“It’s romantic to think of teams working in difficult conditions to translate the Bible, but that only focuses on a process leading to a product. It does not provide an ongoing ability for the churches in a language community to carry or further translation work, not to mention distribution, literacy, or other engagement with Scripture,” says Rev. Rich Rudowske.
As director of program ministries with Lutheran Bible Translators, Rich is well aware of the continuing need for Bible translation. And he’s also aware that the most vital opportunities to engage in Bible translation today are being driven by overseas partners. “These partners need training and equipment so they can provide literacy classes, Scripture materials, audio/visual resources – whatever is suitable to meet the spiritual needs of their particular language and culture.
Making an impact
LBT currently provides funding for 76 language programs in 18 countries. It’s inspiring to see how sharing God’s Word is leading to changed lives among those language communities. Missionaries Josh and Ruthie Wagner recently visited several Kissi villages in Sierra Leone. “It’s clear that many years of hard work has produced waves of people reading in their own language,” they said. “The literacy efforts in these remote villages are jaw-dropping!” Those literacy efforts are making an impact as people are able to clearly understand God’s Word for the first time.
Josh and Ruthie, who serve with the Themne people, are eager to see the completion of their own project. But they know translation is only the beginning. “The Bible is meant to be used, shared, preached from.” As Ruthie serves with the translation team, Josh works with the Bible Society in Sierra Leone to assess the needs of the Themne and other language communities, determining which resources and tools will best reach people with Scripture in their languages.
Whether it’s literacy programs, updated computers for translation teams, or Scripture phone apps, it’s all part of a bigger picture. Expanding partner efforts means more people can engage with God’s Word, more people will come to faith.
Making a statement
The bigger picture can also mean a very big project. In 2013, Rev. Dr. Reuben Ngozo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon (EELC) asked Lutheran Bible Translators to help build a center for Bible translation work. His reasoning convinced both missionaries and administration of the need and value of having such a building. “It will provide a quiet, well-equipped place for Bible translators to do serious, focused, quality translation work,” he explained. “It will also help the EELC make a statement – to themselves and to the community, believers and non-believers – that this church is a church built on God’s truth, contained in God’s Word, the Holy Bible.”
The recently completed Bible House is a visible reminder that God’s Word is foundational to life. The resulting work that takes place in that building can transform individuals, communities, the world.
When you make a gift to Lutheran Bible Translators, you’re doing so much more than putting God’s Word on a printed page. You are empowering people to take that Word to heart, sharing it with family, friends, and neighbors as it was once shared with us.