Jehovah’s Witnesses are making special efforts to contact people who speak the native languages of Ireland and Britain. * In addition to English, these languages include Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh.
In September 2012, we launched the redesigned jw.org website in many languages, including Irish and Welsh, with Scottish Gaelic becoming available in August 2014. We also print a variety of Bible literature in these languages. What has been the response to this effort?
A church minister accepted a Bible-based tract in Scottish Gaelic, read it aloud immediately, and began to weep. Why was he so moved? He was amazed at the high standard of translation and exclaimed: “Who translated this? It is very good!”
Some 750 people visited jw.org in Scottish Gaelic within the first month of its launch.
A lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Galway, told a Witness that he was not interested in religion. However, when he learned that he could obtain the brochure entitled The Bible—What Is Its Message? in Irish, he requested a copy. His opinion was that all should be able to acquire Bible literature in their mother tongue, and he commended Jehovah’s Witnesses for the work that they have done in providing literature for Irish speakers.
An elderly woman expressed her delight after receiving a Bible-based brochure in Welsh, saying: “To be honest, if you’d offered me that in English, I probably wouldn’t have accepted it, but it’s so nice to have it in my own language.”
In August 2014, we increased the amount of Welsh material published on jw.org. Significantly, the number of people visiting our website to read material in Welsh more than doubled during that month.
“We Speak the Same Language”
After Jesus expounded the Scriptures to two of his disciples, they excitedly said: “Were not our hearts burning within us as he was speaking to us on the road, as he was clearly explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32, footnote) The lives of people are often deeply affected when Bible truths are clearly explained in their own language.
A man named Emyr, from Wales, is married to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses but had never joined his wife in worship. He then became friends with a Witness named Russell. Emyr describes what changed his attitude: “I decided to study the Bible seriously when Russell came to me with the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? * He gave me a copy and said, ‘This book is in Welsh. And we are going to study this book together, starting now.’” Why was Emyr attracted by Russell’s forthright approach? He explains: “Well, you see, we speak the same language, we have the same culture, and we understand each other.” Emyr’s heart was “burning” when he discussed the Bible in his native Welsh because he understood the explanation clearly.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will continue to help people learn about God in their mother tongue, the language that stirs the heart.