If mission is simply about making disciples, or even making converts, then the role of Bible translation is simply to provide what is needed in order for people to make a decision for Christ. But what happens to people once they do become Christians? Are they left on their own to work out what how to make this new faith work? No, they become part of a Christian community which functions within the language and culture of the local situation. The translated word does bring the knowledge of Christ to individuals, but it also plays an important role in promoting and allowing the development of authentic local Christian communities. Translation, by bringing God’s word to a language community, is in effect, is a part of the reconciliation process.
The mission of God points to the creation of communities who will worship and show the glories of God through their language for all of time and eternity. In the light of what God is doing, we are all linguistic minorities, but we all have our part to play in bringing together this amazing worldwide movement of indigenous expression. Partnership is then a genuine theological necessity. We are not starting from the point of view of some people who have God’s word and others who don’t. We are all working towards being the people and communities that God wants us to be. We cannot make assumptions of superiority or leadership based on ethnic or linguistic values.
This is a quote from an article on the mission of God and Bible translation which I have just uploaded here as a pdf.