Interview with a Bible translator

Dedicated Bible translators, like the one interviewed here, provide the gift of God’s Word in the heart language for children like these—thanks to your partnership!

Q:  What is your motivation for your work/ministry?

A:  When I graduated from high school I wanted to be an electronics specialist, but I returned to my village to see my family. While there, some missionaries came and I saw how much they were respected and well-received. My parents encouraged me to pursue a life serving God. I went to Bible College and after again came back to my village. This time people approached me and asked why God’s Word was not in our language. I did not know, but said I would ask when I went back to school. After returning, I forgot to ask my question, but two months later a pamphlet from a local Bible translation agency came speaking of the need for the Bible in all languages of Southeast Asia. I then remembered the request of my village and went to ask them to translate the Bible in my language. I spent a week with them in introduction class. God spoke to me that I was to be the one to help translate! I was young and had only come to ask, but He had a different plan.

Q:  What has been an encouraging moment?

A:  After a long struggle, we finished the translation of Luke. With the Synod leaders, we brought the book to some villages. The trip was long—a boat-ride upriver for three hours, walking through the jungle for two hours, and climbing four hours to reach the top of the mountain. We were greeted with coffee and cookies they had made themselves. Many people started to arrive, and the whole community, including the leaders, all gathered together. They brought out a large pig for a feast and celebration. I was taken aback; even the most distinguished visitors would not merit such a generous gift (worth a year’s salary). So I asked, “Why?” They replied, “Because you are bringing us the truth of God and the story of Joy!”

Q:  What is a challenge you have faced?

A:  Our people live in a very isolated region; there is no way to communicate with the outside world. Travel outside our villages is very difficult and, during some parts of the year, impossible. On my last trip to town to communicate with the translation consultant, the motorcycle I and my coworker were riding went off the road. My knee was badly hurt, but there was no one to help. So we got back on and rode a painful five hours the rest of the way.

Q:  How do you explain to others in your community the importance of Bible translation and literacy?

A:  Everyone in our community understands the need for literacy, as we are very poor and far away from everything. Together we decided to make a better life for our children. With the help of your gifts we have provided scholarships for some of our girls to take teacher-training. We chose those from the church who had a desire to help their own people. Now they have finished their training and returned to teach here. Before, the government closed schools because no one would come to teach. Now our own girls teach, and in our own language so the children can understand!

Q:  In what way have people’s lives/behavior/work been influenced by the Bible translation and literacy project?

A: In our area there are 70 villages, and every village has a church. Almost all people are Christians and everyone attends if they are well. Still, the only Scriptures are in the national language, and perhaps people only understand 30 per cent of what is read. It is too easy to fill the gaps of understanding with local beliefs and stories. Now, with the Book of Luke in our own language, the story of Jesus is no longer a mystery; we understand who He is!