“The Christians there are pleading with us for the tools, technology, and training so they can start translating the Scriptures now,” said Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “For them, this isn’t a ‘nice project.’ This is life or death.”
In recent months, hundreds of people in Nigeria have been slaughtered in tribal fighting, and for years Nigerians have suffered brutal violence and kidnappings at the hands of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram. Decades of tribal differences also have put people at odds with each other.
Recently, Wycliffe Associates hosted Nigerian pastors at a one-week conference to introduce the collaborative Bible translation method known as Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation, or MAST, which significantly reduces translation time. Over 80 pastors attended, with an additional 15 pastors joining the conference before the week was over.
The pastors compiled a list of 250 language groups in Nigeria that need Bible translation, groups where churches already exist but haven’t had a way to translate the Scriptures into their heart languages.
“One pastor told us he had never seen representatives from so many different language groups together in one place,” said Smith. “For decades, they’ve been tragically locked in bitter conflict with each other. At first, they wouldn’t even speak to each other. But God’s Word softened hearts, and previously warring factions agreed to work together for the sake of bringing peace to their people.”
This caught the attention of a Nigerian governor who leads a state of 3.2 million people. He invited the Wycliffe Associates team to his office and personally encouraged them to continue translating the Scriptures into the language of his people, recognizing the potential of Bible translation to bring peace to his nation.
“Never before have we seen government officials in Nigeria involved in national Bible translation,” Smith said. “But this is no ordinary time. And Nigeria is no ordinary place. This is a place of desperation—and time is running out for them.”
“In the heart of Nigeria, a place of intense tribal warfare, a land of such spiritual darkness that people groups have refused even to speak to one another for years, we are witnessing a miracle,” said Smith.
Worldwide, more than 600 language groups have asked Wycliffe Associates to help them launch MAST-method Bible translations this year.
Read more about Bible Translation and MAST.