This is the last installment in our series of asking the questions we were most asked last time we were in the US. This week, the question is:
Are you doing translation?
What do you actually do?
The simple answer is that we do whatever needs to be done to meet our goals. I know, most of you will find that is not really an answer. Don’t worry, there is an answer in the following paragraphs. But first, let me say that missionaries who define their ministry by what they do and stick to it, sometimes do not accomplish their goals. In fact, they may not even realize that they are not meeting their goals.
Sometimes, an activity that has produced good results can become meaningless when things change. When the change is dramatic, such as when a tsunami swept away villages where one couple was doing a translation, we notice them and change. Where the changes are more subtile or are the result of long-term trends, we might miss them and continue with an activity that has lost its effectiveness. Dayle and I prefer to be persistent with regard to our goals, but not with regard to our activities. We evaluate our activities to see if they are meeting the goals, then change our activities as needed.
You can read our complete goals on our prayer page. Here is a summary:
- The churches in Ghana will have a plan to do translation in all the languages of Ghana that need it
- The churches in Ghana will start work in all the languages, where there is no work going on, by 2016
- Most of the people and money needed for translation will come from within Ghana by 2018
The pace of Bible translation is accelerating, largely because many more people are being mobilized to help. In fact, that is having a bigger impact on the pace than technology. We believe that the Lord led us to these goals. We do a number of things together with others in order to see those goals accomplished:
- Develop personal relationships with key Christian leaders
- Listen carefully to them, putting ourselves in the role of servants to their goals
- Supply church leaders and Christians with information about the value, impact and process of Bible translation. Identify ways Bible translation can make their ministry more effective.
- Identify which languages still need a translation, together with church leaders
- Work directly with interested parties – churches, Christians, local leadership – to define a plan for starting and carrying out the translation, including questions like how the linguistic work will be done to write the language, how translators will be chosen and trained, where they will work, where the money will come from, etc.
- Work with church leaders to find and address problems.
- Assist in the development of presentations, publications, and internet information to help the churches in Ghana understand Bible translation and possibilities it offers them.
These activities involve travel to language areas, face-to-face meetings, writing reports of those meetings, research, processing the results of meetings with people who were not there, phone calls, writing and responding to email messages, hostessing individuals and groups at receptions, etc. Or we might add an activity we have never done before, if the Lord impresses on us that it will help us meet the goals.