Faith and Values News

Spreading the Word – in heart languages

Frisco Gehman, left, visits with Isaac and Rachel Lai after the program.

News Staff Writer

The video tells the story.
A large box of books is opened in a crowd of people. They scramble to get one of them. A man holds his book up, then clutches it to his chest. Then he kisses it.
This scene is played out in remote areas around the world.
The book is the Holy Bible.
The Bible is the best-selling book in the world. It holds that honor every year. Most homes have a Bible. And probably most of us take it for granted – whether we read it or not.
But imagine not having the Scripture in your language, more specifically your “heart language” – the language your mother spoke, the language she used to you when you were a baby.
But then, one day, someone brings the New Testament to your village or town – in your language.
The translations are the work of Wycliffe Associates. Thursday evening, April 26, Wycliffe representatives hosted an informational dinner and fund-raiser.
Noel Davis, South Central Area Director, and Isaac and Rachel Lai of Myanmar brought news of Bible translation.
The goal – a Bible in every language by 2025. A lofty goal considering there are 1.3 billion people with no Scripture and more 2,700 languages with no Scripture in heart language.
However, strides are being made that were once unthinkable. New Testament translations that used to take 20 or more years are now completed in two years or less. Technology has made all the difference in the world.
MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation) is the new method in Bible translation. Groups of national believers team up at a MAST workshop, receive tools and special training from Wycliffe Associates, and start a translation project in their heart language on day one.
Isaac Lai is a MAST country coordinator. He talked about the experience of seeing people getting a New Testament in their own language. He said the joy on their faces is worth all the work.
MAST came into use in 2014 and enabled 25 to 30 translations to be completed in a year. With additional technology and Internet access, more than 300 a year can be completed now. The goal this year is to start another 600. Currently Wycliffe has only enough resources to do 250.
In a five week-period, Davis and the Lais were hosting 150 banquets nationwide. With funding, with MAST and other technology, and with nationals doing the work in their countries, the work could be completed before anyone could have imagined a few years ago.
“This generation will finish the work,” Davis said.

Keith Classen, left, and Noel Davis

News photos by Sherry Digmon