Loving God and Loving People Through Heart Language Bible Translation: As we dive into a new year full of possibilities and exciting work in the world of heart-language Bible translation, we continue to hold on to God’s Word to us – to love Him with all our hearts, minds and strength, and to love one another. We are grateful for the wonderful opportunities to do both these things by empowering local nationals all around the world to learn how to translate the Bible into their own languages. In so doing, people hear the Gospel in their most natural tongue, and the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to the One true God, who loves them enough to take His living Word to them. Many people have said that they feel seen by God because He sent people to them to bring His truth to them in a way that they can understand and believe in Jesus Christ. So, as we start gathering momentum at the start of 2023, let’s keep in our minds that the core of why we are all passionate about Bible translation is because of loving God and loving people.

The above picture shows Ezekiel Mfikilwa with his wife, Witness, who are from Tanzania. Joining The Word For The World in 2021, when the Doe translation project began, impacted Ezekiel and his family’s lives wonderfully. He testifies that God took him from having little to no interest in the Bible to now reading and enjoying God’s Word in his daily life. This internal transformation has expressed itself externally in his marriage where he and Witness have experienced God’s love and joy, and they say their relationship has become better than ever before. They are now part of their church leadership and enjoy serving the Lord in their local community. He expresses his gratitude to God for giving him the chance to work as a Bible Translator for the Doe language group. Witness, also, is part of the team of reviewers, and she has been enjoying the work of supporting the translation team by reviewing their work and helping them with the more challenging words.

Seeing the different ways that God works through the process of community checking the translated texts intensifies excitement and awe. Ramandhani Shabani Kondo (pictured above) is a Muslim – yet, he says that when he reads the Bible in his language (Doe) it sounds ‘sweet and understandable’ to him. He is drawn to the Scriptures when he is asked to review the translated texts and give his feedback on its naturalness and accuracy in the Doe language. Ramadhani expresses his gratitude to those who have this vision from God to empower locals to become heart-language Bible translators. He sees the value of the Doe Bible translation project as preserving his language forever. Many young people in his community no longer speak Doe, which challenges the Doe tribe to preserve their heritage. Praise God for His ways in safeguarding cultures through His Word! We continue to pray that Ramadhani and others will read the Bible in Doe and receive salvation by hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Meet Upendo Ponela (pictured above). She is a hard-working and faithful member of the Ndendeule Bible translation team in Tanzania. As a single mom, she looks to better the life of her daughter and her wider community. She previously worked full time in a call centre and also ran a small-scale farming project to feed her extended family. Upendo says that she never dreamed she would have the ability, or the means, to acquire the skills and knowledge to do anything like Bible translation! By God’s sovereign grace, she gives thanks to Him for making a way for her to join the Ndendeule project in 2011, and then graduate from the Diploma in Bible Translation training in 2020. She says she can see an impact on her community with an increase in educational opportunities for girls in her area. As the only woman on this team, she serves as a living testimony that God calls men and women all around the world from all kinds of backgrounds to the wonderful work of heart-language Bible translation!

We are part of God’s plan to eradicate Bible poverty, and along with our partners, we will see the dream come true where every tribe, people group and nation have access to the Scriptures in their heart languages. We know that this will happen because we read in Rev 7: 9: “After this I looked, and there was an enormous crowd – no one could count all the people! They were from every race, tribe, nation, and language, and they stood in front of the throne and of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palm branches in their hands”. [GNT] – Kobus van Aswegen