I often think that I have the best job in the world working as a translation advisor with Wycliffe Bible Translators! How can it get any better than studying and translating God’s Word every day? I love immersing myself in Scripture and discovering the original, intended meaning of passages. I get excited about picking apart a verse and looking at the meaning of each individual word. However, I admit that sometimes I get so caught up in the research that I lose focus of what an immense responsibility and privilege it is to translate the Word of our Almighty God. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit….” If you are anything like me and have experienced a good whack upside the head by a particularly convicting verse, then you know the life-changing power of Scripture.
Recently I have been studying in the book of Nehemiah and am seeing some interesting parallels between Nehemiah rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem and the work of Bible translation. God called Nehemiah to leave the comfort of King Artaxerxes’ palace, where he worked in the highly esteemed position of cup bearer, and return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall for his people. Nehemiah and his fellow workers spent 52 days completing their task only to realize that there were no people to enjoy the benefits of the newly-constructed wall. God then put it on Nehemiah’s heart to call the people of Israel back to Jerusalem so that they could live in community within the protection of the wall.
One thing in particular about Nehemiah’s story grabbed my attention—the wall he worked so hard to rebuild had no purpose until the people returned to live within it. This is true of Bible translation, too. If the translators and I spend years producing an accurate translation of Scripture but ignore the hearts of the people for whom we are translating, then we have failed. Bible translation is so much more than writing words on paper, and it does not end when we place a Bible in someone’s hands for the first time. Bible translation is always about the people. The people whom God loves and wants to call His children. The people who are still separated from God because they don’t have access to His Word in the language of their heart. The people who are hurting and need the peace that only God can offer. Lord, may we never forget that it’s about Your people.
by Amanda Masatu, Wycliffe Bible Translators, February 2017