Last week, during one of our morning devotional times at the office, we watched a video produced from last year’s launch of the Solomon Islands Pidgin† Bible. After many years of hard work, the translators – who were assisted by Wycliffe translation consultants – had finished the whole Bible, and their work had gone through the entire checking and publishing process. Now it was time for it’s release, and I can’t think of any other book in the world that receives such attention at its launching.
Celebrations were planned and put on all over the country, small as it is, and dignitaries at all levels were present to praise the work and the diligent people who brought it about. The event was scheduled to coincide with the day marking the country’s 30th year of independence. This newly completed translation received the highest level of attention and respect that could be given by the nation and the culture.
What struck me the most was hearing government leaders stating, in both the ceremonies and personal interviews, how foundational God’s Word is to the governance, development, and unity of the nation. These leaders are convinced that having the Word in the language of the people is important for the success of the Solomon Islands.
In addition to footage of the formal ceremonies, speeches, and traditional dances, the video also showed scenes of the translation team working together and with the consultants who helped them with the process. The scenes had a few things in common. One was people – you just can’t do a Bible translation without people dedicated to it from beginning to end. Another thing I noticed was that at least one computer could be seen in each instance. There they were, quietly sitting in the background.
Being mere tools in the hands of the translators, computers don’t get much attention. They shouldn’t. But just as a hammer is essential to the work of a carpenter, a computer is now essential for the work of the Bible translator. My colleagues and I work very hard to keep computers in the background of each translator’s and consultant’s work – we only give them attention when they break or need an adjustment. At all other times, God’s Word and the people who listen to it, read it, and translate it should have the focus.
When we “retire” computers from campus use after three or four years, we assess their condition and quality to determine if they might be suitable tools for our colleagues overseas who cannot afford to purchase a new computer. If a laptop is still in good shape, then we breathe new life into it and send it with a translation consultant to a translator who needs a new(er) tool. Perhaps one day I will recognize a computer I serviced in another video – even if I don’t recognize the person using it.
Please pray today for all of the translation workers around the world who need a new computer, and pray that this need will not be a barrier to progress in their work.
† A “pidgin” language is one in which the words from one language have been blended with the grammar of another to form a language significantly different from either. Normally, a stable pidgin that has native speakers is called a “creole” language, but you know how names stick sometimes. English, by the way, is technically a creole language – it has a long history of borrowing heavily from other languages.