In the heart of Iran, where an underground Christian community thrives, Bible translators are taking extraordinary risks to bring the Gospel to their local dialects.
These translators, associated with the nonprofit organization unfoldingWord, are striving to provide access to the written Word of God for the first time to their friends and neighbors.
In a report, the Christian Post recently spoke with Evan Thompson, a representative from unfoldingWord, who, for security reasons, preferred to use a pseudonym. Thompson highlighted the global need for Bible translations, stating, “There are 1.45 billion people in the world who speak about 5,500 languages that do not have the whole Bible in their heart languages.”
UnfoldingWord, operational for about seven years, collaborates with Church leaders globally to establish sound doctrine in churches lacking access to Bible translations in their spoken languages.
The Christian Post connected with two Iranian women, both Bible translators risking their lives to translate unfoldingWord’s Open Bible story resources from Farsi into various Iranian dialects for evangelizing. To ensure their safety, both translators chose to use pseudonyms.
Miriam, one of the translators, shared her journey of accepting Christ despite facing the risk of persecution in Iran, the eighth-most hostile country for Christians according to Open Doors. Miriam, who belongs to a marginalized people group, expressed her deep commitment to bringing the Bible to her community, emphasizing the importance of having the Gospel in her heart language for effective communication with her family.
Another translator, Stella, turned to Christianity after her husband’s death, finding solace and hope in the teachings of Jesus. Stella stressed the distinction between religion and relationship in Christianity and is currently working on translating the Bible into her heart language to bring God to her town and people.
UnfoldingWord aims to address the growing demand for Bible translation by adopting a church-centric approach, incorporating translation into the life of the Church as part of its discipleship. The organization provides open-source software, open-licensed biblical content, and comprehensive translation guides to equip local churches for translation work.
However, challenges persist in countries like Iran due to strict government policies that prohibit studying native languages in public schools. Evan Thompson highlighted the efforts to counteract the Islamization of populations by oppressive governments, emphasizing the urgency to preserve and translate heart languages.
Miriam, expressing the enormity of her responsibility, stressed the need for prayer and more people who understand her heart language to join the translation project. She hopes her children will one day experience the result of her work, knowing Jesus through their heart language.
In the face of adversity, these courageous translators persevere, driven by the belief that everyone deserves access to the Bible in their own language. As the underground Church in Iran continues to grow, these efforts play a crucial role in sustaining and nurturing the Christian community, ensuring the endurance of the faith for generations to come.