ORLANDO — For all of the headaches with technology, it’s also leading to the spread of the gospel further and more quickly than ever before.
Wycliffe Associates has long been known for Bible translation and providing Scripture in a world increasingly hostile toward Christianity. Reports such as the one from the United State Commission on International Religious Freedom last year talk of religious intolerance worldwide, including those directed at Christians. Quoting that report, the ERLC pointed out five specific examples of persecution including churches bulldozed in China, Christian children kidnapped in Nigeria, and worshippers arrested and imprisoned in Iran. Organization like Open Doors and The Voice of the Martyrs keep constant tabs on Christian persecution worldwide.
Most recently International Christian Concern, founded in 1986, included the United States as “New and Noteworthy” on its “Hall of Shame” map. The most egregious persecution remains in the countries of North Korea, Iraq and Syria, and Nigeria. In its first year providing three categories for the world’s top three offenders, though, ICC said countries labeled New and Noteworthy exhibit “events in these countries indicat[ing] declining religious freedom and cause for alarm.”
Protecting ‘mother tongue’ translators
In a Jan. 3 press release, Wycliffe announced the Tablets for National Translators (TNTs) initiative. The effort “places basic computer tablets loaded with Bible translation tools and other applications into the hands of mother-tongue Bible translators around the world, including those who live in areas where Christians are severely oppressed and persecuted.”
Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, noted that while holding Scripture in one’s hands in an area of persecution is a blessing, it also “is like a target on their backs.”
So, the tablets help translators from a discretionary point of view where print materials couldn’t. In addition, collaboration with other translators becomes more fluid.
In addition to facilitating security and efficiency, said the press release, Tablets for National Translators is partnering with MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation) to accelerate the process of Bible translation. The latter provides a pioneering new method for translating books of the Bible in parallel faster than ever before, maintaining the highest levels of accuracy and quality.
“This groundbreaking technology, together with MAST, cuts years off of Bible translation,” said Smith. “Tablets for National Translators turn years into months. As recently as 2012, translators launching a new translation were looking at a decade or more to translate the New Testament. Today, it can be done in only months.”
A new age of translation
Along with technological advances other ministries are using to share Scripture, 2017 offers new possibilities in spreading the gospel. The tablets provided by Wycliffe, for example, also give mother-tongue translators a library of resources that ensuring accuracy in their work and continuous online backup.
In the release, Wycliffe Associates anticipated that in 2017 more Bible translations will be “launched in new languages than ever before. The organization has set a goal of placing 5,000 computer tablets, at a cost of $300 each, in the hands of translators to launch 400 new Bible translations in the coming year.”