WYCLIFFE Associates, a global organization that empowers national Bible translators around the world, has launched a new effort to place Bible stories into the hands of people groups without the translated Scriptures—before Bible translation projects have begun.
Using a new printed resource called “Open Bible Stories,” Wycliffe Associates and its ministry partners can share a chronological overview of God’s relationship with humanity, from creation to redemption, with groups who do not yet have the Bible in their own language. “Open Bible Stories” consists of 21 stories from the Old Testament and 29 stories from the New Testament.
“These 50 stories offer a launching point to accelerate traditional Bible translation efforts,” says Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. Once local translators have completed the ‘Open Bible Stories,’ they can easily make the transition into a full Bible translation program. The Open Bible Stories method actually fits perfectly into the culture of many language groups that have a tradition of storytelling handed down through generations.”
One such language group is located in a region marked by continued sectarian, political, and cultural oppression, where the majority generally follows an “eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth” pattern of justice. In this culture, when a man finds himself with a debt that he cannot repay, he must present himself to a judge and declare that he is unable to repay the debt. The judge then orders that a perfect white lamb be brought in, which is sacrificed in place of the man. His debt is then forgiven, and the man is set free.
“In his wisdom, God has given this language group a redemptive analogy from their own culture that opens wide the door for them to believe in Jesus, the Messiah,” says Smith.
Wycliffe Associates believes that “Open Bible Stories” will be an effective way to share teaching from the Scriptures in places that are traditionally hostile toward Christianity.
For example, in one country that is hostile to Christianity, a small group of Christians met undercover to learn about translating “Open Bible Stories” for their people. In six weeks, they had produced a transcript of the 50 Bible stories in their language, and members of the group have begun eight other new translation projects.
Because a complete translation of the New Testament into a new language can take years to complete, Wycliffe Associates sees “Open Bible Stories” as a unique resource for people groups who are currently without the Scriptures.
“God has provided a way to reach people in a fraction of the time that it takes with traditional Bible translation efforts,” says Smith.
Wycliffe Associates is working with national translators and local churches to provide training, support translation projects, distribute resources, and print copies of “Open Bible Stories” at a cost of $2 each.