Update from Kartidaya

Kartidaya, an Indonesian organisation of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, is currently overseeing Scripture translations into the heart languages of 44 people groups. Another 10 language communities are waiting to have translation started in 2016, with 81 to go to reach 125 languages for Kartidaya’s Vision 2020.

With such a huge challenge before them, their Director, Marnix Riupassa, shares about how it should not be just about numbers, and how transformational impact can be created by working with the local churches.

Why is a holistic approach important in Bible translation and how can it be incorporated into a Bible translation project?

Marnix (MR): A chair al­ways has three or four legs. It’s ab­nor­mal to have a one-legged chair. We’ll need to add more legs so that peo­ple can sit com­fort­ably on it. I see Bible trans­la­tion as only one tool and other tools are needed to func­tion to­gether to fa­cil­i­tate trans­for­ma­tion. When we look at Bible trans­la­tion, it’s not just about how we trans­late the Bible but about the mis­sion to cre­ate a fruit­ful im­pact. To achieve that, we need some­thing more holistic.

In the past, we tended to be in­ter­ested in the quan­ti­ta­tive out­comes of Bible trans­la­tion, e.g., how long would it take to trans­late and how many copies to pub­lish. When a trans­la­tion was com­pleted, we con­sid­ered it a suc­cess. But Bible trans­la­tion is more than the re­sult; trans­for­ma­tional im­pact needs to hap­pen. As such, we have to in­cor­po­rate ac­tiv­i­ties that will help cre­ate the mo­men­tum for peo­ple to use the Bible.

Scrip­ture en­gage­ment is one el­e­ment to bridge be­tween the trans­lated Bible and the lan­guage group to bring about trans­for­ma­tional im­pact. Com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment is an­other that can pro­duce fruit. So the ques­tion of how we can use Bible trans­la­tion, Scrip­ture en­gage­ment, com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, health­care, etc., in re­la­tion to God’s mis­sion is im­por­tant, with Bible trans­la­tion as the foun­da­tion upon which the other el­e­ments are built for trans­for­ma­tion to take place.

Pastors from six language groups pray for the mother-tongue translators and commission them to the task of bringing oral Bible stories to the villages.

Pastors from six language groups pray for the mother-tongue translators and commission them to the task of bringing oral Bible stories to the villages.

How can we help people become aware that getting the Bible translated is not the final goal, but that for fruitful transformation to occur, more must be done to build on that?

MR: There is a Chi­nese say­ing: 言教不如身教, which when trans­lated means “ac­tion speaks louder than words”. When ap­plied, it means we should not only talk about King­dom econ­omy, but also show the peo­ple how to bring it about. We have to ques­tion our­selves if we are start­ing Bible trans­la­tion pro­jects so that we can meet Vi­sion 2025 or are we do­ing trans­la­tion for the pur­pose of help­ing every­one un­der­stand their im­por­tance in God’s mis­sion? If we are just in­ter­ested in the num­bers, we can use the tools and re­sources to fin­ish one trans­la­tion and move on to the next. But re­mem­ber, the goal of God’s mis­sion is trans­for­ma­tion and fruitfulness.

An­other as­pect of Bible trans­la­tion is how we can mo­ti­vate every­one to be a dis­ci­ple of the Lord. Of­ten­times when we talk about dis­ci­ple­ship in re­la­tion to a com­mu­nity where the ma­jor­ity are non-be­liev­ers, the first thing we usu­ally do is try to con­vert them to Christ, af­ter which we at­tempt to dis­ci­ple them in the same way we have been dis­ci­pled. But when the com­mu­nity is not Chris­t­ian, it is very dif­fi­cult to evan­ge­lise them based on our pre­sent par­a­digm. In­stead, we should try to con­nect with them by start­ing from their own sit­u­a­tion. I call this “love dis­ci­ple­ship”, a process where we try to show God’s love in dif­fer­ent ways with­out speak­ing but through our at­ti­tude to­wards them. Many work­ers have failed and re­turned from the re­cep­tor coun­try be­cause they tried to reach out from their own par­a­digm and did not see and be­gin from the world­view of the com­mu­ni­ties there. To me, “love dis­ci­ple­ship” is one of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of holis­tic ministry.

Community services such as medical care help to build bridges to a language community.

Community services such as medical care help to build bridges to a language community.

How have you tried to introduce the holistic approach and develop ownership by the local language community so that they will be more involved in their translation project?

MR: We are try­ing to help every com­mu­nity re­alise that they are the sub­ject, not ob­ject, of God’s mis­sion and in the Bible trans­la­tion pro­ject. We do that by en­cour­ag­ing them to cre­atively use the books that are al­ready trans­lated. For in­stance, a denom­i­na­tion in east­ern In­done­sia has com­pleted the trans­la­tion of the Gospel of Mark. With some words of en­cour­age­ment from the de­nom­i­na­tional head at the launch, all their churches are now us­ing the trans­la­tion in their fam­ily fel­low­ship, chil­dren’s fel­low­ship and Sun­day ser­vices. They also ini­ti­ated ac­tiv­i­ties to en­gage the whole com­mu­nity dur­ing Christ­mas and Easter. More­over, the lo­cal church funded all such ac­tiv­i­ties and did not de­pend on gov­ern­ment fund­ing or other sources.

In an­other clus­ter pro­ject where six lan­guages are in­volved, pas­tors from all the com­mu­ni­ties at­tend the clos­ing cer­e­monies of each train­ing work­shop and to­gether com­mis­sion the mother-tongue trans­la­tors to go into the vil­lages with their oral Bible sto­ries. Own­er­ship of the pro­ject was fur­ther demon­strated when the pas­tors de­cided them­selves what they wanted to ac­com­plish for the pro­ject. In the past, the Bible trans­la­tor or agency would ap­proach a com­mu­nity and de­ter­mine what would be done; the com­mu­nity had lit­tle say in the mat­ter.

We also tend to equate in­volve­ment with fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion. From our ex­pe­ri­ence with the clus­ter pro­ject above, they might not have much money but they gave the re­sources they had. For ex­am­ple, they pro­vided the food and ac­com­mo­da­tion for the trans­la­tion work­shops and Kar­ti­daya only had to bring the train­ers. In an­other three-lan­guage clus­ter pro­ject, one lan­guage group com­mit­ted to help an­other who had fallen be­hind in reach­ing their pro­ject out­comes. From these ex­am­ples, we not only see the com­mu­nity demon­strat­ing greater own­er­ship for their trans­la­tion pro­ject, but also trans­for­ma­tional and fruit­ful im­pact as a re­sult of en­gag­ing with God’s Word in their heart language.

About the Author: Angela Leong is one of the communications staff of Wycliffe Singapore.
This article is originally published in Wycliffe Singapore’s magazine – More than Words, May 2016.

Thanks for your patience...

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