What Can A Person Do?

Making a difference for Bible translation

With a mission and vision as big as Bible translation for every people group on earth that needs it, what can one person do to make a difference?

A few months ago, Wycliffe USA’s Prayer Ministries Department received a visit from a very special guest, a man named Richard Smalley. On a trip to Orlando, Florida, Richard stopped by to see the headquarters of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA and visit a team of people that he had never met, but was closely connected to. Richard said, “One time I called Prayer Ministries, and they said, ‘Everyone here knows you.’”

In 1990, Richard came across a magazine with a Wycliffe ad on the back, promoting the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project. It invited Christians to contact Wycliffe to receive the name of a Bibleless people group to pray for, and to stand as an intercessor until a Bible translation program began for that people group. Richard asked Wycliffe for a couple of names and began praying that year. Later, God led him to sign up for more. “God burdened my heart to pray for them,” Richard said. “They were in the jungles, and there was no other way to reach them.”

On average, prayer partners with the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project pray for one to three language groups. Today, Richard Smalley—still a dedicated intercessor after more than 20 years—prays for about 700 people groups. A custodian from Harrison, New York, Richard spends two hours a day before work going through his list of Bibleless peoples asking God to “bring the translations forth.” He said, “Even before I start praying I begin with a special prayer…praising God and thanking God, asking Him to hear the prayers. It’s amazing what He can do.”

How the Bible Impacts Someone’s Life

This is a part of Francisco Pihali, project coordinator for Meeto Translation Project, northern Mozambique. He reads and translates the Word of God in his own language and God really speaks to him personally, and imagine when that happen to all the people who speak in the same language can hear God’s word in their own heart language. They all will be changed by the power of God’s word.

When I translate, I read the Scriptures and let God speak to my heart first.  That process of preparing to translate is a time of devotion for me, and lets God work in my life.

I recently read from the book of Ephesians that Jesus is the cornerstone. I discovered that Jesus is actually the cornerstone of my life.  I was with my colleague in school, and we were both emotionally moved by that truth. My trust and faith in Jesus grew dramatically in response to that Scripture. I have never forgotten that verse.

What have I discovered in the translation process? I have discovered that it’s not just translation, but life devotion.