The Remaining Need
Every year, the Wycliffe Global Alliance works together to identify the need for Bible translation that remains in the world. These kinds of stats help make the gigantic task ahead of us feel a bit more tangible and help identify where resources should be allotted. These numbers refer to the languages in the world that have either expressed an interest in Bible translation or that our researchers have identified as being without Scripture and in a place to have a project started. I want to focus on the information that directly concerns Africa, but obviously, there is an incredible need all over the world. I pray that if God draws you toward the need in a specific area of the world, that you would find ways to get involved!
First, let's talk about the global need a little bit. That total number at the bottom refers to the languages that have not even had a project started but that would be possible to start. The barriers are often simply a lack of resources (whether that be finances or available people), but many of these languages are also in very hard-to-reach places. But reaching those languages with translations of God's Word means reaching those people with God's Word. Possibly, the more important number in that total is the small number below it. There are 145 million people around the world without access to any Scripture at all in their language. They are the end goal. Our desire is to reach people with the Gospel, and we can do that by making Scripture available in their language.
Of course, I want to focus a bit on Africa because God has called us to be a part of reaching the speakers of those 558 remaining languages with Scripture. That kind of statistic can really feel overwhelming but it is exciting to know that we are in the process of going there to help with that need. We know we can't do everything but we also know we have been called to do something and we are thrilled to be a part of it.
But part of the need is also those other languages that actually have parts of Scripture completed already. This next image helps explain that.
You might notice that the section with "No Known Scripture" is much larger than the previous image. This is because the first image represented languages that have the potential to start due mostly to interest within the communities already. But this image is showing the number of people and languages that have no Scripture, including those that may be impossible to reach at this time or have not yet shown any interest in translation projects. Languages are very complex things and often people have more than one "mother tongue", meaning that a successful Bible translation in one language may eliminate the need for a translation in another. These infographics necessarily oversimplify the facts but this is how we can most easily see the need before us. The reality is far more complex!
Over 1,000 languages, representing 457 million people have access to only stories or single books of the Bible. I have such a hard time imagining what it would be like to have an incomplete version of God's Word. There would be so much I would be missing! But for millions of people, this is the case. And so work is ongoing in many language groups to get them access to a complete New Testament, and eventually the entire Bible.
But let's look at Africa specifically.
There are 2,207 languages on the continent of Africa, and nearly half of them have no access to Scripture in their language. These kinds of things get me so excited to be on the field and doing this work! But as overwhelming as that can be, I'm also so excited by the 832 languages that have either selections or the entire New Testament done. There is work already happening, and when we arrive in Africa we will be joining in and continuing the work that has been started by so many who have gone before us.
So how can you be a part of this work? There are so many ways to get involved. There is a huge need for people that are willing to work in the mission field. And we don't just need linguists! There are roles for literally anyone interested in getting on board. The best way to learn about that is just to go to the Wycliffe Bible Translators website and explore for yourself. There, you can also give to missionaries specifically or even to projects in parts of the world that you may be particularly drawn to.
You can also visit the Wycliffe Global Alliance website to see more about these statistics and the work that is being done around the world.
You can also download these infographics here:
We're so thankful for each one of you that have been a part of getting us this far along this journey. We thank the Lord for you all!