We believe that everyone should have access to the Bible in their own heart language so that they can cherish God’s Word and strengthen their relationship with Him. It is extremely encouraging to hear about the fruitful work that Bible Societies around the world have been doing in Bible translation.

2015 was an extremely successful year for Bible translation with Bible Societies assisting in the completion of Scriptures in 50 languages spoken by nearly 160 million people. This inspiring work saw some communities receive Scriptures for the very first time.

It is estimated that:

  • 33 million people, who speak over 28 different languages, received their first ever copy of the Bible;
  • 11 communities now have complete Bibles;
  • 6 communities now have a New Testament; and
  • 11 have new portions of Scripture.

For example, in Ethiopia, nearly 3 million speakers of the Sidama language received their first full Bible in their language.

As well as producing new translations of Scriptures, Bible Societies have also helped to revise existing Scriptures as languages continue to change and develop over time. 2015 saw 20 new translations and revisions which have the potential to reach over 127 million people and help them to engage with God’s Word in their own heart language.

Our belief that the Bible should be made available for everyone in a language that they can understand includes not only spoken languages but also Scriptures in Braille and Sign language for the visually impaired and deaf communities.

The hands of Zahara Nakabugo, 22, from Uganda reading a Braille Bible.

The hands of Zahara Nakabugo, 22, from Uganda reading a Braille Bible.

There is a severe lack of Braille Bibles in different languages so Bible Societies have been working hard to create more Braille Scriptures to be made available to the 285 million people around the world who are visually impaired, 40 million of whom are blind. In order to produce a full Braille Bible a significant amount of work needs to be done as Braille Bibles usually consist of more than 40 bulky volumes. Last year the Sinhala Braille Bible was completed allowing the more than 150,000 visually impaired people in Sri Lanka the opportunity to read the Bible for themselves for the first time in their own language. There are now 44 languages that have full Braille Bibles. Braille portions of Scriptures were also completed in the language of Purepecha in Mexico and additional portions were produced in Spanish and Armenian as well as a new Dutch Braille Bible.

There are over 400 unique Sign Languages and for many of the 70 million deaf people worldwide one of those Sign Languages is their heart language. The United Bible Societies alongside other international ministries is desperately seeking to produce more Scriptures in Sign Language as they have recognised that there is a major Scripture need amongst deaf communities. The New Testament is only available in American Sign Language and this is the largest portion of Scripture currently available in Sign Language. Bible Societies around the world are now currently involved in 14 ongoing projects to produce Scriptures in Sign Languages and another 9 are just beginning.

The United Bible Societies set the goal in 2013 to complete 100 full Bibles by the end of 2015 and it is encouraging to hear that 90 have completed the translation stage; 53 have been published and are already being used in different communities, and 37 are in pre-production or printing. Please pray for all those working on the remaining 10 translations that they will be able to complete their work as soon as possible.

It is extremely encouraging to hear about the great work that is happening around the world in Bible translation however there are still around 281 million people who only have access to small portions of the Bible in their own language and a further 497 million people with no Scriptures translated in their heart language at all. The Scottish Bible Society, along with other Bible Societies around the world, is committed to working towards the day when everyone can access a copy of the full Bible in their own language.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the continued work of Bible Societies around the world in Bible translation.
  • Pray for those who are yet to receive Scriptures in their heart language that they will soon have access to God’s Word.
  • Pray for the people who have recently received new translations that they will strengthen their relationship with God and feel closer to Him.