Help bring God’s Word to language groups still waiting.
As we began 2020, none of us had any idea that our world would be turned upside down by a global pandemic. These unprecedented circumstances have brought a unique set of challenges to the work of Bible translation. We have seen some of our teams displaced from their countries of assignment and relocated as they were faced with uncertainties.
Yet these events have not caught God by surprise, nor have they prevented him from accomplishing all that he wants to accomplish.
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA remains committed to ensuring that every person has access to Scripture in a language and format they can clearly understand. Even in this challenging season, communities are still receiving God’s Word for the first time and are being transformed. We have witnessed a tremendous outpouring of God’s Spirit around the world: reports of people accepting Christ in record numbers, translations moving forward in ways that were not planned just a few months ago, and God’s continued financial provision over our staff and projects.
We rejoice in the opportunity to join God in all he is doing to draw individuals, communities and nations to himself. And we are deeply grateful for your partnership and prayers as we work toward the day where every language community will experience the hope of Scripture in their language.
Until all the nations worship,
Dr. John Chesnut
Wycliffe Bible Translators, USA
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA remains committed to ensuring that every person has access to Scripture in a language and format they can clearly understand.
Source: Wycliffe Global Alliance, October 2020.
Everyone deserves to have the gospel in a language and format they clearly understand. This year, a historic milestone was achieved — the completion of the first full sign language Bible*!
Nearly four decades in the making, the American Sign Language Version (ASLV) is now published! Now, an estimated 3 million Deaf people in the United States can freely access the ASLV on the internet and via video apps, such as the Deaf Missions Video app and the Deaf Bible app!
The introduction of the ASLV translation changes everything for the Deaf community, and its impact is deeply personal. A young Deaf girl confided in her Bible study group that she couldn’t pray because, “God doesn’t know sign language.” She assumed that since her own dad couldn’t communicate with her in American Sign Language, that had to be true of her heavenly Father as well.
The girl’s Bible study leader, aware of the efforts to translate the Scriptures into sign language, quickly consoled — and uplifted — her. “God does know ASL,” the leader signed. “He wants to communicate with us!”
Many more Deaf, just like this young girl, are now able to discover that the God of creation yearns to connect and communicate with them through his Word.
This particular translation began in 1982, and it took 22 years to complete the ASLV New Testament. The process picked up steam in 2017 when multiple Bible translation organizations united behind a common vision — to accelerate the translation of the Bible into ASL and distribute it to Deaf Americans so they could engage with and be transformed by the gospel.
Fifty-three different translators, most of whom are Deaf, worked on the ASLV Bible. They drew from the Bible’s original languages — Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek — to accurately translate the Bible. As with spoken and written languages, each sign language has its own distinct syntax, vocabulary and grammar.
The ASLV is comprised of videos, broken up by Bible chapters or Scripture passages, with someone signing the biblical text. An estimated 400 different sign languages exist around the world, and the ASLV will serve as a resource “text” for other sign language Bible translations.
We praise God for the completion of the ASLV and the diverse partnership of organizations who worked together to bring the light and hope of Christ to Deaf people in the United States.
“We’re grateful for your prayers and partnership in the work of sign language Bible translation. You have helped Deaf people throughout the U.S. gain access to God’s Word in a language and format that impacts their hearts.”
— Dr. John Chesnut
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT).
This verse from Romans is often memorized, quoted and stitched onto throw pillows by believers. But rarely have we had more opportunity to trust this truth than in 2020. In a year when every aspect of our lives underwent change, we needed to believe in God’s good plans and purposes more than ever.
In late-February 2020, Wycliffe missionary Wayne Edwards* was working remotely from the U.S. to help translate the New Testament for a language in West Asia. The translation team was nearing the finish line of the project. Their distribution plan was ready, and they were looking forward to getting the completed text to the printer.
When COVID-19 accelerated in mid-March, Eurasia-based members of the translation team needed to return to their homes for safety. Wayne said, “It was clear that we were going to need to close our field translation offices to protect our local translators from exposure to [COVID-19]. A number of project staff that actually live at these translation offices had to make hasty travel arrangements to get to their own homes in other provinces. And they were able to do so just one day before any kind of in-country travel became impossible. So everyone began working from home.”
Wayne moved his home workspace three times as family members arrived to shelter in place. First he and his wife welcomed home their college freshman daughter and her roommate because their university classes went online. Then their oldest daughter and her family, who normally work as Bible translators elsewhere in Asia, found themselves stateside and in need of a place to stay. Finally, their middle daughter joined them when she was evacuated from West Africa by her mission agency.
As Wayne and his family settled into a very full house, he struggled with what he expected to be a loss in momentum for the translation project. But God was at work. “As the COVID-19 crisis worsened and we began cancelling all of our in-person translation events for 2020, we wondered how we’d ever get through all of our production commitments,” Wayne said. “But with all parties involved — in Asia, Europe or the United States — scarcely leaving their houses for so many weeks, we made great progress. Bible translation had almost no competition for anyone’s time and energy. We got through major books of the Old and New Testament that I thought would take far, far longer.”
As the translation team worked together remotely from their homes around the world, it became clear that their strategy for how to distribute the New Testament to speakers of the language was also in for a change. But God was at work. Wayne said, “We also had to cancel all of our printing plans and instead accelerate plans to release these translations on mobile phone apps. All that extra computer work was made possible by COVID-19. As providence would have it, my stranded Bible translator son-in-law [used to be] an app developer. So [he was] coding night and day right there at our house.”
Wayne and the translation team had plans to get God’s Word out, but God’s plan proved far better. The result was that thousands more speakers of the language had access to the Word of God in a way that easily integrated into their daily lives and made sharing Scripture easy and safe.
Wayne explained, “We can’t believe that we thought printing first was a good idea. The thousand copies that we wanted to print would have probably only gone to the people that we and the local believers already had a personal relationship with. But now this can go to anyone, anywhere, without any hindrance from lockdown or travel restrictions. And people all over the world have more time for reading right now than they usually do and greater spiritual interest as well.”
When Wayne reflected on the spring and summer of 2020, he remembered the promise in Romans 8:28. Now he looks forward to how God will continue bringing good out of very challenging circumstances. He said, “God is at work in the most unlikely of places.”
As several Ndokwa people walked down the streets of their community in Nigeria, they heard an unfamiliar sound.
A man was reading aloud from John 1:1. The voice captured their attention. They recognized his words as Scripture, but something was different. Normally they heard the Bible read in another language that’s spoken in the region. But this man was reading in Ndokwa, their own language.
Curious, the people stopped to find out what was going on. An Ndokwa Bible translator was reading a draft of the Gospel of John to a group of people and asked for feedback. He wanted to ensure the meaning of the text was understood clearly by Ndokwa speakers. As he read, the Scripture attracted others who joined the discussion.
Some children who were listening began to ask the translator questions about what he was reading. Meanwhile the adults were delighted to discover that God’s Word was being translated into their language. “When will it be finished?” they asked.
Others have also responded with joy. On a different occasion, a young woman’s eyes lit up as she listened to a portion of the Gospel of Luke in her language.
“Is this in the Bible?” she asked. The Ndokwa translator who was reading Scripture to the woman and her daughter nodded.
The woman couldn’t remember hearing the story before. Although she was familiar with Scripture, this was the first time she was hearing it in her language. It seemed as if the Bible was coming home to her heart. After listening to the portions of God’s Word in Ndokwa, both mother and daughter decided to follow Christ!
As God’s Word is made available in Ndokwa, many people — including this woman and her daughter — are discovering the joy of the Lord for the first time.
A young woman's eyes lit up as she listened to a portion of the Gospel of Luke in her language.
“May the nations praise you, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise you. Let the whole world sing for joy, because you govern the nations with justice and guide the people of the whole world” (Psalm 67:3-4, NLT).
People clapped their hands to the beat of the marching band as they streamed through the mountain city of Huaraz, Peru. As hymns like “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” played, little children ate ice cream cones, families held hands and mothers carried babies in tied blankets on their backs. One 70-year-old woman raised her hands, a Bible clutched in one of them, for the entire two‑mile parade.
The women’s ministry of a local organization called Alli Willaqui (AWI) led the crowd through the city streets and proudly held a banner with the words of Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (NLT). This was a day to celebrate something new and eternal: the complete Word of God in the Huaylas Quechua language.
Soon the parade arrived at the city’s coliseum. Two thousand attendees from several churches and denominations took their seats inside for the main event: the dedication of the complete Bible. The four-hour celebration included Bible readings, musical presentations and preaching.
Two llamas entered the auditorium with boxes of the newly printed Huaylas Quechua Bibles on their backs.
The crowd fell silent, and the program’s emcees were emotional as the boxes were opened on stage and the Bibles were removed. Then applause broke out as the people on stage held the Bibles high in the air.
Kushi kushi kome was a phrase repeated often by people throughout the day. It means, “I’m so happy.” The musical groups who performed at the dedication played lively, high-pitched melodies on pan flutes, harps, trumpets and guitars. A woman named Nancy led the attendees in song alongside other women from AWI.
After the program, Nancy’s eyes filled with tears as she shared, “My grandparents were the ones who shared the gospel with me, and all four were believers. But they’re with the Lord now.” Nancy’s grandparents loved God and embraced the Good News but never got to hold the Huaylas Quechua Bible in their hands. “Today I’m celebrating their legacy,” Nancy said. “Thank you for sharing in our joy!”
The next morning at a church in a mountain village, Huaylas Quechua families filed inside and sat on wooden pews — women on one side of the aisle, men on the other. The walls of the church were painted with Scriptures. A woman and her daughter brought fresh flowers and presented them at the altar. Young children bounced into the aisle and moved around throughout the worship songs and sermon.
And together the church, no longer Bibleless, read Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (NLT).
"8 qorapis tsakirinmi y wetapis shushurinmi. Teyta diosnint sikpa palabranqa imeyaqpis kekanqam"
Isaiah 40:8 in the Huaylas Quechua language.
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.
I want to help people meet Christ through translated Scripture.