Watchword

Bible Translation News

Typhoon Spares Bible Translators in the Philippines

Bible translators and other language workers were spared when super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda hit the Central Philippines in November, causing extensive damage and thousands of deaths.

Wycliffe personnel were all accounted for after the disaster, but some colleagues on the edge of the typhoon’s path suffered property damage, and were without power and other basic services for weeks.

Survey Results Coming on Canadians’ Bible Use

Results of a survey to discover Canadians’ attitudes towards the Bible and its use will soon be released.

The survey, sent to nearly 4,500 people, asked 80 questions to measure “Bible engagement” among Canadians. It was initiated by the Canadian Bible Forum (of which Wycliffe Canada is a member), with involvement by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Stronger Together Grants.

Wycliffe Canada President Roy Eyre is eager to learn from the data and see Bible engagement improve in Canadian churches.

“If Canadians don’t value God’s Word themselves, they won’t see its value for other language groups,” he explains. “So we wanted to get a realistic assessment of where Canadians are in terms of reading the Bible and allowing it to touch their lives.”

Quarter of World’s Languages Need Bible Translation

Number of Languages with Likely Need of
Bible Translation with No Active Program
(Photo: Courtesy of Wycliffe Global Alliance)

Just over a quarter of the world’s 6,900 language groups still need Bible translation to start for them, according to new statistics from Wycliffe Global Alliance (WGA). 

No active translation program is underway for those 1,919 languages, spoken by nearly 180 million people. Of the total, 70 per cent are spoken in Africa and Asia (see map).

While considerable Bible translation work still needs to be done, the latest figures show a huge increase in Bible translation starts in the past decade. In 2000, languages needing translation totalled 3,000; 1,000 more than today’s total.

Bible translation and/or related language work is currently happening in 2,167 languages, spoken in 130-plus countries by 1.9 billion people. Nearly 80 per cent of this effort involves staff from the 100 organizations in the WGA, including Wycliffe Canada.

Slightly more than 2,800 languages have some Scripture: about 500 a complete Bible; 1,300 a New Testament, and 1,000 one or more books of the Bible, says WGA. Nearly 80 per cent of the world’s actual population have the Bible in their mother tongue.


Sinte Romani New Testaments Almost Depleted

Supplies of the New Testament for the Sinte Romani people of Europe, widely distributed since it was published in 2011, are nearly depleted already.

The Bible translation team in Germany has asked for prayer to decide whether to reprint the New Testament alone, or combine it in one volume with those Old Testament portions that have also been translated in recent years.

There are 12 million-plus Roma (Gypsies) worldwide, who speak more than 100 different dialects. The Sinte Romani language is used by more than 300,000 Roma, who live mainly in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the former Yugolosavia (see Word Alive, Summer 2012 and Fall 2006). 


SIL Helps Make School Work in a Multilingual World

SIL, Wycliffe’s key partner organization, has contributed to a new book to help school systems in developing nations work better in today’s multilingual world.

Closer to Home stresses that many children around the world find education impossible because they are taught in a language they don’t understand. “Some children,” says the book, “never to go school, knowing that their language and identity will not be welcome.”

The book provides direction on how to bring the languages that children understand and speak at home into school, using these as the basis for learning new and unfamiliar languages.

Dr. Catherine Young of SIL was part of the team of education specialists that co-authored the book, published by Save the Children and the Council for British Teachers. SIL partnered with the two organizations to translate the book into French and Spanish. 

SIL’s long history of field work in Bible translation, literacy and vernacular education has shown repeatedly that students succeed at school when taught initially in their mother tongue, rather than in their country’s national language.

Coffee Supports Bible Translation in PNG

World-renowned coffee grown in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is helping to subsidize key Bible translation and related language work there. 

(Photo: Wycliffe Canada)

Many villages throughout the Pacific nation have no access to highways, so the only way local coffee growers can transport their crops to the country’s seaports for world export is by air. 

The small planes that carry Bible translators and other language workers to isolated villages also carry bags of coffee on their return trips to towns located along major roads. 

Pilots can make eight or nine flights daily to remote airstrips where appreciative villagers are eager to pay to transport their coffee to market. Each time a delivery is made, it provides coffee-growing income for PNG families and helps airplanes keep flying language workers to distant areas of PNG. 

Bigger Revival Expected

As translation of the New Testament into Igo winds down, the project team anticipates a deep impact among the Bogo people who speak the language in Togo, Africa.

“We are hoping that with completion of the New Testament, there will be a bigger revival and transformation among the Bogo people,” say the workers.

They have good reason to hope. Several years ago, two Bogo villages had a spiritual revival with the publication of the Gospel of Mark and Luke in Igo. A man who was a wizard accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, and his conversion led to about 30 others. In about two weeks, the total stood at 80. 

Two children were miraculously healed through the prayers of believers there. Today new churches are planted in the main villages of the Bogo people, a farming people who number about 6,000. Though a majority of the Bogo people attend churches, most also practise animism.

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Beyond Words

Translating the Gospel

Part 9 and 10