From Atheism to Bible Translation

When Farrokh* was growing up, his country was part of the Soviet Union. He was taught in the education system that there was no God. As a teenager he was a bit of a rebel, getting into trouble and even abusing alcohol and drugs.

Fresh naan bread is wheeled into a market, close to the translation office where Farrokh works.

Then he began to wonder if there really was a God. He concluded that if God exists, then he needed to obey Him. He then began to explore what it might mean to believe in God.

First, he explored Islam, since many people in his country adhere to that faith. He read the Qur’an in Russian. He also looked into Hinduism, because there are some people in his country who worship Krishna. Finally, Farrokh met a Russian man who had come to his country to lead people to Christ, even while Farrokh’s country was in the middle of a terrible civil war.

“He came during wartime,” says Farrokh, “to tell people about Christ. We had a lot of conversations. When I became a Christian, my relationship with my parents deteriorated.”

The call of Bible translation

Farrokh then went to Russia to study theology. There, he met a woman who worked for the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT).

“I started to work for IBT and I was trained how to do Bible translation,” says Farrokh. “We started with John’s Gospel.” However, for various reasons, the project stopped.

Farrokh returned to his home country, still motivated to translate the Bible into his own language. Fortunately, he soon met a man who had just started working on a translation into Farrokh’s language. There is technically already a Bible in this language, but it is written in highly academic language. This version is so “heady” that it is difficult for most people to understand it well. That is why Farrokh joined the project to make a new translation, involving a number of partner organizations. He was enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“Now I’m happy that God used me. He first saved my heart, and my life, then he used me to do this work for others who are not saved yet, in mountains and villages.”

From St Cyril to Farrokh

The Cyrillic alphabet, used for Russian and several other languages in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, was developed from the Greek alphabet. St. Cyril and his brother, St. Methodius, brought it to the Slavic peoples from Byzantine Greece in order to preach the gospel to the Slavs, and to teach them how to read and write. Thus, creating orthographies (writing systems) for Bible translation has long been integral to sharing the gospel.

While he did not need to create an orthography, Farrokh is carrying on that tradition of Bible translation for his people in Central Asia. He is part of a translation team in his home country that is working to finish a New Testament in the national language.

“It was God’s call for me to do this work,” says Farrokh, “and I love it. I try to do good a translation of the Word that will help others become Christians.”



Adapted from a story by Robby Ker, at