It’s a Monday night, and 15 Kwong men eagerly fill a small classroom, waiting for the opportunity of a lifetime. Tonight, they’re going to study the Bible — in their own language.
The Kwong tribe first received the Gospel in the 1950s, but getting a Kwong Bible translation has taken much longer. Local pastors struggle to teach from Bible translations in other languages they barely understand. And for most Kwong believers, those sermons are the only biblical teaching they get.
But for nearly 30 years, a team of local believers and TEAM missionaries has been painstakingly translating God’s word into Kwong.
In 2017, they had enough of it translated to open a Bible school for pastors. Now, they’ve opened it to laypeople — men and women. And the students are sharing what they’ve learned!
“We are seeing more fruit from the laymen than from the aspiring professional guys,” says TEAM worker Mark Vanderkooi.
The ability to read and share God’s word in your own language is a powerful experience. But 1.5 billion people still don’t have any Scripture in their native languages. And in some languages, the only Bible translation uses such archaic wording, it’s all but useless to the average believer.
God’s word is a vital part of spreading the Gospel, so let’s pray for translation ministries around the world!
1. Pray for alert minds and accurate translation choices.
Sometimes it’s not the complicated words that trip up translators. TEAM Bible translator Gabe* shared about when his teammate realized that the word they’d chosen for “light” could, with the right suffix, become a word referring to manure.
“’I am the light of the world’ wouldn’t have had quite the same resonance if she hadn’t caught that,” Gabe says.
As translators work, they also put their translation through various checking processes. One crucial step is having the translation read by someone who has never read the Bible. If there are areas the reader can’t understand, translators go back and figure out how to make things clearer. In high-security nations, finding these readers can be a challenge.
“There are always safety considerations if authorities think Christians are proselytizing or preparing materials for evangelism,” says a translator working on a Southeast Asian translation. “COVID lockdown and social distancing conditions make the possibility even more difficult.”
Please ask God to guide translators and others working on these projects. Pray for clear, energetic minds that will catch mistakes and understand the best words to use in each situation.
2. Pray for unity and good communication on translation teams.
Good communication and unity of mind are critical for translation teams. As illustrated above, one mistranslated word can drastically change the meaning of a text. And sometimes the right choice is not so clear. As teams discuss their options, it’s key that their communication be filled with love — both for one another and for God’s word.
This can be challenging as more and more teams have members working from different cities and even different countries.
TEAM missionary Mark Vanderkooi has recently been working in a city 250 miles from his Chadian translation teammates. “I am preparing materials for the translation of the Gospel of Mark, and they are … trying to translate what I send them on lined paper, then type it into a computer, and then upload it to a server where I can see what they did,” Mark says.
Please pray for clarity and understanding as translation teams communicate and make decisions. Pray that they will grow in Christ and love one another as He loves them.
3. Pray for resources and opportunities to distribute new translations.
A translator’s work doesn’t end with translation. The work is useless if there’s no plan for distribution. In some places, translators are able to easily distribute their work through smart phone apps. In others, having a hardcopy is still vital. Both require fundraising, whether through personal supporters, churches or foundations.
Once the translation is formatted and printed (or uploaded to an app), translators have to decide how they’ll get the new translation to the right people. This is especially tricky in nations where it’s illegal to have a Bible in the first place.
Ask God to grant translators wisdom as they decide on the right modes and methods for distributing the Scriptures. Pray for adequate funding and open doors to get the work done.
*Name changed for missionary’s protection.
Get Prayer Updates Every Month
Sign up below to receive the new prayer focus in your inbox each month. You can unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for praying with us!