliffe and its major partners.
The Keliko New Testament dedication took place Aug. 11, 2018, inside a refugee camp in northern Uganda, where members of the translation team fled after civil war broke out in their homeland in 2013. For some 70,000 Keliko speakers from South Sudan, many of whom now live as refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, the ability to access God's Word in their own language is finally a reality.
A 2018 peace agreement in South Sudan has meant reduced fighting and new hopes of returning home. At the same time, God’s Word in their mother tongue brings eternal hope for transformed lives among the Keliko people.
Wycliffe Global Alliance
Expert: World Loses 9 Languages a Year
Nine languages have died every year for the past quarter-century, a researcher has found.
Gary Simons, SIL International’s chief research officer and executive editor of Ethnologue, presented his findings to the Linguistic Society of America in January. He projects that by the end of the 21st century, 17 languages a year will be lost—threatening humanity’s cultural diversity. Typically, languages die when children are no longer learning them at home or in school, as is often the case in countries where national languages are predominant.
SIL supports language preservation and development globally. It is a primary partner of Wycliffe U.S., Wycliffe Canada and the Canada Institute of Linguistics (CanIL).
God in the machine
Years ago, a Muslim man from Morocco found an old videocassette titled, “JESUS,” put it in a VCR and pushed “Play.”
After 30 minutes, he became uncomfortable and pushed “Stop.” The film kept playing. So he removed the cassette from the machine—and the film still kept playing. Frightened, he turned off the TV.
More recently, the man had a second opportunity to see the “JESUS” film, at a showing for refugees in Germany. This time the message made sense to him, and he came to faith in Christ. Now he wants to know much more about Jesus and to grow in his newly found faith.
Refugee groups around the world are encountering the “JESUS” film in ways they didn’t in their home countries.
The JESUS Film Project
Wycliffe Japan Marks 50 years
At a 50th anniversary celebration for Wycliffe Japan, national churches were challenged to increase their roles in God’s mission.
Max Sahl, new CEO of Wycliffe Australia, addressed the gathering.
“Don’t play safe with your faith,” he said. "Many of us choose comfort over opportunity. We choose to settle for less [rather] than sacrifice more. We undervalue our God-given gifts. And yet over and over in Scripture, God calls men and women who think little of themselves to accomplish great things.… Invest your silver, get out of your fortress, and go on an unexpected journey. This is where the next 50 years of Wycliffe Japan begins.”
Over the last
half-century, Wycliffe Japan has actively participated in the Bible translation
movement, sending out a total of 56 cross-cultural workers. With the
organization’s help, one whole Bible (Khaling in South Asia) and 10 New
Testaments (four in Papua New Guinea, three in the Philippines and three in
Indonesia) have been finished, with many lives transformed as a result.
Wycliffe Global Alliance