Seeing by Hearing

By Rachel Greco

In a city in Central Asia, six translators from a minority people group, joined by two American translation advisors, gathered daily for three weeks to study the Word of God, internalize its meaning, and discuss how best to express that meaning in their language. 

Although all the children of this minority group go to school and learn a major language, the people prefer to speak their own dialect in their homes and with family and friends. However, they cannot read their language.  

Dedicated translators from South Korea had helped translate several books of the Bible into their dialect, but the majority of the people can’t read or understand them. 

Therefore, when Faith Comes by Hearing (FCBH) was introduced to some Americans who were working with this people group, FCBH explained the opportunity to collaborate and produce an Oral Bible Translation (OBT). All involved agreed that OBT was a priority and a vital need to reach this people with the gospel.

So they gathered in a city for three weeks to learn how to do OBT. Only one of the translators, Mark*, is a Christian, and he is the only known believer in his people group. After retiring from his job as a software engineer, he lost more and more of his sight, and now he can barely see faces and shapes. 

Mark, the legally blind translator, studies a story board during training.

During the OBT training, Mark had to use a magnifying glass and get right up next to the computer screen to see what was happening. He took photos of the screen and then studied them with the magnifying glass. One of the FCBH trainers, Levi*, said, “It was really moving to see him so engaged despite his disability.” Another FCBH staff member said, “This man’s life of prayer and faith are inspiring.” 

Levi, the main trainer for the workshop, lost his voice after the first two days. He had to whisper some instructions to the translators, but thankfully other FCBH staff members stepped in to help lead some of the lessons. 

Some people had come to the workshop to observe, hoping to take the OBT skills to other people they serve. When some of them became sick with COVID-19, Levi set up computers and speakers so they could still participate via Zoom. By God’s grace, they recovered quickly, and no one else became sick. 

Now, upon completing the workshop, the translation team is orally translating the book of Luke using the laptops, headsets, and speakers that JAARS has provided them, thanks to people like you giving to Technology Solutions

Although the team has been working only since January, God, through his Word, has revealed to the non-believers on the team who Jesus is and his purpose in dying for their sins. “Through the process of studying and orally translating the book of Luke, [the non-believers] have come to a deep appreciation of who Jesus is and what he teaches. They have often confessed that they are like the Pharisees who hold onto religious rituals without truly knowing God, nor having a relationship with Him,” an FCBH staff member said. 

Praise God that through the Oral Bible translation process, he is opening these people’s minds and hearts to see and understand who Jesus is! 

Join us in praying that God would continue to show the translators who he is, and that they would be courageous to continue the work even if their communities alienate or shame them.  

*Name changed for security reasons