South African thought leaders, from various spheres of business and ministry, recently had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the leadership of the Wycliffe Global Alliance at a dynamic event, called “Leaders Intersect.” The event was hosted by Wycliffe South Africa, an organisation that works for a movement of biblical truth by meeting the remaining Bible translation needs in southern Africa.
Executive director of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, Kirk Franklin, said South Africa really intrigues him. “There is something going on here that I do not see in many nations, which makes it a pivotal nation for the whole continent.” Focusing on themes of leadership coming from South Africa, Franklin recently completed his PhD in South Africa to develop a model for global mission leadership, because “globalisation is affecting church and missions more than we realise.” The theme of the meeting was “Anticipating a flourishing Africa”. Leaders who attended are all influencers in a broader context than Bible translation, which is a reflection of Wycliffe’s commitment to partnering for holistic transformation of communities across the globe. The event attracted leaders from the South African Bible Society, Biblica, the South African Theological Seminary, the South African Evangelical Alliance, as well as several business executives.
Opening the conference, Karen Floor, CEO of Wycliffe South Africa explained the common denominator of the gathering was the anticipation of a flourishing Africa, saying, “Many people anticipate the opposite, however, anticipating positive transformation is not an isolated phenomenon. Even in secular circles, such as the African Union, there are positive aspirations about Africa, with a real vision for development and transformation across the continent.” “We think of Bible translation as more than a task,” said Floor. “Its role in community transformation becomes strategic when it intersects with other spheres of expertise to create a flourishing Africa at every level. Bible translation is at the core of who we are, and we see the evidence of how effective it is as a change agent in communities. We want to see God’s Word alive in everyone’s language, transforming lives and communities in this generation.”Sharing stories from around the world about the community impact of Bible translation, Luis Chavez, director of the Indigenous Bible Translation Organisation in Mexico, said: “Bible translation means every community has access to the Word of God, which has been proven time and again to be a catalyst for holistic community transformation. Statements that Christians go to communities to exterminate languages and cultures with the Bible, helped us to understand that we need to work in collaboration and develop new ways of doing our work, transmitting and modelling the values of the Word of God, working with government, social networks, organisations and education institutions.” According to Chavez, Bible translators working in minority language communities work in favour of these communities in many other aspects by translating information about health, justice, human rights and the environment. David Gela, director of Wycliffe Global Alliance Pacific Area, underlined the transformational impact of Bible translation. “In collaboration with YWAM, the Bible Translation Association of PNG brought health services to people throughout Papua New Guinea. The vision was to do this with a boat travelling up the rivers to bring dental and eye care to remote communities. Recognising the value of this combined community development approach in meeting their community development goals, the government of Papua New Guinea contributed 75% of the cost to buy the boat.” Mundara Muturi, director of Wycliffe Africa Area said: “Africans must learn to open up and give, rather than hold on to the things that God has given them. We must become more generous in trusting one another in collaboration efforts,” he said. He encouraged Africans to learn to trust each other and be confident in what they do. During table discussions, participants agreed that the Word of God will help leaders from all spheres to meet the potential of opportunities in Africa and that Biblical truth is the essential ingredient of any healthy society.
In closing, business leader, Roland Decorvet, encouraged Bible translators in the room by reminding them of how Christianity grew in Madagascar even after missionaries were required to leave. The first missionaries from the London Bible Society, who came to the island in 1820, translated the whole Bible into the main Malagasy language. When the missionaries left, there were 200 believers with the full Bible translated into the official Malagasy language. When they returned, they found a strong church of 200 000 Christians, despite severe persecution. Why? Because they had access to the Word of God in their own language. Bible translation makes the Word of God enduring, and so the Church endures and grows strong.
For news editors:
Wycliffe has helped people around the world to translate the Bible into their own languages for more than 70 years. We also help with language development, literacy and other spiritual and physical needs. Almost one third of the world's 7 000 languages do not even have one translated verse of God's Word. This means that nearly 300 million people are still waiting for a translation of the scriptures into their mother tongue and they are kept from fully understanding God's love and His ways. Together we are committed to beginning Bible Translation work in every language that needs it by 2025.