Bible Translation Agency Helps Iran Translate the Bible into Native Language

Milton Quintanilla | Contributor for | Published: Nov 17, 2023
Bible Translation Agency Helps Iran Translate the Bible into Native Language

Bible Translation Agency Helps Iran Translate the Bible into Native Language

A Bible translation agency is working to translate the Word of God across the world, especially in countries where Christianity is not welcome.

The translation agency unfoldingWord, has helped Christians in Iran and other countries worldwide translate the Gospel into their native language.

In an interview with The Christian Post, a representative from unfoldingWord, Evan Thompson, who used a fake name or pseudonym for protection, explained how there are people worldwide who lack a Bible in their own language.

"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. ... The Church has expanded exponentially in the last 20 years. And what these folks have learned is that you can lead someone to Christ, but if they don't have a church, they don't survive on their own," Thompson said. 

"You can start a church, but if that church doesn't have the Bible in its heart language, it will typically only last one generation. Iran, for example, has churches operating underground. And there are thousands of underground churches in many other parts of the world," he added. 

While Thompson praised the “marvelous work” by translation agencies worldwide, he noted a decline in the number of Western Bible translators that Bible translation agencies can send overseas.

“The group that founded unfoldingWord developed a way to address this problem. We call it church-centric Bible translation. ... It's Bible translation incorporated into the life of the Church as part of its discipleship," Thompson noted.  

"Most unreached people have neighbors who know Christ, and they're taking the Gospel to them. And what unfoldingWord does is we equip the Church in every people group with a goal of translating the Bible in every language." 

He shared that the organization helps local churches translate the Bible by supplying people groups with open-source software and open-licensed biblical content that's breaking the copyright barriers to source texts.

Additionally, unfoldingWord also has comprehensive translation guides to respond to difficult Bible translation questions and provides necessary doctrinal education to protect the theological integrity of the translations.

"unfoldingWord provides training for indigenous Bible translation teams over Zoom and sometimes in neutral locations," Thompson said.

The training locations remained undisclosed to protect workers in certain countries where Christianity is not welcome.

"Our training allows for indigenous Bible translation teams to be able to use best practices when they are translating the Bible for themselves. One of the ways that I like to say it is: 'We don't make Bible translations. We help develop Bible translators.' Because that's what the Church really needs all over the world."

One Iranian woman, using the pseudonym Miriam, told the Christian Post about how she has risked her life in translating unfolding Word's Open Bible story resources from Farsi into other Iranian dialects in preaching the Gospel.

"I cannot even imagine leaving this work unfinished. I must complete this work and see the result. I want to see my beloved ones experience salvation in Christ. This is my dream; that my people can talk about God and speak His name freely without hesitation; without fear, they can talk about God," she said. 

According to Open Doors USA, Iran ranks number 8 when it comes to countries where Christian persecution is most rampant. 

Another Iranian woman, under the pseudonym Stella, shared that she’s working on translating the Scriptures into her native language. Her sister-in-law converted to Christianity in light of her translation work on the Bible. In the past five years, Stella worked alongside her family in reviewing the Bible translation and now works in a larger translating group.

"I love my mother language. I'm telling the poetry; I write the context. I write the sentence. I record it. … I know all of this is God's work for us. God wants us to do this. … I am thinking about my mom, my father, my childhood. And everyone that doesn't have it right now. I really want to bring God to my town and my people," she said.

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/PaulMaguire

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

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Bible Translation Agency Helps Iran Translate the Bible into Native Language