Wycliffe Associates, through their Scriptures for New Frontiers initiative, is supporting local Bible translators living in the Middle East and Central Asia, where there is a widespread, deadly presence of Muslim extremists.
Over the past year, 11 of the 28 Bible translators living and working in this region have been reported dead or missing. Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, says while these co-workers are mourned, the national translation teams are committed to their work. “They see the desperation of the people around them–their neighbours and their family members without hope–and they desperately want to bring the good news of the Gospel to them.”
In this region, nearly 1,000 languages–representing 280 million people–are without the Scriptures. Bible translators are using creative means to address that need. Smith explains the importance of “having the ability to both publish Scripture digitally so that [translators] can access it through their phones, but also create applications that allow them to interact in the translation process and even participate in drafting and checking Scripture on their phones or other tablet-type computers or those kinds of things–in a sense, hiding in plain sight.”
Translations of the books of Genesis, Luke, and Acts have already been completed by some and are ready for production and distribution. The Scriptures for New Frontiers initiative provides open-source Bible translation technology, training to support national-led translation efforts, digital Scripture distribution, and resources to empower local underground translators. Smith explains the rationale behind the urgency to resource these national translators. “The reality is that radical Islam is not an attractive ideology. Sure, it has attracted additional radicals, but in reality, life upon the ground under that kind of political and religious authority is not pleasant at all, and it’s driving people away from Islam in numbers that are unprecedented.”
In fact, says Smith, over the last two decades, many have been coming to Christ. As first generation Muslim-Background Believers, they are ideal for Bible translation work. “These are the people that know the language, know the culture, and know the environment. [They] see God’s Word as the only way out and the only way forward, so there’s an upsurge in interest in Bible translation in those arenas.”
- For the protection of Bible Translators.
- For the families of the translators who lost their lives in the past year.
- For funding for translations.
- For more and well equipped translators.
The reading of the Bible (especially in their own language) is among the 5 most important ways through which Muslims are coming to Christ.