December 2012

December 13, 2012:
Dear Prayer Partners,

As 2012 winds down, Krista and I want to take a minute to highlight the progress of Bible translation.  Back in September I mentioned that Wycliffe was past the half-way point in the timeline toward Vision 2025, which began in 1999, and a historic milestone had been reached.  But before sharing more details I had to wait for the official statistics to be published, which include not only Wycliffe’s work on translation, but also all the other organizations working together in the global Bible translation movement.  Wycliffe has now published the data.

There are 6,877 languages currently in use around the world today.  Scripture translation is underway in more than 2,000 languages, and current estimates suggest around 209 million people speaking 1,967 different languages are still waiting to hear and understand God's Word.  This is the first time that our estimate has dropped below 2,000 and the first time there are more translation programs in progress than there are translation needs!

Every generation before us saw the numbers of languages increasing as more and more languages were discovered, and more translation needs were verified.  Now that trend has been reversed.  More people now have more access to Scripture than in any previous generation.  The finish line is in sight, and the last translator for the last Bible translation program is alive somewhere in the world today.

By God’s grace, people who are young adults today will see the fulfillment of the Great Commission as speakers of every language are given the chance to hear and engage with God’s Word—the opportunity to respond to His invitation to follow Him bringing in God’s Kingdom.  This is truly an exciting time to be involved in the Bible translation movement!  For more information, statistics, and graphs about the progress of Scripture translation, the languages of the world, and the remaining needs check out the website.

While we celebrate these facts and praise God for the encouraging progress, there are still millions of people waiting to receive the Bible in their own language and much work to be done.  You are part of this work through your role in our ministry –  Thank you for praying for us and the work of Wycliffe!

Indonesia Trip Wrap-Up: Over the last two months we reported on the trip I took to Indonesia / Timor.  I’m thankful for the chance to directly help meet the technology needs of the teams working there.  I found this video, recorded by Wycliffe Canada, very informative about the ongoing translation work being done by these teams and how the church is rapidly growing there!

Mobile Ministry Update: After Thanksgiving I attended a conference in Orlando, FL which dealt with ways that Christian organizations are utilizing cell phones and Smartphones to spread the gospel around the world.  Krista was able to come with me on the trip as my travel costs and lodging were covered by Wycliffe for the business trip.  It was great to catch up with some of our supporters and friends in Orlando, and also to spend time meeting with my IT coworkers at the Wycliffe headquarters there.

With advances in modern technology and over 6 billion cell phone subscriptions globally, new avenues are opening up to share Scripture, and Christian audio and video content through cell phones.  In many parts of the world where distributing printed Scripture is difficult, the cell phones that people already have in their pockets provide a good way to share these resources.  Wycliffe and many other organizations are working on ways to make this a reality.  There were over 50 mission organizations represented at the conference and it was an excellent opportunity to learn from each other and share what we are doing.  I believe that it is through this technology avenue that many of the 1,967 remaining language groups will receive God’s Word in their heart language.

In fact in the future I expect that the “normal” way people will access Scripture will not be from a printed Bible, but rather on their mobile device.  Next Sunday look around your church service and notice how many people are following along with the Bible reading on their Smartphone, rather than in a printed Bible.  I’m a geek so I have been doing that for over 10 years, not carrying a printed Bible to church with me, but just using my phone which is always with me as my preferred method of Bible study since it can store many translations and access even more over the Internet.  But now more and more “normal people” are doing this as well, just out of convenience, and in developing countries many people will prefer to download the Bible in their own language for free instead of purchasing and carrying a printed Bible.  The technology – while fascinating – is not the real focus though.  It is simply a tool to further the distribution of God’s Word, and we are privileged to be part of this process!

On the home front: As Christmas approaches, we look forward to spending time with our children, Nick and Amanda, when they come home for Christmas break from their colleges.  As a family we will be driving to Michigan to see our extended families and celebrate Christmas with them.  We would appreciate your prayers for safety on the road during this time.  We will come back to North Carolina for New Years and then the kids will head back to their schools in early January.

Krista and I wish you a blessed Christmas!

Hank & Krista Scott
Wycliffe Bible Translators