In the Wycliffe UK magazine, Words for Life (May 2011), Eddie Arthur (the Executive Director of Wycliffe UK and a former Bible translator among the Kouya people in central Ivory Coast), shares his thoughts on the cultural relevance of translating God’s Word for minority groups.
“Far from destroying dignity and oppressing them, Bible translation and language development work help to give people a new sense of their value before God and among the nations. Bilingual education programs give people a sense of value for their own languages and culture, while providing them with a bridge to the wider world through the use of national and international languages. For many marginalized groups, who may well be ignored by their national governments, a language and translation program may represent the only hope for education and development in their area.
The work of Wycliffe Bible Translators and its partner organizations isn’t some sort of luxury; it is a vital part of bringing education, development and a sense of identity to some of the world’s poorest and most marginalized people.
“It is hard for English speakers to understand what it is like to belong to a people group whose language is continually ignored or discriminated against, or to have a language so obscure that even God doesn’t seem to speak it. I first began to grasp what it means to have a language written down and Scriptures available when I chatted to an old Kouya man who was beaming with pride as he held some of the first Scriptures published in his language. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘we are just like the French, the Germans and the Americans; we have an alphabet and a Bible in our language, just like them.’
“The books he was holding were not ornate volumes in luxury binding—they were rather crude booklets produced on a duplicator—but to this old man they were worth their weight in gold because they showed that his language, his culture and he himself were important. Those simple booklets were a sign that God cared for the Kouya, that he had come to them and spoke their language!”
We at Global PartnerLink (one of Wycliffe’s partner organizations) sense Eddie’s excitement. What more significant work to give our lives to than this!
(Check out Eddie Arthur’s blog: www.kouya.net)