Persecuted Myanmar villagers read Bible in their local language for the first time in 182 years

A group of Christian villagers in Myanmar have finally been able to read the Bible in their own language for the first time in 182 years, Bible translation group Wycliffe Associates announced.

(Reuters/Andres Martinez)Nene Charles reads a bible in Creole at a refugee camp for Haitians returning from the Dominican Republic on the outskirts of Anse-a-Pitres, Haiti, September 6, 2015.

The specific identity of the Myanmar group has been kept under wraps, but Wycliffe Associates CEO and President Bruce Smith said missionaries have been sharing the Gospel to the group since 1834. With the help of the Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation (MAST) strategy, local Christians were able to finish the translation of all 18 New Testament books in just two weeks, according to Christians in Pakistan.

"They've endured persecution. They've struggled to teach the Scriptures to their young people in other languages," Smith said of the Myanmar villagers. "They've been told for generations they have to keep waiting until Westerners can translate the Bible for them."

Smith explained that the MAST strategy allows them to reduce the time required to translate the important parts of the Bible. Wycliffe Associates drafted verses in the morning, and go through a five-step process to check the verses the rest of the day, Christian Today details.

While the task previously took months to finish, the Bible translators were able to do it in just two weeks. They are now hoping to finish translating the rest of the Bible by the end of this year.

Smith noted that there are still around 17 million people all over the world who have not yet read the Bible in their local language. He called the preservation of Christian churches and believers in Southeast Asia a miracle, and said these churches will be instrumental in the translation of the Bible into their own languages.

Meanwhile, Wycliffe Associates is set to launch a training session for Bible translators in the Middle East and other dangerous regions. Smith said the Christians living in those areas need Bibles to be used in sharing the Gospel to those who still have not heard it.