UNREACHED

The Digital Gospel: Strategic Resource Group's Global Battle for Bible Translation

November 08, 2023 UNREACHED Season 1 Episode 9
UNREACHED
The Digital Gospel: Strategic Resource Group's Global Battle for Bible Translation
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you ever wonder about the work done to spread Christianity to the farthest corners of the world? Allow us to introduce you to Amy and Al from the Strategic Resource Group (SRG), a team that has poured over $220 million into Christian initiatives in regions like the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. They're making strides in reaching Unreached People Groups (UPGs) and translating the Bible into 34 different languages in these areas.

Our conversation with Amy and Al takes us through the vital work of connecting with believers from Muslim backgrounds, challenging their preconceived notions, and witnessing the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. We discover how technology is a game-changer in Bible translation, speeding up the process and making the divine Word of God more accessible. Their narratives will enthrall you, from stories of house churches to the brave efforts of those working in the field despite the dangers.

Lastly, we navigate the profound journey of Bible translation and the stirring tales of the people involved. Understand how the SRG team innovates to maintain the accuracy of translations, despite hurdles like A.I. limitations and spiritual warfare. Hear heartening stories of individuals whose lives have been forever altered through this process, including a former Muslim now spearheading a project to reach his people with the scriptures. We conclude with a heartfelt prayer for those worldwide championing translation efforts, seeking divine protection and abundant resources for their noble mission.

Follow @unreachedpodcast on Instagram for more!

Speaker 1:

In Revelation 7, john shares his vision of heaven, with members from every tribe, tongue, people and language standing in the throne room before the Lamb. Yet today there are still over 7,000 unreached people groups around the world. For the last six years, my family and friends have been on a journey to find, vet and fund the task remaining. Come journey with us to the ends of the earth as we share the supernatural stories of God at work for the men and women he has called to reach the unreached. Hello friends, dustin Elliott, back here, your host with the Unreach podcast, and today I have two guests. These guests are really important and really special because they are with a group called Strategic Resource Group. So I got to set the table real quick for how SRG has impacted bless.

Speaker 1:

Years ago I went to a conference in Orlando called Kingdom Advisors.

Speaker 1:

I got to know Kingdom Advisors through Bob and Leslie Dahl and if you've ever watched any CNBC, bloomberg, fox Business, anything of this sort, you've probably seen Bob Dahl on at some point. Bob is a portfolio manager well known on Wall Street, but what Bob and Leslie did was they took their skill set from managing money and they applied it to nonprofit giving. They're like how do? We set up a fund where you can give money away. You can have a team of people that are looking for and finding and vetting ministry opportunities, particularly in the Middle East with SRG, and we'll give it away, we'll do it smart, and then we'll follow up and we'll see what's happening and we'll report back the good news to our donors.

Speaker 1:

And so when I learned about SRG, learned about it at Kingdom Advisors I met one of their portfolio managers that works in the Middle East there and her and I got to be really close friends. And then we got to really design the one fund and how we run BLAST NOW, based off of how SRG had been doing it for years. And so I have my friend Amy and my friend Al here with us today. And so, amy, if you wouldn't mind starting, give us a little bit of a story about you in your background and how SRG got started.

Speaker 2:

Sure Thanks, dustin. We're so excited to be on the podcast today. I am living in Orlando, I have two little boys, my husband is a full-time seminary student and I recently came onto the SRG team, about a year and a half ago. Prior to that, my career has been spent in churches, nonprofits, management and that type of stuff. So when I joined SRG, I came on to the UPG team to serve an administrative role and then began helping to lead the fund day-to-day operationally in 2022.

Speaker 2:

So now we are helping to lead the team through the process of translating the Bible into 34 languages in the region, and SRG sees this as very important, of course, because SRG's vision is to see significantly more people in the greater Middle East come to Christ and be discipled into the local church. So to do that, we have to reach the unreached, and SRG has been around for I believe it's about 18 years now. The founder, paul Schulteis. He was looking for a way to invest his resources into Christian ministries, and then a lot of research around which areas would need the most resources and discovered that the Middle East was the least resourced region in the world as it relates to Christian ministry. So, honestly, as simple as that, he decided to start investing and figure out how to invest in Christian ministries there in the region, and since then there's been over $220 million invested into ministries on the ground in the Middle East, north Africa, pakistan and Afghanistan.

Speaker 1:

Praise the Lord. That's fantastic, and, al, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely so. I am actually. My ministry name is Abdul Fadi, servant of the Redeemer for a purpose, because I'm a former Muslim from Saudi Arabia and came to know the Lord in 2001. And I, you know, been to engineering school. I also went to seminary and I am working right now on my PhD, but all that to say is that my relationship with SRG started back in 2008 when I met the founder, paul Shultzai. He actually was at CBN watching basically a show that I did with a former Muslim, and he found out about my background, and that's where my journey with SRG began. Shortly after, I became a consultant to the board at SRG and then, a few years later, I became what it's called a ministry partner. In other words, I became full-time missionary in 2011, and SRG was the first grant foundation ever to step up to help me, and really I thank the Lord for them, because today I attribute all of the success that we have accomplished to their heart desire to help the unreached and including my people in.

Speaker 3:

Now we have been peninsula, and in Saudi in particular, and I've been involved in the so-called UPG initiative for about a couple of years now. In fact, paul Shultzai has brought it up to my attention one time and he says I have a project for you, it is perfect for you. And I'm like I've heard this before from Paul God knows what he has in store for me this time but and a little bit realized that he has his heart towards scripture translation and making sure that this Bible translation is in the hands of those people that needs it the most. And when I found out about that I said I'm all in. I mean, it doesn't really matter what is required, I'm all in and I am thankful. Today I am part of Amy's amazing team. I am the so-called language consultant, if you wish, and I focus primarily on Saudi.

Speaker 1:

So just in case you haven't heard other episodes or you're trying to figure out what's going on. Upg means unreached people group, and to explain that there's approximately 17,000 people groups on earth. 7,000 of those, or roughly so, are considered unreached, meaning they are less than 2% Christian, and there's about 700 people groups on the planet that still have never even met a Christian. So we call those unengaged Picture it almost like a game of risk. There's people groups all over the world, there's a, there's a thumbtack that goes into all these different places and we're working our way through, biblically, what we're called to do with the Great Commission and going and reaching these people right. And so I'm curious, amy, when you say 34 translations, can you give me some context on how you chose the 34? Is it geographic, like how does that? How does that work?

Speaker 2:

I believe it was in 2017. Srg started embarking on a tremendous amount of research to determine which people groups in the Middle East, north Africa, pakistan and Afghanistan would be considered the most unreached, and so through that, they came up with these 34 priority languages, which impact 92 people groups and over 340 million people.

Speaker 1:

And Al you focus particularly.

Speaker 3:

You said where Saudi Arabia and and of course I mean I do have knowledge about the Arabian Peninsula in general, but Saudi is the main focus of my, the involvement and what's your heart language, Al hey Jazzy, which is the western region of Saudi Arabia, where you find Mecca and Jeddah, and Medina, on the Red Sea and the way.

Speaker 1:

yet SRG works with the funding model, Amy, so it's like a ministry mutual fund of sorts. You get this group of partners. These are these are high net worth, ultra high net worth families, Traditionally foundations, churches that steward their resources through SRG. More recently, SRG I think SRG was kind of like a pretty well like kept secret Right it was. It was primarily just you know, a few dozen families or so, but more recently it's really became something that a lot of other folks are finding out about and getting invited into, and hence the fact that we're glad to have you on the podcast today. Tell us about the growth of SRG.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so over the years SRG has grown from not just having regional funds focused on a particular country but also having sector funds. So the unreached people groups is a sector fund of SRG. We also have a women's fund, media fund. We have also strategic initiatives, so new ideas and ministries that we're trying to develop and see grow, like a digital church initiative, leadership, trauma healing. So it truly has grown and multiplied over the years. I think that's evidence of God's blessing on the organization and ensuring that not only are we funding the ministry partners in the region, but we're also supporting and partnering with them. So it's not just a funding organization, we're also helping them grow and helping them build capacity so that they can do their ministry in a better way as well.

Speaker 1:

If I make a gift through SRG, how are my funds going to be broken up, split up? It sounds like I'm going to participate in tens or even hundreds of different ministry efforts across many people groups in many countries, right?

Speaker 2:

Right. That's certainly possible because a gift to SRG would be used across all of the regions and sector funds, so each of the funds gets a certain percentage of the gifts coming into SRG that we can then steward to the ministry partners that we're working in with in our particular fund or a regional fund. Of course there could be designated gifts and anyone working in nonprofit understands the complication there. Of course we love them, but it does make things a little more difficult. But even then a designated gift to UPG Sector Fund within SRG is impacting the regions that SRG is working in.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. And so, al, I'm told you're a great storyteller and you know we're here to tell great stories, and so maybe you could share a story or two of this now about how you've seen this model work and what God's doing with that in the region.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely so. I'll use myself, for instance, as an example. I was aware of SRG in 2008 and I found out that that's the model they use. It's almost like they're a mutual fund manager. You're the Kingdom investor, you give money to them and they give you choices.

Speaker 3:

Do you want to leave it to us to use it or do you want to tell us I have a passion just for Egypt, or a passion for this region, or a passion for this initiative, and, as a result of this, they end up helping really start up a lot of ministries on the ground, or at least who are intimately familiar with the region, and that's where my ministry, for instance, was launched, because I'm from Saudi and they needed people who are not only passionate about Saudi, but also you are from Saudi, you know the lay of the land and you even speak the language, you know the culture, and this is the heart of SRG.

Speaker 3:

They want to go all the way down to the ground level, the grass root level, if you wish. So my ministry was launched because of their effort and their hard desire and today just a quick example one of the initiatives they supported for me is the media initiative, and we launched our YouTube channel to where I am reaching Muslims for Christ, both in English and Arabic, and the Arabic is focused specifically on the Arabian Peninsula. And I had. That was the back in March of 2016. I had zero subscribers, zero viewership. Today we have 164,000 subscribers and pushing 15 million views.

Speaker 3:

You know so all of that because of the heart of SRG. Now, you can only imagine how many hearts and lives have been touched by this. So, for instance, every week I get emails from people in the region, from the Arabian Peninsula, asking to meet with me, or me and my wife, of their females, so that they can ask us questions about why did we leave Islam? And they are struggling with certain things how can they get discipled, how can they be safe, and so on and so forth. So all of that because of the love and the good stewardship that God has given us RG.

Speaker 1:

So let's dig a little bit deeper, because I wouldn't be a good podcast host if I didn't push you right here on this topic. What happens next? They reach out hey, I'm interested, which is a big step. It's a big step for them to take to even do that, even to put themselves out there and say hey, I'm interested, we want to have a conversation, Tell us your story. What happens after that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, if I'm really after, I'm beat with them. I want to make sure that they're not just excited about something that they're sincerely seeking. Sometimes I get them by the way towards the end, that's it. I mean, they're just, they need somebody to tip the scale for them and that's it. They're in the kingdom already. Sometimes they're still have doubts, which is okay, I mean, that's normal. But once they come to the Lord that's the beauty about ministries, that is already supports or even sRG themselves. There is a network of people that we know and I make sure that they are plugged into a house, church, plugged into a disciple or that meets with them face to face, because that's important. We can zoom and we can do things like this, but you still need the fellowship, the community, and that's what happens. That's usually what I push for, because it's the most powerful thing to do for any new believer is to ground them on solid foundations.

Speaker 1:

You mentioned house church and I think an important thing to talk about here we say this on several of the episodes like the hero of the story in unreached people groups and reaching unreached people groups and going to the nations is the local church, whether it's the ones that are already established or the ones that we are establishing in the movement. And so what's your network like of these local churches? I mean, how does that work? You're just you're sending a text or a WhatsApp message to pastor so-and-so, and you're like, hey, this person's kind of in your neighborhood or close by this is where I see them currently in their journey and you set up a meeting and they get together.

Speaker 3:

Yes, I mean that's typically what I do. I mean, obviously I don't want to reveal all cards here, just in case for the safety of those who are involved. But yes, I would contact a person or two who have their own network already of house churches and disciples and typically will exchange the phone number or the email for the person. They have a way to do at least a, let's say, a security check on a person. They want to make sure that this is a legit person who is indeed seeking or is a believer as they have disclosed. And then they end up meeting face to face and if they pass this mail test, let's call it that they end up introducing him or officially to someone and that's when they get plugged into a network of believers.

Speaker 3:

They meet other believers like them, like, for instance, one of the initiatives that we're supporting is a house church where believers meet with other believers, which is unusual. Typically they tend to be suspicious of each other. So a Muslim background believer like to meet with Westerners. They think the Westerners are safe. If they meet with another background believer from a Muslim background, they're afraid that they might be an agent for the government. But this initiative is allowing them safely to meet, learn how to pray for each other, learn how to even share the messages from the Bible, the do studies from the Bible, and so on and so forth. So that's how we do it. It's a slow process, but it takes a span of about two to three months before it's solidified.

Speaker 1:

What are the preconceived notions of a typical person that you're engaging with and introducing from the background of their faith, their experience and their life there? Because we're talking about Abrahamic religions here, we're talking about a lot of similarities in who they know historically, what they believe historically, versus this kind of who Jesus actually is moment. So talk about what are we working with, what are we unwinding? How does that work?

Speaker 3:

People come to me because they've watched how I am decimating the foundations they used to stand on and therefore they realize that immediately we're standing on a fake foundation. So where do I go from here, you know? So in my case, they come already. It's like okay, I heard you, I see what's going on. So what do I need to do now? And that's where I begin to explain to them the new way of looking at Jesus and why he's important. And from there, of course, we want to make sure that they get plugged into these groups where they learn the scripture. What is the Bible? How is it divided? Why is it important? Where do I learn anything about my salvation? Why Christ is the answer. What is sin? Because they come with all of these presuppositions and now they need to really reprogram. And I know the power of the Holy Spirit. I mean he can really change anyone. Obviously, if anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation. But they need to be ready for that. Is it challenging for them? Of course, of course. I mean it's not unusual for a new believer to still bring in all baggage with them or try to argue things that they're not used to hearing. That's fine. I mean we have to be patient. We don't expect things to just change overnight. As long as the heart is sincere and the mind is already focused on Christ, things will happen.

Speaker 3:

You wanted a story. I'll give you a quick story if you don't mind. Just a couple of years ago, I was involved in ministries to reach the Saudi students on US campuses, and there was a large number of them, by the way, and continues to be a large number, but the number a little bit trickled down. And one day I got invited to go to Ohio and visit with a group of ministries that are reaching the Saudis because they want to hear from me about ways, effective ways, to share with them and things like that. And then a gentleman sat next to me. I can tell he's a Saudi, I'm thinking he's a believer. And then, after we finished and everything, the guy told me.

Speaker 3:

You know, remember the guy that I told you before that he said he wants to kill you when he sees you. That's the guy right there, oh, and I'm like oh, thank you for the invitation. You should have gave me a warning that I'm sitting next to the guy who hates me. I don't have to say the guy was really upset when he saw my testimony he was upset about what I was saying, about why I left Islam. Why Christ is the answer. But he was continuously a seeker and today is actually him and his wife are running a campus ministry in Ohio. I mean, it's just an amazing transformation. But it shows they're hungry for truth. But the culture, sometimes on pride, gets in the way and until that hard change they are always going to stand their ground.

Speaker 1:

Amy, I'm curious. We, when we're talking about full Bible translation, you know, historically speaking, traditionally, with someone going in and learning a new language and getting involved in a culture and a timeline to reach an undisturbed people group, you may be three, five, six, eight years into the translating portion and it could take you 10 or 15 years to translate even the New Testament. But today we have technology on our side and you all have found a way to utilize technology and do full Bible translation much faster. Can you tell us about that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, srgp is always looking to blaze new trails and ask the hard questions. Oh, paul one day was asking why is it taking so long and why is it costing so much money? In fact, al would tell you, even the three years that we're trying to do it in is too long. You know his people need the Bible now, and so Paul just started asking how are other companies and businesses, how are governments, translating things? And literally started googling translation companies and decided let's try this, let's see if we can find a translation service provider or TSP to translate the Bible In a quicker way for less money, of course, not sacrificing the integrity or the quality of the scripture, because that's certainly not our heart. We want people to have the scripture as got intended, but they need it now, and so we started piloting that in 2021. And Al Fadi has been leading that project for us in his mother tongue, hijazi, and we're going to see the full Bible completed in less than three years, written and audio recording as well.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing, but you're not doing one language in three years. You're doing 30 plus languages in three years, right?

Speaker 2:

The goal is 34 languages. There are five that are already complete, so that leaves 29. And yes, the goal is to have them all complete by the end of 2026. Seraki is also the second one we piloted with a TSP. That's a language from Pakistan. That one also will be complete in less than three years. Written and audio.

Speaker 1:

And is it more or less expensive to do it faster?

Speaker 2:

It's less expensive. It's about $500,000 to do the translation, the review and the audio recording, or less. In some cases it's less, depending on the context or the country, but we know we can do it for $500,000 or less.

Speaker 1:

Well, for $500,000, I think I can do the math right when you think about how many are left to do and you think about the fact that that's there Now, obviously the text not there in every language. We've had Jack Crabtree on from the Wantakea tribe in Papua New Guinea. They didn't even have a written language when he got there. In fact, a lot of the unreached world doesn't have a written language, and so there's another kind of a barrier to entry there. Create the language, teach them to read and write their own language, get things ready. But a lot of this can be happening together on the timeline, as opposed to one step after the other. We can work together in completing the task. I'm curious, al maybe sounds like a very simple question, but why is the expedited translation focus so important?

Speaker 3:

Well, it's an excellent question and I don't mean anything, of course, about the conventional approach, but all I have to say is that Jesus says go and make disciples of all nations and teaching them all that I have commanded you. And from my perspective, this means people need to get their hand on the word of God ASAP. In other words, I don't want to wait 10 years or 15 years, or 20 years in some cases, for them to get the scripture. If we can find a way for them to get it as fast as possible, why not? Because when they hear it in their own mother tongue, it's much easier for them to begin to grasp and understand what's going on.

Speaker 3:

My mother-in-law is an example. She is from North Africa, she's from Morocco, and I witnessed to her for over a year and a half and she would give me the polite answer and things like that I wasn't buying it, to be honest with you that she is convinced about the gospel. And then she asked to talk to the same gentleman who interviewed me at CBN for the first time, who was a formal Muslim from Morocco. His name is Brother Rashid and she said I want to talk to him. I called Rashid.

Speaker 3:

I said brother, listen, my mother-in-law is stuck to you. She knows you're Moroccan and she knows you're a believer, but let me tell you this she ain't going to come to Christ. Okay, I'm just telling you that. And then I give her the phone and he talks to her 30 minutes later. She was in tears and she accepted Christ because she heard the gospel in her own mother tongue and he's almost like okay, now I get it. The translation in the mother tongue is powerful because people can grasp it, understand it, and that's where I became really sold on the idea of translating the scripture in your mother tongue Absolutely, but not without sacrificing quality, not without sacrificing integrity.

Speaker 1:

That's a massive part of this equation and part of the sector fund for UPG. So, amy, talk about how you're committed to being faithful to God's word and his plan while using new technology and new means to get there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, as I said, we certainly appreciate all the work that's been done before we came along and we recognize that we couldn't do what we're doing without the folks that came before us. So there were people blazing trails long before SRG and doing this type of translation work in Arabic and Urdu and Farsi, and we couldn't do what we're doing without that. So we certainly don't discount that, but we do know that what we're doing could be seen as disruptive. But to Al's point, we realize that there are people that don't know Jesus, that don't have a Bible in their language, and they need it now. They needed it long before now.

Speaker 2:

But we're going to get it to them as quickly as we can, and so, although it may take us about three years to completely finish the translation, we're doing concurrent distribution and communication along the way. So as soon as a portion of the Bible is complete, we can distribute that to our ministry partners or the folks that we know and how church is, put it on an app so that people can start using it. Even before the New Testament is complete, let alone the whole Bible, we want to get it out there as quick as we can.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so there's kind of a school of thought, and it's been built over time, about what order you translate books in versus in scripture, and do y'all follow along a certain order with every translation?

Speaker 2:

We do have a batch order, and Al might want to speak to this more than me because he's in the nitty gritty of it day in and day out.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So for Hejazie, we really followed a batching format, starting from the New Testament, the Gospels, all the way to Revelation, and then from there we cycled back to the Old Testament. In another language that I am involved in, the Nejdi, we are actually selecting certain books from the New Testament and we're almost done with the New Testament because I had a wider team, if you wish. I like the idea of having a deep bench, if you want to use that metaphor. So I was testing everyone's capabilities and giving them the books that they're good at.

Speaker 3:

You have multiple translators, therefore you can give them multiple books at the same times, and that expedites the process. But then it bottled neck when you start to review in it, making sure that the theology is correct and everything else, but at least you already have products being produced. So we followed a couple of different formats, so there isn't really a rule of thumb for us to follow. I know some translation agencies focus on the book of Luke as the first, some like to start with John, some like to start with the stories of the prophets, and I'm sure they've tested that in a variety of ways, and I'm not here to try to even critique an approach. I'm hoping that our approach is also as good as theirs.

Speaker 1:

So Al one of our conversations you talked about the translators themselves and how this process is having a big impact on them. Can you share about that?

Speaker 3:

Yes. So I don't know if we mentioned the TSP, which is the translation service providers. That was one approach, where you hire someone to translate, and the other approach that we're doing also is us, you know, compiling a team of believers the TSP approach. I can tell that they were people who were translating the scripture, but yet it's obvious they're not believers in Christ, and we had occasions where the translator would bail out. I laugh because I know why they did that. They get convicted. Sometimes things happen to them. We call it special warfare. They don't understand that.

Speaker 3:

But in the case of the believers that I'm using, I can tell you three of them have been impacted tremendously by this. One told me just recently I am so thankful for the process because for the first time I am forced to read the scripture at a deeper level and forced to even read the Bible cover to cover. The second person is dealing with depression and unfortunately it's out of their control. They're thinking this process had been a healing process for them. And then I also have a story about a couple that was engaged. They got involved in the process itself of translating a review and their work with each other, and the gentleman basically told his fiance, that I never, ever knew half of the stuff that Jesus taught, and now, because of that, I promise you that I'll do my best to be as good as Jesus and treat in you and in honoring you. So things like this are really a success story in my mind because, if you think about it, it's a discipleship process for them.

Speaker 1:

Amy, in your notes you talked about one of your teams that's working in Yemen and a couple of great stories that are going on there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's really neat. So we actually tested a translation service provider for this language, a TSP, and we were going to have this team of indigenous believers in Yemen do the review for us. And they read the translation and they said you know, this is good, but we could do it better and we want to translate the Bible. So this little team formed in Yemen it's a really dangerous situation, as you probably know. You know for a team of four translators, three translators and a typist working eight hours a day in one of their homes translating the scripture, and they, just through all of it, have been so impacted about who Jesus is. I mean, they're already believers, but just now that they have it in their own heart language, it has a deeper meaning for them. They have started writing their own worship music. So they're not translating worship songs that they heard. They're writing brand new worship music because they have the scripture in their heart language and it's speaking to and piercing their heart.

Speaker 2:

One of the translation team was speaking with a group from his church and just started reading the scripture in this dialect and this woman in the group said what is that? Where are you getting that? Where's it coming from? They both got to open this computer and show her look, here's what we're working on, you know. And she just impacted her so greatly just hearing a few words of it. And then another translation team member actually was able to lead a family member to the Lord through the translation. And again the family member said you know, I haven't heard this before in this language. How did you get this? And he opened his computer, showed him the paratex translation tool, you know, let him read the gospels right there on his computer. And now he's a believer.

Speaker 2:

So this is happening with a very small team in a very dangerous situation. They're facing true security concerns, you know, bombings and things happening right outside their home while they're working. I mean we need to really mobilize prayer, not only for this team but all the teams that are working in this kind of work for the Lord, because and Al can tell plenty of stories about this but the spiritual warfare is real. Satan doesn't want this to happen and so we need to be diligent and honor. We're on our knees, praying for the people that are doing this work.

Speaker 1:

Man, thank you for sharing that. That's a great story. I think when it's in your heart, right, I mean even it talks about in the Bible it burns in your bones. I mean when that's happening and that song's in your heart, especially if bombs are going off outside. What a beautiful way to be so in-depth and so in it that you're not just translating the word, but that you're adding the worship level, the worship service to it. Very exciting and compelling stuff.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that would really be our heart and our vision for all the UPGs, that we are working towards having the scripture for that. We would see the Indigenous Church rise up amongst them, that prayer and worship would come out of each of them. We know that's close to the heart of God. Obviously he wants that. He's chasing after them. They just maybe don't know it yet. There was another man who, in a different language, he met one of our translation team this is in a Nobine language for the Nubian people and he said he told this, he confided in one of our team. I know Jesus in my heart, but I don't have the words to talk about him to my people.

Speaker 1:

Well, talk about persecution in the church there. Talk about the efforts to dissuade and trip up and get the work off track.

Speaker 3:

I mean socially. I can say that not only the believers that I know who are going through their shades of persecution. Many of them have lost basically their freedom. I know of some that really not only were kidnapped by their family but they're actually imprisoned in their home. We had one that recently we were able to help rescue that person and remove them from their home.

Speaker 3:

But then I go back to the translators themselves. I can tell you that every single translator that is working on our project has their own story of persecution. Some of them come from very prominent families, but yet they have to flee the country in one case. And the other one is in country working for one of the basically religious ministries and yet when he was discovered to be a believer, he lost all of his family. His wife took the kids and walked away, and now the job turning against him and he's been going through some legal trouble because they are inventing things that are impactful against him. So you have these kind of spiritual warfare that are taking place technically speaking and at the same time persecution and the word of God is the only thing that they have to lean on and trust that God is taking care of them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was reminded too of some teams we have working in Sudan and you know, recently the war broke out there in Sudan and of course that slowed down the translation work and that team kind of scattered and we were really sure what would happen and of course they could have left the country just to be safe, you know, for their own families. But these teams, as they were able, they came back to where they were working on the translation and they said we're not going anywhere, we're going to keep working on this because this is so important in the midst of such uncertainty and terror and war that they saw the importance of what they were doing and really blazing a trail for their people to provide God's word in the language that's never been provided before, that they made their way back to do the work.

Speaker 1:

Often persecution is one of the greatest fuels on the fire of the gospel growing Amen. Al, you are specifically working on the full Bible translation project in Hajazi, so maybe, amy, would you set the stage for the project and then I'll show your kind of experiences with it right now.

Speaker 2:

Sure, as I mentioned before, srg wanted to pilot a translation with a translation service provider, a for-profit translation company, and they were able to find a company that could translate in Hijazi Arabic, which happens to be Al's heart language, and so Al's also biologically trained, linguistically trained, so we have an expert in the language, and so it made sense for us to use this as a pilot, and so we've been working with a translation service provider named LinguaLynx and they've been providing the translation draft and then Al and his team do the review on that, and that will end up taking about 28 months for translation and review, 36 months in total to have the full written and audio version of the Hijazi Bibles.

Speaker 3:

What a joy indeed. At the beginning I was trying to rub and I had around this concept of a TSP, but then it occurred to me that the TSP is going to give us the framework it's going to expedite, at least giving you the structure for the translation. You take it from there. Obviously, the first step is we want to make sure that the quality is acceptable, meaning that I'm not going to redo the whole thing again if that's the case Mila's well, just translated myself. But if the quality is acceptable, we take it from there, we begin to smooth it out theologically and linguistically, and making sure that is faithful, as we mentioned earlier, was Amy emphasized that too Not only in my case, the original language, but also to the source document that we're using, which is another translation.

Speaker 3:

And, technically speaking, that's how the process has been going and what a joy it is indeed. And, like I said, we've seen a life change just from within the team itself, and they understand that there is going to be an optic, if you wish, of spiritual warfare, but I explained to them that this is actually the sign that the enemy of the gospel is irritated with you, and so don't take it as if it's God punishing you. That's the mentality that we used to have in the past. No, god is going to be with you and standing by you and think of how many lives will change on account of what you're doing.

Speaker 1:

Now I love that and I got to tell a short story because we've already learned something kind of funny on the podcast and our second episode which was technically episode one because episode zero was our launch we had our friend Jack from Papua New Guinea and he's talking to telling a story about one of the tribe members who he meets in town. And the guy said had said, I want to see an ocean one day. He had never seen the ocean because they live up in the mountain region. And I said well, jack, how would he say I want to see an ocean one day? In want to kin. And so Jack just says it out loud and want to kin.

Speaker 1:

Well, we have a service that we have for the podcast that does show notes right. That translates to show notes and so when someone's listening to the podcast, if they're watching the notes, if you're driving in your car, the titles will change at different sections of the show. We didn't think about that. Obviously our AI can't regenerate. Want to kin.

Speaker 1:

There's no way that the AI can speak that language and so, but it tried to translate what he said into English and I can't tell you what the show notes actually said. But Jackson's just an email and he goes hey guys, I got a note from a friend. You need to check your show notes Because basically, I mean it said something to the effect of you know, like there was a man and a woman and they were that I, you know, go from there, but it was, it was just him trying to say I want to see an ocean one day. So, yeah, there's obviously going to be situations where translation doesn't come across perfectly. Praise the Lord that you're there with the Holy Spirit, you speak more than one language and that you can help go through and check that work. I'm sure you probably have a story or two of a translation moment that didn't quite make sense, right?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, and you have no idea how many times I come across words that were chosen and I'm like this is a street word, I will never use it in the scripture. But sometimes you have to really sympathize. They did their best, they thought this is what the word means and we can we indeed, from there and try to reason with their thinking and try to explain to them how this word will not apply in this context and things of that nature.

Speaker 2:

So that's Iman Yemma and I was talking about. They debated for a long time over the word Pharisee, and should we change this to a word that's more relevant in them, even in the Muslim context that they would understand, or should we leave it as Pharisee? They ultimately decided to leave it as Pharisee, with a little bit of description as to what that means. Right, because for those of us that are reading, you know in English about what's a Pharisee. I don't I don't use that word today, but you have to learn and understand what the context is. There's also been in that same team, a lot of debate on words like frog and sheep. They've had a lot of fun trying to figure some of those words out.

Speaker 1:

Unique challenges in biblical translation on your drive home from work today. Welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 3:

I have to clear my heart that how humbling this project has been for me. You know, you think about it. I grew up a Muslim and I'm not a geotypical Muslim. I was very devout. I hated Christ of Christianity, I hated the Bible. I hated Christians who are promoting heresies in my mind.

Speaker 3:

And today I look back and I say, wow, the Lord not only is humbling me and using me now to translate his very word that touched my heart and transformed my heart, to be in charge of a project that will touch the hearts of my people, my people, Saudi, where Islam came from. You have no idea how overwhelming that is. You know sometimes and it makes sense why I go through spiritual warfare from time to time because the enemy is going nuts over this. What I'm saying is we really need to appreciate the vision that God has given us RG. What an amazing vision indeed.

Speaker 3:

I wouldn't have thought about a TSP approach, I wouldn't have thought about expediting Bible translation. I would have been content that the Bible is being translated for all that no matter, but to find a way to expedite it and get in the hand of people who really desperately need it. What a blessing, what a blessing indeed, and I'm so thankful for those who are given towards that project. I pray also that more and more will step up to the plate and give towards expediting this initiative to completion.

Speaker 2:

You know, something we talk about a lot is making the concept of unreached obsolete, like it's just not even a word in our vocabulary anymore, and that's possible because of things like what SRG is doing, what BLESS is doing, other amazing organizations that are reaching the people that are considered unreached. But I think about my kids who are three and four. What if that term is just something they don't even use when they're adults and, like my grandchildren, never even hear that word? Because we're able to do that and God's put us at an interesting point in history where we have a lot of access and tools and we have the capability to do it and so, for whatever reason, he's called us to be a part of it, which, as Al said, it's very humbling.

Speaker 2:

I was thinking the other day, as we've talked about, how hard this can be. Sometimes I was thinking it just. I had this vision of us, you know, trudging through some of this, doing things that have never been done before. There's not a roadmap for some of this that we're trying to figure out, and so sometimes it feels really hard and laborious, but I saw in my mind someone coming up and thanking us. So maybe not on this side of heaven, but maybe in heaven someone I've never met, never seen, never knew their name. But come up and thank me or thank Al, thank you Dustin or Clint or your teams for what you're doing, because it made a difference for them and now they're in the kingdom of heaven too.

Speaker 1:

Amen, al and Amy. Strategic resource group. Thank you so much, al. Would you something we love to do? Would you pray for the listeners today in your heart language and then maybe, amy, why don't you pray for us as well on the way out?

Speaker 3:

You bet I will translate your book, O Lord, in your words. Congratulations to everyone who works in this project. Congratulations to everyone who is affected by this project, O Lord, Especially the people who will accept you as their god and finish your work. You will be with them. You will be with them through your words. Help them, O Lord, so that they will sleep and they will be in the way of the Lord. We ask you to be with them through your words.

Speaker 2:

Lord, we thank you for allowing us to be part of what you're doing. We thank you for all of the teams around the world that are doing the hard work of translation and review. We ask that you would protect them, that you would put a hedge of protection around them, their families, their ministries, and that you would allow the work to continue, that you would bring the resources that are needed to make this actually come to reality, to see the Bible translate every language that doesn't have it, and to make that a reality for people that need it and that need to know you. We thank you for loving us, we thank you for forgiving us and we thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share your story and share the work that you're doing in the world. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to Unreached. Our sincere desire is that what you've heard today will cause you to see the mission of God differently and you're rolling it more clearly. If this adds value for you and we hope it does Would you please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. Also, share with your family, your friends, your church, your life group, small group, d group, wherever you do life, and if you want to connect with us, find us on Instagram at unreachedpodcast, or email us at unreachedpodcastgmailcom.

Unreach Podcast
Reaching Believers and Expedited Bible Translation
Impacting Lives Through Scripture Translation
Biblical Translation and Spiritual Warfare
Prayer for Translation and Review Efforts