The ability to read the Truth in your own language is a powerful experience, but around 200 million people around the world don’t have any Scripture in their native tongue. Further, many evangelistic materials are written in English or other widely-spoken languages, making them unusable for missionaries serving in remote areas with uncommon native tongues.
Part of the Christian’s calling is to take the Gospel “into all the world” (Mark 16:15). And part of this command means making sure all people groups can study the Truth for themselves. Because of this, many missionaries have dedicated their lives to translating the Scriptures.
This July, will you pray with us for translation and linguistics ministries around the world?
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Translating materials is often too large of a task for missionaries to tackle on their own, so they usually enlist the help of local church members and/or native speakers they trust.
Even if the missionaries are fluent in the language of their host country, they still need to have the translated pieces proofread and edited by native speakers before sending the materials to publishing.
One TEAM missionary, Jon Christiansen, is using Awana’s Leader-Based Strategy material in his ministry in Zimbabwe. He’s currently working with locals Joseph and Pastor Kayawa to translate the materials into ChiShona, which is the preferred language in Northern Zimbabwe.
Pray that the Lord will provide trustworthy and dependable local helpers like Joseph and Pastor Kayawa to assist with these types of projects. Pray also that the Lord will bless them in their efforts to serve.
Pray for time and patience.
Translating materials can take weeks or even years. Some translation projects, such as the Bible, are so extensive that missionaries dedicate their entire lives to it.
Mark and Diane Vanderkooi are TEAM missionaries working with the Kwong people in Chad. So far, they’ve been able to translate about 60 percent of the New Testament into Kwong, which is a language spoken by about 30,000 Chadians. They have been working on this project since the mid-90s and plan to spend at least another decade completing it.
Missionaries often have to carve out time to work on their translation projects amidst all the other daily demands that come with serving in a foreign field. This can cause the projects to take even longer than intended.
Please pray for plenty of time to focus on translation projects, as well as renewed energy levels when the work seems especially long and tedious.
Pray for life transformations.
A missionary’s ultimate goal should always be to bring people to Christ and allow Him to transform their lives.
One TEAM missionary has spent a large portion of his ministry translating several evangelistic materials into a Middle Eastern language. He’s now trying to get the translated materials into a region where the language is widely spoken, but he is having quite a bit of difficulty doing so.
Pray with us that these materials get into the right hands in order to spread the Good News. Pray also that those who have been transformed through the power of Jesus will then take the Gospel to others who speak their language.
Pray for funding for translation projects.
Translation projects are invaluable, but also expensive.
Not only do the costs of the projects themselves quickly add up (between the physical materials necessary, the pay rate for translators and proofreaders, etc.), but the cost of then publishing the translated materials is also quite high.
Usually, missionaries have to pull from their general support fund in order to finance these much-needed projects. Pray that the Lord will supply funding and resources specifically for translation work.
Pray for clear translations.
Oftentimes, the meaning of certain phrases can easily get lost in the translation process.
Mark and Diane Vanderkooi ran into a conundrum when translating Matthew 4:19, a verse about Jesus making the disciples “fishers of men.” The native language they work with doesn’t have a word for “fishing.” Instead, local people say, “I’m going to go kill fish.” So, the first translation attempt at the Matthew 4:19 passage came out more like, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you killers of men.”
Translating phrases from one language to another is almost always accompanied by unique conversion challenges. Pray that translated works will retain the same meanings as the original documents.
Pray that translated materials will equip local believers.
Part of why missionaries dedicate so much time and effort to translation projects is because of their high potential for Kingdom usefulness. Translation projects allow local believers to grow in their faith and then teach others for years to come. The hope is that translated materials will be used to spread the Gospel indefinitely.
Pray that God will continue to use translated works to bring people to Him long after the missionaries themselves are gone.
Pray that missionaries will recognize important translation opportunities.
Sometimes it can be difficult for missionaries to recognize which ministry projects should take priority. Their time and resources are often stretched so thin that lengthy undertakings, such as translation projects, can end up on the backburner.
Pray that missionaries will have the clarity to see important translation opportunities and have the wisdom and ability to then act on that clarity.
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