Bible translation is getting a new boost in Ethiopia!
For several decades, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) people have worked on Bible translations for Ethiopia’s primary languages. But this country has over 80 different languages and dialects that need Bible translation. Approaching the task the traditional way would, no doubt, take multiple decades more.
A couple years ago, a handful of the national Ethiopian staff working with SIL decided to form their own registered organization that would work alongside SIL, but tackle the challenge with some new approaches intended to speed up the translation process. In particular, they wanted to create stronger partnership with national church denominations to encourage greater participation in translation at the grass-roots level.
|Leading the WE in a management workshop (above)|
Tefera receiving the 11th translation of OBS (below)
For four full days during this trip of mine to Ethiopia, I’ve had the privilege of working with the WE director, Tefera, and his leadership team in crafting a new strategic plan and discussing how to develop organizationally into a strong, successful ministry. It’s always fun working with emerging African ministry leaders, but this experience of helping to crystalize the dreams and aspirations of these WE brothers and sisters has been especially rewarding. What has surprised me is that their vision is not only to be a catalyst to Ethiopian churches for Bible translation, but they believe their influence and resource help should spread beyond the borders to the other countries of Africa as well.
It’s one thing to sit in a room for a several days talking about strategy, but during this time, I’ve also had a chance to witness WE already at work at tackling those 80 national languages that need God’s Word. Using a brand new approach to an initial Bible resource called Open Bible Stories (supplied by Wycliffe Associates) WE has challenged national churches to translate the labels of the fifty picture-stories into local languages as quickly as possible. WE’s goal is to have OBS available in all of Ethiopia’s languages done by the end of this year! If you think they’re dreaming, get this: WE completed the first Amharic version of OBS on March 10 and while I was here in the office, a key church leader showed up to deliver the eleventh language translation already completed! That means in just seven weeks, twelve Ethiopian language groups now have access to the story of the Bible that didn’t have it before!
|Introducing Tefera and Shimeles at a coffeeshop (above)|
Sharing about OBS with church-planting ministries (below)
God has certainly done much through the faithful Western missionaries in Africa during the past hundred years. But I can’t wait to see what happens when He fully empowers this new generation of African ministry leaders to fulfill their dreams and visions for reaching the world for Christ. If this past week and a half in Ethiopia is any example of that, we’re in for some exciting days ahead!