Wycliffe Associates, an international organization aimed at advancing Bible translation around the world, has announced that teams of translators are now ready to launch Bible translation projects in the Middle East despite risks of intense persecution.
According to Worthy News, Wycliffe Associates is planning to launch 30 new Bible translations in the next 45 days in the Middle East and is now raising funds to cover the cost of $19,500 per language.
In the Middle East alone, as many as 150 language groups still lack a translated Bible. But extreme poverty and risk of persecution prevent translators from independently converting the Bible to their mother tongue.
"National Bible translators are living under such severe persecution, you and I can hardly fathom what they're going through," said Wycliffe Associates CEO and President Bruce Smith.
"Many have been arrested. Their families have watched them being dragged off, jailed, beaten, and tortured. They've lost their jobs and their families simply because they tried to share God's Word with their countrymen," he continued.
One translator was jailed for eight months and spent part of the time in solitary confinement. Upon his release, he was told not to associate with any Christians for five years. He lost his job because of his imprisonment, and he now relies on the help of other Christians for his family's survival.
Another translator in the region was accused by the police of spying and was jailed for 33 days. The authorities claimed that his translation of the Bible was in code, in an attempt to take over the country. Although he was freed by the authorities, he was forbidden from leaving the country and he was informed that he would be summoned later for sentencing and be sent to prison.
"I have never seen faith like the faith of these Christians, laying their lives on the line, risking horrible recrimination if they're caught," Smith said.
"That's how important God's Word is to them. In this region of the world, the Bible is a matter of life or death. Eternity hangs in the balance," he added.
The translators will be converting the Scriptures to their own mother tongue using the method known as Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation (MAST), a collaborative process that makes it possible to translate the entire New Testament in months rather than years.
Wycliffe Associates has been stepping up its efforts so that every verse of the Bible is translated into every tongue.
Last year, 7,097 of its staff worked to speed Bible translations in 76 countries. The organization has indicated on its website that it aims to translate the Bible into every language by the year 2025.