The Next Chapter

NOTE: This is an update to my last post, entitled From Death to Life, in which I introduced this new translation project.

As I arrived at the retreat center in Asia, I was surprised to see our Wycliffe Associates team standing together talking in the driveway. I didn’t expect them to gather to greet me, and sure enough – they hadn’t! They had two good reasons for gathering there. First, they were standing in the sunshine trying to get warm. Overnight temperatures at that elevation were around 43°F. Second, by the time I arrived, during the second week of this translation strategy, the Ng* were off and running and didn’t need us slowing them down!

“You missed it.” That’s the way my team greeted me.

We had prayed and planned for 26 Ng translators to work together. For a variety of reasons, seven of those invited were unable to come. Then, at the last minute, six more backed out. That meant the Ng translation team was down to 13 – half the number we had hoped for.


As I’ve heard the story of the first week of the project, things got off to a rocky start. A few of the assembled attendees knew each other from attending the same Ng church, but most had never met. None of the Ng translators who translated Thessalonians this summer were able to return, so none of the attendees knew anything about the translation strategy our team introduced. So, on day one our team described the process, and the reception by the Ng attendees ranged from cool to cold.

Everyone was open to trying our strategy. They came to the project with humility, convinced of their own inabilities. One Ng person in particular was very concerned about accuracy, and another was worried that his poor memory would make him incapable. Yet when the assembled people heard the plan, they were convinced they were were very willing to give it a try.


Despite the Ng skepticism, our team encouraged them to step out in faith and give the translation strategy their best efforts. They had nothing to lose! They were open to the strategy and eager to begin. So, after a brief assessment of the Ng team members’ language skills, we divided them into four teams – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The whole translation strategy is based on learning principles that have been tested and proven over a long period of time in a wide range of educational settings. The initial drafting process is deceptively simple. Each team member is assigned a different portion of the book. The translator reads a brief passage from the source language, long enough to include a whole thought but short enough to remember in short-term memory. Then they close their Bible and think about the passage in their own language. After a few moments they write the passage in Ng. After drafting the translation, they reopen their Bible and check to see whether they have unintentionally added, subtracted, or distorted the passage. If so, they revise. If not, they continue drafting. The goal is for each translator to draft and check 34 verses per day. Typically they were drafting during the mornings and then spending the afternoons and evenings in a five-step checking process.


When I arrived on day 8 the Ng translators had already drafted 75% and checked 47% of all four gospels! Checking for accuracy

They had actually drafted more, but during the checking process the Luke team discovered some problems and decided, appropriately, to correct them sooner instead of later.

There is a lot more I could write about this story, but time and space do not allow today. I’ll look for ways to do this in the coming days.

The bottom line is that with just half of the expected translators, by the end of the two-week strategy they drafted and checked Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and 1 & 2 Timothy! My team tells me this is 48% of the New Testament!

I need to quickly add that there is still a lot of work to do on these drafts. Although they have passed five phases of checking, including checking against the original Greek text, there are several challenges they have to work through to complete the drafts.

Since Ng has never been written until two weeks ago, they have not standardized their spellings. The word processing program they used to type the drafts doesn’t spell-check Ng. Once they reconcile the various spellings they will work through a search and replace function to standardize the spellings. In addition, Ng is a tonal language – but the alphabet they used doesn’t include tonal indicators. So, they need to settle on how they want to indicate tones. Ng also has three dialects, so they need to make a decision about how to address this in their translation.

Winter is coming hard and fast to the Himalayas, so it will be very difficult for them to communicate and collaborate in the coming months. However, at this point they are so exhilarated by the results they have created a plan to resolve the challenges I just described during the winter and then reconvene in April to finish drafting and checking the rest of the New Testament! They could have the first Ng New Testament printed, and recorded in audio, by next summer! The Gospels in Ng

This is not the end of the story for either the Ng or for the parallel translation strategy. We have a rapidly expanding number of partners and languages who want to test this strategy as soon as is practical. Our 2015 calendar is quickly filling up! The great news about this is that it will not only increase the number of languages that have Bible translation in progress, it will also significantly expand the team of trained facilitators – meaning that even more languages can benefit in the years to come!

Who knows what God has in mind? At this point we are, together with the Ng believers, praising God and singing “Glory to God in the Highest”… for this is the very first Christmas they have the Christmas story in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!

Thank you for caring about the Ng, and for sharing in making all this possible!

 *For security reasons, we are using a pseudonym for the people group and their language.

From Death to Life

This past June a remarkable thing happened. Ng* speaking Christians in Asia translated 1 and 2 Thessalonians from a gateway language into Ng for the very first time. Why is this remarkable? Read on.

The Ng language has been described as a case study of language death and grammatical attrition.

Apparently the Ng speakers didn’t get that memo. They speak the language every day, teach it to their children, and even have their own website for Ng speakers.

So, the Ng Christians decided to start translating the Bible into Ng. They didn’t ask permission. They didn’t wait for someone else to do it. They just did it.

The Ng church leaders were so thrilled to have 1 and 2 Thessalonians in their language they immediately decided to move forward to translate the entire New Testament into Ng – this year!

In fact . . . this week!

I’m currently in Asia with a team of people doing everything possible to help the Ng reach their goal.

How in the world can the Ng translate the entire New Testament so quickly?

Well, to be fair, they had a head start by getting 1 and 2 Thessalonians done this past June. That means they “only” have 25 New Testament books to finish!

But since this summer they have been praying, recruiting, organizing, and preparing multiple translation teams to translate the books of the New Testament simultaneously instead of sequentially. 

Their goal is to finish drafting and quality checking the entire New Testament in Ng this week, then immediately publish it digitally in print and audio using Wycliffe Associates technology, so that every Ng speaker has access to the life-giving and life-changing power of God’s Word in their heart language.

From death to life—in Ng, for Ng speakers, for eternity!

Would you join me in praying for the Ng people today and in the coming days? Feel free to invite others to join in prayer support. Send them a link to my blog so they can connect for themselves.

I am scheduled to depart Asia in four days. My goal will be to send you a progress report within a week to let you know how God is answering your prayers—and the prayers of the Ng people.

* For security reasons, we are using a pseudonym for the people group and their language. Please pray for their work and the safety of their families!

Center Manager Needed in Central African Republic

After a difficult season of unrest, the door is again opening to serve dozens of people groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) who are still without Scripture. We are looking for someone with a unique combination of vision, skills, and commitment to join the Bible translation team in CAR.

Map of Central African Republic

Bible translation has been underway in the CAR for many years, but multiple challenges need to be overcome in order to accelerate the progress. The local partners in Bible translation, ACATBA, recently negotiated an agreement granting them ownership and management responsibility for a complex of facilities in Bangui that will serve the support and training needs of translation teams working throughout this nation. The opportunity before us is to maximize the use of these facilities for a new season of impact for God’s Word through the church in the CAR.

We are recruiting an individual, or couple, to work within the ACATBA team bringing leadership to the management and development of these facilities. While initially this role will require significant hands-on involvement, it is essential that the Center Manager trains and mentors local Central Africans to carry this responsibility. An experienced work force is already in place, but needs leadership to increase their effectiveness.

The Center Manager will work closely with the ACATBA Executive Director and team to develop and implement a master plan for facility use and ministry operations. Wycliffe Associates’ team and resources are available to complement the local team.

The ability to work sensitively, comfortably, and effectively in a cross-cultural context is essential. A working knowledge of French would be valuable.

If you, or someone you know, would like to learn more about this opportunity to advance Bible translation in Central Africa just email us or phone Judy Yon toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673). Judy will give you more details about the qualifications and job requirements, and can put you in contact with the team in CAR.

Thank you for helping us find the right person for this job!

Language Program Facilitator Needed in Africa

The Challenge:  more than 700 African languages have been identified as needing to begin Bible translation. Perhaps hundreds more languages that are beyond the reach of previous surveys also need Scripture. This year Wycliffe Associates’ goal is to launch new Bible translations in at least 20 languages in Africa.

You may be the key person to meet this challenge!

We are recruiting a Language Program Facilitator to work directly with African churches, church networks, and language communities to launch Bible translation in new languages. As part of our Africa Area team, this person will share in responding to strategic opportunities in high-priority locations and improving our understanding of the current status of Bible translation in these countries. Bruce Smith visits with Nigerian nationals showing BTAK

Previous experience working with multi-cultural teams would be extremely valuable. We need someone with high respect for local church leadership, strong communication skills, action oriented problem solving skills, and a commitment to see God’s Word change lives sooner instead of later. Aptitude to learn and apply emerging computer solutions to support translation is essential, as new technical tools are rapidly developing.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about this opportunity, just email us or phone Judy Yon toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673). Judy will give you more details about the qualifications required, a detailed job description, and connect you with our Africa Area Director to explore the possibilities.

Please forward this email to anyone you know that may know someone who should hear about this opportunity to immediately advance Bible translation in Africa.

Thank you for helping spread the Word!

The Body of Christ in Bible Translation

Note: This is the third in a series of updates about translationStudio, Wycliffe Associates’ new Android app and an exciting new project. The first post described how the app is relevant in the world of evangelism and Bible translation. The second post explained what translationStudio is and does.

As Bible translation moves increasingly into the hands of the local churches that God has raised up among the nations of the world, their earnest desire is to increase their unity with the global body of Christ. They are thirsty for God’s Word and see collaboration in Bible translation as an opportunity to learn from the scriptural understanding of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

translationStudio is a tool to connect the global body of Christ through His Word. Here’s how:

Along with each verse of Scripture and paragraph of a Bible story, there is a resource page that provides an explanation of key terms and translation challenges that occur in the passage. These resources are being developed by an expanding team of experienced translators and Bible scholars to assure that local translators have everything they need to succeed in their work. In years past, the only way to provide these resources was for the Bible scholars to personally travel to the village or teach in a local seminary. Computer technology now enables us to deliver these vital resources globally. translationStudio - Resources

These biblical resources are initially included as text, but in upcoming versions of translationStudio we plan to add video and even “live” options to link local translators to experienced Bible scholars and translators via the Internet.

As we develop these resources, we are drawing from the wealth of biblical materials that already exist but are unavailable to most of the world due to copyright limitations. Every resource included in translationStudio will be released under Creative Commons: Attribution/Share-Alike licensing that allows free translation into any language.

Our short-term goal is to have all of the biblical source text and related resources available in translationStudio in 50 gateway languages.

To learn more about how you can be involved in this strategy to speed God’s Word to the world, just give us a call toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673) or email us!

“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corinthians 12:14 (NIV)

Finance Manager Needed in the South Pacific

Beautiful. This is the word that comes first to my mind when I think of Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea includes lush tropical islands with towering mountains, plunging waterfalls, emerald jungles, and crystal blue coastal waters. But the real beauty is in the people—and this job is about coming alongside the local people. Kids in Papua New Guinea

We are recruiting a Finance Manager to serve with the Bible Translation Association of Papua New Guinea as a mentor and trainer for local staff serving in this area of responsibility.

While the Finance Manager is responsible for the day-to-day accounting and financial management, the primary goal will be to increase the capacity of our Papua New Guinean partners.

On the finance side of this responsibility, increasing sources for local funding is a key to long-term sustainability. This will involve both effective engagement of local churches as well as developing complementary business strategies to provide additional revenue sources.

Papua New Guinea is in the South Pacific, just north of Australia. This position is located in the capital city of Port Moresby on the south coast of the main island. The working language at the Bible Translation Association is English.

If you or someone you know is interested to learn more about this opportunity, just call Ruben Garay toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673). Ruben will discuss the qualifications required for this position as well as connect you to our local team in Port Moresby.

With over 200 languages in PNG still without one verse of Scripture, the future of Bible translation here depends on equipping Papua New Guineans to effectively tackle this challenge.

You can play a part in bringing the Bible to these 200+ Bibleless languages! Call Ruben Garay today at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673).

Introducing translationStudio

On Tuesday I described a scenario that is about to become very familiar at Wycliffe Associates… a story of a person who begins to translate Bible stories, and ultimately Scripture, through the use of our newly provided resources. I promised I’d go into more detail, and here it is! I couldn’t sleep before I wrote this. Too excited about this news:

God’s Word in every language took a giant step toward reality as our translationStudio was released for free download in the Google Play store.  The app is designed for mobile devices using Android operating systems. Here’s the link to download!

This is just the beginning of developing a tool that puts Bible translation within reach of Christians worldwide.

Let’s talk about what translationStudio does. The app integrates several leading edge strategies to advance Bible translation. I described the process in Tuesday’s post, which I recommend reading if you haven’t yet. translationStudio

Additional notes about translationStudio:

  • It is designed to run on computer tablets and mobile phones that use the Android operating system. Despite the fact that Americans love their iPhones, Android is the most common mobile operating system worldwide.
  • The current release includes keyboards in 15 languages, with more in development.
  • The Resource section of this app provides a wealth of information on key terms and overcoming translation challenges to assist local translators in creating translations that are clear, natural, and accurate.
  • Collaboration tools enable any number of people to work together, online or offline, to draft and revise their work for the best possible result.
  • The digital format enables Scripture to be published immediately and at very low cost through the Internet or by sharing memory cards.
  • We are also working to load English source text for the entire Old and New Testament that will be licensed to allow immediate translation into any language – without copyright limitations.
  • Open Bible Stories has been released under Creative Commons: Attribution/Share-Alike licensing. This simply means that it can be translated freely into any language, anywhere, at any time, by anyone – without copyright limitations.
  • Although today the Open Bible Stories source text is only loaded in English, within weeks we will have them loaded in a dozen languages. In the coming months we will have these loaded in at least 50 gateway languages, enabling people who are bilingual in any of these languages to begin translating these Bible stories into their own language. What’s a gateway language? It’s any of over 50 widely spoken languages like English, French, and others that are known by some speakers of much less widely known languages that still don’t have the Bible.

All of this is available at no cost to the local church or their translators.

This summer we tested the beta version of this app with translation teams working in closed countries. The current version of translationStudio reflects their feedback to us on how to best assist them. By serving these translators, working in some of the most difficult and threatening parts of our world, the same tools and resources will be accessible to the Church worldwide.

This project is not finished. It is really just beginning. We need technicians, app developers, trainers, and Bible scholars to share in maximizing the benefit of these resources to the global Church. We need financial partners to include this strategy in your stewardship priorities as a blessing to the world.  We need partners to lift this up in prayer, seeking God’s continuing wisdom and guidance for everyone involved.

Email us or give us a call toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673) to learn more about how God has prepared you to share in speeding His Word to the world!

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
    your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you!”
Psalm 67:1-3 (ESV)

No More Waiting for God’s Word

Somewhere in the world today someone decided she has waited too long. She is desperate for God’s Word in her heart language. She has been asking for help for years, but help is slow in coming. Today she stepped out in faith.

With a whispered prayer she searched the Internet on her smart phone. She had tried this before, but always came away disappointed. But this time… she found a new app in the Google Play store. With just a click she downloaded translationStudio to her phone.

Unconsciously she held her breath as she tapped the screen to open the app.

The app opened to the title “Open Bible Stories,” with a list of 50 Bible stories. The first one said “The Creation.”  A tap on the title opened a page with sixteen illustrated story segments. A tap on the first segment opened a page with two columns. In the left column was a short paragraph, just four sentences that began the creation story. The lines in the right column looked like a blank sheet of paper.

The beginning of the story list in translationStudio.

The beginning of the story list in translationStudio.

With a tentative touch in the right column a cursor began to flash and… a keyboard appeared at the bottom of the page! But the letters were the English alphabet, and there were also some unfamiliar buttons. One looked a bit like a globe. A tap on the globe changed the letters on the keyboard to a new language! In just a few taps her native language’s familiar letters appeared!

The flashing cursor beckoned her to continue. So… she began to type, slowly translating the English words and sentences into her own language, for the very first time.

She read the story. “This is how the beginning of everything happened. God created the universe and everything in it in six days. After God created the earth it was dark and empty, and nothing had been formed in it. But God’s Spirit was there over the water.”

Confusion. What does “created” mean? How to translate “God’s Spirit”? She looked for hints that could help.

The icon on the top right of the screen looked like a light bulb. A slightly more confident tap opened a page titled “Resources”, filled with notes about the key terms. Some of the words were framed like buttons, as if they were linked to another page. A tap on “Spirit” opened a new page, explaining who God’s Spirit is!

An example of the Resources screen in translationStudio.

An example of the Resources screen in translationStudio.

With increasing confidence she typed. In less than an hour she translated the entire Creation story into her heart language!

Backing up to the story list, story number 23 caught her eye. “The Birth of Jesus.” After a couple taps on the screen she began to translate the Christmas story in her language for the very first time.

Today this scenario of a person able to begin translating Bible stories, and soon thereafter God’s Word, into one’s native language is moving from the realm of fiction to non-fiction.

On Thursday I’m going to show you how Wycliffe Associates is using new technology to empower local translators and rapidly accelerate Bible translation in the most difficult parts of the world. Stick with me as I share how our new translationStudio app works with Open Bible Stories to help the global church accomplish Vision 2025… to initiate a Bible translation in every remaining language by the year 2025.

Executive Assistant Needed in the South of France

A Mediterranean island village in the south of France is a strategic location for Bible translation to impact the northern tier of African nations. Our partner here has an established network of relationships with Christian leaders across North Africa with the vision and access to launch Bible translation in dozens of languages in these limited-access nations. But while their vision is large, their team is small.

Village South of France

The leader of this expanding network has too many demands for his time and energy. He is asking us to recruit an Executive Assistant to join the team in France, working closely with this leader to increase his effectiveness.

French language competency would be helpful, but can be gained on location. Experience in office management, project coordination, and staff supervision are essential. Calendar management, travel planning, word processing, and routine bookkeeping will free the executive for other priorities. Experience working with a multi-cultural team would be ideal.

But one additional ability is required – availability.

If you or someone you know would be interested to know more about this opportunity just phone Judy Yon toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673). Judy will give you more specifics on the job requirements and connect you with the team to answer any questions you have.

Do you have the combination of abilities and availability to help advance Bible translation? We’d love to talk with you about God’s preparation in your life for this opportunity.

Business Consultant Needed in East Asia

Tired of using your professional skill and experience to make someone else wealthy? Are you ready to expand your horizons and build rich personal and professional relationships? Do you want to invest your time and energy in work that has eternal value?

Our partner company in East Asia is looking for a Business Consultant to work with a multi-cultural team delivering professional services to a wide range of clients in support of Bible translation. Core services include document translation, small business consulting, and language tutoring.

The company is located in a large urban center and serves clients throughout the surrounding region. The Business Consultant will work closely with the CEO on business strategy, sales and marketing, office management, personnel training, financial planning and reporting, and service improvement.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about this opportunity to serve minority language communities in East Asia, just phone Ruben Garay toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673). Ruben will talk with you about the job qualifications and put you in contact with other members of our East Asia team.

Give us a call. We’d love to talk with you about how God has prepared you to be a part of the global Bible translation team!


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