UBS lays down roadmap for worldwide Bible translation
March 12, 2018
An old lady sits among her neighbors in a small nipa hut they use as an assembly hall. Such is the simple way of life in the mountains of Norzagaray, Bulacan where Yolanda lived all her life.
She had just met their town’s visitors who came to engage the children in coloring books and Bible stories. As Yolanda and the elderly people of Sapang Munti watched, the children among them happily huddled around their makeshift table — an old fallen tree trunk where they drew and colored Bible characters of their choice.
One of city visitors couldn’t help but notice Yolanda carrying a thick and worn-out book, which she referred to as her life’s treasure.
“I know God because of this book,” she said. “My problems do not seem so heavy and unbearable anymore. I love it because God speaks to me and teaches me every time I read my Bible.”
Yolanda may have received her Tagalog Bible years ago from a stranger, or it may have been a loving gift from a friend or relative. Whatever the case, her story tells us that on this side of the world, people from the mountains have heard about God and praise Him.
Indeed, people young and old, rich and poor, and in every people group, however small, need the life-giving message in the Scriptures about the Lord Jesus Christ. To this great mission of making God known all over the world, UBS maps out its strategy for the next 20 years to finish 1,200 Scripture translations.
Published in a document called UBS Translation Roadmap, the endeavors of UBS were specified in order to meet the goal of reaching over 600 million people with God’s Word by the year 2038. This may be through first translations of full Bibles, New Testaments, and Scripture portions, as well as revised translations.
Director General of UBS Mr. Michael Perreau describes the global roadmap in this way: “Among the 1,200 translations to be completed, 850 languages are going to have the Bible or portions of the Bible for the very first time. Can you imagine if you came from one of the island tribes and this is going to be your first time to receive God’s Word? It’s very special.”
As a global fellowship, UBS operates in over 200 countries and territories through national Bible Societies, who collaborate for Bible production, translation, engagement and literacy, and fundraising. Among the innovations of UBS are the Digital Bible Library™ which contains 800 languages of Bible translations available online, in Braille Bibles, in Sign Language Bibles for the deaf, Study Bibles, and thousands of Scripture resources in many other different formats.
Local Bible Translation
In the Philippine context, there are already 140 translations in the form of full Bibles, New Testaments, or Scripture portions like the Gospel of Mark. Bible translation, however, remain vital to the identity and understanding of the remaining people groups who still don’t have a copy of God’s Word in their native tongue.
“We had only dreamed about a more thorough impact of the Bible a decade ago,” said Dr. Edgar Ebojo, Publishing Manager of Philippine Bible Society (PBS). “Last year, a unique privilege has come in the form of a cooperative relationship between PBS and other translation agencies, namely the Translators’ Association of the Philippines and Summer Institute of Linguistics. We also share common goals with other organizations like the OMF Philippines, Ethnos360 (formerly called New Tribes Mission), and Wycliffe Philippines.”
In a recent meeting last February 2018, PBS met with the mentioned organizations to map out the remaining 45 Philippine languages without a translation of Scriptures. Dr. Ebojo remarked, “The initiative of UBS to define the goals of translation globally has encouraged us. This will facilitate our local efforts to deliberately plan and allocate resources, and to train people specifically for translation needs. We are one with UBS in this endeavor.”
Aside from its new ventures, PBS is also set to launch five new Scripture materials later this year: the New Testament in Western Waray, Northern Waray, Eastern Waray, Boi’nun (Rinconada Bikol), and Pinoy Version (modern translation).
As it continues its mission of making the Bible known, PBS encourages its partners and friends to continue praying for God’s Word to impact more lives through Bible translation and publishing, strategic distribution, and meaningful Scripture engagement activities both locally and internationally.