“Before I even speak a word, You know what I will say,
and with Your powerful arm You protect me from every side”
In this newsletter we would like to share with you a fascinating story, which truly happened in one of our projects. We will not name this people group explicitly, so that the lives of our protagonists would not be endangered. Right now we have two translators in this project, let us call them Dina and David. But it was not always like this. In the past Dina was the only translator. She devoted quite a few years of her life to Bible translation, though she is not a Christian. There are no known Christians among the representatives of her people group. Not even a single one. Dina is a really good specialist in her mother tongue.
A year and a half ago Dina came to Moscow for a working session in her project, and I asked her what made her so dedicated to Bible translation. She answered, “When you’re producing a translation, you confront life itself. You start comparing the text with your own life, and you see that there are no exceptions in our world: we live now the same way people lived in olden times, and what is right or wrong is the same for any historical period. These interesting comparisons push me ahead in my work. Very often I wish that my official work day would end as soon as possible so that I could come home quickly from my main job, take care of the needed housework, and then sit and with great pleasure start writing down my translation of the Bible. The more peaceful you are, the quicker you get ahead, chapter by chapter. All the books that I worked on – Ruth, Jonah, Esther, Genesis, Luke – are equally fascinating for me. I am translating them with pleasure!”
A month or two after we talked, this dedicated translator, who was so much in love with the Bible, had to leave the project. She was confronted with real danger because of the negative attitude to the Bible in the society where she lived, and had to choose the safety of her loved ones. But during this crisis in the project, we found another scholar and linguist, whom we call David. Not intimidated by anything, David felt how important the Bible was for his national language and culture. He picked up the mantle and launched into Bible translation work with zeal and fervor. A year passed, and a miracle happened! Dina returned to the project. As soon as I met her at a seminar for Bible translators in Moscow, I asked her what made her find the courage to return. She told her story with humour, and it was clear that God's providence played a major part in it.
At her work she received an assignment to visit a certain educational establishment to conduct an interview with a prominent specialist in their language. She had known this person very well for 20 or 30 years, and it was a pleasure for her to go. While she had been a Bible translator in the IBT project, she had often been asked to find one more translator. This was her own great desire too, but she was afraid to speak to anybody about Bible translation. And of course she dared not speak to this very person, whom she knew so well and valued greatly as an expert in their mother tongue.
So she knocked at the door of his office. They greeted each other with joy, and his very first question to her was, “Dina, do you know a person named so and so?” (and he said the pseudonym which she uses for her Bible translation work). “Yes, I do,” she answered simply. “This is me. But how do you know?”
“Are you also in the Bible translation project, David?” It was Dina’s turn to be surprised.
“Yes, I am” was his answer. They laughed a lot. He shared his plan to go to the Bible translation seminar soon. She expressed her readiness to join him in her favorite work again, since by this time she had already managed to talk to certain people in authority who had caught her idea about the importance of the Bible for their society and promised her safety in her work. And now she was no longer alone, but with a longtime colleague and friend whom she could trust.
“Since we began working together, the atmosphere in the project has become warmer and more interesting,” she shares, “though we do argue a lot, and these can be heated debates, indeed. But to work now feels like coming out of hibernation after a long winter. You wake up, you get out into the open air, and blissful spring is here!”