If you have not heard it yet, I encourage you to listen to David Platt’s sermon from the Together for the Gospel conference (audio/video). In it, he makes a passionate appeal for American Christians to do more to reach the unreached parts of the world. It is a compelling and convicting message, and one that should stir people’s desire for the gospel to go to places it has yet to penetrate.
One of the most obvious barriers to evangelism in much of the unreached world is the simple fact that no Bibles exist in the spoken language of the area. There are over 2,400 languages that do not have a translation of Scripture, and many of these language groups lack a written alphabet all together.
If you are moved by Platt’s message to reach the unreached, or convicted by sheer number of people in the world that don’t have access to the gospel in their own language, here are three responses:
1) Be Thankful
If you are reading this, that means you have access to the most translated language in history. So be thankful for those who throughout history sacrificed, even their own lives that the truth of God might prevail in the English language. We are a spoidely blessed people. So take advantage. Compare translations, don’t read myopically through the lens of only translation. Look at the passages that are often difficult to communicate in English. Even without any knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, comparing all of the different English translations can give you a greater understanding of the original text.
There are plenty resources available to know about the languages where there is a need for Bible translation (ethnologue.com, joshuaproject.net, wycliffe.org/pray.aspx). Start praying for a people group that needs God’s Word. Start praying for the Lord to raise up more workers. Start praying for the projects that are currently in progress. Start praying for the churches where translations have recently been completed.
3) Be Doing Something
Financially support those active in Bible translation and church planting among the unreached. Or, get trained and equipped to go yourself; there is plenty of work to be done. In countless different fields, there is a lifetime of work waiting for those who are willing to be equipped then leave houses and lands for the sake of the gospel. Churches can do more to show people the need for Bible translation and to raise up leaders to finish this immense task. Equipping and discipling should be the life of any healthy church, but too often discipleship can only lead to raising up other church leaders and not equipping missionaries and Bible translators.
Ask your pastor how your church supports reaching the unreached, and if there are any specific missionaries that he recommends that could use your support. If you are involved in youth ministry, esteem translators and pioneer missionaries to the students. Who knows, but the Lord may raise up from your own church the workers who will bring the great commission to its fulfillment (Mark 13:10; Mat 28:20).