Good News in 500 Languages
IN THE midst of a civil war in Rwanda, a small group of translators flee their homes, leaving behind their possessions. However, they manage to grab their laptop computers, which they take with them to the refugee camps. Why? So that they can continue translating Bible-based publications into the Kinyarwanda language.
A young woman in Southeast Asia types on her computer late into the night, coping with fatigue, heat, and the regular power outages that interrupt her translation work. Her goal? To meet the printing deadline.
These translators are part of an army of some 2,300 volunteers who work in over 190 locations around the world. They range in age from 20 to nearly 90 and expend themselves tirelessly so that people can receive comfort from the Bible’s message in 500 languages.—Revelation 7:9.
Reaching a Multilingual Population
In recent years, the translation work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has grown on an unprecedented scale. For example, in 1985, The Watchtower was produced simultaneously in 23 languages—a remarkable accomplishment at the time. Today, The Watchtower is available in 176 languages, and all editions are produced simultaneously so that readers around the world are able to study the same information at the same time.
In some 50 languages, The Watchtower is the only journal published regularly. Why? Commercial printing companies have little incentive to publish literature in local languages. But Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide freely contribute to equalize their resources so that the Word of God and Bible-related publications are available wherever there is a need.—2 Corinthians 8:14.
People highly value the Bible’s message in their own language. For example, Bible publications have recently been produced in Miskito, a language spoken by about 200,000 people in Nicaragua. One woman requested My Book of Bible Stories * in Miskito, and a local pastor was present when it was delivered. Upon seeing the beautiful book, the pastor wanted it for himself. The woman refused to let him have it, even when the pastor offered her 50 pounds [20 kg] of coffee beans in exchange for the book!
During the past decade, Bible-based publications have been translated into more than a dozen indigenous languages of Mexico, including Maya, Nahuatl, and Tzotzil. In less than a decade, indigenous- and sign-language congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses increased in that country from 72 to over 1,200. Jehovah’s Witnesses may plant the Bible’s message in people’s hearts, but they leave it to God to make the seeds of truth sprout.—1 Corinthians 3:5-7.
A Modern Bible Translation in 80 Languages
In recent years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have worked hard to produce the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in whole or in part in 80 languages. With what response? One South African Witness said of the Tswana Bible: “What a beautiful instrument this is. It will enhance my appreciation for God’s Word. The language used is easy to read and enjoyable.” A Tsonga reader from Mozambique wrote: “Even with all the other Bible-based publications, having no Bible was like having thunder and lightning but no rain! However, the rains came down with the release of the New World Translation in Tsonga.”
In a remarkable way, those who translate and distribute the good news contained in the Bible are fulfilling an ancient prophecy. It was Jesus Christ himself who said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14.
^ par. 8 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Graph on page 25]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
NEW WORLD TRANSLATION
Available whole or in part
*NUMBER OF LANGUAGES
[Pictures on page 24, 25]
Some 2,300 volunteers translate Bible literature into 500 languages