Roles

many hands

Many hands present the finished book to those gathered at the celebration for the Naro New Testament in Botswana. This image celebrates that the work of Bible translation is done by a community of people. Photo: Zeke du Plessis

Bible translation is all about partnership. Partnership between individuals and churches, trainers and trainees, nationals and expatriates.

In any language project a vast number of different people with different skills are required. Whatever your skills and interests, there is a part for you on the Bible translation team.

Language-related roles

In each Bible translation project there are language-related roles, such as

  • Literacy
  • Scripture Use
  • Language assessment
  • Linguistic work
  • Translation

For these, following acceptance with Wycliffe, you would be trained at SIL Australia based in Kangaroo Ground, Victoria. Refer to the tabs above for more information on each of these roles.

Non-language roles

There are also many other non-language roles, both in translation projects and remotely in other logistics roles, including:

  • IT and Computing
  • Teaching
  • Administration and Management
  • Finance
  • Other Roles

For these, you will use your existing skills and experience, with additional cross-cultural and vocational training given depending on what you’ll be doing and where. Refer to the tabs above for more information on each of these roles.

Don’t feel called to live overseas?

Our Wycliffe National Centre at Kangaroo Ground, Victoria has many departments – finance, personnel, IT, church liaison, fundraising, marketing, training, etc.

We need volunteers who can give their time and skills to help ensure the work worldwide is able to continue smoothly. We also need volunteers to help share about God’s mission of Bible translation with the church in Australia. Some specific vacancies are searchable on our vacancies pages but some may not be listed. If you are normally based in Australia, please contact us if you are interested in volunteering with us here at the National Centre.

Latest Vacancies

Check out our Positions Vacant page for some examples of current vacancies, both in Australia and overseas.

Administration

Ruth Oatridge checking print quality of Scripture portions. She currently serves in Tanzania as an Admin Assistant since 2007. Her career background is as a personal assistant in various positions over almost thirty years.

Ruth Oatridge checking print quality of Scripture portions. She currently serves in Tanzania as an Admin Assistant since 2007. Her career background is as a personal assistant in various positions over almost thirty years.

Use your skills and experience to help facilitate Bible translation around the world.

Overseas and at home, the need for administrators continues to grow as Bible translation and literacy work expand into new countries. At present administration is one of the most critical needs within the organisation.

Administration roles vary considerably, but may involve:

  • Carrying out management functions such as planning, organising and coordinating staff within the context of a cross-cultural team
  • Supervising and overseeing the training of expatriate and national staff
  • Managing the day-to-day running of an office to enable language work to continue
  • Writing funding proposals for Bible translation and literacy projects
  • Joining the home-based team at our National Office

Many of the skills and qualities which make a good administrator here in Australia are essential to the smooth running of a team overseas. Many situations call for imagination, ingenuity and initiative as well as a deep sense of commitment to the Lord. If God has given you administrative or management skills then these can be invested in taking His Word to people groups around the world.

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to do administration and management work.

Bible Translation

Celebration of Tangoa New Testament, Vanuatu

Celebration of Tangoa New Testament, Vanuatu

Work with mother-tongue translators to help translate God’s message of love into languages and lives.

The process of translation itself is a team effort involving both nationals and expatriates. Team members can find themselves being challenged intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually as they seek to bring God’s Word to those who have never read, heard or understood it.

For an expatriate, successful participation in a translation project will require:

  • A good knowledge of the local language and culture
  • A commitment to identifying gifted mother-tongue translators and training them to participate fully in the task
  • A thorough understanding of the Scriptures, so that the original message can be communicated clearly in the local language
  • Careful checking of the translation work to make sure it communicates accurately, clearly and naturally
  • Time invested in helping members of the language community to read and apply the translated Scriptures for themselves (See Literacy tab)
  • Interaction with church leaders and government officials to encourage ongoing support for the project (See Scripture Use tab)

Expatriates involved in translation often learn the language and culture of a group by living with people and taking time to build relationships. They would normally work as co-translators with mother-tongue speakers of the language, or serve as consultants to mother-tongue speakers who do the actual translation into their language.

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to do Bible translation work.

Finance

<em>Paul Machira counts money that has been donated to Bible Translation and Literacy Kenya (BTL), proceeds from the 2015 Run for the Bibleless. Photo: Rodney Ballard </em>

Photo: Rodney Ballard

Help us be good stewards of God’s gifts by using your head for numbers to support Bible translation around the world.

Wycliffe is concerned about properly handling the funds God entrusts to us. This includes accurately receipting and disbursing funds, accounting for them and wisely investing any funds available.

To accomplish this, we need people skilled in bookkeeping, accounting, insurance and financial management.

Each office maintains its own financial records and is responsible for accurately recording, summarising and reporting its financial transactions. Most offices use computerised accounting packages, which range from small systems on personal computers to large, sophisticated systems on computer networks.

If you are a bookkeeper or accountant, or are just well organised and have an eye for details, Wycliffe may have a role for you.

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to do finance work.

Information Technology

<em>Shu-Mei Lin helped the Kwanja translation team with computer training. Pictured with Shu-Mei is Djadon Emmanuel and Nganko Emmanuel, both of whom have been involved in the Kwanja Bible translation project. Photo: Zeke du Plessis</em>

Shu-Mei Lin helped the Kwanja translation team with computer training. Photo: Zeke du Plessis

Use your technical skills to assist in the translation task.

Technology offers exciting possibilities in the work of Bible translation. More than 300 computer and communications specialists currently serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators, but hundreds more are needed!

If we are to make it possible for all peoples to discover the Bible for themselves in their own language, this will involve nationals working in computer technology as well as supplying expatriate staff to provide appropriate training and mentoring. Your technical skills are crucial to this task.

No matter where you are, IT is important:
An IT specialist in Africa was attending a meeting of mother-tongue translators who had come from working in an area wracked by war. During their time together, he asked them to list the most difficult challenges they faced. The men compiled a long list of the difficulties and obstacles they faced doing translation work in a war zone. Then, each African translator was asked to vote for his top seven obstacles. When the votes were tallied, the civil war came near the top of the list – but it was second. The number one hindrance on their joint list was the lack of computer support!

Might there be a place for your skills on the Bible translation team? We need computer maintenance technicians, desktop publishing specialists, help-desk managers, web developers and more!

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to do IT work.

Language Survey

<em>Andy Huber, linguist for Sangu, writes down a phrase list from a Sangu speaker in the village of Mapogoro. Andy was working as part of a dialect survey team that went to Mapogoro in August 2008. Photo: Arlene Moe</em>

Andy writes down a phrase list from a Sangu speaker in the village of Mapogoro as part of a dialect survey team. Photo: Arlene Moe

Research unwritten languages to understand key areas of need.

One of the first steps before a Bible translation project can be started is to research how a language community can best have access to the Scriptures.

What languages are spoken, and by whom? Which dialects could potentially use the same translation? Which languages will still be used in 20 years’ time? Who would be key partners in a translation project? In what form are people most likely to engage with Scripture?

To research these things, language assessors, or surveyors, travel extensively throughout a language area, typically collecting word lists and interviewing local people in an attempt to understand the language situation. Factors such as comprehension and attitudes towards other language varieties are key when determining translation needs.

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to do language survey work overseas.

Linguistics

Bruce working on Iyive phonology with the Iyive team

Bruce working on phonology with the Iyive language committee

Lay the foundations for Bible translation through understanding the rules and structures of a language.

Many of the 1,800 languages where Bible translation is still needed do not yet have a written form. The majority have never been analysed or documented. In many cases language communities are keen to see their language developed, but they lack training and encouragement.

Working alongside members of a language community, a linguistic team will work towards:

  • Identifying gifted mother-tongue speakers and training them to participate fully in language development. The formation of local language committees is encouraged.
  • A thorough linguistic analysis of the sound system.
  • A practical alphabet which is approved and accepted by the community.
  • A detailed analysis of the grammatical system and language structure, which will help translators produce high quality translation.

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to do linguistic work overseas.

Literacy

7 Reading books, women's class, April 2014

Kathy in a women’s literacy class, Cameroon

Develop reading materials and programs, and pass on your skills to others.

Literacy can, quite literally, be the difference between life and death. Imagine English without books or any written information. Even in a post-literate age, that’s scary. Millions of people all over the world have no one to help them write down their language, produce books, or set up programs to teach adults and children to read. In almost all cases, it is the poor and marginalised who are denied access to literacy.

Wycliffe and its partner organisation, SIL International, are working alongside local communities to see this situation change, and offer specialist training in the various aspects of literacy work. Read about the difference literacy makes to one lady (click here to view Anita’s story), or check out the February 2016 edition of Wycliffe Today accessible here.

Do you have what it takes to be a literacy worker? Do you desire to serve and help others? Do you have a concern for the marginalised?

Find out more

Media, Music and Arts

A man plays a harp, called a kundi. Photo: Heather Pubols

A man plays a harp, called a kundi. Photo: Heather Pubols

Use your media skills, training and experience to help in vernacular media roles.

The most effective communication is in the language we understand best. This happens through an increasing variety of media. No culture relies entirely on printed words to pass on information. Vernacular media – like music, poetry, drama and dance – not only convey information, but also share values and express emotions.

Specialists in vernacular media work alongside other translation team members, finding media tools that are culturally appropriate for each language group. Film, audio, radio, filmstrips, drama, puppets, flipcharts, photos and the internet are just some of the tools used to communicate God’s life-changing message. Ethnomusicologists help communities to write songs in their own language and style, drawing upon newly translated Scripture.

These media tools aid and encourage the use of printed resources rather than replacing them. They also provide an indispensable access to God’s Word for millions of people around the world who are unable to read.

Could you be a part of making God’s Word available to people in the language they understand best?

Find out more

Mobile Technology

An elderly Khoisan man is delighted to listen to a recording of the New Testament in his own language – Naro. Photo: Zeke de Plessis

An elderly Khoisan man is delighted to listen to a recording of the New Testament in his own language – Naro. Photo: Zeke de Plessis

Technological advances are opening new doors for the gospel

Mobile phone penetration is especially noticeable in emerging countries without extensive landline infrastructure, but where there is mobile signal coverage. In poorer rural communities, owning a mobile phone represents good value for money, combining features of PCs, media players and even torches.

Texts are shared in minority languages. Money is transferred using phones. But new media functionality means that even communities without mobile signal are using these devices to share MP4 video files, music and information, often via Bluetooth. In some restricted places it can be extremely hard to obtain or keep printed Scriptures, but downloading Scripture video, audio or text and sharing it on mobile phones is much easier. God’s Word can spread like wildfire. Literacy and health materials can be shared to the benefit of whole communities!

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.

Scripture Use

Drama of the story of David and Goliath. The person playing the part of David is getting ready to throw a stone from his slingshot at the man playing the part of Goliath.

Drama of the story of David and Goliath. Photo: Zeke du Plessis

Use God’s Word’s life-changing power and your love for the Scriptures to help see churches grow in their love for Christ and impact their community.

Completing a New Testament and holding a dedication ceremony is a great landmark in any translation project. It’s a reason for celebration, but it’s not the main goal. The ultimate aim of any translation project is to see lives changed as the Scriptures are understood and applied in the lives of individuals and in the life of the Church.

Scripture Use specialists work alongside churches to help people see the relevance of God’s Word to everyday life. They are often relational people who enjoy sharing their vision and enthusiasm with Christians from a wide variety of church backgrounds.

The work of Scripture Use is extremely varied. It may involve working with pastors and literacy specialists to develop Bible study materials or Sunday school programmes. It may also involve helping local Christians to produce audio cassettes, videos or radio programmes. Those with musical abilities may develop their skills in ethnomusicology and arts and help church communities worship God in ways natural to their culture.

Do you have a passion to see translated Scriptures transform hearts and lives? Could you help empower the local church to grow in Christ through the use of mother-tongue Scriptures?

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to do Scripture Use work.

Sign languages and Bible translation

Diane Lovell, Bible translation consultant-in-training with the Seed Company in southern Africa. Diane displays some words she has learnt of South African Sign Language. Photo: Elyse Patten

Diane Lovell, Bible translation consultant-in-training with the Seed Company in southern Africa. Diane displays some words she has learnt of South African Sign Language. Photo: Elyse Patten

There are over 30 million Deaf people in the world. Most of them do not have a mother tongue, because their parents are hearing. They do not use a spoken language but a signed one. More than 200 sign languages have been confirmed, and there could be more than 400 in total.

Why translate the Bible into sign languages? Why can’t Deaf people just read it?
First, it’s not their language. For most Deaf people, sign language is the first language they learnt and the language of their heart.

Second, many Deaf are illiterate. This is partly due to poor literacy in many countries, but also because reading can be more difficult: letters correspond to sounds, sounds that most deaf people have never heard. Each combination of letters has to be memorised separately, and reading is more like looking at a list of phone numbers than words — not exactly something that clearly speaks to your heart!

Third, the grammars of sign languages are very different from those of spoken languages.

Despite this plain need for sign language Bible translation, no sign language has a complete Bible. In fact, there is only one whole sign language New Testament, in American Sign Language.

Deaf Bible story artist works on the drawings to be used as backgrounds in the DVD, and in the storyboard book. Photo: Elyse Patten

Deaf Bible story artist works on the drawings to be used as backgrounds in the DVD, and in the storyboard book. Photo: Elyse Patten

What does a sign language Bible look like?

Sign language Bible portions can be produced in many different forms. These include videos, animations, sign writing and line drawings.

Are there many Deaf Christians?
There is a big need for Bible translation among deaf communities: only 1-2% of Deaf people are Christian, which means that Deaf communities are some of the least reached in the world. Without the ability to access God’s Word in a language they truly understand, how can they come to know God?

You can make a difference for the deaf particularly if you have media skills in illustration, video or animation technology, but also by prayer or by financially supporting translation projects for the deaf. Wycliffe Bible Translators partners with The Seed Company and DOOR International, working with deaf communities to support their Bible translations. Wycliffe Australia also partners with the Deaf Bible Society working on producing animated Bibles for deaf communities. See the Thurrowgood story.

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to get involved

Teaching

This student seemed a little distracted by me presence. Photo: Marc Ewell

Photo: Marc Ewell

Help accomplish the translation task by teaching overseas.

Wycliffe offers a wide variety of opportunities for teachers and school administrators, who are always in great demand!

School environments vary dramatically, ranging in size from just a single classroom to a school with over 700 students aged 5 -18. Some teachers serve on the staff of an international school used by a variety of different mission organisations. The curriculum of each school reflects the specific needs of its student body and will depend largely on the nationalities of the students.

Wycliffe also needs teachers in remote areas who would like to support expatriate families who are homeschooling their children.

Teachers must have recognised teaching qualifications from their own country. They should also have the willingness and flexibility to teach students of other cultures and nationalities.

Teaching missionary children is both challenging and satisfying – and a vital part of accomplishing the Bible translation task.

Find out more

  • If you are normally based in Australia, ask us a question about this role or how your skills might be suitable for this type of work. Use our online contact form or connect with one of our Wycliffe regional representatives close to you.
  • Use our online enquiry form to tell us about yourself and why your skills and experience would be a good fit for this role. We’d love to hear from you.
  • Investigate opportunities to teach overseas.

Other Roles

<em>Brandon Penkoff is flying itinerant teacher Carolyn Partridge to Banso, in the northwest of Cameroon, where she will teach missionary children. Photo: Rodney Ballard </em>

Brandon Penkoff is flying itinerant teacher Carolyn Partridge to Banso, in the northwest of Cameroon, where she will teach missionary children. Photo: Rodney Ballard

There are literally dozens of other roles that are vital as part of the Bible translation movement.

Overseas, Wycliffe currently has need for aviation mechanics, car mechanics, centre managers, communications specialists, construction supervisors, counsellors, desktop publishers, graphic designers, international relations specialists, personnel staff, pilots and public relations specialists to name just a few!

There are also opportunities for people to work at the Wycliffe Australia National Centre in Kangaroo Ground, Victoria. Wycliffe’s support of individuals and projects overseas can only continue with the presence of a good support network here in Australia.

It is likely that whatever your background and experience, your skills will prove invaluable somewhere in the Bible translation team.

Find out more