Isotes Bible & Literacy

  • Location: Asia
  • Target Completion Date: 2036

Originating in Mongolia before migrating through China, the Isotes (ee-sow’-tayss) people (a pseudonym) now reside in South Asia. They number approximately 54,000, with 92% professing Christianity, possibly 10% of whom claim to be evangelical. Since primary schools teach the language widely used by the people, they experience a 70% literacy rate, with English and Mnema (another pseudonym) as additional languages.

Originally a headhunting culture, the Isotes young men became warriors when they turned 17 or 18. For a young Isotes to prove his worth as a warrior, he would collect the head of an enemy from another village. By the grace of God, the Isotes became one of the first tribes in their region to accept Christianity. Today, about 5,000 Baptist believers attend 17 local churches in two church fellowships among the Isotes people.

Not long after accepting the gospel, the new Isotes believers realized that they needed a Bible in their language to experience spiritual growth and maturity, so they asked Bibles International for assistance on a New Testament translation in 1997. After proposing the adoption of the project that same year, BI formally approved it in June 1999. Upon its completion, the Isotes New Testament dedication took place in June 2012. The Isotes churches joyfully accepted the first Scripture translation in their language with enthusiasm and thankfulness.

With the New Testament translation project completed, all the churches were eager for the translation of the Old Testament as well. Since BI adopted the Isotes Old Testament project in April 2013, the Isotes read-and-review sessions have occurred in all their churches, with each church having the opportunity to host on a rotational basis. This arrangement has ensured that all the Isotes churches remain excited and devoted to the translation work as they look forward to its completion.

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