Monday, June 22, 2009

438 out of 6912 - lots to be done

Last week I was at a missions conference in Dallas Texas with an organization called Pioneer Bible Translators. They're sorta like Wycliffe, translating the Bible into never-before-heard-of languages all over the world, but they're a smaller and more manoeverable outfit. They're also committed to church planting as well.

Bible translation is a crazy task. I didn't realize all the issues that are involved in communicating truths from the biblical context to our today. In the west, or any Christian-influenced country, we have the benefit of centuries of religious jargon in our English language. We know the meaning of "faith" or "Amen." But what about a pre-literate nomadic people living somewhere in the sub-Sahara desert? There are languages who don't even have the verb to be, other languages don't use any abstract nouns at all. What a task it is to translate profound Biblical truths like justification by faith, or predestination.

But it can be done, and it must be done. God has a plan to gather people from every language, tribe and culture around his throne to worship him in their own native language. There are currently 6912 known languages in the world, but only 438 of those languages have a completed Bible. Many of these languages have never been learned about outsiders before. How then, as Paul says, are they to believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher?

They say that less than 5% of all missionaries are serving among a people group who generally have never heard the gospel. They go to places that already have an established church, published Bibles and theological schools. All the while, there are thousands of people groups yet to have of the name "Jesus" translated into their dialect.

I've committed myself to going as a missionary, where I will barely be scratching the surface of the task that needs to be done. Who's coming with me?