“My name is Zangapse Jeremiah. I was a thief. When people weren’t home, I would come and take away their honey, peanuts, even goats. Several times, people have brought me before the village chief, but I denied the accusations even though it really was me.”
You don’t know Zangapse, but you may have contributed to what happened to him next. “One day I was passing by and I saw people gathered. I went to see what was happening. I found they were listening to a little machine that speaks my language. I was astonished and I also sat down to listen. As I listened, I started to feel uncomfortable. When I heard the passage which said you should never steal, it really touched my heart.
“After the portion to listen to for the day was finished, the group leader asked if anyone was touched. I got up and told all that I had done in front of the group. From then on I have stopped stealing and I am regular at church and at the Scripture listening group.”
This is just one of a countless number of stories from people who have been impacted by God’s Word. That’s what Bible translation is all about. This complicated process, challenging to execute, is at heart about people. People reaching out for God’s Word and the people who join together to make sure they receive it.
Scripture in their hands
In the next 18 months, people in Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon, Namibia, Ethiopia and Botswana will receive Scripture in their languages. Some will have revised Scripture translations, others will have access to audio Scripture, churches will have lectionaries to help organize and focus worship. None of these projects would have reached completion without those who committed their time, talents, and resources to bring Scripture to people who need it, desire it, and will cherish it.
There’s also a new translation project starting up in Tanzania. Rev. Andrew and Alexis Olson and their two young daughters have just arrived on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria to join the Kerewe translation team.
The mission continues
An old song has a shout out that says, next verse same as the first! If you want to sum up how Lutheran Bible Translators serves in mission, you could follow the same line of thought. The tools we employ are always evolving, but our mission, our goal – to translate God’s Word for people who do not have it in their languages – has not changed. And the need for active participants – be they missionaries, consultants, prayer partners or those who give gifts – is absolutely essential if Scripture is to reach those who are eagerly waiting to welcome it into their families and communities.
Bible translation. It’s complicated. But also simple.
We respond to those reaching out for God’s Word in their language. Hearts can change. Thieves can reform. The Church grows.