Bible Translation Makes A Difference

I said earlier today that I would comment on Lingamish’s post questioning what minority language Bible translation achieves. I still intend to write something of my own, but for the moment, I’m going to build on other people’s work.

Lingamish wrote:

The guiding legend of our mission is William Cameron Townsend trying to sell a Spanish Bible to a Guatemalan Indian. The Indian quipped, “If your God is so great, why doesn’t he speak our language?” This encounter set in course the largest Bible translation movement in history. Now in thousands of languages around the world, Wycliffe personnel can answer that question in the affirmative, “But he does speak your language!” Still there have been disappointments in following this mad quest. First, translated Scripture has not always resulted in the type of cultural transformation Townsend hoped for.

You can’t argue with this statement. Bible translation hasn’t always resulted in cultural transformation. But it is undeniable that there are times when it has done exactly that. Translation consultant Thomas Akosa has just written an excellent piece on the transformation that Bible translation and literacy have wrought amongst the Deg people of Ghana.

The audio Scripture, Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) is contributing to integral development of Dega, especially the elderly. A fifty-year old woman testified: “I listened to God’s message in my own language from the cassette. The message sank into my heart and I decided to go to Church. I no longer sacrifice my animals to vog (idol) but use them for the benefit my family. Before I found Christ and joined the Church, I could not forgive those who wronged me. Then I heard from the tape that God expected us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Now I can forgive those who wrong me”. This woman’s encounter with the Gospel has assured her of God’s forgiveness and so she can also forgive others. This will definitely bring improved relationships with others and eventually impact on their holistic development. Again her freedom from fear of the spiritual world means cessation from sacrifices and this will impact her economic empowerment positively. Certainly, the poverty alleviation program of Ghana will not achieve the desired purpose if the emotional and spiritual needs of our people are neglected. (Read more)

My own thoughts will follow at some point.