Looking Back, Looking Forward
Back in 2017, Christians worldwide celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation. Luther’s 95 theses began a movement to restore the Bible to its central role in the formation of faith and life of the church. But it was Luther’s translation of the New Testament into the common language of his people that solidified the Reformation in Germany. It served as a model for local language translation all over Europe. The first version of the Luther New Testament was published in 1522, and it profoundly changed the world.
Lutheran Bible Translators invites you to the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s New Testament with events and experiences planned throughout 2022. Rejoice with Christians around the globe – the Lord is working through Bible translation.
We kicked off a year of recognizing and celebrating this milestone with the New Testament 500 Conference. The event was held September 28, 2021, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, home of the largest Lutheran church body in the world. The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) credits its phenomenal growth in part to the church’s focus on Gospel proclamation in the local language. “Bible translation is the center of the Church’s mission!” exclaimed EECMY President Rev. Yonas Yigezu as he opened the conference.
Lutheran Bible Translators has released a musical rendition of the Scripture called Living Water as part of the 500th anniversary celebration. Living Water recreates for English speakers an experience of hearing God’s Word in their heart language for the first time. Executive Director Dr. Mike Rodewald reflects, “One of the cool things we get to experience in Lutheran Bible Translators is when someone hears God’s Word in their language for the first time. The joy that they feel and express comes out, and we want to share the joy of that experience with the English-speaking world.”
“We’ve got a lot of events planned this year to connect with the church,” says Public Relations Coordinator Emily Wilson. “We have the opportunity to celebrate Luther’s contribution to the church through Bible translation and to share the vision of the ongoing Bible translation ministry happening all over the world right now!”
Events kick off in March with Living Water previews at the Lutheran Education Association conference and the LCMS Veterans of the Cross event in Orlando, Florida. A concert in nearby Oviedo features Grammy Award-winning artist, Khristian Dentley, of the gospel group Take Six and pianist/producer Pete Prochnow. Christian singer/songwriter Hope Darst will be the headliner for the concert. “We’re really looking forward to celebrating the Lord and the beauty of His Word in this fantastic night of music!” says Executive Development Officer Dr. Brent Smith. “It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.”
Other musical and dinner events are being planned for the summer and the fall. A full listing of events as they develop is available at go.LBT.org/500.
“You really can’t overstate the impact of Luther’s work in Bible translation on today’s Christian church,” states Chief Operating Officer Rev. Rich Rudowske. “Sermons based in Scripture became centralized in Christian worship. It’s in personal and small group Bible study. Even the prominence of Biblical study in theological education is something we take for granted today. These all came about as a direct result of Luther’s translation.”
The Reformation continues! Lutheran Bible Translators serves right now in over 100 languages to help lower barriers to understanding God’s Word. Executive Development Officer Dr. Tilahun Mendedo grew up in Ethiopia and can personally testify to the impact of Scripture in his own language. He is passionate about Bible translation. “If I could have my wish, everyone reading this article would go pick up their Bible. They’d open it to their favorite Gospel passage or Psalm, give thanks to God that He is speaking to them clearly through His Word, and be moved to give to help others who have never had that opportunity.”
500 years ago, the Lord led Martin Luther to unlock the Word of God and put it in the hands of the people. Together, we continue his vision that the Word would be in “the hands, eyes, ears, and hearts of all people” through Bible translation ministry.
Pick your program, start praying or giving, join the Bible translation movement, and put God’s Word in their hands!
Dr. Mike Rodewald, Editor
Emily Wilson, Editorial Management
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Executive Director: Dr. Mike Rodewald