Launching God’s Word into Cyberspace
Wycliffe’s technical partner, JAARS, is conducting website creation workshops overseas to help local people launch the Bible online in their heart languages.
JAARS has teamed up with a media organization for several years, working with local people to create websites that allow people to find, read, listen to and watch God’s Word—all in their own language. By this past summer, 172 sites were running online, serving one billion-plus people. More than 125 other sites are in active development or testing.
For example, Peter Nash of JAARS led a two-week workshop in Indonesia’s Maluku Province, attended by 28 students, working on 21 websites in 13 languages. Of the 21 sites, 11 were Scripture or hybrid (Scripture plus community materials) sites. The rest were community sites of various types.
“Some of the students are coming from an area with essentially no ‘traditional’ Internet access,” Nash wrote at the time. “What we do have is increasing access to smart phones, allowing them to interact with the rest of the world. Via those phones, they are using the Internet and don’t know it; they see it as just a feature of their phone.”
Wycliffe Staff Still Giving in Retirement
Many retired and semi-retired Wycliffe staff continue to support the ministry of Bible translation by praying and giving. Retirement hasn’t stopped Wycliffe supporters from continuing to give significant amounts of their retirement funds to support language projects either.
An elderly couple in the United States, for example, chose to live a very simple lifestyle so they could send a large portion of their income to support Wycliffe workers. These ministry partners are important blessings to the worldwide Bible translation movement through their sacrificial giving.
Bible Translation Ministry Started in Nigeria
A new ministry for Nigeria’s C’lela people group has begun. Every Tuesday night, the translation team broadcasts the preaching and teaching of God’s Word in the C’lela language.
About 35 per cent of C’lela farmers in the western states of Nigeria claim to be followers of Jesus, with many of them willing to help with the project because they want their language and culture preserved.
Oral Bible Stories Stem Lying
A Bangladeshi woman has been transformed by God’s grace that she discovered through hearing Bible stories in her own language.
Mary used to attend church but didn’t read the Bible or pray. She was angry with God, until several months after joining a storying fellowship group in her city in Bangladesh. The group gathers to learn and discuss Bible stories, developed for those who learn and communicate in oral forms rather than written ones.
When Mary heard the Old Testament story of Joseph, she realized he truthfully told his dreams to his brothers even though they didn’t like him or the dreams. This example convicted Mary, who had told others she had a good long-distance relationship with her husband, working in a foreign country. The truth is that her husband lives in Bangladesh and they don’t see each other anymore.
“Even though it is hard to tell the truth, I need to change,” she said after hearing about Joseph. “Lying is a bad habit.
“I’ve gone far from God, but hearing the stories has helped me come closer to God and grow deeper in my understanding of Him,” added Mary, who retells the Bible stories she learns to neighbours. “I told lots of lies, but I won’t tell them anymore!”
Just the Right Type
After years of work—creating an alphabet, doing several draft translations of Scripture, testing it with a language’s speakers, getting it checked by a translation consultant—one more precise step is needed in the Bible translation process. God’s Word has to be carefully typeset for the printing press.
Scripture typesetters use a computer program to digitally lay out, page-by-page, translated text that has been put into a computer by a Bible translation team. Typesetters add illustrations, maps, footnotes, sometimes cross references, chapter and verse numbers, headings and any secondary material, such as a glossary, introduction, and table of contents.
“Typesetters also go through checks for consistency in punctuation, capitalization, headings, quotations—all that kind of stuff,” explains Steve Pillinger (seen in photo). He has co-ordinated Scripture typesetting for the Africa area of SIL, Wycliffe’s key field partner organization.
It usually takes six to eight weeks to typeset a New Testament; three to four months for an entire Bible, says Pillinger, who has worked on more than a dozen Bibles and New Testaments.
In 2008, Pillinger helped typeset the New Testament for Moba speakers in Togo, Africa. After it was published and distributed, the translators told him about a woman who cried when she read her copy. “All these years I thought it was only the pastor who could understand what God was saying,” she said. “But now I’m reading it, and I can understand what God is saying to me.”
“This is what it’s all about—enabling people to hear directly from God,” says Pillinger.
Bible Translated into Brazilian Sign Language
In 2013, the Brazilian translation team finished a DVD of children’s Bible stories in Brazilian sign language. A deaf interpreter shared how captivated a deaf boy was as he viewed the DVD.
“The boy watched all four stories, transfixed. His favourite was the story of Samson. His parents were amazed that he understood it and enjoyed the Bible stories in a way they had never seen before. They gained a new appreciation for the beauty of Brazilian sign language and a new respect for their son’s capacity to understand things in his own language.”