The president of the largest Bible translation organization in the world says that more people than ever before can access the Bible in their own language, that translation programs for every native language in the world will be underway in twelve years, and that work to translate the Bible into every tongue brings us closer to the return of Jesus to earth.
"More people have access to scripture than at any other time in history," Bob Creson, president and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, told The Christian Post in an interview on Friday. On Thursday, Wycliffe announced that 4.9 billion people can now read the Bible in their native language. Creson declared that by 2025, there will be "translation occurring in every community that needs it." Only 1,919 language groups still lack access to the Bible, and Creson expects that to drop below 1,900 soon.
Creson states that "the last translator for the last Bible translation is alive somewhere in the world today." He told CP why he believes that. "Thirty years ago, the average New Testament took over 20 years to translate," Creson explained. Today, it takes about 8 years.
Even more impressive, however, is the pace at which new translations are started. In 1942, when Wycliffe Bible Translators was founded it was a North American organization that later expanded to Europe. Now, the group has teams in every community to which they reach out.
Ex-patriots, those who choose to work outside of their home country, were previously most often the primary translators, Creson explained. Now, the ex-pat worker's role has changed to be more of a consultant. Instead of going to a new community, learning the language and customs, and then beginning the painstaking process of Bible translation, these workers check translations produced by members of the community themselves.
A worker in Holland can use Skype to check the translation of a local group in Kenya, the Wycliffe president explained. "We're highly committed to the accurate translation of God's Word," Creson said. "Even though we are translating cheaper and faster, we're not doing it at a loss of quality."
Creson explained that a new computer program known as "Adapt It" takes a source text and translates it from one language to a neighboring language. The program even achieves 70% accuracy. "All that work which would have taken years and years to produce is done very rapidly by this computer program," the president said.
In each new community, Wycliffe proceeds on the assumption that the language is similar to those in the surrounding area, Creson explained. "Even if that one language isn't necessarily related, we have developed workshops that can support it," the president said.
Wycliffe Bible Translators also teams with fellow organizations, such as the volunteer support group Wycliffe Associates, the Seed Company, and a "major field partner," SIL International. In addition, external groups team with Wycliffe worldwide, said Creson.
"When translators have finished the translation of the Gospel of Luke," the president explained, "The Jesus Film [production team] will then use that text to record the Jesus Film," a video presentation of the Gospel. An audio group, Faith Comes By Hearing, has also "made a major commitment to put into audio formats all the New Testaments we produce."
Every Tribe, Every Nation creates an electronic database, then used by the Digital Bible Library, which provides these files to groups like YouVersion, the group behind the Bible App. "It's just a matter of a few hours until those translations are available on YouVersion," Creson explained.
The Wycliffe president also testified his belief that organization's work helps bring about the End Times. "I believe that the work we do hastens the return of Jesus Christ," Creson told CP. Citing Matthew 24:14, he paraphrased Jesus' words saying "this good news message has to be preached to the whole world, to every tongue, tribe, and nation, and then the end will come."
"I also believe that part of God's plan is to include somebody from every tribe and every nation to worship Him," Creson added, referencing Revelation. For more information, to pray, give, or volunteer, Creson suggested readers visit the website, Wycliffe.org.
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Uncle Cam: The Story of William Cameron Townsend, Founder of the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics
Two Thousand Tongues To Go: The Story Of The Wycliffe Bible Translators
A New Vision for Missions: William Cameron Townsend, The Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Culture of Early Evangelical Faith Missions, 1917-1945 (Religion & American Culture)