Wycliffe Associates, an international organization involving people in the advancement of Bible translation, wants to begin Bible translation in hundreds of languages in Indonesia in the next six months.
Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world, where approximately 87 percent of the population is Muslim. Attacks on Christian churches as recently as May 2018, where 13 people died in three church bombings on the same day, haven’t deterred Indonesian Christians from their resolve to see the Bible translated into their respective languages.
More than 700 languages are spoken across the nation, and Wycliffe Associates has received multiple requests from Christians there who want to translate the Bible for their own language groups.
“People are so hungry for hope, desperate for the truth of God’s Word,” says Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, “even in remote areas—even in areas of intense persecution.”
Wycliffe Associates’ breakthrough MAST strategy (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation) trains Christians to undertake Bible translation for their language groups themselves. Using a collaborative drafting and accuracy checking method, mother-tongue Bible translators can complete translations of books of the Bible or even the complete New Testament in a matter of months rather than years.
To date, Wycliffe Associates has helped launch 1,173 new Bible translation projects worldwide using MAST. The organization hopes to launch 600 new Bible translations this year.
“Now the word is out,” says Smith. “Christians all over this 13,000-island nation are pleading for the training and tools to get started translating the Scriptures into their own heart language.”
Along with training, Wycliffe Associates equips mother-tongue translators with technology and tools through a program called Tablets for National Translators, which places computer tablets loaded with Bible translation software into the hands of mother-tongue translators. The tablets help keep the translators and their work from becoming targets of violence in nations like Indonesia, where Christianity is a minority religion.
“Bible translation can happen by hand,” says Smith, “but it’s slow and their handwritten work can be confiscated or destroyed.”
Wycliffe Associates hopes to provide 1,021 tablets to mother tongue translators in Indonesia at a cost of $300 each. To date, Wycliffe Associates has distributed 4,654 tablets to mother-tongue translators in 66 countries.
“Translators are waiting and ready, willing to risk everything in order to offer God’s Word to their people,” says Smith. “But until they have the tools, their people—after waiting for decades—can only keep waiting. I believe the time is now.”