Fewer than 550 of the more than 7,000 languages in the world have translations of the complete Bible. Fewer than 1,300 have a translated New Testament. That means about 180 million people today do not have any Scripture available in their language.
Since 1964, Lutheran Bible Translators has served as an independent Lutheran mission organization whose focus is to make God’s Word accessible to those who do not yet have it in their native language. Their hope is that literate or not, educated or not, everyone can engage with God’s Word and have it readily available to them in a form they can easily understand.
Giving people access to God’s life-changing Word involves translating the Bible in written form as well as equipping people with the skills to read and write in their language. Often it also involves creating audio versions of Scriptures, or helping people develop forms of worship that are meaningful within their culture.
The missionaries of Lutheran Bible Translators currently serve on five continents with over 50 different language groups. They work in Asia Area, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South America, Togo, Zambia, and the United States. Missionaries are from Canada and the U.S.
Most missionaries, serving in advisory roles, train and assist national translators and literacy workers. Others serve in support roles, such as mission coordinator or computer specialist. Field work may also involve language development (recording history, creating dictionaries, documenting culture), health development (AIDS awareness, trauma healing training), and physical development (water systems, farming techniques). Lutheran Bible Translators will call upon specialist organizations to help with requests outside of their expertise including local translators, churches and denominations, and existing leadership. To the degree they can, expertise is shared through training opportunities to ensure that people continue to engage God through Holy Scripture long after the missionaries leave.
Over the years, members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church have helped to support specific missionaries, primarily with language translation in Papua New Guinea.