Bible translation is the corollary of the biblical missionary mandate, that is, making and maturing disciples by evangelizing (Mark 16:15), baptizing and teaching believers (Matt. 28:19-20), and establishing Christ's church (1 Tim. 3:15). I would like to share how two recently published Bibles play an important role in local churches in Asia.
On November 13, 2018, at Grace Baptist Church in Hakha, Myanmar, the Hakha Chin believers dedicated Genesis, their first Old Testament book, as a trial edition. Ladies who received the book began reading it and asked me to teach them about it. Therefore, while I was checking the book of Exodus with the translation team, on two weekends I shared a short book introduction with the church ladies, including outlines of the book, main characters, the book theology and important verses. On Saturday, ladies had a Bible reading comprehension workshop on Genesis. We all enjoyed it and had lots of fun together as we engaged in different learning strategies, such as reviewing, choral reading, quizzing, drawing and sharing, a Bible character game, and reflecting. As the last event, we shared what we have learned about God from Genesis. Sung Sung, one of the younger women, shared with us that for a long time, she had wondered why the Bible talks about Israel so often. With a smile on her face, she thanked God for His faithfulness and power in keeping His words to Eve, Abraham and his descendants, and ultimately sending Jesus to save sinners, including herself. As I had noticed her ardent desire to know God during the sessions, I praised God for increasing her understanding and joy in the Lord.
The Akha New Testament together with Psalms and Proverbs was dedicated on November 17, 2018, in Chiang Rai, Thailand, only a few days after the Hakha Chin dedication of Genesis. This Akha translation utilizes a revised orthography and a new system of punctuation. Since the Akha language uses descriptive terminology for many concepts, pastors and teachers thanked God for the clear and consistent theological key terms in the New Testament, which enabled them to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Having accurate Scriptures that are easier to read than older translations, Akha believers are now more eager to read and grow in the Word. They are also excited about sending copies of their Bible to their own people, who are spread over four neighboring countries. The translation team reports of the joyful sound of four women reading aloud 20 chapters a week together during their meetings at church. They wanted to practice their reading of the newly printed Akha Bible. As they read aloud through the entire New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, they also report the increased joy and peace in their hearts, their families, their church, and their village. Praise God!
God is faithful and powerful in giving His Word to those who are without it, and in advancing Christ's Church through Bible translation.