You are Not an Afterthought

By Rachel Greco

Even though 9,000 miles, an ocean, and torrid mountains stand between Andrew Sims in the U.S. and the men he works with in the highlands of Indonesia, they still communicate nearly every day.

Ridgetop village

“The [teams] type their [translation] data on a computer,” Andrew explains. “At the end of the day they send it to me. I make suggestions for corrections or revisions, and then I send it back at the end of my day. They can get it the next morning.”

A BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) terminal, which provides access to the internet via satellite, makes the electronic delivery of these Scripture files possible. When Andrew learned about this device years ago from IT staff at JAARS, he realized the BGAN would enable him to better serve his team as their translation consultant. According to Andrew, “without [this device], the whole [translation checking process] would come to a screeching halt. There’s just no way to efficiently carry out [this] project remotely unless you use the BGAN.”

Andrew’s team using the BGAN

In recent years, the GTIS (Global Technology Information Systems) department at JAARS has given Andrew and his team technical support and training and solved problems related to processing translation manuscripts. He describes how their hardware specialists “saved my bacon—so to speak—by solving difficult hardware problems several times.” Most recently, they saved a large amount of data that was trapped inside the hard drive of Andrew’s computer when it crashed. “The data rescue saved me several years’ worth of work—some of which only existed on that laptop.”

Andrew’s favorite part of his job is “when I see the local people understand for the first time what [the Scripture] says about who God is. The first step is understanding what God’s saying to you in the text. If you never quite get what he’s saying, then you never grasp those deeper implications.”

That’s the barrier these two language communities faced. They’d never clearly understood the national language, Bahasa Indonesian. So although they had access to Bahasa Indonesian Scriptures, they couldn’t read or understand them.

The people live in an isolated place with no amenities, no services, and almost no access. Over the years, local young people had traveled elsewhere. They saw things that they had never seen or heard of before—both possessions and opportunities—and thought, “What happened to us? How did we end up in such a difficult place? Who cares about us?”

Eastern Highlanders with Scripture

But when the team translated Chapter 17 of Acts, the lives of the people in these communities changed. They could read in their own language Acts 17:26-27: “He made from one man every nation of mankind … having determined the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God.” When they read these verses, their perspective about their value to God was transformed.

These communities now know they are not an afterthought to God; he loves them as much as he loves anyone in the world.

Soon, because of the technology Andrew utilizes, these people will have access to the entirety of God’s Word. Who knows how God will use it to continue to transform their lives?

Learn more here about what else God is doing in the world of technology for Bible translation and how you can join in.