340 million still need Bible translated
Ava Thomas, Baptist Press
May 05, 2011

340 million still need Bible translated

340 million still need Bible translated
Ava Thomas, Baptist Press
May 05, 2011

LONDON – Every

Sunday, Vicar Gary Jenkins parts the pages of

his Bible and preaches the Word to the parishioners of Holy

Trinity Church

in Redhill, United Kingdom.

In the United States,

the King James Version of the Bible elicits mixed emotions from Christians, all

the way from extreme loyalty to distaste. But in British cathedrals like Holy

Trinity, it has special meaning Americans might not fully grasp.

Four hundred years ago, it was the Gospel brought to the

British people in their heart language widely for the first time.

“It was devised to be read by churches in both England

and Scotland,”

said Neil MacGregor, director of the British

Museum. “It is one of the first

things made by the whole island to be used by the whole island.”

And the whole island – churches, organizations, even the BBC

– is celebrating the 400th anniversary with a year long slate of events.

A young Masai man proudly shows a copy of the Bible in his own language. Four centuries ago this year, the King James translation of the Bible opened the Scriptures to English-speaking people. Translations in other languages followed. Yet today, 380 million people across

the world still have not received Scripture in their own language.

“Undoubtedly the Authorized (King James) Version has had a

huge impact on the life of the nation, shaping our culture and even the

language itself,” Jenkins said. “But even more importantly, this celebration

gives the churches a great opportunity to convey the living Word of God afresh

to a nation where there is now so much ignorance of Scripture.”

And, he said, it gives his church the chance to focus on

the looming need worldwide – the “islands” that, 400 years after the KJV, still

need the Bible in their own languages.

The need is about 340 million people speaking 2,078 languages,

to be exact. These hundreds of millions of people don’t even have Bible

translation programs started in their languages, according to Wycliffe Bible


That’s why Andrew Lancaster*, who has a degree in Bible

translation and is headed to serve overseas, has a passion to see the need met.

“Why is it that there are now hundreds of English

translations of the Bible, yet more than 2,000 languages of the world do not

even have one word of it? English versions are produced left and right while

thousands are dying without having ever had access to the Word of God,” Lancaster


Something needs to be done about this injustice, he said.

“If the efforts spent toward new English versions were

redirected to translating Scripture into languages that have nothing, imagine

what could be accomplished,” Lancaster


“There are people who would pay a month’s wages, sell all

they have or go to any number of extreme measures to experience the luxury of

owning even one Bible in their language.”

Bob Creson, president and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators

USA, said the task of translation is urgent.

“We are committed to providing access to the Good News of

the Gospel for all peoples as rapidly as we can,” Creson said. “We feel an

urgency to make Scripture available sooner rather than later, so that millions

will not pass into eternity without ever knowing God. Bible translation is a

means for God’s Word to transform lives, and unlike ever before, it is possible

that in this generation people from every tribe, tongue and nation will be

reached in their own language.”

The biggest need lies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Papua

New Guinea and Asia,

according to Wycliffe.

“Learn about the needs of this world,” Lancaster

said. “Learn about the people groups without the Word of God.”

Four hundred years ago, the King James Version translators

saw the British people’s need and met it. Why? The translators wrote to the

reader that “translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light,

that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel.”

So many more are waiting for illumination, Lancaster

said. “Pray for those without Bibles and for those involved with getting Bibles

to them. Give your life in some capacity to seeing this work accomplished.”

*Name has been changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ava Thomas is an International

Mission Board writer/editor based in London.)

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