“There are still at least 130 million people, speakers of 1,680 languages, with a clear need for translation of the Bible into their languages”, say the members of a Bible translation initiative in Spain.
Since March, the Annobonese (in the Annobón and Bioko Islands of Equatorial Guinea) and the Jebala people (north-west of Morocco) have a translation of the New Testament in their respective languages.
It was an initiative of the group Promotora Española de Lingüística (PROEL, in English Spanish Linguistic Promoter), which has taken approximately 15 years of work. “Both teams included people trained by PROEL in the master’s degree in Linguistics applied to translation and literacy that we offer in collaboration with the University of León and the Sierra Pambley Foundation”, they explain.
In the working groups for each of the translations there were “people called by God to promote the extension of the kingdom of God through the translation and promulgation of the Scriptures”. “Some team members worked in their own African languages, and others felt called to work as cross-cultural missionaries, in a second language and culture”, PROEL says.
The project ha to do with a vision of working for the promotion of indigenous and lesser-used languages. “Of the nearly 7,200 languages in the world, approximately half have a Bible translated (724 languages), a New Testament (1,617 languages), or some published books (1,248). We understand that there are still at least 130 million people, speakers of 1,680 languages, with a clear need for Bible translation into their languages. This implies an average of 77,000 speakers per language”, they stress.
“It is not difficult to justify the vision of a Spanish missionary devoting a lifetime to potentially impact 77,000 people. It would be the same as an evangelical pastor in Spain; many dedicate their lives to an average congregation of 77 people, and no believer would doubt at all the validity of their vision and calling”.
In this sense, the members of PROEL consider that “we are all called to participate in the fulfilment of the Great Commission”, and emphasise their effort to do so across language barriers.
[photo_footer] Printed copies of the "Testamentu Novu" in Annobonese / PROEL Spain Facebook.
Fa d'Ambu or Annobonese Creole, also known as Annobonese, is a language spoken by some 10,000 people mainly on the island of Annobón, which belongs to the State of Equatorial Guinea. In addition to the translation of the New Testament, the Annobonese people also have access to the film The Gospel of Luke, translated into their native language.
The Jebala people are an ethnic group that mainly inhabits the northwest of Morocco, in the region known as Jebala Country, which stretches from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Taza and Targuist corridor. Their native language is Jebali Arabic and they now have a translation of the New Testament printed by the Spanish Bible Society.
¡Estamos muy emocionados y agradecidos a Dios! Junto con Proel hemos sacado el Nuevo Testamento en Yebalí, (dialecto del árabe de la zona norte de África). Oramos para que muchos que lean este Nuevo Testamento sean transformados al conocer las Buenas Nuevas de Salvación. pic.twitter.com/sOHickrWmL
— Sociedad Bíblica (@sdadbiblica) March 14, 2023
“The impact remains to be seen, as distribution in both cases has yet to take place. But historically we have seen many communities that have been strongly impacted once the Word of God is published in their languages. We pray that this will also be the case among the Fa d'Ambu-speaking people and the Jebali-speaking people”, say PROEL.
The organisation reminds us that translations are not everything, but are tools to carry out the mission. “We pray that more Spaniards will respond to the missionary call, and since the Scriptures are available in these languages, they will be able to evangelise, disciple, incorporate new believers into the Church and, once prepared, also be sent to other peoples who do not yet know Jesus”, they add.
These territories were colonised in the past by Spain. PROEL believes that this can help create a greater “affinity”. Spaniards can relate “more easily and have a greater ministerial impact” in the case of both Annobón and the Jebala people.
“In the past, Spain has benefited from its colonies, and it seems fair that the former colonies can benefit from the love and commitment of Spanish believers who invest resources and efforts to reach these areas with the love of God and his message of salvation”, they point out.