Contrasts: Bible Translation Today (MAST Update)
I receive a lot of email. To some, email is a huge hassle. I don’t mind it at all. It is a great way to stay in touch with lots of people all over the world.
Today, in my email stream I had two messages that reflect a stark contrast in the world of Bible translation today.
The first email described the decision of a small group of Christians who, despite experiencing the greatest natural disaster on the planet in the last week, are continuing to work on translating the New Testament into their language. This is the team that drafted and checked half the New Testament during just two weeks this winter using Wycliffe Associates' MAST strategy. They had planned to get back together this week to resume drafting and checking, with the goal of completing their New Testament in the coming weeks. Their goal is to publish it this summer. The fact that a huge earthquake occurred in their homeland has not deterred them. They are pressing on. If they achieve their goal, they will have gone from having zero verses of Scripture in their language to the full New Testament published in less than one year!
The second email announced the upcoming dedication of a completed New Testament in Peru. The New Testament translation in this language has taken almost 60 years.
There are a lot of things that might be said in comparing these two Bible translations. I don’t know the second group, so I can’t speak firsthand to their situation. I do know the first group. These Christians are a persecuted minority—less than 1% of the population that speaks their language. They have a very strong sense of urgency to get the Good News to their families, friends, and neighbors. Their thirst for God’s Word is inspiring.
The New Testament contains ~7956 verses, depending on which version you count. To translate this number of verses in 60 years the second group had to draft and check an average of 1 verse every 2.75 days. The first group drafted and checked an average of 34 verses per day during their translation of the first half of the New Testament using Wycliffe Associates' MAST strategy.
Our team is working hard to assure that the first group has every available resource they need to produce a translation that is accurate, natural, and clear. In fact, in recent months we’ve come alongside translation teams from 115 language groups who are using this same strategy to get God’s Word to their people. In another email today, I saw that we have 120 more languages already asking for our assistance as soon as possible.
Churches around the world have a growing sense of urgency for getting God’s Word to the people and are taking the initiative to move forward. We are working hard to keep up! If you’d like to help just give us a call at 1-800 THE WORD.