Until the Whole World Hears

By Tori Garrison

John 3:16

“God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foeva.”

Big question: Did that reach your heart?

So, this is a REAL Bible translation in the Hawaiian Pidgin language for a people group that lives in Hawaii. There are more than 600,000 people who speak Hawaiian Pidgin. This translation is easier than reading the English version because this is how they speak. It is clear for them. When we speak of Bible translation, we often use the term “heart language” and that is what the Hawaiian Pidgin Bible is for this Hawaiian people group.

We also can read the Bible that is in our heart language. There are hundreds of different kinds of English translations of the Bible: KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, ESV, CSB, and the list goes on. And we have the luxury of being able to read from the version that is the most familiar (for example, the version we grew up with or is used in our church) and is the clearest and easiest to understand.

“If we tell people that God loves them and is for them, then it makes sense He would speak to them in their own heart language.”

In Papua New Guinea, there are over 800 spoken languages. They developed a national trade language named Tok Pisin to create a better understanding between the many people groups, however, there are only about 2,000 words in this language. It’s limited. Giving a Tok Pisin Bible to someone in Papua New Guinea is very similar to someone giving us a Hawaiian Pidgin Bible. You can understand the gist of it, but it doesn’t reach your heart. If we tell people that God loves them and is for them, then it makes sense He would speak to them in their own heart language.

I went on a trip to Lebanon a couple of years ago and had an amazing opportunity to spend time with a large group of Syrian refugee kids. We did something similar to a Vacation Bible School program with them for 3 days. I would love to tell you so much more about this trip and the stories I heard, but one of the sweetest memories I have is singing and dancing with the kids. Our translators helped us to figure out what the words would be in Syrian Arabic, and we taught them all the dances and motions. Even the simple, old church songs like “Our God is So Big” and “Jesus Loves Me” brought so much joy and so many smiles. But the words had to be in their language. They were able to read the Bible verses on their coloring sheets because there is an Arabic Bible already translated. We were able to talk about Jesus because we had national translators to help us and we had several Arabic Bibles to use.

God really started to grow a passion in my heart to love Bible translation and to want to get involved in a way to provide God’s Word to all people and in every language. Having God’s Word in your heart language is such a powerful force that it changes you from the inside out.  Even more so, it can transform whole communities when they finally receive a Bible in their language, start to understand it, and begin to live it out.

“Having God’s Word in your heart language is such a powerful force that it changes you from the inside out.”

The Tboli people of the Philippines once believed that there was a bridge that connected this life to eternity and that an evil spirit lived on this bridge to push people off into the abyss. The only way to overcome this evil spirit was to have light and the way to get light was to be burned. Bits of cotton dipped in kerosene were lighted and placed on the arms of small children to produce scars. This was done because they believed the more scars you had, the brighter your light was and the more possible it was for you to make it across the bridge into the next life successfully.

The Tbolis continued this practice until Bible translators began their translation work and came to John 8:12. The people finally heard Jesus’ words, “I am the light of the world…”

Today, you would see children of believing families without scars and, if you were to ask them why they do not scar their children, they would say, “Jesus is our light. Jesus bears the scars. Jesus will get us safely across the bridge.” There are more than 7,000 languages in the world. Over 2,100 languages do not even have a single Bible verse translated in their language. That’s more than 160 million people. And more than 1.5 billion people do not have the complete Bible in their language. Wycliffe Bible Translators is an organization that shares the vision to reach these remaining people with God’s Word and we’re working faster than ever to make that vision a reality. There are active translation projects happening in more than 170 countries around the world. Wycliffe is partnered with about 100 different organizations worldwide that are part of making Bible translation happen. Even so, it will still be years before all of these people will have the Bible in their heart language. But, together, we can strive to provide the Bible for THIS generation. 14-year-olds in Indonesia, Columbia, Nigeria, China– they may not have the Bible in their heart language now but, with more people who are passionate about Bible translation joining, they can have their Bible translation started before they’re 20. Maybe even a completed New Testament. Who knows how many people will join in this passion for Bible translation…but God knows just who it will take to do it. And it’s going to be awesome. Do you want in? Do you have this same passion to provide God’s Word in every language?

I’m so excited to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators. I’m excited that my part is to send volunteers who want to use their skills to help Bible translation projects overseas. The Lord has provided everything to lead me to Wycliffe and I know that He will provide everything you need to join a global ministry. Will you join me and make a difference for eternity through Bible translation? Maybe God is calling you today to go and use the skills He’s given you to personally be a part of what He’s doing around the world. Do it. You can. And you’ll never regret following His lead. For those of you who are called to stay home, would you consider partnering with Wycliffe Bible Translators, or another translation organization, through prayer and/or financial giving? It is such a joy to work alongside so many people who have the same passion to provide the Bible to the Bibleless, and I would love to have you join our team.  Romans 10:14 says, “How, then, can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him?” Together let’s help the Bibleless peoples get God’s Word in their heart language.

Written by Tori Garrison, a CBM Intern Graduate from Team #1, currently serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators as Volunteer and Intern Placement Coordinator. Tori is raising support in a Partner Development role at the moment. To learn more about Tori’s ministry with Wycliffe, click https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Tori 

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