According to a ministry partner in Asia, 20 highly qualified Asian ministry leaders are ready to lead Bible translation efforts in many areas that have been unreached entirely. The ministry leaders, who live and work in those areas, would not attract the same suspicion as Westerners.
Yet being a Christian is not without risk for the nationals. Last year, radicals from the majority religion kidnapped a national Bible translator’s wife and children. His family still has not been found, and the translator’s Christian friends are keeping him in hiding.
In another area, a pastor would only agree to hold a meeting about Bible translation in a boat, in the middle of a lake, to be certain the conversation would not be overheard.
“These are places where religious oppression is so intense, where anti-Christian persecution is so fierce, where authorities so harshly deny entrance to outsiders that foreigners have never even attempted to conduct Bible translation there,” says Smith.
Wycliffe Associates’ development of MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation) in 2014, a revolutionary rapid-translation strategy, equips nationals to translate the Bible for themselves. Language groups no longer must depend on—or wait for—Westerners to translate the Scriptures for them.
Some Bible translation teams working with the MAST strategy in other regions of the world have been able to complete their translation of the entire New Testament in a matter of weeks and months rather than years.
“God is building His Church in these countries, not on the strength of ‘foreigners,’ but on nationals,” Smith says.
A translation leader can be funded for $96 a day, and currently Wycliffe Associates has funding for three of the 20 available translators in Asia. Funding all 20 leaders has the potential of bringing the translated Scriptures to 400 language groups in areas that are virtually unreachable by Westerners.
“Just like a river that flows with life and abundance, this team will rush to the nations to bring the Good News,” says Smith. “They will bring abundant opportunity for people to know God in their own heart language.”
To date, 1,086 Bible translation projects have been launched using MAST workshops.