Christian group brings Bible translation tools to 35 language groups in Indonesia, Southeast Asia

By The Christian Post |
Wycliffe Associates
Wycliffe Associates equips people with the resources to understand the Bible in their native language. | Courtesy Wycliffe Associates
An international organization that pioneered a new method to accelerate Bible translation and put God’s Word in the hands of more people worldwide is providing Christian groups in Indonesia and Southeast Asia with the necessary tools to translate the Bible into 35 indigenous languages.

Wycliffe Associates partners with native speakers and local churches to support Bible translation work through a combination of training and technology. The group is currently working to provide 35 Christian groups across Indonesia and Southeast Asia with Bible Translation Acceleration Kits. These kits have various features, including special translation software and a satellite connection. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, Mark Stedman, vice president of technology for Wycliffe Associates, said the group’s Bible translation methods put local believers “in the driver’s seat of that process.” 

“We help them through that process, but they do all that Bible translation on their own in the sense that they're the ones who speak the language,” Stedman said. 

“And what we bring in is the training on how to do Bible translation, all the resources that they need — whether it be the source text or all the translation resources — and help them do the translation and check it to make sure that it's correct, through helping them get it printed and being able to distribute that to people who are ready and waiting to have Bibles in their hands and be able to have life-changing encounters with Christ,” he continued. 

As Stedman noted, Indonesia is a majority-Muslim country, and the best way for Wycliffe Associates to conduct its ministry there is to have a for-profit company supporting the Bible translation process. The vice president of technology said that a team of 25 Indonesians who are part of a technology company are helping to encourage Bible translation in the country. 

Stedman estimated that about 50 to 60 translations are underway in Indonesia at the time of this interview. Translation groups have anywhere from four to 20 Indonesian natives who volunteer to work on the translations out of a commitment to performing Christian acts of service, he added. 

“Those are volunteers who are Christians who are doing this work as a part of their church community, or maybe their denominational community,” Stedman said. 

Wycliffe Associates finds volunteers for its translation projects by evangelizing to people about what Stedman described as the “good news of Bible translation.” The organization has a team whose job is to meet with pastors and church leadership to discuss partnering with Wycliffe Associates. 

“‘You don't have to wait any longer,’” Stedman said, describing what the organization tells church leaders. “‘If you can get together a group of people who are willing to do the work, we can help equip them and train them and help them do that, and we'll stand alongside them for a year or two while they do that work. And then we'll help you get your Bibles printed so that you will have this Bible in your language, and you will own the Bible at the end.’”

He told CP that Wycliffe Associates’ annual budget for its work in Indonesia is around $400,000 to $500,000, with the amount varying by year. The organization receives support from individuals Stedman referred to as “God’s very generous people in America” who believe in the group’s mission. 

In addition to financial support, Stedman encourages Christians in the United States to support the ministry through prayer. 

“Those prayers are felt and appreciated, and we know that every piece of success that we've had is because God has blessed this work, and the prayers of His people are an important part of that,” Stedman said. 

Originally published by The Christian Post