Persecuted Christians in South Asia Bravely Translating the Bible with Help from Wycliffe Associates
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Wycliffe Associates, an international organization that empowers mother-tongue Bible translators and partners with local churches in the advancement of Bible translation, will participate in a New Testament dedication in a South Asian nation (undisclosed for security reasons) this month, which is the first completed Bible translation project in a minority language.
Local Bible translators, trained by Wycliffe Associates, completed the New Testament translation a couple of months ago This is a significant milestone in a country where Islam is the dominant religion and persecution of Christians is common. In rural areas, imams are the authorities and administer justice for the community.
While a Bible does exist in the nation’s official language, along with biblical and doctrinal texts, citizens maintain their ethnicities and languages, especially in rural areas. They identify by tribal names, and their culture doesn’t allow them to stray from the religion into which they were born.
Until the recent completion of the New Testament project, there were no Bibles in the local languages.
“The people are surrounded on all sides by darkness,” says Tony Tophoney, Director of Field Training for Wycliffe Associates. “When they come to faith in Christ, they know they will be shunned, even within their already persecuted community. The New Testament is a rare beacon of hope for these beleaguered people, penetrating the surrounding spiritual darkness.”
While metropolitan areas of the nation have active churches, the churches in rural areas are hidden. Yet Wycliffe Associates is seeing church leadership coming forward, requesting technology and training for Bible translation.
Because village residents are fearful of foreigners, Wycliffe Associates trains national Christians who then travel throughout the country to teach others how to translate the Bible for their language communities.
However, persecution isn’t the only threat to the translators’ progress.
“In addition to religious and ethnic persecution, believers in [this South Asian nation] face dire poverty and poor infrastructure as additional challenges to Bible translation,” says Tophoney. “Most lack the technological and material resources necessary to translate a Bible for their people.”
Through initiatives such as Technology for National Translators, Wycliffe Associates provides the tools and training that local Christians need to translate the Scriptures into their language. This may include laptops, open-source translation software, full digital access to a translation library, and even print-on-demand equipment.
Wycliffe has identified six languages in this nation that need a Bible translation. Recently 36 people attended a Bible translation workshop to launch New Testament translation projects where leaders are positioned to mentor the new teams.
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