At US$35 (SGD$50) per verse, believers can band together this Pentecost to gift all 7,957 verses of the New Testament to a language group without a single word of Scripture. Photo by samanthasophia on Unsplash.

At US$35 (SGD$50) per verse, believers can band together this Pentecost to gift all 7,957 verses of the New Testament to a language group without a single word of Scripture. Photo by samanthasophia on Unsplash.

In an eastern state of India lives the Flametree Blossoms* community, a culturally-rich tribal people who make their living as subsistence farmers and labourers.

While the population, which numbers about 2.5 million, are traditionally animistic, almost 80% have become Christians through the work of the Evangelical Lutherans in the 19th century.

None of their 200 churches has a Bible in their native language.

But there is one problem: None of their 200 churches has a Bible in their native language.

To get God’s Word to the people, pastors make on-the-spot translations from Scripture in Hindi when they teach and preach at the pulpit.

But the people yearn for more. They hunger to read God’s Word for themselves.

Thankfully, their wait will soon be over.

Work is in progress to translate the New Testament into their heart language. If all goes as planned, the Flametree Blossoms people will finally have a portion of Scripture by the end of the year.

Word-deprived communities

But not all language groups are as fortunate. 

At least 2,000 language groups around the world, of which 745 are in Asia, do not have a single verse of Scripture, according to statistics by illumiNations, a coalition of 10 Bible translation partners who are working to have Scripture in all languages by 2033.

They hunger to read God’s Word for themselves.

This Pentecost, illumiNations Asia – the Asian arm of the coalition – is inviting the body of Christ in Asia to unite in giving the New Testament to one such language group.

As part of the Pentecost Give a Verse Initiative, believers can band together to gift all 7,957 verses of the New Testament to a group without Scripture at US$35 (SGD$50) per verse. (See sidebar below on how to give.)

The initiative kicks off today (May 31) and will end in 50 days on July 20.

Pentecost is significant to the Bible translation movement for two reasons, shared Andrew Tay, who leads illumiNations Asia.

Firstly, it marks the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ disciples – 50 days from Easter – and enabled them to share the Gospel in different languages, leading to the salvation of 3,000 that day.

“Would you join God’s movement to give His living Word to those who don’t have it?”

Additionally, in the Old Testament, Pentecost was celebrated as the beginning of the wheat harvest – 50 days after the start of the barley harvest – where people offered their firstfruits to God. (“Pente” means five in Greek.)

Both meanings of Pentecost come together in this initiative, said Tay. “As a body of Christ in Asia, let us celebrate this Pentecost by offering our first fruits to God, which will go into giving His living Word to a group that doesn’t have Scripture.”

He added that the language group will be chosen after the initiative ends, depending on how much is raised. If it is successful, he hopes this can be a yearly project by the body of Christ.

Extending the invitation to all believers, he said: “Would you join God’s movement to give His living Word to those who don’t have Scripture?”

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? (Romans 10:13-14)

 

 

* The name of the people group has been changed for their protection.

Will you join the Bible translation movement?

Here are three ways you can partner God and His people this Pentecost to bring God’s Word to those without Scripture:

  • Give one or more verses to a language group without Scripture here.
  • Share this initiative with your church, friends and family.
  • Pray for the Bible translation work that is being done, and the work that is to be done.

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, funding for existing Bible translation projects have fallen by about 30%, said Tay. This means that the progress of these projects will have to be delayed.

If you would like to support Bible translation work on a regular basis, you may contact illumiNations Asia at enquiry@2tn.org.

 

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About the author

Gracia Lee

Gracia is a journalism graduate who thoroughly enjoys people and words. Thankfully, she gets a satisfying dose of both as a writer at Salt&Light. When she's not working, you will probably find her admiring nature or playing Monopoly Deal with her little brother.