When someone mentions Bible translation in a conversation, there’s a good chance that the name Wycliffe will be mentioned also. Wycliffe Associates was organized in 1967 under the Wycliffe Global Alliance by three friends of Bible translators.
Bill Butler, Dale Kietzman and Rudy Renfer discovered that translators were spending an increasing amount of time on tasks unrelated to translation. They founded Wycliffe Associates to allow Bible translators to concentrate on translating the Bible and let other volunteers handle facilities, technology and other support services.
To increase the speed of the translation process even more, Wycliffe Associates overhauled its model in 2014. Instead of sending western Bible translators to learn the local language and then translate the Bible, they began offering educational, technical and financial support to local churches so teams of their members could perform the translation.
Under church-owned Bible translation, teams of national Bible translators gather in a workshop setting to collaborate, translating multiple passages of Scripture in parallel. Then they check and revise their translation drafts throughout the Bible translation workshop.
This method is based on proven linguistic principles, enabling native speakers of the target language to create a translation that is both accurate and clear. It can even be used with small groups of believers in the most remote locations. Their new model, named Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation (MAST), has cut the time required to translate a Bible into a new language from 20 - 30 years, to as little as a few months.
Wycliffe Associates separated from the Wycliffe Global Alliance in 2016 and it continues to accelerate the work of church-owned Bible translation around the world. Would you believe there are over 7,300 languages spoken in the world? Wycliffe Associates is working hard and fast to achieve the goal of having a Bible in every language by 2025. Partnering with local churches to guide and guard translation work, Wycliffe Associates empowers national Bible translators in 68 countries to provide God’s Word in their own heart language.
Wycliffe Associate engages people from around the world to provide resources, technology, training and support for Bible translation. They are currently working in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific. To date, translation for over 450 New Testaments have been completed and over 750 translations are in progress.
Wycliffe Associates has introduced several technology tools in recent years to accelerate their translation efforts:
V-MAST: Wycliffe Associates developed an online Bible translation process named Virtual MAST (V-MAST) that enables local translators in difficult locations or situations to use tablets. In places hostile to the Christian faith, carrying a Bible in their hands is like a target on their backs. Using V-MAST, Bible translators can work together, and Wycliffe Associates U.S.-based staff can train and support them remotely. Translated scriptures are then backed up and stored in the cloud to protect them from confiscation or destruction.
TNTs: Wycliffe Associates’ Tablets for National Translators (TNTs) program provides local believers and church members with computer tablets and translation apps so they can translate the Bible in a more discrete way. Over 6,500 TNTs have been distributed in 67 countries.
POD: To assist translators in countries where Christians face persecution, Wycliffe Associates introduced Print on Demand (POD). POD is a high-speed, digital printing system that can be hidden in one room of a safe house. Workers are trained to operate and maintain the equipment so local believers can bring the scripture on a flash drive, and copies are printed quickly. More than 125 PODs have been deployed around the world.
BTRKs: Did you know that nearly 2,000 languages have no alphabet? Large populations of people around the world live in communities where their language is only spoken and not written. They are storytelling and listening cultures. Wycliffe Associates serves these national Bible translators by providing Bible Translation Recording Kits (BTRKs). They can use this equipment and software to translate God’s Word into oral languages using the MAST method. The BTRKs can also be helpful to those with written languages who can’t read. Over 1,300 BTRKs have been distributed so far.
In many areas, it is nearly impossible for Bible translators to work because water is so unavailable. Accessing clean water is a life-or-death struggle for many of the people Wycliffe Associates is trying to reach with God’s Word.
To help, Wycliffe Associates provides equipment and training to remote villages to help them gain access to clean water. They enable communities to own the process of constructing sustainable water systems. Serving communities with clean water access builds relationships that set the stage for providing the message of God’s love through Bible translation.
Here are some ways you can pray for Wycliffe Associates:
Good Neighbor Insurance loves the work Wycliffe Associates is doing. We provide missionary health insurance to protect their workers so they can complete their important translation work. If you are interested in learning more about the organization or how you can get involved, visit their website (https://wycliffeassociates.org).