The language of faith
In what language Does God Speak to you?
In what language Does God Speak to you?
Ever had a ‘lost in translation’ moment?
Picture this: a scene familiar to many of us – a couple, happily married, yet occasionally lost in translation. Take Mike and Sarah, for instance. Mike, an adventurous soul, excitedly suggests a weekend camping trip, envisioning starlit skies and crackling campfires. Sarah, on the other hand, nods agreeably, thinking he meant a cozy cabin stay. The ensuing confusion isn’t about their love but their interpretation of ‘camping.’ In their world, this harmless miscommunication might spark laughter (or a feud), but it highlights a profound truth: language isn’t merely about words; it’s about shared understanding. Imagine if this playful mix-up extended beyond camping plans, affecting their deeper conversations about life, beliefs, and spiritual matters. The harmony they share could stumble over linguistic hurdles. Language isn’t just a tool; it’s the cornerstone of connection – and this rings true not only in everyday matters but also in matters of faith and spirituality.
That moment of confusion is a testament to the power and intricacy of language. It’s not just about words; it’s about meaning, connection, and understanding. In our daily lives, language shapes our interactions, molds our perceptions, and defines our experiences. Now, consider this: what if the language you spoke determined the depth of your understanding, not just in the every-day content, but in matters of faith, wisdom, and spirituality – and more particularly – in reading you Bible?
Have you ever wondered what it will be like having to read your Bible, but it’s not in your heart language?
Ngabe Girl receives the parables of Jesus During a reading test in Costa Rica of stage 3 of the translation project.
The Ngäbe community, pronounced NO-VI, stands out as one of the few sizable populations without access to the Scripture in their language. Back in 2014, a delegation from the Ngäbe group approached the Bible Society with a heartfelt request – they needed the New Testament because their language was slipping away. This plea lit a fire within the Bible Society, sparking a deep commitment to ensure that the New Testament would be available in the Ngäbe language
Recently, a Bible Society team had the incredible opportunity to visit the Ngäbere community near the Panama border. Among the many things they did, one standout moment was delivering ten newly translated parables to the Ngäbere people. “As we shared stories about the translation process, the true highlight was witnessing the sheer joy on people’s faces as they read, for the very first time, stories like the ‘Parables of Jesus’ in their own language.” It reaffirmed their eagerness to engage with the Scriptures in their heart language, underlining the immense importance of ongoing translation efforts.
Think about the impact when a community like Ngäbere gains access to God’s Word in their language. It’s not just about reading; it’s about empowering individuals to seek, understand, and live by the Word independently, reducing the need for external interpretations of God’s message.
Bible Society’s ongoing support for translation projects isn’t just about translating words onto paper. It’s about tearing down barriers, establishing direct connections to God’s Word, and potentially altering eternal destinies. Each stride in translation work brings us closer to a world where everyone can intimately hear God’s voice without hindrance
REAL LIFE STORIES
This is Adriana, an earnest 11-year-old in a white shirt, engrossed in Mark 3:31-35, her eyes alight with an unspoken fervor for her newly acquired treasure.
With a heart that whispered, “I want to read, too!” Adriana embodied a hunger for knowledge, a testament to resilience amid life’s hardships. Her father’s departure in 2017 left a chasm, compounded by financial struggles that barred education’s doorway.
Yet, when the Bible Society unveiled the NT in Umbundu, Adriana glimpsed hope. She joined the clamor, eager for her turn, craving fluency in her mother tongue. The moment that book graced her hands, her world expanded. “I love reading this!” she exclaimed, radiating joy that echoed through her tiny home.
The impact was profound. The clear language, the vivid images – they bridged gaps, fostering deeper connections to faith and family. As Adriana nestled the NT beside her each night, her bond with her mother strengthened over shared readings.
Through Psalm 23, Adriana finds solace, embracing the words, “The Lord is my shepherd.” With each verse, she forges a closer relationship with God, shaping a resilient spirit that defies adversity. In her humble abode, a profound transformation unfolds – one illuminated page at a time.
Amidst exuberance, Olorundare Ayodele cradles his treasured possession—the inaugural Okun New Testament, launched on March 3, 2021, in Ayetoro-Gbede, Kogi State, North Central Nigeria. With unwavering dedication, he embraces this sacred text, delving into its pages since the day of its unveiling.
“I have since been consistently reading the Word of God, which has helped me to do away with the bad things I was doing before,” he shares. “I have learned that to be like Christ, one must be humble.”
Ayodele’s transformation mirrors the impact of the Okun New Testament. Translated within just over four years, it stands as the Bible Society of Nigeria’s swiftest New Testament translation. Okun, a Yoruba dialect, found its voice, breathing life into sacred scriptures.
In the midst of jubilant celebration, Ayodele’s commitment embodies the newfound accessibility and transformative power of God’s Word in Okun. His testimony resonates—a testament to the Bible’s prowess in reshaping hearts and guiding toward Christ-like humility.
The Okun New Testament’s swift translation doesn’t just mark an achievement; it signifies a renaissance—a revival of faith, culture, and language. Ayodele’s embrace of this sacred text stands as a testament to its profound influence, illuminating paths to righteousness and humility for the Okun speakers.
Translation frees people to explore the Bible for themselves. No one should have to depend on others to interpret God’s Word for them.
“THEREFORE GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTISING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.” MATTHEW 28:19 (NIV)
Join us in answering Jesus’ call to make the Gospel accessible to every nation, tribe, and language on Earth. The Bible Translation Roadmap, our powerful response to this great commission, aims to break barriers and illuminate hearts with the Word of God.
Despite progress, over 200 million people remain without access to Scripture in their heart language, and 51% of the world’s languages lack any Scripture at all. This is why we’ve set a bold vision: by 2038, complete 1,200 Scripture translations, including 880 first translations and 320 new or revised ones.
Through the United Bible Societies Fellowship, including our membership at Bible Society New Zealand, we aim to make this vision a reality. But we can’t do it alone. With an estimated cost of $500 million USD, this endeavor will open the doors of God’s Word to 600 million individuals worldwide—many hearing the Gospel in their language for the first time.
Your support is crucial in fulfilling this mission. Every contribution takes us a step closer to breaking down language barriers and providing access to the transforming power of Scripture. Together, let’s illuminate the lives of millions by ensuring they can experience the Word of God in the language that speaks to their hearts. Join us in spreading the light of the Gospel—let’s make the Bible accessible to every corner of the globe.”