One of the questions we get asked by a number of our believing friends centers around the task which is central to Wycliffe’s existence: Why Bible translation? Why not ________ (insert your favorite missionary-activity-flavor-of-the-month here) instead?
It’s a fair question, one which deserves a fair answer in return. As we mentioned in the Feast or Crumbs post, we are devoting our lives to the task of securing for others the same heart-language scripture access with which we are blessed for a few major reasons. And we think it’s pretty stinkin’ awesome.
Heart-language scripture access is fundamental to evangelism. The Amsterdam Declaration, a report released at a 2000 conference of Christian leaders and evangelists, asserts “the Bible is indispensable to true evangelism. The Word of God itself provides both the content and authority for all evangelism. Without it there is no message to preach to the lost. People must be brought to an understanding of at least some of the basic truths contained in the Scriptures before they can make a meaningful response to the gospel. Thus we must proclaim and disseminate the Holy Scriptures in the heart language of all those who we are called to evangelize and disciple.” So, you know, there’s that–kinda hard to spread the Good News without some Good News that folks can truly understand.
Heart-language scripture access is transformational. God uses His word to transform the hearts of those whom He calls to Himself. In turn, these changed believers impact their communities. Alemayehu Hailu, the SIL Africa – Eastern & Southern Area Director, said, “When people get the Scriptures in their own language, they grow in understanding and faith. They are mentored in Christ, their life is transformed, and development follows for the community.” And, there’s that–when the Church has access to God’s word in its heart-language, lives are transformed.
Heart-language scripture access and the tasks surrounding it are empowering. Simply translating the Bible into the heart languages of God’s creation is rarely enough. In addition to creating translations, Wycliffe members work diligently to ensure that communities are encountering scripture effectively. Frequently, this is done through a variety of scripture use methods, such as literacy training. Jey Lingam, a literacy specialist working with SIL International in Malaysia, said, “Literacy has the potential to empower, enrich and enlighten people who are powerless, and in doing so, it acknowledges and enhances the dignity of mankind. And, again, there’s that–in addition to the impacts above, heart-language scripture access demonstrates to whole people groups the inherent value they have in God’s eyes.
Heart-language scripture access is a huge work with many partners involved. Through Wycliffe we are able to partner with many other missions organizations and the global Church in this God-sized task of bringing His word to His people. Steve Douglass, the President of Cru and Campus Crusade for Christ International, said, “We cannot do what we do in the Jesus Film Project without the work of Bible translation and Wycliffe Bible Translators. People deserve to hear the good news in their heart language. The partnership between JFP, CCCI, and Wycliffe is one of the means God is using to accomplish this and thereby help fulfill the Great Commission.
Heart-language scripture access is fundamental to evangelism, transformational, empowering, and there’s much more to be done. And we also get a front-row seat to watch how He uses His word to transform His creation.
So, um, yeah. That’s pretty stinkin’ awesome.