Wycliffe Associates develops technology to protect Bible translations in remote regions

Wycliffe Associates and its Bible translation work seen in this image on November 13, 2013.
Wycliffe Associates and its Bible translation work seen in this image on November 13, 2013. | Facebook/Wycliffe Associates

Wycliffe Associates, one of the world’s leading Bible translation organizations, is providing much-needed technology to translators living in remote regions that both protect and accelerate the translation of the Scriptures. 

The organization, which empowers mother-tongue Bible translators and partners with local churches in the advancement of Bible translation, recently announced the development of Bible Translation Acceleration Kits (BTAKs) for mother-tongue Bible translators who live in isolated regions with no internet connectivity.

Each kit, worth $2,500, provides access to all the Bible translation software a language group needs, along with a built-in satellite internet connection. When one language group receives a BTAK and translates the Scriptures into their own heart language, they pass along what they’ve learned to other language groups in their region, according to Wycliffe. 

So far, the group has installed 549 BTAKs in 48 countries for 793 language communities.

Tim Neu, interim president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, stressed the necessity of such technology — particularly amid rising persecution in remote regions. 

“Even if terrorists find you, even if your equipment is confiscated or destroyed, even if the unimaginable happens, your translation work — weeks or months of translation progress — is protected,” said Neu.

“In remote, underdeveloped areas — jungles, rainforests, mountainous regions — anything handwritten on paper is actually at risk of harsh weather, humidity, flooding, even insects,” he added. “BTAKs protect all the work that’s been invested, day by day, in the translation of the Scriptures.”

Already, the kits are transforming lives and accelerating Bible translation. There are more than 12,000 remote areas in Indonesia without any internet service, and more than 100 language groups across Indonesia don’t have an internet connection.

Indonesia’s Sawi tribe, only reachable by plane or boat, received a BTAK from Wycliffe Associates and is almost finished translating the Old Testament in their language.

“This was once a tribe of cannibals. Generations grew up learning only to kill or be killed in tribal warfare. Today, God’s Word is transforming their hearts,” says Neu. “Without a BTAK, they might still be years away from experiencing God’s Word in its fullness.”

Recently, Wycliffe Associates announced it saw the completion of more Bible translations in 2020 than in any other single year, with New Testament translations completed in 141 languages and Old Testament translations completed in eight languages.

“I’ve been humbled to see how believers in difficult areas, some in places of intense persecution and real danger, have been absolutely unwavering in their dedication to the cause,” Neu said.

Wycliffe Associates also leveraged the power of technology to accelerate Bible translation, allowing mother-tongue translators to participate remotely in a virtual Bible translation event and collaborate throughout the translation and checking process.

“COVID lockdowns kept Bible translators home,” said Neu, “but our online Bible translation system enabled many to continue their work together.”

In recent years, technology has allowed the Bible — the bestselling book in the world — to reach millions in new and innovative ways. The number of languages with the entire Bible has nearly doubled in the past 30 years, from 351 in 1990 to 700 in 2020, according to statistics.

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