Regional Spotlight: Asia
Marco Polo, Venetian merchant and adventurer, traveled from Europe to Asia from 1271 to 1295. His famous book, The Travels of Marco Polo, described his journeys and experiences and influenced later adventurers.
Many disbelieved the tales of his travels. Even as he lay dying at his home in Venice, Italy, in January 1324, many urged him to admit his book was fiction. Marco would not relent. “I have not told half of what I saw,” he insisted.
Marco Polo could never have predicted all that is transpiring in those areas he traversed so long ago. With 4.5 billion people in 50 countries spanning from Turkey eastward through India to Vietnam, southward to Indonesia and Malaysia and northward through China and Russia to the Arctic Circle, the Asian continent is now Earth’s largest and most populous land mass.
Of over 3,300 language groups, more than 1,700 have yet to hear even one word of Scripture translated into the language that speaks to their hearts.* Though the task is daunting, JAARS is there—focusing our resources and solutions in media, technology, and aviation to support our partners’ specific translation and ministry goals.
*per Wycliffe Global Alliance, accessed at Wycliffe.net/asia September, 2017
With the global Internet revolution, Scripture websites are coming online even in the most sensitive areas of Asia. These websites transcend any restrictions intended to limit Christian activities and gatherings. On these sites people can find, read, watch, and listen to God’s Word in their own language.
The rapidly expanding use of Scripture-related apps and Internet access on mobile phones allows them to easily download and share the content of these websites.
In recording studios across Asia, staff members create video and audio recordings to serve the needs of more than 70 translation projects in the area. They also provide training and mentoring to local translation teams, including pastors, in how to use these materials in their communities for worship and teaching. The JESUS film continues to impact people in many countries as technology makes it possible to dub its script in unwritten languages. Now those who do not read and write can experience the gospel through the drama of Jesus’ life.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
IT specialists at regional centers in Asia handle many important support services such as leading workshops on translation software and helping develop cultural websites. More than ever, translation teams rely on the support—on-site and online—of these local IT specialists. Without their assistance, translation teams struggle to meet deadlines and encourage language communities with their progress in translation. Other areas of IT support include the provision of laptops for translation personnel and upgrading of networks and equipment to ensure reliable Internet connectivity and enable faster and more accurate translation work.
Because airplanes are the only safe way to reach many isolated villages and communities in Indonesia,
JAARS continues its partnership with YAJASI. The mission of YAJASI is to support Bible translation projects in remote areas using rugged, turbine-powered aircraft to carry passengers and cargo.
On his deathbed, Marco Polo stated that he had only told some of what he witnessed and experienced during his Asian journeys. This brief article mentions some of the ways the Lord is using technological and aviation advances in spreading his Word through Asia. The story is only beginning—much more will be told.
THANK YOU for your continuing support for Scripture translation and expanded access to the Word of God for the people of Asia. Go here to learn more.