Wycliffe Bible Translators starts movement to put Bible translation in every language

I should have blogged about this topic weeks ago, but decided to put it off until now. I really felt the pressing need of the work of Bible Translation when Pastor Lloyd Estrada, director of “Sa Bawat Wika” gave his presentation and sermon on the importance of Bible translation in mission work.

“Sa Bawat Wika” is a Filipino phrase which means “In Every Language.” The movement is under the umbrella of the Wycliffe Bible Translators. A search in wikipedia reveals that the group was founded in 1942 by William Cameron Townsend. The ministry is named after the “Morning Star of the reformation,” John Wycliffe, who was the first person to translate the whole Bible into middle English. As of today, Wycliffe Bible Translators works in over 50 countries.

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The “Sa Bawat Wika” project aims to put a Bible translation in every language without a Bible translation by the year 2025.

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According Wycliffe Bible Translators there are 6,909 languages spoken in the world. According to Pastor Lloyd, translation cost is estimated at more than 1,200 per verse on the average. I checked out the internet on how many verses are there in the Bible and there is an estimated 31,103 verses. Multiply that by the cost of translation that is P 1,200 per verse that is an estimated P 37 Million per translation! Multiply that by the number of languages with probable need of Bible translation which is 2,393 and the entire project would need an estimated P 89 Billion Philippine pesos! (Convert it to 47 pesos to a dollar that is about $1.9 Billion U.S dollars) Now I don’t know if my estimates are correct as I am only the one doing the computations, but it sure will take a lot of information drive to raise that kind of money.

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However if you think about it, if only every evangelical Christian will participate in this effort the task would not seem so gigantic. The World Evangelical Alliance which is the largest evangelical Christian group boasts of about 420 million members. Let us just say that this is the number of evangelical Christians, if you divide 1.9 Billion by 420 million that would only be $ 5.00 U.S dollar per person ! Gee this is certainly cheaper than low cost life insurance. The problem with this is that most of evangelical Christians have not been made aware of this drive or if they do, they simply don’t care to give.

Aside from the daunting task of raising such huge amount, each translation takes work takes time to complete. A research in Wikipedia reveals that each translation work depends on the portion of the Bible being translated and that on the average, translation work done by the Wycliffe Bible Translators could take as long as 20+ years.

Pastor Lloyd Estrada preached from the book of Revalations 7:9 wherein the Apostle John writes “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (NIV) He draws encouragement from the prophecy of this verse that there will be believers from every nation, tribe, people and language.

Further, Pastor Lloyd explained how important Bible translation is and how it has laid the ground work for mission work to flourish. He showed data that in certain tribes in the Philippines, before portions of Scriptures were available to the tribal people there were only a handful or even no churches at all in such and such a tribe. Now that the Bible or certain portion of Scriptures were available in their local language a lot of churches has sprang up among them.

So how can you help in the “Sa Bawat Wika” project ? Their website outlines three things that each evangelical Christian can do to help. You can either Pray, Give or Go or do all three. I would like to add another one and that “Blog” or help spread the word. :-)You can help promote the project by telling other believers about it. For more information on the Sa Bawat Wika project visit their website at www.sbw2025.org.

As of now, you can’t see much in the Sa Bawat Wika website. I strongly suggest that the website administrators of Sa Bawat Wika, improve their website by making it more interactive and informative. Useful statistics such as featuring a language group and the progress of Bible translation within the group would be helpful. Other helpful information I suggest would be the project’s target financial goal and the status of the fund raising project. A graph on such would be very informative and helpful. A link to paypal or donation via credit card facility would also be able to help. It would also be helpful that the project become a member of the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) to ensure transparency and promote accountability. These are just my two cents to make that I would like to suggest to the project director in order that the objectives of this project might be attained.

Well, the task might look gigantic, arduous and very daunting indeed. It certainly is a challenge. But I am certain that the Wycliffe Bible Translators are drawing inspiration from the statement of the father of modern missionary work, William Carey when he said “Attempt great things from God, expect great things from God.” I also want to leave you with this encouraging verse “For with God, nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37)

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4 Responses to Wycliffe Bible Translators starts movement to put Bible translation in every language

  1. paul merrill says:

    Thanks for featuring this eternally-significant work!!

  2. zigfred says:

    Paul: Thanks ! In everything we do we must keep eternity in mind. If it has no signifance in eternity it is not worth doing at all :-)

  3. Ronald Dede says:

    Thank you for the informative article. I’m a Bible translator with Wycliffe Bible Translators, working in Papua New Guinea translating into one language of many there. You are right about that amount of resources needed to do the work, but that amount could decrease dramatically the more national translators from their respective countries get involved. If we were to do things the way we mostly have, your cost analysis is fairly accurate. But the shift toward training nationals (citizens of the country the work is being done in) to do the work and multiply their efforts through further training other nationals, the time and cost could be dramatically shortened. Also, the movement to use computer software to perform adaptations from existing translations to related languages has the potential to also greatly increase productivity.

    I enjoyed reading your heart for Bible translation.

    Ronald Dede

  4. zigfred says:

    Ronald: Thanks ! God has been giving me a burden to somehow help the Wycliffe translators. I will find ways to be able to help more :-) May God richly bless you as you serve him at Wycliffe.

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