- Translators Tales (July 2023)
- Bible smuggling….into England! (Oct 23)
|THE WORD FOR THE WORLD UK UPDATE – Sept 23|
FROM THE DESK OF STEVE LANCASTER, UK DIRECTOR:
Testing Times for Tyndale the Translator: Over the past few months, some of our translators have had to deal with very difficult situations; civil wars, cost of living, floods and natural disasters, with some even being closely monitored by unfriendly governments. Whilst we’re able to talk openly about our work in much of Africa, we’re more guarded when it comes to countries in Asia where there are security concerns for some of our translators. We even have to use pseudonym names for our language projects there. Here are the words of a team leader in such a situation: “It is dangerous to travel to the villages where our team is working. We may be arrested and killed because villagers serving as spies can report us to the army or to the revolutionary forces. It has been four months since we last did a community check; we had to do it with trusted friends instead of going to the villages”.
For us here in the West, it’s hard to imagine what life must be like for a Christian engaged in translating God’s Word in such a hostile environment. However, consider the situation faced by one of the world’s most famous Bible translators……here in our own back yard five hundred years ago! William Tyndale was born in 1494 near Dursley in Gloucestershire. He was an unusually accomplished man who studied at both Oxford and Cambridge, and was able to speak eight languages fluently! During his theological studies a passion began to develop in Tyndale’s life; to see the Bible translated into English so that the common man might be able to read it.
Until that point, the Bible in England had only really been available in Latin, which very few people could read! People relied on Catholic priests to tell them what was in the Bible, but much of what was being preached couldn’t be found in the Bible! Tyndale wanted to change that and set about translating, from the Greek & Hebrew, into English. However, the problem he faced was that, here in the UK, it was illegal to translate the Bible! If caught doing so, one could face the death penalty. Furthermore, he would be defying the Pope, as well as King Henry VIII! In a bid to obtain some sort of permission for his quest, he even spoke to the Bishop of London in 1523; all to no avail as his request was turned down.
In 1524, fearing for his safety, Tyndale fled to Wittenberg in Germany, where he began his translation work. By 1526, the first edition of his New Testament began to roll off the newly invented printing press, and copies were smuggled into England. The seed was sown; the fuse was lit, and the English Reformation had begun! The common man was now able to read God’s Word in a language he could understand. People began to see that much of what they had been taught, such as purgatory and the ability to pay for sins through indulgences, were not rooted in the Bible. The response of the church, the Pope, and King Henry was not positive! Fearing a loss of control, as well as the challenge to their authority, the church condemned the new translation of this New Testament, and Tyndale was declared a heretic. Booksellers were issued with warnings not to sell, although ironically, the Bishop of London bought copies…… simply to keep them off the streets! What did he do with them? He had them burnt in public! Let that sink in! Here in England, five hundred years ago, the English translation of the New Testament was being burnt in public by the established church!!
Tyndale, by now living in Antwerp, continued his translation work, managing to complete the first half of the Old Testament, but in 1535, betrayed by a so-called friend, he was arrested and sent to a prison near Brussels for sixteen months. After several failed attempts to make Tyndale deny some of his beliefs, he was tried for heresy and then strangled to death, after which his body was burnt at the stake. His last praying words are recorded as: “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes”.
Within two years, the Lord did indeed answer that prayer in incredible ways! In 1538 Henry VIII ordered every parish church to buy copies of the now completed Bible for all to see and read!! However, Tyndale’s tireless work and influence didn’t stop there. In 1611, seventy five years after his death, a certain King James authorised an updated English translation, and the King James Bible was produced. The team of translators had relied heavily on Tyndale’s work, carrying over 80-90% of his translation! And as we know, that Bible went on to become the most influential book in the English speaking world. We praise God for the work and sacrifice of this Bible translator who had to endure immense hardship for his desire to see God’s Word produced in a language that people understood. And today we also praise God for the 725 indigenous translators that work for TWFTW; some of whom also face risk and hardship for this invaluable work. May God strengthen and bless them as they seek to carry out this vital task.
30th Aug-1st Sept: TWFTW International online conference
1st-3rd Sept: Bible teaching – Corsham Baptist men’s weekend
6th-13th Sept: Annual leave
18th-26th Sept: Management meetings in Hermanus, South Africa
PRAISE & PRAYER POINTS:
Praising God for a successful conference in South Africa in mid-July. Relationships with our main supporting partner (Seed Company) were strengthened as plans were made for the next 12 months. We praise God for this funding partner who are helping us to take on more BT projects.
Please pray for the safety of our translation team in a S.E Asian country. They have received visits from the local police, and are still facing close monitoring. Pray for their protection, and that they would be able to go about their work without fear.
Continue to pray for our team in Sudan. You may remember last month, due to a coup and the ongoing conflict, our team had to flee as their offices and homes were ransacked by armed rebels. Pray for the team who are scattered across the country looking for refuge, shelter, food & medicine.
We are seeking a treasurer to serve on the UK Board as a trustee. Please pray that we’d be led to the right person very soon! We’ve been blessed to see increased income in the last few years, but with that blessing comes new challenges!