Posts Tagged ‘Heart Language’

By Hannah Weiand

Hannah is a Wycliffe USA intern, attending Oral Roberts University. She will graduate with a degree in writing in May 2015.

a woman reads her Bible to her friend

Photo credit: Marc Ewell

Here at Wycliffe Bible Translators, we believe everyone needs the Bible in a language they can clearly understand. Well-meaning people sometimes ask, “Why not just teach people English?” Well, that would be like asking a native English speaker, “Why not just teach you Latin?”

It sounds funny put that way, but before the late 14th century, when John Wycliffe and others translated the Bible into English for the first time from Latin, that’s exactly what English speakers had to do if they wanted to read the Bible.

John Wycliffe believed the common person should be able to read and understand the Bible in their own language. But at that time in history, many people thought English was a vulgar language, unfit for God and his holy Word. So when Wycliffe and others translated the Bible, many church leaders were angry. Years after John Wycliffe died, they were still so angry that they dug up his bones to burn and destroy them. And they took one of his followers, John Huss, and burned him at the stake for telling people that everyone should be able to read the Bible in their own language.

Today, thanks to the sacrifices of John Wycliffe, John Huss and others, we can read the Bible in our own language. And we believe other language groups around the world should be able to have that opportunity too.

When Wycliffe Bible Translator’s founder, Cameron Townsend, went to Guatemala to sell Spanish Bibles in 1917 — before he ever started thinking about Bible translation — a number of people asked him why God didn’t speak their language. Cam was troubled to learn that they couldn’t clearly understand the Bible in Spanish. Their need inspired him translate the New Testament into Cakchiquel, and ultimately, to found Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Photo credit: Elyse Patten

Photo credit: Elyse Patten

That’s why we think Bible translation is so important — because we want people to fully understand what God is saying. When people learn a new language, they usually don’t understand it as well as their first language, so it’s difficult to fully grasp the power and the meaning of the Bible in that language.

Bible translation is important because of the way it transforms people’s lives when they can clearly understand God’s Word. It’s not just about being able to read the Bible – it’s about being able to connect with what it says. Having the Bible in their own language allows people from around the world to make that connection.

This post is part of our Wycliffe 101 series. Click here to read the previous post, or here to start at the beginning.

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This story is an excerpt from The Finish Line monthly downloads. The Finish Line is a guide to praying for translation projects within three years of completion.


Longing to Hear–Tanzania

Luka Musomba was seventy-seven years old when he heard the Word of God read in his heart language of Ndali for the first time. After listening, he shared, “I am happy that I can hear the Word of God easily in my language, which I understand better than when I was hearing God’s message in the Nyakyusa language. There were words I didn’t understand deeply like I do in my language. Now I understand more and I don’t need another person to explain to me. I have been longing to hear the Word of God for the first time through my language of Ndali rather than another language.” Some people wait many years to hear God speak the language of their heart, but when that moment comes, hearing the Bible for the first time is a beautiful thing!Finish Line


Want to read more stories about lives changed through Scripture, or learn how to pray for people waiting for a Bible in their language? Sign up to receive The Finish Line monthly downloads today!


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This story is an excerpt from The Finish Line monthly downloads. The Finish Line is a guide to praying for translation projects within three years of completion.


A Deeper Impact—Papua New Guinea?????????????????????

Even if the Bible has been in a country for a long time, it might not be having a significant impact if people can’t understand it. One man shared, “The Bible has been in PNG [Papua New Guinea] for over one hundred years. … Why has it not made an impact [in my area]? I believe having it in Tok Ples [his language] is the key that is going to unlock the Bible and make a difference in the lives of my people. Tok Pisin [one of three official national languages] is not adequate enough to express the deep meanings of the Word of God, and so people are not understanding and having their lives changed by the Word of God.”


Want to read more stories about the impact of God’s Word translated for different language groups, or learn how to pray for people waiting for a Bible in their heart language? Sign up to receive The Finish Line monthly downloads today!


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This story is an excerpt from The Finish Line monthly downloads. The Finish Line is a guide to praying for translation projects within three years of completion.


Motivated By Scripture—Southeast Asia 

Having access to God’s Word in a community’s heart language is important, but people also need to be able to understand how to use the Bible and apply its teachings to their daily lives. That’s why Scripture use workshops are so important—to equip people in reading and studying the Bible for further understanding. In one community, a workshop was to begin after the Sunday morning service. Five hundred worshipers crowded into the morning service because they were so excited about the workshop in the upcoming days!???????????????????????????????????????????? One of the attendees was seventy years old. She walked a total of four hours every day, to and from her home in the mountains, so that she could attend the workshop! Then she’d head home each evening to look after her husband, who was paralyzed from a stroke. What a beautiful testimony of a woman who is motivated to learn more about the Scriptures!


Want to read more stories about lives changed through Scripture, or learn how to pray for people waiting for a Bible in their heart language? Sign up to receive The Finish Line monthly downloads today!


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Russel is a Bible translator for his own language, Majukayong, in the Philippines. He’s been working on the project for over twelve years, having joined the team back in 2002. Although Russel is a shy man by nature, he knew that sharing God’s Word with his people was important. So he would bring home drafted portions of the New Testament they were translating into his mother tongue, and gather his neighbors together to read and discuss the flow of the translated text in their own language.

???????????????????????????????As Russel continued to hold these gatherings, they eventually developed into a Bible study. And as time went on, the group began to multiply. God’s Word in their heart language was making a difference as more people became interested in what the Bible said, and it was visibly spreading across their community as more and more people joined the group.

In 2005 a church was built and Russel was commissioned as pastor to the new congregation. Now he is no longer known as a shy man, but rather as a passionate preacher of the Scriptures to the Majukayong community. Russel is also the first pastor in the community to use the translated Scripture in their heart language!

But more people need access to the Bible in Majukayong. In a community that has long practiced revenge killing, legalistic rituals, and animistic practices, Russel and the translation team believe that God’s Word in the heart language has the power to transform lives. For those who already believe, there is a desire to ???????????????????????????????understand the Scriptures for themselves, without relying on pastors from other communities to interpret the Scripture from another language.

You can help print Bibles for the Majukayong community and make a difference in this community through the gift of God’s Word in their heart language.

Go to www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign to learn how!



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By Katie Kuykendall


Daniel is a former Wycliffe intern. To the untrained eye, it looks like he spent his summer doing a typical job behind a desk at a computer. But if you ask him, he’ll tell you his internship was so much more than that. He’ll tell you about helping make history for his family and other families all over the world, and about seizing an opportunity to do God’s work through Bible translation. Not bad for a few months of summer vacation.

Daniel first found out about Wycliffe when he joined the throngs of college students at the Urbana missions conference in Missouri. While scanning the exhibits, something at Wycliffe’s booth caught his eye. It was a display about praying for people groups that don’t yet have Scripture in their language. Several groups were represented by cards on a table.

Like countless other students that day, Daniel inquired about praying for Bibleless languages. But there was something different about Daniel—one of those languages is his own. Just two years prior, he had come to the United States from his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a student visa.

Daniel recalls reading the Bible with his family in French or Swahili instead of their own unique language, and trying to understand God’s message.

“I remember moments being like, ‘I really wish I lived in France. Maybe I would understand this [passage] even better,’” Daniel said. “You notice the contrast when you sing in your own language and get to express what’s deep within your heart through those songs.”

While talking with staff at the Wycliffe booth, Daniel expressed interest in missions, and specifically Bible translation. But it seemed like the internship opportunities most organizations offered called for future preachers, teachers, church planters, and doctors. He couldn’t help but wonder if there was a place for a computer engineering student in the mission field.

Then he discovered the language software development internship with Wycliffe in Dallas, Texas.

“It turned out to be a lot of fun—very challenging, but also just so fulfilling,” Daniel said. He worked with a team of skilled engineers to develop a program that runs automated tests on other Bible translation programs, allowing translation to get done at the fastest pace in history. He even had to learn a new language, only this one isn’t a human language.

Computer operating systems use programming languages, and not all systems understand the same ones—even they need to use their heart language. Thanks to Daniel’s unique background, that’s a concept he understands all too well.

“I’m so happy to be able to do that [software development],” he said. “It goes beyond just my own people group’s language. This serves pretty much anywhere Bible translation is being done.

“It was encouraging to be able to be part of something that big. The person actually doing Bible translation is one link in a long chain of people. I was able to witness that in Wycliffe, and it just showed me how beautiful the kingdom of God is.”

Interested in a Wycliffe internship? Click here to learn about upcoming opportunities.

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