Wycliffe Canada’s Race to 2025 was designed to engage males in Bible translation ministry—and it is doing just that. Sixty-eight per cent of the 450 participants of Race to 2025 have been men—many young single adults—since the first event in 2007.
The “adventure race with eternal impact,” as it is billed, was initiated by Derryl Friesen of Wycliffe’s NextGen Ministries. He was discouraged by the disproportionate number of young women expressing interest in joining Wycliffe.
“We are targeting young guys and creating opportunities for them to learn about, and engage in, the Bible translation movement in ways that they connect with,” says Derryl. “Race to 2025 is definitely one of the key ways we have done that.”
Teams competing in the race raise funds for Bible translation, learn about Wycliffe’s global ministry, and are encouraged to join the work themselves. Between 2007 and 2011, racers in 13 events have raised more than $340,000 for Bible translation projects in Sudan, Cameroon, Ghana, Congo, Southeast Asia, India and Nepal.
SIL Releases New Anthropology Software
SIL, Wycliffe’s key partner organization doing training, language research, translation and literacy, has released new computer software to help its field researchers and anyone else to collect anthropology data.
The electronic data notebook, part of SIL’s FieldWorks Language Explorer (FLEx) computer software package, streamlines the process of recording a community’s customs. This allows anthropologists to examine a group’s cultural practices in the present, and preserve a record of them that might otherwise be lost to future generations.
SIL field workers, including those involved with Bible translation, receive at least an introduction to cultural anthropology as part of their training to do their work well.
Committed to supporting research by the academic community at large, SIL offers FLEx for free downloading from its website (www.sil.org).
Working for a Cluster of Peace
A new Bible translation project has begun in India for a cluster of languages that are linguistically related with similar geographic regions or cultural background.
Called the “Peace Cluster Initiative,” the project involves languages from three Indian language families totalling more than one million speakers.
Current staff working in individual language projects will adapt to a more co-ordinated effort for the cluster project, aiming to touch every aspect of these communities with the peace of God.
South Asians Further Translation
More than 50 mother-tongue speakers in South Asia are preparing Bible stories in 14 of their languages.
“The vital thing is that minority language speakers are getting training and learning the value of having stories from the Bible in their own languages,” says the Wycliffe translation consultant working with the local translators. “As people hear the stories, they develop a hunger to have actual Scriptures in their own language.”
In addition, more than 30 South Asians are enrolled in classes for the Serampore Diploma in Bible translation, which so far has produced the Gospel of Luke for six more languages.
African Language Workers Get Training Boost
An increasing number of Africans are receiving training to do Bible translation and related language work.
In Kenya, the Institute for the Development of Languages and Translation in Africa (I-DELTA) held its first set of courses in English for 50 students from nine African countries.
In Burkina Faso, I-DELTA courses using French as the instructional language are also underway for francophone Africans.
I-DELTA offers training in six tracks: Bible translation, Scripture use, literacy, linguistics, cultural anthropology and language survey. In each track, students take three modules during an eight-week course, over three years.
CABTAL Starts Eight More Projects
The Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL), a Wycliffe Global Alliance member, recently started serving eight more language groups.
Work began this past fall in the Esimbi, Isu, Mankon, Mofu-Gudur, Moghamo, Mpumpong, Ngie, Tuki and Yembalanguages. Some of these communities will need mobilizers and linguists to begin research to produce an alphabet for their oral language. In total, CABTAL is now working in 26 language projects (like the one pictured above).
However, much work must still be done in Cameroon. About 270 languages are spoken in the francophone African nation. Sixteen languages have the entire Bible and 32 have the New Testament, but 195 have no Scripture portions at all.
Deaf Germans Join Sign Language Thrust
Wycliffe Germany’s first deaf members are headed to Asia to advance sign language Bible translation in that region. Olaf Kaiser and his wife Wipawee will work out of Chiang Mai, Thailand, training to be sign language consultants. They will help review the accuracy, clarity and naturalness of Bible translations for the Deaf in Asia.
Meanwhile in Europe, Bible translation projects are underway in more than 20 sign languages, under the guidance of staff from various agencies, including Wycliffe. However, there are more than 70 known sign languages used by the Deaf on the continent.
Qualified people are needed to survey deaf communities to give direction about which sign languages need Bible translation.
In Africa, translation for the Deaf was given a boost in recent months. Three graduates of a sign language consultant training program in Burundi recently were recognized as full consultants. And for the first time, teams from Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania translated three sets of Scripture in a DVD story format, which were distributed to their fellow Deaf in the five countries.
It is estimated that up to 400 sign languages could be in use around the world.
Hearing the Word in Guatemala
Translators for the Rabinal Achí people of Guatemala got a surprise recently. They received letters containing reports of people listening to recorded Scriptures in two villages they did not even know existed.
The translators were amazed to learn that there were nine groups—of 50 persons each—listening to recording of God’s Word they had translated for their people.
The letters included comments such as: “Now it is easy for us to understand the Bible because we have it in our own language;”
“Friends and people from other churches say they would like to have this material as well” and “Never before have we been able to have material like this.”
Old Testament for Amish on the Way
North America’s 200,000 Amish people will soon have the Old Testament in their Pennsylvania Deitsh mother tongue to add to the New Testament, published in 1994.
Hank Hershberger, a native speaker of Pennsylvania Deitsh and long-time member of Wycliffe Bible Translators, has completed translating the Old Testament, with help from four speakers of the German dialect. He expects the 10,000 copies of the newly translated Scriptures will be printed by the end of the year.
If the response to the New Testament—17,000 copies have been sold—is any indication, the Old Testament should also be well accepted by many Amish.
“My wife Ruth and I have received many letters telling how they appreciate the New Testament,” says 88-year-old Hershberger, who translated that book with several Amish men. “When the New Testament was so well received, with requests for the Old Testament too, we felt we had to do the Old Testament, as well.”
As one Amish lady using the New Testament wrote in a letter to Hershberger: “. . . I have read it clear through and am so excited about it. I have found my native language. . . . It adds new meaning—which thrills my soul. At times I weep at such great clarity in simple everyday language. It speaks to my heart.”
Hershberger says there is a movement among the Old Order Amish away from “works righteousness” and the Pennsylvania Deitsh New Testament may have influenced this. “It is being used mostly by individuals or in family devotions,” he adds. Some ministers are beginning to read from the Pennsylvania Deitsh New Testaments.
With the whole Bible available, Hershberger hopes that Amish ministers will begin using their mother-tongue Scriptures in church. There Luther’s Gothic Script High German Bible is dominant, even though most Amish don’t understand it well.
The conservative Amish live in pockets located over much of the continental U.S. Ohio has the largest population, while in Canada most Amish live in Ontario. Some so-called horse-and-buggy Mennonites in Canada and eastern U.S. also speak Pennsylvania Deitsh.
Latin Americans Prepared for Bible Translation
Twenty-seven students celebrated their graduation this past December from the International Course of Linguistics, Translation and Literacy (CILTA) in Lima, Peru.
The graduating class broke down as follows: five from Colombia, five from Costa Rica, five from Mexico, three from Peru and nine from Venezuela.
Course leaders are praying that the 27 people will continue in ministries that accelerate the work of linguistics, translation and literacy throughout the world.