The Exponential Journey

Khartoum, Sudan, April 2021. I was sitting in a small hotel conference room with the leaders of Greater Reach Alliance and half a dozen representatives of unreached Sudanese people groups. We were talking about the potential of Church-Centric Bible Translation for their people. Wanting to illustrate what God had done in other places, I shared a brief video of some South Asian brothers and sisters celebrating with exuberant singing and dancing the Bible in their language for the first time.

Suddenly, a man toward the back of the room began audibly weeping. I thought, uh oh, what have I done? His name is Faheem. He’s a high school physics teacher and member of the Masalit, a half-a-million member people group in western Sudan. When he regained his composure, I asked, "Can you tell us why you are so moved?"

Through a translator, he replied, "I can never imagine a day when that will be true for my people. I can never imagine a day when the Masalit will have God's Word in our language."

Faheem believed that because he had not yet witnessed the exponential power of Church-Centric Bible Translation. But soon, he became part of the movement.

The demand for Bible translation tools, training, and content from global church planting networks is growing. From a handful of people with a vision and no funding in 2017 to a team of about a hundred, and a rapidly expanding budget, unfoldingWord has grown exponentially to now be impacting people groups on four continents.

We are committed to empowering the world's largest workforce, the global church, with the open-licensed tools, training, and biblical content it needs to plant the church in every people group with the Bible in every language. Using the Gateway Languages strategy, teams from every one of the 7,000 language groups on earth can translate God's Word for themselves, clearly and accurately, in less time and less expensively than ever before.

The field reports and stories on this website illustrate that the exponential strategy is working. But Bible translation has never been easy, and that hasn't changed. One of the missing pieces in the modern era of Bible translation is the lack of good theological education and linguistics training among unreached people groups. unfoldingWord® Equipping Journey was developed and field tested in 2022 to address that. Equipping Journey helps church-planting Bible translators lay a foundation for their faith and ministry, giving them the theological worldview to do accurate, high-quality Bible translations as they plant churches.

Church-Centric Bible Translation can succeed where the traditional approach cannot. Places like Sudan, Iran, Middle Eastern Muslim countries, and North African regions with political, cultural, and religious persecution that make traditional Bible translation methods untenable. Church-Centric Bible Translation can also reach totally unreached people groups that, though numbering in the tens and hundreds of thousands, are too small for the limited human resources available to traditional Bible translation agencies. But the church in those parts of the world has the human resources. The believers and church-planting networks already in or near these areas want to make their own Bible translations and are willing to take risks and do the work.

But one thing more holds them back: the belief that they are not educated enough, wise enough, or holy enough to do it. Our friend, Faheem, is a good example. Now, in just a year's time, his people have Open Bible stories in Masalit, and he's moving into scripture translation from Job and Genesis. He's on the exponential journey, with five other unreached Sudanese people groups, to having the Bible for his people.

It is an enormous privilege to tell these brothers and sisters, "This is possible. You can get there. We will walk with you to help you." Won't you join us?

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Stories From the Field

  • The Angry Imam

    • May 03, 2024

    “It is dangerous for us to go,” said Stephen, “We cannot avoid the dangers, but when we think about what Jesus has done for us, we know that God will help us, and we are not afraid.” Stephen serves wi...

  • New Believers in Iran

    • April 08, 2024

    Thanks to the first-ever translation of unfoldingWord® Open Bible Stories into another Iranian language, twenty people have come to Christ, and a new house church has been launched in Iran. While help...

  • Hope in harrowing times

    • April 08, 2024

    As the world worries over the horrific events in Israel and mullahs call for global jihad, a hopeful fact remains. The more Islamists promote jihad, the more average Muslims are open to the gospel. In...

  • Trust God and Get Going

    • September 11, 2023

    “God, this is your journey, your work. Please help us get out of here.” Let’s imagine that your family and close friends have a passing acquaintance with the message of Jesus, and some might even be b...

  • Critical Tools for Courageous Translators

    • August 03, 2023

    The global demand for Bible translation far exceeds the capacity of existing Bible translation agencies. Doing translation in dangerous places makes it doubly difficult. That’s why members of the illu...

  • Meesha's Story

    • July 03, 2023

    In the Republic of Iran, for the church to be planted, discipled, and grown, more than 60 people groups need a Bible translation in their own language. May was Iran’s bloodiest month in the last five...

  • UKRAINE: Bomb Shelter Bible Translation

    • July 03, 2023

    Ukrainian Great Commission partners are translating unfoldingWord’s suite of Bible translation tools to make God’s Word accessible to more than 540 languages spoken across the countries of the former ...

  • All 27 New Testament Book Packages Complete

    • August 08, 2023

    It used to take western experts at least 20 years to translate the New Testament into a Bible-less language. Now, every bilingual church-planting network has access to the open-license English tools t...

  • Making God's Word Accessible to Ordinary People

    • September 11, 2023

    Sofia Ivanov speaks on the impact of unfoldingWord’s Bible Translation tools  Editor’s Note: Sofia Ivanov* is a project manager for unfoldingWord’s Eurasian Whole Bible, Whole Nation partner. Her thou...

  • Saved While Escaping

    • October 02, 2023

    “I was a terrible husband for the first fifteen years of our marriage. Every weekend, I would get drunk, abuse my wife, and ridicule her. We mistreated each other terribly,” said Siroos. “But God amaz...

  • Man on the Run

    • July 03, 2023

    Asim* serves on the Bible translation audio-video team for unfoldingWord’s Whole Bible, Whole Nation partner in Sudan. They use Bible translation as part of their church-planting strategy for 133 unre...

  • Ten Times Faster

    • March 14, 2023

    Imagine you are ordering a new internet connection or cable TV or maybe something new from Amazon and you get the message saying, “Your town is too remote and we can’t serve your area at this time. We...

  • Meet Amy & Priscilla

    • March 14, 2023

    unfoldingWord operates as a catalyst for the Church-Centric Bible Translation movement. We collaborate as part of the body of Christ to develop and implement strategies and unrestricted biblical resou...

  • Jeremiah and the Occult King

    • May 04, 2023

    When Jeremiah* first heard that his Chadian church-planting network needed his help translating unfoldingWord® Open Bible Stories (OBS), he was skeptical. “I thought Bible stories were for children, l...

  • The Exponential Journey

    • April 10, 2023

    Khartoum, Sudan, April 2021. I was sitting in a small hotel conference room with the leaders of Greater Reach Alliance and half a dozen representatives of unreached Sudanese people groups. We were ta...

  • Chad's Unreached Receive the Gospel with Joy!

    • June 05, 2023

    “Giving Jesus to any human being is the best gift you can give to that person. Only the gospel can change the ugliness of man,” says Jeremiah,* one of the Chadian leaders of CCGP,* unfoldingWord’s chu...

  • Iran: Bibles in every language


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      • June 13, 2022

      BAM! A rocket penetrates a building, shattering windows and shaking foundations. Clatter! Bomb debris splatters cars, building façades, and adjacent roofs. Bang-Bang-Bang! The jackhammer staccato of A...

    • Innovation in Bible Translation

      • March 13, 2023

      unfoldingWord catalyzes innovation in Bible translation. Your gifts and prayers are enabling remarkable new developments! One of those is happening in a state in Asia. It began with translationCore. ...

    • Breakthrough in Chad

      • July 04, 2022

      Three churches were birthed when a local chieftain, who formerly combined Islam and the occult, came to Christ. In the another community, new believers were baptized, and two new churches were planted...