TRANSFORMATION STORY: ORAL BIBLE TRANSLATION (OBT)
Community Review in North Africa
The translation process is truly a community effort, requiring the input of many people, and taking multiple rounds of review and testing to ensure accuracy. The following update is from a recent translation session in North Africa – a new region for Spoken’s OBT team.
Recently, our North African Translation Team met to review a passage from 1 Kings about the life of King Solomon. The passage was translated with the help of Christian community members from diverse backgrounds whose wisdom and insight were greatly valued by the team. After this initial review, the Translation Team took the recording into the community for testing – asking questions about the characters, main events, and locations to ensure accuracy and clarity. The feedback and suggestions received by the team were encouraging and indicated the Biblical recordings would be well received by members of this language group.
Nelson, from a North African tribe says: “I am so happy to hear the message of King Solomon, in a language that I can understand simply and clearly. I used to read the Bible, but sometimes it was too difficult for me to comprehend, and I believe, because of this translation, many people will be able to better understand God’s Word.”
Oral Bible Translation (OBT) is cutting edge development in missions, combining Orality methodology and Bible Translation principles. OBT seeks to capture the information contained in every Scripture passage and deliver it naturally to oral learning communities, utilizing the expression they understand best.
PROGRAM UPDATE: ORAL BIBLE TRANSLATION (OBT)
Polchi People Group, Nigeria. The Oral Bible Translation team is finishing up the first passage translation for their oral Bible.
How OBT Works:
Orality is a ministry methodology that focuses on developing tools and methods to reach oral learners. Spoken partners with community leaders to translate God’s Word in the local language for people groups that primarily prefer to learn and communicate by spoken words; Oral Bible Translation is one of Spoken’s initiatives to accomplish this.
The OBT process begins by identifying a credible “source text” (often a gateway language translation that is locally trusted) that team members reference in the development of their work. Next, translation team members orally process an entire passage of Scripture several times, referencing study materials as needed, until it can be presented naturally and accurately.
Drafting sessions (typically 4 – 6 people per team)
Revision Round 1
- Directed Discussion Groups
- Phone w/ Play
- Regional Radio
- Retold by Individuals
Each OBT project includes a series of community review cycles designed to allow the existing Christian, as well as non-Christian, community members to provide input and correction into the draft regarding appropriate content and natural presentation of the passage.
After the first round of community testing is complete, the OBT team moves into the second phase of production, which involves providing the audio file to a locally established pastor review committee. These church leaders listen to the passage(s) and verify that it accurately represents God’s Word in their native tongue. Once the audio recordings meet the approval of the church leaders, the Spoken team works to produce final recordings of the stories and get them into the local communities.
The team constantly mentors people within the operational projects so that they can progressively assume more of the responsibility and prepare themselves to help other language groups within their area.
2020 PROGRAM GOALS
Recruit and train additional national leaders in order to expand
Engage with strategic partners that have a heart to reach oral learners
Initiate 3 new OBT projects and translate 1500 total verses in the first year of each project
Testimony: Meet Rasheeda
Rasheeda is a member of the Spoken Worldwide Oral Bible Translation team in Cairo. Rasheeda works to translate the Bible into an Arabic dialect and document the translation in an oral format for her community.
At Spoken, it is often a team member’s powerful testimony that leads them to discipleship and sharing God’s Word. For Rasheeda, her path to the Lord came after suffering significant challenges, including a divorce and a cancer diagnosis.
In her own words: “I encountered the True God eight years ago after my health deteriorated due to my cancer and doctors failed to cure me. It was at this time that Jesus Christ revealed himself to me and touched me by His hand. At once, I become well, and my life was changed forever. After becoming a believer, I began serving the Lord in various capacities, especially in ministries focused on equipping new believers through Bible study and preparing them for service. Today, I work with Spoken Worldwide, translating the Bible into an oral format for my brothers and sisters.
”Spoken is thankful for Rasheeda and her work to bring awareness to the need for appropriately formatted Scripture in every language. Please pray for the Oral Bible Translation team to continue growing and reaching those in need!
A WORD FROM ED
Several years ago, Henry Huang (at that time with American Bible Society) suggested that our background in oral methodology could effectively inform the Bible Translation movement and impact oral learners by getting involved in Oral Bible Translation (OBT). As a result, a partnership between ABS, Seed Company and Spoken began in order to start a pilot initiative in Botswana.
A year later, another partner urged us to not just stick our toes in the water, but to jump in the deep end. It was becoming clear that OBT was being seen as one of the strategic keys to bringing the Gospel and God’s Word to the last of the unreached people groups. While we weren’t reluctant to join the efforts, we did want to make sure a) this was in God’s plan for us and b) that we truly had value to add to the Bible Translation movement. We are reassured by the doors God continues to open for us and our OBT initiatives.
We are excited about producing oral Scripture, but we are also focused on enabling engagement with Scripture in a natural way through our standard model of small discussion groups. These groups dig in and learn obedience to God’s Word, which they now have in a more easily accessible and understandable “spoken” form.If you haven’t yet joined our journey through prayer or financial support, you can do so by visiting donate.spoken.org. Thank you for your continued love and prayers.
Keep Spoken in Your Prayers
Pray that new oral versions of written curriculum will be available to servPray that the pandemic will not hinder us and that our efforts will continue to be fruitful.
Pray that the OBT scripture is well received by the intended audience and that they embrace it as a tool for growth, discipleship and evangelism.
Pray that the right local leaders will become involved and excited about the OBT Program, process and product.
Your donation will help advance the Oral Bible Translation Program, helping us equip oral learners with the Scripture they desperately need.