OUR APPROACH

Wycliffe partners with local language communities and Christians around the globe to help them identify their Bible translation needs. Additionally, we help promote literacy, multilingual education and engagement with translated Scriptures.

Surveying the Need

Survey is foundational to translation work and shows where the need is most critical. Language surveyors travel throughout the region, listening to and recording the different languages and dialects. They consider the potential for building strong relationships with local stakeholders, the community’s willingness to participate and the impact of other socio-political and economic factors on the need and success of the community engaging with translated Scriptures.

Questions explored include:

  • Is the region relatively stable or are there factors that will continually threaten a project? Is the area hostile to Christianity?
  • Are there already people receptive and ready for a Bible translation?
  • Does the Bible already available in the second language meet their spiritual needs, or do they still need one in their primary language?
  • If a Bible translation project was started today, would people still be using the language when it was completed?
wycliffe approach

Opening Gateways 

wycliffe relationships

Relationships of trust need to be established before a community is willing to participate in Bible translation. Gateway projects help raise awareness and open closed doors. Literacy classes, health and hygiene publications, and a number of other practical projects demonstrate love and build relationships with the community and its local government officials. When people tangibly experience Christ’s love through relationships of service, they are more likely to sincerely engage with a Bible translation project.

Establishing Infrastructure

Even the best translators will make very little progress without the necessary infrastructure to launch and maintain a translation project. Bible translation is challenging and prayer is foundational in every endeavor. Donations provide the seed funds to establish and sustain necessary infrastructure, including:

  • Setting up a local project committee to oversee, respond and execute the translation work
  • Building a safe and secure office locale to house critical IT equipment and software, and provide community space for administrative staff, as well as translation, literacy and church engagement personnel
  • Finding reliable modes of transportation such as planes, boats, trucks and bikes
wycliffe bible translation infrastructure

Language Development

wycliffe language development

Many of the languages Wycliffe works with have never been written down—they have only been spoken. Translators need a good understanding of how the target language works, and local speakers need skills and resources to use their language in new ways. Language specialists help analyze language structures and develop resources like orthographies (writing systems), practical grammars, dictionaries, and literacy materials. As indigenous communities make decisions about alphabet symbols and spelling rules, these norms can be taught in schools and codified in grammar, spelling books and dictionaries.

Translating the Scriptures

Once language skills and resources are sufficiently developed, translation begins. Translation teams include speakers of the language, along with outside translation specialists. Together they carefully study the original Greek and Hebrew text, specialized translation commentaries, and the local linguistic and cultural context. After determining which portion of the Bible will best bring God’s message of salvation to the people, they begin translation using special software programs. The translations are checked by consultants and tested by communities for clarity and accuracy, tediously going through numerous drafts and revisions until they are ready for publication.

wycliffe scripture translation

Community Development

wycliffe community development

Translating Scripture takes place in a larger context of holistic, transformational development. Literacy and education form a big part of this picture. Translators might help create primers, curriculum, and booklets addressing crucial issues such as malaria, HIV-AIDS, agriculture, maternal health, and clean water. They also partner with others who specialize in crucial aspects of community development such as reforestation or water purification.

Publishing

Once the text of a translation is finalized, it can be published in a variety of ways. Translators will work with a typesetter to lay out and format the text so it can be given to a printing company. The translation team may also ask one of our partners to produce audio, video or digital versions of the Scripture. In the case of signed languages, the Scripture itself will be in video form.

wycliffe bible publishing

Distribution

wycliffe translated bible distribution

It sounds easy, but the logistics of getting Scripture to a language community is complex. It requires negotiating with local agents and transportation officials to get the Bible through customs and dispatched to their final destination. Digital Scripture versions require secure websites to be built for people to download from or software to transfer via cellphone or other storage devices. Logistics is also needed in publicizing and celebrating the newly translated Scripture to ensure it is distributed widely throughout the region.

Scripture Engagement

Scripture engagement workers develop creative ways to help people understand and integrate God’s Word into their daily lives. This can take the form of Bible study curriculum, skits, ethnomusicology (composing Scripture songs in local music styles), trained Bible storytellers, radio programs, or video lessons on Scriptural truths. Two Scripture-based studies, in particular, have been highly effective for many people groups—Healing the Wounds of Trauma for those who have suffered tragedy like war or natural disaster, and Kande’s Story for communities facing HIV-AIDS.

wycliffe scripture engagement

Transformation Through God’s Word

wycliffe bible translation services

As communities receive and understand God’s Word clearly for the first time, lives can change in dramatic ways. Many find freedom from harmful addictions and longstanding conflicts. When communities realize that they matter to God—that He speaks their language—their personal relationships begin to reflect God’s love. And as people find dignity, along with new knowledge and education, they can overcome poverty. The Scriptures can be used to make disciples who will share Christ with new communities!

Surveying the Need

Survey is foundational to translation work and shows where the need is most critical. Language surveyors travel throughout the region, listening to and recording the different languages and dialects. They consider the potential for building strong relationships with local stakeholders, the community’s willingness to participate and the impact of other socio-political and economic factors on the need and success of the community engaging with translated Scriptures.

Questions explored include:

  • Is the region relatively stable or are there factors that will continually threaten a project? Is the area hostile to Christianity?
  • Are there already people receptive and ready for a Bible translation?
  • Does the Bible already available in the second language meet their spiritual needs, or do they still need one in their primary language?
  • If a Bible translation project was started today, would people still be using the language when it was completed?

Opening Gateways 

Relationships of trust need to be established before a community is willing to participate in Bible translation. Gateway projects help raise awareness and open closed doors. Literacy classes, health and hygiene publications, and a number of other practical projects demonstrate love and build relationships with the community and its local government officials. When people tangibly experience Christ’s love through relationships of service, they are more likely to sincerely engage with a Bible translation project.

Establishing Infrastructure

Even the best translators will make very little progress without the necessary infrastructure to launch and maintain a translation project. Bible translation is challenging and prayer is foundational in every endeavor. Donations provide the seed funds to establish and sustain necessary infrastructure, including:

  • Setting up a local project committee to oversee, respond and execute the translation work
  • Building a safe and secure office locale to house critical IT equipment and software, and provide community space for administrative staff, as well as translation, literacy and church engagement personnel
  • Finding reliable modes of transportation such as planes, boats, trucks and bikes

Language Development

Many of the languages Wycliffe works with have never been written down—they have only been spoken. Translators need a good understanding of how the target language works, and local speakers need skills and resources to use their language in new ways. Language specialists help analyze language structures and develop resources like orthographies (writing systems), practical grammars, dictionaries, and literacy materials. As indigenous communities make decisions about alphabet symbols and spelling rules, these norms can be taught in schools and codified in grammar, spelling books and dictionaries.

Translating the Scriptures

Once language skills and resources are sufficiently developed, translation begins. Translation teams include speakers of the language, along with outside translation specialists. Together they carefully study the original Greek and Hebrew text, specialized translation commentaries, and the local linguistic and cultural context. After determining which portion of the Bible will best bring God’s message of salvation to the people, they begin translation using special software programs. The translations are checked by consultants and tested by communities for clarity and accuracy, tediously going through numerous drafts and revisions until they are ready for publication.

Community Development

Translating Scripture takes place in a larger context of holistic, transformational development. Literacy and education form a big part of this picture. Translators might help create primers, curriculum, and booklets addressing crucial issues such as malaria, HIV-AIDS, agriculture, maternal health, and clean water. They also partner with others who specialize in crucial aspects of community development such as reforestation or water purification.

Publishing

Once the text of a translation is finalized, it can be published in a variety of ways. Translators will work with a typesetter to lay out and format the text so it can be given to a printing company. The translation team may also ask one of our partners to produce audio, video or digital versions of the Scripture. In the case of signed languages, the Scripture itself will be in video form.

Distribution

It sounds easy, but the logistics of getting Scripture to a language community is complex. It requires negotiating with local agents and transportation officials to get the Bible through customs and dispatched to their final destination. Digital Scripture versions require secure websites to be built for people to download from or software to transfer via cellphone or other storage devices. Logistics is also needed in publicizing and celebrating the newly translated Scripture to ensure it is distributed widely throughout the region.

Scripture Engagement

Scripture engagement workers develop creative ways to help people understand and integrate God’s Word into their daily lives. This can take the form of Bible study curriculum, skits, ethnomusicology (composing Scripture songs in local music styles), trained Bible storytellers, radio programs, or video lessons on Scriptural truths. Two Scripture-based studies, in particular, have been highly effective for many people groups—Healing the Wounds of Trauma for those who have suffered tragedy like war or natural disaster, and Kande’s Story for communities facing HIV-AIDS.

Transformation Through God’s Word

As communities receive and understand God’s Word clearly for the first time, lives can change in dramatic ways. Many find freedom from harmful addictions and longstanding conflicts. When communities realize that they matter to God—that He speaks their language—their personal relationships begin to reflect God’s love. And as people find dignity, along with new knowledge and education, they can overcome poverty. The Scriptures can be used to make disciples who will share Christ with new communities!