In early June, IBT held a seminar in Moscow on what is known in Bible translation circles as Scripture Engagement. The seminar was attended by 21 people from 11 different ethnic groups of Russia and the CIS into whose language IBT has already translated significant portions of the Bible. Many of the participants were not IBT translation team staff, but rather members of churches that are using IBT’s Scripture translations. Lectures and practical assignments at the seminar were given by four instructors from SIL International, IBT’s long-time partner organization that works on researching and documenting minority languages.
The primary goal of the seminar was to provide participants with the knowledge and tools needed to help their people gain an interest in using the Scriptures in their mother tongue. Participants discussed the question of how to distribute Bible translations in the most acceptable form for their audience (printed, digital, video, audio, animation, storytelling, and so forth). They also learned to analyze the worldview of the potential users of Scripture in their culture, and asked questions such as:
- Does this people group have a significant body of wisdom sayings and proverbs?
- If so, are these similar to the Psalms or not?
- What, if any, Bible characters are people in society already familiar with and interested in learning more about?
- What simple multimedia Scripture products in their mother tongue can get people interested in using the translated Scripture while promoting greater respect for their language?
The participants gave overwhelmingly positive reviews of what they gained from attending the seminar. Many expressed an interest in creating a website in their mother tongue that would promote both their native culture and the Scriptures translated into their language. Several requests were voiced for IBT to conduct such seminars in different parts of Russia and the CIS in the future in order to involve more local community members. A follow-up seminar on designing “ethnic” websites is being planned for early 2016.