For five decades, Wycliffe Canada has challenged and assisted the Church in our country to engage in global Scripture translation. We won’t be stopping that anytime soon.
What has changed over the years is that partner organizations similar to Wycliffe Canada operate in many other countries, assisting the Church there to join the worldwide Bible translation movement. This includes the Wycliffe Thai Foundation, the focus of this Word Alive issue.
Led by its dynamic director, Tharawat (“Wat”) Suebthayat, the Wycliffe Thai Foundation sees itself as a mobilizer in a strategic place.
“I want to build up Thai Christians to be the champions for missions in this Southeast Asia region,” says Wat. “Thailand is the centre of Southeast Asia. And the Thai people, I think, can very easily connect to the people in Southeast Asia—in terms of language, culture and life adjustment. We can easily learn neighbouring languages and adjust to their cultures.”
Wycliffe Thai Foundation, which Wycliffe Canada helps financially sponsor (see “Invest in the Wycliffe Thai Foundation” in this issue), is connecting with local Thai churches. Staff engage Thai believers in all aspects of Bible translation, literacy and Scripture use, seeing Thailand as a hub to reach several hundred language groups in Southeast Asia nations still without God’s Word in their mother tongues.
Wat, who comes from the minority Hmong people, is well aware of the need in ethnic hill tribe communities in his own country and surrounding nations.
“I understand the importance of having the Bible—God’s Word,” he says. “I think that among people that do not have God’s Word in a language they can understand, the Church will be very difficult to grow.”
Even in Thailand, only one per cent of the population is Christian, immersed among highly influential and dominant religions. Nonetheless, those several hundred thousand Thai believers can play a key role in advancing the Kingdom in the region.
“Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples among the nations,” says Wat. “So I’m sure He commanded His Church, not Wycliffe organizations.
“We step out to help the Church to understand. And then we help the Church to step in.”
To find one or two people to serve in Bible translation, Wat says at least 100 people in the Church must first be engaged with the idea of missions. To do this, Wycliffe Thai Foundation offers prayer/information evenings; outreach events to share missions with university students; missions training courses for entire congregations; and mission-exposure trips for pastors to restricted nations.
In doing so, Wycliffe Thai Foundation is driven by a sharply focused ultimate goal: ensuring Bibleless peoples have God’s Word in their heart languages.
“We hope that in the future the [Thai] Church will say, ‘OK, this is our task. We will complete it.’ ”
May it be so. ***