We’ll remember 2020 for a lot of reasons – not many of them good, thanks to COVID-19. But Wycliffe Bible translators have revealed one encouraging statistic.
“We are living in a season where we are seeing the fastest acceleration of Bible translation occurring at any time in the history of the world,” said John Chestnut, the CEO of Wycliffe USA.
“You might have thought that 2020 would've really slowed that or even, in places, derailed it. It did have an impact, but what we have found is that there are places in the world that the season that we are in right now has actually accelerated the work.”
During the year, New Testament translations were completed in 141 languages, and eight languages have also completed translations of the Old Testament. Currently, Wycliffe Associates has 773 Bible translations in progress and is looking at a further 273 language groups requesting help with launching Bible translations this year.
New Testament translations were completed in 141 languages
Like many other COVID-hit operations, technology enabled the translation work to continue. In 2020, Wycliffe launched a web-based approach that enabled mother-tongue translators to participate remotely in virtual Bible events, allowing collaboration during the translation and checking process.
So even though lockdowns kept Bible translators at home, they were able to continue to work together online.
Translation hits home in Chad
A shining example of the translation success was the recent launch of Guerguiko New Testament – a language in the nation of Chad, a landlocked nation in north-central Africa.
Despite several lockdowns in the capital N’Djamena, the Guerguagui people were finally able to celebrate handling a printed New Testament in their own language.
“The dedication of the New Testament gives me great joy,” said Rateigna Terap, a member of the Guerguiko translation team. “I have the New Testament in my hands, and I am going to use it myself in my mother tongue.”
The Guerguagui people – literally “the people who live around Mount Guera” – number about 50,000 and live in central Chad. Their New Testament was a publication 28 years in the making and the launch celebrations were attended by 2000 people. Highlights included the singing of some new Scripture-based songs by choirs, and public readings from the New Testament. There is also an app version for smartphones.
Another benefit of finally having the New Testament is that it will accelerate literacy efforts among the Guerguagui.
“My wish is putting into practice this New Testament,” said another translator, Nangdjegue Khamis. “It must be read all the time. If literacy classes are there, then the women and those who have not been to school can enrol and can learn, so each can read the word of God in the Guerguiko language to better understand it.”