When God calls someone to join Bibles International as a missionary translation consultant, this person has probably already completed a Master’s degree in biblical languages. Therefore, he or she knows how to do the job and can get right to work, correct? No! It is just the beginning. It usually takes three to four years for a new consultant to get the practical training to do the work of consulting accurately. While in this process of training, new consultants are also traveling to churches and trying to get the support they need to live and support their ministry.
Where can they learn the tools they need in order to do the job? The only ones who can help are the consultants that have already done the job - senior consultants! These experienced people have many other tasks, but one of their most important is helping new consultants gain the experience they need to do the work.
An important part of training is teaching the new consultant in training (CIT) how to prepare for a workshop. The CIT needs to know how to compare a back translation (aka interlinear) of the target language with the original Hebrew or Greek text. They will make notes of many questions they need to ask during the workshop. For instance, the back translation may give the meaning of a word as “earth.” We need to find out if that is also the word for land or ground. Hebrew has a certain set of words, but the consultant needs to find out if the target language has similar words. CITs also need to check for modifiers (e.g., “all”), phrasal connections, pronoun references, etc. All the notes need to be gone over while checking the text with the translator. Often the CIT does not even know what they should be looking for and questions they should be asking. We, the senior consultants, work with the new CITs to show them what to watch for because we have learned how to find issues in other translations. The CIT simply needs practice and experience.
We try to guide them to all different issues they will face. They attend a workshop while a more experienced consultant leads it. They watch and learn what to ask about and how to gain the information they need. As they attend more workshops, they get progressively more involved. Finally, they will lead a workshop with the senior consultant present to see if they need help or are ready to go on their own.
Mentoring takes a lot of time, but it pays off in the end. We cannot get new workers to join us in checking translations unless we invest time in them, pray with them, talk with them and teach them. They will become co-workers in the task God has called us to do.
Currently, I am collaborating with one of our senior consultants, working on a tool to help translators and consultants. She could not provide such valuable input if I had not spent hours mentoring her when she first joined. I would have to be doing that task alone if I had not invested in her at the beginning of her career.
The number of consultants in the world is diminishing every year, but God has blessed Bibles International with young people who want to give their lives to the task. Together, we get to enjoy the task of getting the Word of God into another language that does not have it.