Paying the Price of Persecution

"We have been invited to the police station many, many times," said Pastor Vic*. "We have been harassed and so has the Bible translation team. Some of our original team members left because of the risks involved. Others took their places. We endure and pay the price, because we are committed to translating God's Word."

*Names and other information altered for security purposes

Pastor Vic and his team live in a country of more than 100 million people. A tiny fraction of that number is Christian. More than 40 people groups in this highly repressive state still need a Bible in the language they understand best.

In 2020, unfoldingWord, Biblica, and others launched a bold initiative to provide the gospel in the heart language to every people group in this country by 2035. With unfoldingWord's tools, it takes Pastor Vic and his trained team about one year to translate the New Testament and an additional 24-28 months to complete the Old Testament. So, the entire Bible is complete in three-and-a-half years.

The power of the Bible in their heart language

These Bible translators come from many different backgrounds. Some were laborers working in the fields and some were construction workers, but God did something powerful as they sat down and learned the Scriptures together. The more they read the Bible, the more they wanted to translate it. The more they translated it, the deeper they wanted to go into the Word.

The youngest translator, a man in his mid-twenties, said, "Bible translation has not only equipped me to work with the local church, but the Word has changed my character and has made me Godlier. It has created a deep thirst to learn the Word even more."

The oldest, a man in his seventies, said, "The thing that motivates me is the impact on our people when they first hear the Word in our language. This translation project is not just for me to learn; it is for my people to know God. It is a high privilege, so I must be meticulous."

As the translations progressed, the pastors and church planters noticed a significant change in two areas. The first was in the families. "We had constant conflict in our families, but behavior changed as the Word became clear. Relationships greatly improved." Second, the teaching and preaching quality improved, leading to deeper sanctification. "When people hear the Bible in the national language, they do not understand it well. They hear, but they are not obedient," said the pastor. "But when they hear it in their heart language, they understand, and they do it."

Paying the Price

Technically, this country has freedom of religion, but the authorities’ great concern is for what could happen if churches were to become politically active. Pastors represent God and teach people how to live based on the Bible. Those in power see that as competition; they persecute the pastors and other Christian leaders, including Bible translators.

But to Pastor Vic and his team, Bible translation is worth it: "There is no price too high to pay. The worthiness of the Scripture is incalculable in the lives of the people. When we don't have it, we don't know what we miss. But when we have it, then we are willing to go all the way to pay the price to finish the task of Bible translation for our people."

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