Scripture Translations for 707 Million

Scripture translations for 707 million people completed by Bible Societies amidst pandemic

In Tanzania, brother and sister Gidufana Gafufen (left) and Udagayda Mudinangi celebrate the launch of the first Bible in their language, Datooga.

Amidst the challenges and disruption caused by COVID-19 in 2020, Bible Societies around the world completed Scripture translations in 66 languages used by 707 million people.

These include first Scripture translations in 46 languages, with a potential reach of 13 million people. Six language groups received the full Bible for the first time – five in Africa and the other in the USA, where the Deaf community celebrated the completion of the American Sign Language Bible.

American Sign Language, which is the language of around 408,000 people, is the only one of the world’s estimated 400 sign languages to have the full Bible. The dedication service was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions. (The American Sign Language Bible was translated by Deaf Missions with the support of various partner agencies, including American Bible Society.)

First New Testaments in another 11 languages used by four million people were also completed. Two of these – the Epie and Ogbia New Testaments – were launched by the Bible Society of Nigeria.

“As I receive this [Epie New Testament] today, I am the happiest person,” smiled Elder Iwo Samson Famous, an Epie speaker in Nigeria. “For a long time we have been struggling with the English Bible. We can now read and understand.”

“This New Testament in our mother tongue will aid literacy and encourage our youth and others to understand the Word of God,” said Ogbia speaker John Okolubo. “Without it, it was like we lacked God’s presence, but with it we have reached the promised land.”

In Vanuatu, one of the few countries almost untouched by the global pandemic, Hano-speakers on Pentecost Island welcomed the long-awaited first New Testament in their language with traditional songs and dances. (See video below.)

Translation work began four decades ago but was disrupted numerous times by cyclones, which destroyed homes, livelihoods and, on some occasions, parts of the translation work. In the wake of Cyclone Pam in 2015, the translators had to live in tents for months, but the translation manuscript was safe, having been secured in a plastic container just before the cyclone hit.

(See further down for more information about Scriptures launched in 2020 and the growth of the Digital Bible Library®.)

Reaching a milestone in global Bible translation

In August, the number of languages with the full Bible topped 700 for the first time; it was a significant milestone for global Bible translation that provided a rare moment of celebration during a difficult year.

At the start of 2021, the full Bible is now available in 704 languages used by 5.7 billion people. More than 70% of these full Bible translations have been provided by United Bible Societies.

Another 825 million people have the New Testament in their language, and 450 million people have some portions of Scripture.

The Bible translation landscape looked very different 75 years ago, when United Bible Societies was first formed in the wake of World War II, in 1946. According to ProgressBible, which compiles data from Bible translation agencies across the world, fewer than 200 languages had the full Bible, just over 230 had the New Testament, and 620 had Scripture portions. The number of languages with some Scripture has more than tripled since then.

And yet, today, despite this progress, more than half of the world’s 7,359 languages have no Scripture at all. All together, 1.5 billion people still do not have the full Bible in their language.

“As we look back at more than two centuries of Bible Society work and 75 years of working together as United Bible Societies, we give thanks to God for blessing our common mission of making the Bible available to everyone,” says UBS Director General Michael Perreau. “Each completed Scripture translation makes it possible for more people to access the hope and peace in God’s Word, which is especially needed at this time of global turmoil.

“Yet more than a billion people still do not have the Bible in their own language. They are without the comfort of Scripture as they navigate the storms of life. That is why the task of Bible translation is so urgent.”

The Bible Translation Roadmap: an ambitious vision

To reduce Bible poverty, Bible Societies are continuing to push forward with the Bible Translation Roadmap – a 20-year vision to complete 1,200 translations to make Scripture available in the languages of 600 million people for the first time. It builds on the increasing momentum in Bible translation, brought about by closer collaboration between Bible translation agencies, the generous support of donors and developments in technology.

Three years in, 80 translations have been completed, 312 are in progress, and another 808 are yet to begin. Around $30 million is needed each year to achieve the goals of the roadmap but less than half of that funding has been made available so far.

“Translating the Bible takes years of dedication and generosity, and is the first step in a community getting life-changing access to God’s Word,” says UBS Executive Director of Global Bible Translation Alexander M. Schweitzer. “The availability of mother tongue Scripture makes it possible to develop Bible ministry programs to meet the needs of the community, such as literacy or trauma healing.

“Bible translation transforms lives – that’s why we are committed to fulfilling the ambitious vision of the roadmap.”

Greater access through new and revised translations

Languages evolve over time, and it can be difficult for younger generations to understand outdated Scripture translations. Last year, Bible Societies published new or revised translations in 21 languages used by 694 million people, including nine full Bibles.

Among these were new Bibles translations in two of South Africa’s 11 official languages – isiZulu, spoken by 12 million people, and Afrikaans, spoken by more than seven million people. These two major publications formed part of the Bible Society of South Africa’s year-long activities to mark its 200th anniversary.

“The words contained in this book, when they enter the heart, are self-evidently true across any culture and language,” said Prince Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, 92, who represented Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini at the dedication service of the new isiZulu Bible.

The Bible has been available in isiZulu since 1883 but the most widely-used version today was published in 1959. Dr Buthelezi, who played a key role in the government of national unity led by Nelson Mandela, said that he felt blessed to have been able to read God’s Word in his own language throughout his life. He thanked the Bible Society for the new translation which, he said, would help more people “come to know the Scriptures and be led by faith.”

Study editions

To help people deepen their knowledge of Scripture, Bible Societies also published study editions in three languages – Chinese, Haitian Creole and Thai.

Socio-political turmoil and violence had delayed the Haitian Bible Society’s plans to launch the first Haitian Creole Study Bible in late 2019. Instead, the celebration took place in February 2020, just two weeks before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

“We Haitians are a traumatised people,” said Haitian Bible Society General Secretary Magda Victor. “We need healing and are searching for a response to all the pain we have experienced. That’s why there’s a church on nearly every street corner. But very often, church leaders don’t really understand the biblical text very well. We feel confident that this Study Bible will support them in their ministry.”

Sign language translations open God’s Word for Deaf communities

“The completion last year of the very first Bible in a sign language – American Sign Language – after nearly four decades of work was a great encouragement to sign language translators and Deaf communities in other countries,” says United Bible Societies Deaf Ministry Coordinator Chris Dale. “After many years of being misunderstood, there is now new energy and urgency behind the task of opening up the Bible for over 400 sign languages.

“Despite serious challenges caused by the pandemic, Deaf translators found new ways to co-operate, supported by the very timely development of new software tools, which allowed them to make progress.”

As a result, 16 sign languages used by 2.1 million Deaf people received first or additional Scripture portions in 2020.

Can’t read or write

Like 99% of Deaf Mongolians, Javzaa can’t read or write and was frustrated at only being able to experience the Bible through the sign language interpreter at the Deaf church she attends. She is delighted to be part of the Mongolian Sign Language translation team, which completed five chapters of Matthew last year.

“There are many souls in need. The one help they need most is the Word of God in sign language,” signs Javzaa.

In December, the Paraguayan Sign Language translation team completed video translations of the story of Jesus’ birth and shared them on social media just before Christmas. The videos attracted great excitement among the Deaf community and were shared by many people.

Increasing Scripture access for People with Visual Disabilities

While COVID-19 hindered Braille Scripture distribution and engagement work in many countries, 2020 saw unprecedented progress in making the full Braille Bible available in more languages.

Five languages received the full Braille Bible, three of them for the first time, and Braille portions were published in another two. A total of 48 languages now have the full Bible in Braille.

“It has been amazing to see how technical developments with new Braille transcription software and a new Braille file archive in the Digital Bible Library® have resulted in a high number of new complete Braille Bibles published in one year. In former years this process would normally have taken five to 10 years!” comments Ingrid Felber-Bischof, who coordinates UBS’s global service for People with Visual Disabilities.

Saikhantsetseg, 19, who lost her sight as a child, has benefited from the new process, which enabled the Mongolian Union Bible Society to make the full Braille Bible available in Mongolian in record time. She read from the new Bible at the dedication ceremony and explained that although she enjoys listening to the audio Bible, being able to read the Bible for herself makes it “more interesting and alive”.

Digital Bible Library® puts Scripture at people’s fingertips

The Digital Bible Library® (DBL), which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is central to the goal of making the Bible available and accessible to everyone. It serves as a repository for Scripture translations in different formats completed by UBS and other Bible translation agencies, and enables the efficient sharing of Scripture through websites and apps, such as YouVersion.

By the start of 2021, the DBL® contained 2,696 texts in 1,721 languages used by six billion people, including 1,112 Bibles in 590 languages. 70% of the full Bibles in the DBL® are provided by Bible Societies.

Also stored in the DBL® are audio Scriptures in the languages of 5.6 billion people, and video translations of Scripture in 13 sign languages used by 1.8 million people.

In 2020, the first Braille Scripture files were added to DBL®, following the development of new Braille transcription software. The new software and the ability to store the files in the DBL® have made it much quicker and easier for Bible Societies to produce Braille Scripture in languages which have translations available. The DBL® now houses 53 Braille files in 41 languages, including 33 full Bibles in 27 languages.

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Vanuatu Travel (Consultant Checking on the Mele Four Gospels)

Annie addressing the participants about Paratext on Day 1: With Elder Vai Tasoko, Elder William Langa, Elder Mataukoto, Pastor Altavara Malapa, Elder Saavi and Kalbeau Vatoko.

The Hano language speakers from North Pentecost in Vanuatu are eagerly waiting to receive the Word of God (New Testament) in their mother-tongue once the final preparation of the scripture is completed. The printing of this scripture is scheduled for this December and the expected date of arrival is March/April 2020. The Hano translation team had been working very hard on both the translation and typesetting of this project in Port Vila over two solid weeks between 16-27 September. The BSSP Translation Adviser Rev Apenisa Lewatoro joined them in the first week while the Senior Typesetting Officer Mrs Mere Katonivere arrived the following week to supervise the typesetting of this scripture. The wonderful contribution and great effort given by the Hano Team, which comprises of the main translator Kolinette, Father John Bani and his wife, and Ms Annie Rosyln, is commended.

Lunch meeting with Pastor Phillip
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YWAM – Yachts for Life

“You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you , so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last….” John 15:16 (NIV)

As the hurricane season approaches, we are taking inventory of what God enabled us to do through the generous partnership of many people who volunteered their time and resources in extending God’s Kingdom in Fiji this year so far. We are first and foremost grateful to God for His protection along the way and for leading us by His Spirit, allowing us to walk through challenges which made us grow and for enabling us to see many people in the remote islands of the sea being blessed and transformed through the Word of God. We are grateful to the Methodist Church in Fiji, the AOG Church and the Fiji government to open their doors and host us in various places

The places we visited and had Bible Engagement were as follows:
In the Yasawa and Mamanuca group:

• Yasawa-i-rara (BELT seminar)
• Naviti
• Yanuya (BELT seminar)
• Viwa
• Waya (BELT seminar)
• Solevu, Malolo
In the Macuata Province:
• Kavewa
• Vunivutu
• Mali
• Kia
• Gevo
• Malau
We distributed more than 300 Bibles (Fijian translation) plus Bible Comics in the local dialects. We graduated 70 people from going through the BELT seminar and saw at least 6 people make a decision to surrender their lives to Jesus.

We are so grateful for our skippers Bruce and Elaine Goodwin, Barry and Sheryl Wanhill, Doug and Althea Hannah, Markus Anliker, Daniel Schulz and Hinrich Kraenzlin for navigating the boat safely between the islands. Thank you to the ministry teams from the BSN in Tauranga and our local team who tirelessly ministered at various times. And a huge Vinaka Vakalevu to the Bible Society in Fiji for equipping us with hundreds of Bibles. Lastly a huge thank you to those of you who gave financially and prayed for us during our time out there. It would not have happened without all of you.
To God be the glory. We are preparing now to continue our work in the Yasawas, the Mamanucas and in the Macuata Province until April next year. After that we will concentrate on the Lau group.

“You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you , so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last….” John 15:16 (NIV)

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Celebrating the Launch of the Gospel

Celebrating the Launch of the Gospel of Mark & the book of Obadiah in the Ahamb language, Vanuatu.

Ahamb (the language name is alternatively spelled Axamb, Akhamb or Akamb and pronounced with a velar fricative) is an Oceanic language and as such, a part of the Austronesian language family. It is spoken by approximately 800 people primarily on the small low-lying Ahamb island (covering only 0.3 sq km) off the south coast of Malekula, the second largest island in the Republic of Vanuatu in the Southwest Pacific. Malekula, with its population of just 23,000, is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world with more than 30 vernacular languages spoken today. Ahamb, together with a few other languages including Unua, Lamap, Uluveu (Maskelynes) and Avok, form the Southeast Malekula linkage. Ahamb shares many cognates and structures with these languages but their mutual intelligibility is not sufficient to consider them dialects of the same language.

Sociolinguistic factors

Virtually all speakers of Ahamb are bilingual in Ahamb and Bislama (a dialect of Melanesian Creole), the national language of Vanuatu. Some Ahamb speakers also speak English. French is not commonly spoken. Bislama is the more prestigious language and the language of choice for trade and communication with the authorities and people from other language areas. It is also the more common language for church services. Bislama and English are used in teaching at the local primary and secondary schools. Ahamb is mostly used at home and for everyday purposes and sometimes for custom ceremonies. Ahamb borrows heavily from Bislama and code switching is common.

Ahamb is a predominantly spoken language with very few written sources, including a handful of songs and a short Bible comic story published recently. There is no established standardised orthography for Ahamb yet.

Although it is passed to virtually all children living on Ahamb island, the language is considered endangered due to Bislama being the dominant and more prestigious language and the limited domains, in which Ahamb is used. Other socioeconomic factors that contribute to Ahamb’s endangerment status include migration due to climate change (more frequent and severe storms and cyclones and the resulting erosion), overpopulation and the general effects of globalisation.

Translation Background:
For Apenisa’s input

Travelling to the Launch
Pastor Bernard the Mission Coordinator and Elder Jack Rueben Manager of the Bible Society of the South Pacific Vanuatu Mission travelled to Ahamb for the launching on the Thursday 22 November 2018 on Air Vanuatu flight from Port Vila to Lamap transit from Luganville in.  Landing at Lamap they then travelled by boat to Ahamb and arrived at 3pm in the afternoon.  We were advised that there was a dead in the village and we went shared our sympathy with the family and Pastor Bernard offered a prayer for the families.



Launching of Ahamb Language Gospel of Mark and Obadiah

The launching of Ahamb language gospel of Mark and Obadiah was part of the  program of  the Church Service to close the church program of the year 2018.  There were about  500 people in the church during the church service in the morning and Pastor Paul Morris led commissioning of 15 young communicant members and closing of the Sunday school program for 2018. The Church was filled with children.  Church Elders were holding a copy each of the printed Gospel and marched in to the church for dedication by the Inter-Moderator of Ahamb.

In his speech Elder Jack Reuben congratulated the community and acknowledged those who have contributed.  Elder Tomansel and Marian and 2 boys who have helped with review and corrections before the printing. The occasion marks an important history of the island.  Elder Reuben reminds the people that this is the beginning of more work yet to be done with other books of the New Testament yet to be translated. With the assistance of more translators to join the translation work the translation will be completed soon. A list of all the New Testament books was been given out on the day and many volunteers gave their names showing interest in the Bible translation work.


The church leader response expressed their appreciation to the work of the Bible Society in producing this gospel for the very first time they can read God’s Word in their own language 

Marian above one of our proof readers, with a pen and paper collecting names of new translators. 


Elder Reuben thanked the Bible Society and for all those who supported Bible work in the Pacific for funding the first part of the work of Ahamb Translation and funding the costs of the printing the Gospel of Mark and Obadiah and for the distribution to the community as first achievement of translation of Ahamb New Testament. 

He reported having identifed more translators to help with the work of translation of the New Testament which they hope to achieve in the next 4-5 years.


To some elderly and young people of today this is the first time they have ever had a copy of a piece of scripture in their own mother tongue.  They are happy now they can read the Bible in their own mother tongue for the very first time.

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Scripture Distribution

5.6 billion people now have the full Bible in their language

Here is the good news: about 5.6 billion people have access to the full Bible in their language.

But here is the not-so-good news: More than half of the world’s languages still have no Scripture at all. This is the encouraging and challenging overview of the Bible translation landscape at the start of 2019.

Of the 7,350 languages in the world, the full Bible is now available in 692 languages used by 5.6 billion people. That means around 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible in their language. However, 1,547 languages used by 805 million people have the New Testament, and shorter portions of Scripture are available in a further 1,123 languages used by 411 million people. That leaves 3,988 languages used by 246 million people without any Scripture.

Nine1 of the languages which received full Bible translations for the first time in 2018 were completed by United Bible Societies (UBS), which places high value on the translation of the full Bible. Together, the nearly 150 Bible Societies which make up UBS have provided just under three quarters of the world’s full Bible translations.
1One of these Bibles involved support to a partnership project.

Translations launched by Bible Societies in 2018

In 2018, working closely with churches and partner organisations, Bible Societies continued to make a significant contribution to the global Bible translation landscape, completing Scripture translations in 66 languages used by 440 million people.

44 of those languages, used by over 77 million people, received ‘first’ translations: 9 communities welcomed their first full Bible and 15 got their first New Testament. 20 language groups received their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.

The dedication of the revised Havakinau New Testament in Vanuatu was an emotional moment for a community facing a very challenging time. Volcanic eruptions on their home island of Ambae last year led to their urgent evacuation to other islands, and delayed the launch and distribution of the long-awaited New Testament. Many may not ever be able to return home because the volcano could remain active for the foreseeable future.

People wept as they listened to the new Scripture being read out loud, and they sang and danced as they held their New Testaments and prayed for their future. The revision will help people engage more deeply with the Scripture text, which will help their faith to grow, noted Kathleen Lingi, one of the translators.

Increasing Scripture access for Deaf and visually impaired people

Among the 20 languages which received first or additional portions of Scripture were five sign languages used by more than a million Deaf people in Hungary, Lithuania, Japan, Thailand and Guatemala. Helping the world’s 70 million Deaf people get access to Scripture in their language is a growing focus for Bible Societies and their partners. Currently, only around 10% of the world’s estimated 400 sign languages have any Scripture, and no sign language has the full Bible.

“This translation is indispensable for the Deaf community,” said József Kéri, a member of the Hungarian Bible Society’s sign language translation team. “Even though I grew up in a Christian family I only really understood the Gospel when I met someone who was Deaf, like me, and who signed the message of the Gospel to me.”
József was delighted to help make Mark’s Gospel available to the Deaf community in Hungary last year.
Braille continues to be the most popular and effective way for people with visual disabilities to engage with the Bible, so Bible Societies continued to expand the number of Braille Scripture editions available to them. In 2018, Luganda – a language spoken in Uganda – became the 45th language to have a full Braille Bible, and visually impaired communities in seven other countries also received first or new Scriptures in Braille.

Transcribing and printing Braille Scripture translations is a significant undertaking, with a full Braille Bible consisting of more than 40 bulky volumes and costing around US$600 to print.

Celebrating the launch of the Luganda Braille Bible.

József Kéri (right) with the rest of the Hungarian Sign
Language translation team and Hungarian Bible Society
General Secretary Ottó Pecsuk (left).

Incredible growth of the Digital Bible Library®

The incredible growth of the Digital Bible Library® (DBL) is the result of closer collaboration in recent years between Bible agencies and donors. Set up in 2011, in partnership with the Every Tribe Every Nation alliance (ETEN), it is a repository of digitised Scripture translations by UBS and other Bible translation agencies, which enables standardised storage and more efficient sharing of Scripture. This enables hundreds of millions of people to access the Bible in their own language, no matter where in the world they live, through websites and apps such as Global.Bible and YouVersion.

By the end of 2018, it securely hosted 2,120 texts in 1,430 languages used by 5.5 billion people, including 799 full Bibles in 440 languages. Over 75% of the full Bible texts in DBL are provided by UBS.

The number of audio Scriptures grew to 1,125 in 752 languages spoken by 5.4 billion people. The very first video translation was also uploaded – Mark’s Gospel in Thai Sign Language – and this is an area that is expected to grow in coming years.

‘Extraordinary moment for Bible translation’

The increasing collaboration that led to the development of the DBL has also created unprecedented momentum in Bible translation. Shared processes, resources and digital tools mean that Bible translation today is happening more quickly and effectively than ever before. All of this means that millions more people can access Scripture in their language.

“We are living in a time when the Bible’s message of mercy, reconciliation, justice, peace and love is sorely needed,” notes UBS Executive Director of Bible Ministry Alexander M. Schweitzer. “That’s why it’s essential to make sure that no matter what language a person speaks, they are able to access Scripture for themselves.

“By God’s grace, this is an extraordinary moment for Bible translation: Bible agencies and donors are partnering more effectively than ever before, and developments in technology are creating unprecedented opportunities.”

A bold 20-year journey

To steward this momentum in Bible translation, in 2018 UBS embarked on a bold 20-year journey that aims to provide around 600 million people with new access to Scripture in their heart language. If Bible Societies receive the funding that they need, this will involve the completion of 1,200 translation projects by 2038.

“Our 20-year vision and mission strategy builds on a legacy of sacrifice and generosity passed down by generations of faithful servants,” says UBS Director General Michael Perreau. “Now we continue that mission with fresh momentum by working more closely than ever before with partners around the world, including modern day Bible heroes living lives of sacrifice and dedication so that we all might have access to the life-giving word of God.”

The Bible Society of the South Pacific is a member of the United Bible Societies. United Bible Societies is a fellowship of around 150 Bible Societies working in 240 countries and territories. Together, they are the world’s biggest translator, publisher and distributor of the Bible. Bible Societies are also active in areas such as HIV/AIDS prevention, trauma healing and literacy. Bible Societies work with all Christian Churches and many international non-governmental organisations.

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Fiji’s Maumi people welcome first New Testament in their language

Fiji’s Maumi people belong to the Waimoro tribe – one of the island’s fiercest warrior tribes, sought after by chiefs of old for their protection and service. Although their original home was Fiji’s picturesque highlands, over time, the Maumi people settled along the palm-lined coast in the district of Bau. There they served the country’s most influential chief, protecting him as warriors.

Although over 3,000 Maumi have their own dialect of Fijian, called Maumi, the dialect of the chief of Bau – Bauan – eventually became the country’s lingua franca, the basis of standard Fijian. And it was the Bauan dialect into which the full Bible was translated more than two centuries ago. No other Fijian dialects had a significant portion of Scripture.

That changed last month, with the launch of the Maumi New Testament. Maumi leaders, Christians, church leaders, and Bible Society in the South Pacific (BSSP) staff and board members gathered at a church in Maumi Village, central Fjii, to celebrate this significant milestone and to look back on the years of work that were invested into the project.

“Reading God’s Word in my heart language reaches deep into my soul,” Mataiasi Kikau, one of the translators, told the gathering.

BSSP project coordinator Ratu Marika Waqanivalu congratulated the Maumi people for their dedication, vision and hard work towards making the New Testament in their language a reality.

It was in 2007 when BSSP General Secretary Solomone Duru, a Maumi speaker himself, created a draft of the first chapter of James in Maumi, using ParaTExt translation software to replace the Bauan words with Maumi words in places where they differed. He gave a copy to both his tribal chief and his spokesman, who were overwhelmed.

“We saw something that neither our eyes nor our imagination ever thought of seeing: Scripture in our own language,” they told him.

Work on the translation began in earnest in 2011, and in 2012, three portions of Scripture in Maumi were launched: the Gospel of Mark, the Book of James, and the story of Abraham in comic book format. Hundreds of Maumi speakers gathered to welcome the first Scriptures in their language. Not only would it enhance their Bible knowledge but it would also help to preserve their language, many of them shared.

“The majority of the Maumians today do not speak in our dialect”, noted a local preschool teacher. “We speak mostly in the Bauan language, but with this initiative, I am sure most of us will want to bring back our language in our everyday conversation.”

After over 2,000 copies of the translated books were distributed among the Maumi, their chief thanked the Bible Society and asked it to continue with the translation work.

“On this day, I not only thank them for the wonderful work, I also plead with them to please finish this good work that you have begun, by translating our Bible in full, with God’s help.”

It was clear that the Maumi people deeply desired more of the Bible in their heart language, so the Bible Society identified and trained more translators to advance the work.

On January 27, 2019, twelve years after Mr Duru first shared his draft translation of a short piece of Scripture in Maumi, the Maumi New Testament was launched. The Bible Society’s project coordinator Ratu Marika Waqanivalu congratulated the Maumi people for their dedication, vision and hard work towards making the New Testament in their language a reality.

As the event closed, the Maumi New Testament was distributed to each head of the clan, who in turn made distributions to their respective clan households, all of whom will now have God’s Word in the language of their heart.

Maumi is spoken by over 3,000 people in Fiji. Please pray that this New Testament will help them to experience meaningful engagement with God’s Word.

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Samoan Contemporary Translation Project

The first Bible Translation Workshop to train the participants who have been identified and selected by their respective Churches to be part of the Samoan Contemporary Translation Project was held Monday 29th Oct – 2nd November 2018 . It is the first workshop to prepare translators to work on the Samoan Old Testament in the contemporary language that is aimed to be understood by all Samoans whether young and old. This new Old Testament translation will be modeled by the Good News Bible (a meaning-based translation) and later be put together with the Samoan Contemporary New Testament that is already available to make the whole Bible, as the Samoan Contemporary Bible.

The workshop was held at the Le Alaimoana Hotel and started on Monday October 29 through the facilitation of UBS Global Translation Advisor Dr Ma’afu Palu, UBS iCAP Consultant Dr Steve Berneking and BSSP Board rep in Samoa Rev Nu’uausala Siaosi. The two representative from BSSP CAP officer Mere Katonivere and Translation Director Rev. Apenisa Lewatoro joined the team on Tuesday 30th November.

In summary, the weeklong workshop was exciting in terms of the learning of the translation software program ‘Paratext Version 8’ as well as challenging in terms of discussions on which model text to use. At the end of the workshop, we all came to a consensus that we use the Good News Bible as the model text together with the New International Version on the side to help produce the Samoan Contemporary Old Testament. A Translation brief is to be written and put together with the Translators Contract after we finalise the translators and reviewers in the next workshop planned for the second week of April 2019. An assessment of the work each has been assigned to do from now until the next meeting will enable us to identify those who are keen and acquire skills/knowledge of translation through the help of some key members in the team such as Samoan linguist Ms Evelina Faamoe.

We thank the Churches for their support on this translation project and pray for God’s guidance on the translators and Coordinators of the Project.

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Maumi New Testament (NT) translation


Catechist Maika Raisilisi expressed his joy as the completion of the Maumi New Testament (NT) translation draws near. Maika is one of the translators of this project which has been running for the past 8 years. A workshop to conduct the final proofreading of the text was held in the village church on 17th April, 2018 where Catechist Maika shared from the Gospel of John chapter 14 during the devotion. He mentioned that the Maumi community is looking forward to the completion of the New Testament and God’s Word will clothe the community now and in the future. As part of his reflection, he said some powerful words claimed to be echoed by some Indian locals when the missionaries first brought the Gospel to India, quoting: “Don’t give us the Gospel in a pot plant; give us the seed of the Gospel (Jesus) so we can grow it in our own soil.”

At present, there are only a few elders in Maumi who still speak the language. The new generation hardly speak in Maumi but the common Fijian (Bauan) language amidst other district and provincial dialects. This was evident at the workshop as one of the proofreaders struggled to read in Maumi at the start but improved a lot as the checking exercise progressed. Nevertheless, the village elders are happy that through this translation project, their language will definitely be salvaged from being lost. This comes with the hope that the completed Maumi New Testament will encourage the speaking of the mother tongue and keeping the language alive in the community.

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Asia Pacific Common Framework Workshop

The American Bible Society (ABS) Global Mission have taken the initiative to organize The Common Framework Model (CFM) Workshop for Bible Societies in the Asia Pacific region where they are currently funding or hopes to fund translation projects.

The Common Framework Model (CFM) for Scripture translation and engagement that American Bible Society (ABS), UBS and major translation agencies in the world have a criterion for project development and funding support.

The agenda for the two days’ workshop covered:

1. Five Principles of CFM – How does this translate into actions

2. Orality – the significance and various uses of Orality in Scripture Engagement.

3. Capacity Building on Systems – Training National Bible Societies to enhance their operational skills

4. Review Current Translation Portfolio – Current and planned languages projects

4. Review Current Translation Portfolio – Current and planned languages projects

5. Scripture Engagement – Integration of SE as part of Bible translation.

The CFM two day workshop was funded by the ABS from 16 to 17 February, the workshop was hosted by the Bible Society of Indonesia.

Mrs Ledua Turaganivalu attended this consultation on behalf of the Bible Society of the South Pacific.

Participants of the South East Asia Common Framework Workshop
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Sunday School Workshop for Teachers

An informative workshop for Sunday school teachers was conducted by Mrs. Iva Teilai on 15 January at Naila village. The workshop was for Sunday school teachers that were going to use the Magimagi project Sunday School materials. A total of 8 participants were present at the workshop.

The second Sunday school workshop was held a week later on the 22nd of January. The workshop was facilitated by Iva Telai, Urmila Prasad and Susana Aropio.

The participants said that they have never been to a Sunday School Workshop and that they have learnt a lot even though they have been Sunday School Teachers for a long time. They were also surprised to learn that the Spiritual, the normal life in the village and the financial being of a person are all tied together to bring prosperity.

Sunday School Workshop facilitators. (Back L-R): Mrs Susana Aropio and Mrs Urmila Prasad (Front L-R): Mrs Eva Telai and Vakatawa Maika Naisilisili
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