Most of us have always had access to Scripture and cannot imagine what life would be like without it. However, there are millions of people who live in a different reality. They have never heard the Good News or experienced its transforming power.
But with the support of partners like you, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA is working to ensure that every person on earth will have access to Scripture in a language and form they can clearly understand. We rejoice that Bible translation work is in progress in more than 2,600 languages in 161 countries around the world!
While these numbers are certainly encouraging, it’s the number of transformed lives that are truly cause for celebration! On the next few pages, you’ll read incredible stories about people who have God’s Word for the first time — like the Romanian Deaf community. Stories of hope and transformation are already emerging as people engage with available Scripture portions! God’s Word is spreading through the community and changing lives as people interact with Scripture.
As we reflect on all that God has accomplished this year, we are deeply grateful for the role you play in reaching those who are waiting for the hope of Jesus Christ in their own language.
Until all the nations worship,
Wycliffe Bible Translators, USA
Unprecedented collaboration among global Bible translation agencies has resulted in the most accurate data reporting for remaining Bible translation needs. *Sign languages are still being identified, so this number may increase.
Source: Wycliffe Global Alliance, October 2019.
More than 90,000 Deaf people living across Romania use Romanian Sign Language to communicate. Culturally, they view themselves as members of a vibrant community with its own unique language and identity.
However, the Deaf face challenges reading and understanding the written language used by the hearing society around them. That’s why it’s critically important that the Deaf gain access to God’s Word in a language and form they clearly understand.
Some Deaf people have been members of Christian churches in Romania for many years, but due to the lack of communication and limited access to God’s Word, they haven’t been able to receive adequate discipleship.
As translators continue to work on the Romanian Sign Language translation, praise God that stories of hope and transformation are already emerging as people engage with available Scripture portions.
The Romanian pastor wasn’t sure what to do.
He had adopted a deaf boy into his family and wanted to teach him about the Bible. But after trying for a while, the hearing pastor could tell that his deaf son didn’t understand the Scripture in spoken and written Romanian.
Then one day on Facebook, he saw a video of a New Testament passage.
The story was of Jesus calming the storm — and it was in Romanian Sign Language.
When the father showed the video to his son, the boy perked up and seemed to clearly understand the story’s message.
Excited, the pastor reached out to the Romanian Sign Language translation team who created the video.
As a result, the team members soon connected the family to a local Deaf church. There the boy is able to form relationships with other Deaf believers while growing in his faith through Scripture — communicated in a language and form that impacts his heart.
Seated alongside other Romanian Deaf Christians in a local church, Emma watched the Scripture video of the story of Jesus’ birth. Even though Emma was in the video and had gone through the work of translating, memorizing and recording it, she was still moved by the message that day.
“Seeing it in church really touched my heart,” Emma signed.
She also marveled at how Jesus came as a baby to bring salvation to the world.
“On earth, Jesus didn’t want to be a boss,” Emma signed. “He chose to be human so we would easily accept him.” For Emma, this was similar to how a Deaf person might feel more welcoming toward a hearing person who knew their sign language and respected their Deaf culture.
In addition to stories about Jesus, Emma and the translation team have been producing Scripture passages about Moses. God’s call on Moses’ life stood out to the team, especially the part where Moses had difficulty accepting it. “For Moses, the task was impossible, as he saw himself as a disabled person,” Emma signed.
“He would have preferred God call someone else, but God disagreed.”
This passage from Exodus helped team members realize how — in their daily lives — they should accept any call from God, no matter how difficult or challenging it is. “God supported Moses in order to save the Jewish people,” Emma signed. “I see better through God’s eyes now, and I understand that he’s at work doing amazing things.”
Ovidiu, a Romanian Deaf man, had tried to follow God several times in his life. “My parents are devoted Christians,” he signed, “but I would often stray from the faith.
“Then four years ago, I felt the Lord speaking to my heart,” Ovidiu signed, “and he gave me answers to my questions.” Now Ovidiu feels completely reconciled with God. “I have decided to follow him, and I will do so for the rest of my life.”
Today Ovidiu is a member of the Romanian Sign Language translation team. He translates Scripture and helps interpret words his colleagues may be unfamiliar with in the printed Romanian translation. Recently he was also chosen to serve on a church committee.
“It’s a joy for me to be involved in translation work and in my church,” Ovidiu signed. “I thank God for all of the blessings he has given me.”
At Christmastime, a local Deaf church had the opportunity to experience the story of Jesus’ birth in Romanian Sign Language for the very first time! “They were very touched when they saw the Scripture video,” a team member reported.
During a visit to a Deaf church in northeastern Romania, Laci, the team leader, gave a presentation about the translation project. “The congregation was very excited when they learned that Scripture in Romanian Sign Language was already available on YouTube,” he signed. And people were even happier when they learned that the entire set of Scripture stories would eventually be made available on the Deaf Bible app and website. “This will make it a lot easier for the Deaf to access God’s Word quickly and easily,” Laci signed.
“I see better through God's eyes now, and I understand that he's at work doing amazing things.”
Tommy and Cece Wong love starting things together, whether it’s a ministry, company or investment. After a decade serving in the college ministry Tommy created at the University of Central Florida, the Wongs felt God calling them to something new.
In 2017, Cece and Tommy started a real estate business with the goal of ministering to each person they served.
Their plan was to tithe 10% of their profits, but then they began learning things that made them question their typical giving pattern.
Cece remembers hearing Francis Chan, best-selling author, teach from the passage where John the Baptist challenges the people to revise their thinking on just giving what’s expected: “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor …” (Luke 3:11, NLT). “It got me thinking, how much should we give — 10%? It looks more like 50% in the New Testament,” said Cece. “That opened my eyes. We’re not just checking off the box of tithing; it’s about giving generously.”
Then the couple read “God and Money” with friends. As the book walked them through a study of what Scripture says about money, Tommy and Cece were convinced they needed to radically change the way they gave.
The book’s central question of “how much of what you make do you really need to keep?” became their giving benchmark.
They decided to make a stewardship covenant — working with excellence to grow their income, but capping how much they would draw as an annual “salary” and giving the rest to kingdom work.
“We engage in missions, because it’s really not our money at all. We’re to use it for his kingdom,”Cece said.
As part of their new giving-focused lifestyle, Cece and Tommy decided to live more simply and downsize their living space.
When their house sold in 2018, they donated a part of the profit to Bible translation. Their entrepreneurial spirit came into play when they were picking a project to support with the gift. Tommy says, “We’re very much into starting things — it’s exciting for us. [For] the first Bible translation project that we chose, we wanted to look at projects that were just getting started. That’s been our theme — wanting to kick-start things. That’s how we foresee our continued partnership in giving.”
The Wongs have a deep love for God’s Word and are passionate about helping others experience its power. During their years of full-time ministry, they had taught inductive Bible study methods to help students dig into Scripture.
The couple prefers giving to ministries that share the gospel and, for Tommy, a financial partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators USA was something he had hoped to do since visiting the Wycliffe booth when he attended the Urbana missions conference as a student.
Tommy says, “There are so many things that you can do to be involved in ministry, but spiritually this is a no-brainer. We get to be part of what God is doing — bringing life to communities.”
Cece had learned about the need for Bible translation when she took the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course three years earlier. Attending the course moved her to join the organization’s leadership and is now overseeing courses in Orlando.
“God’s desire is for us to take care of his people, the marginalized and the poor. I think everyone should be involved [in Bible translation]. We can’t fulfill the Great Commission without the Word,” said Cece.
In their work and family, the Wongs strive to live each day in light of eternity. “We want to be salt and light to our customers: praying with them, making calls to check in with them, showing them hospitality,” Cece said.
“We see a greater purpose for our work. There’s a bigger picture in the daily grind.”
One of the Wong’s business goals is to grow their current business and launch new ventures in order to help start more Bible translation projects around the world. “It was a hard decision to change our lifestyle, but we were convicted to rely on God for provision,” said Tommy.
“Our philosophy is to give now so we can help change people’s lives for eternity. There’s real joy in taking part in what God is doing.”
Misriani grew up on a small island in Indonesia where education and job options were sparse. But with a passion for learning, an incredibly supportive family, and God’s help, Mis was able to complete school and start a promising career in government on the mainland
This career would have provided Mis with a great salary and the promise of a comfortable retirement. It would also have allowed her to bless her family back home, showing her appreciation for all they’d done to support her over the years. God had provided well for Mis so far, and she was able to live generously with her income.
But then God asked Mis to make a surprising decision; he asked her to walk away from her secure career in order to become a Bible translator for her language. Mis wrestled with this choice, unsure at first if it was really God’s direction. But ultimately she said yes, turning from her secure career to a new job she knew little about.
As a Bible translator, Mis has been able to bless her family and community with the New Testament in her language — a gift they have dreamed of for years. She is also training as a consultant to translation teams in other languages, sharing the expertise she gained so that many more people can be blessed with God’s Word in their own languages.
Wycliffe USA recognizes that the need for Bible translation is so great that we can’t do it alone and that collaboration with God’s people accelerates the process with excellence. So we work in partnership with churches and organizations worldwide to effectively and efficiently accomplish Bible translation. Our full partner list is too long to include here, but we are incredibly grateful for everyone working to spread God’s Word.