The Word of God is precious in any language. With spiritual poverty evident all around the world, how do All-Nations teams decide where to focus their efforts?
Several hundred thousand people in Indonesia speak Sungai,* but no Scripture has been translated into their language. Globally, there are over 2,000 languages with no Scripture. Many of them, like the Yoloxochitl Mixtec of southern Mexico, are small groups. And too many—both large and small—have no established church and no known followers of Jesus.
No Old Testament
Scattered along tributaries of the mighty Amazon River are Yagua-speaking villages in need of a Gospel witness. Only 25% of the Bible is available to them: that is, the New Testament. Globally, in over 1,500 languages the Old Testament remains untranslated. How can a scriptural church and a scriptural worldview be established with no access to the foundational stories, teachings, warnings, prophecies, and meditations of the Old Testament?
No Faithful Translation
The only Bible available to the Mayangna of Nicaragua is littered with both animistic terms and meaningless terms that don’t communicate to readers. For example, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “Spirit Holi,” adapted from English and not connected to any Mayangna word for “holy” or “spirit.” Does it matter? Sadly, the Mayangna church situation demonstrates that a carelessly translated Bible can contribute to a weak church with contradictory beliefs and practices.
Translation that Serves the Goal
How can Bible translation best serve the goal of a maturing indigenous church?
- Collaborative effort. Trained team members working with local speakers of the target language.
- Faithful translation. True to the original-language texts, yet clear in the target-language context.
- Thorough review. Reviewed by a consultant, and used and tested in the community.
- Ready access. Portions produced in digital, audio, and print as they become available.
All-Nations pursues Bible translation that serves the long-term goal of a maturing church by faithfully communicating all the Word of God without distortion.
Scripture in the mother tongue is foundational to a maturing church.
*We use a code name for this language.