Monday, April 18, 2011

Don't Stop at Vision 2025

"Isn't it incredible that there's a vision to begin a translation in every language that needs it by 2025?!"

I would love to get a dollar for every time I hear this. It's a common response when people hear that Josh and I are training for translation work. I'm not interested in debating here the likelihood of accomplishing this Vision (also known as Last Languages Campaign). Or what it's going to take. Or how good of an idea it is. Like in my What's it like being an MK? post, I want to respond from my heart to a question that rubs me the wrong way - though this one is rhetorical.

Yes, it is an incredible endeavor, and God is using Vision 2025. But. Please don't stop at Vision 2025.

One of my heroes from Bible Translation history, right along with Luther, Tyndale and Wycliffe, is William Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, affectionately known as Uncle Cam. You may recognize this famous quote.

"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue.
It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner."
- William Cameron Townsend

This quote was instrumental in drawing me into Bible Translation. But as the years have gone by, through more reading, more discussing, more training, and more praying, I find that this quote is not what it's all about. And I don't think Uncle Cam would have thought so either.

In the same way, I don't think that those who had Vision 2025 believe that Vision 2025 is what it's all about. But I do wonder if that's the message that the church is getting... that you're getting. When thinking about the unreached, have you ever thought, "If only they had the Bible...." I have. People like accomplishable-in-my-lifetime goals. Quantifiable ones. Visible ones.

As Josh and I talk about what we want to be involved in, what we want our lives to be about, we have plenty of questions. But we do know that our end goal is not Bible accessibility.

There are many things that disturb me about Vision 2025 becoming the face of Bible Translation. Does the church know that a Bible translation is considered outdated linguistically about every 10 years? Does it know that the languages considered "still needing one" in Vision 2025 don't include every language that doesn't have Scripture? Does it know that the written Word is locked to someone who can't read? Does it know that Bibles can and do end up in warehouses? Does it know pages of Bibles can and are used to wrap food or as toilet paper? Does it know that the majority of people in Heaven could very well have never held a Bible in their lifetimes?

The Vision is wonderful, ambitious, and inspiring... but please don't stop there.

Our mission is not accomplished when people have access to the Bible. It's when every heart bows in submission to Jesus. And we all know that access to the Bible does not ensure this. I'm grateful for the translators and missionaries who have come off the field and said that we need to give more. We need Scripture engagement activities, literacy workshops, leadership training, and ethnomusicology. National leaders need to be identified and trained to carry on the work. God brings people to faith, and we can partner with Him in all sorts of ways. But please. Let's not stop at accessibility.

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  1. Ruthie,

    To hear you share thoughts from your heart like these, makes me want so much, for you to be able to take a Perspective's course, like the one Jeff and I have been taking every Sunday night for the last 3 months, as it has been full of believers like you and Josh who are learning, preparing, and most importantly asking themselves and others the questions that probe into the heart of the matter.

    But I'll bet you won't get that MK question one time! :o)

    Love ya,

  2. Susan,

    I would love to hear more about your and Jeff's experience with taking Perspectives. How has it affected you? Josh and I are planning to take it this fall, but I'd love a little "trailer" from you. :)


  3. I've learned to look at the Bible as one whole story of redemption, instead of 66 individual books that tell different stories that are disjointed and sort of put together so that they could become a Bible. That God is a missionary minded God who intends to have believers from each of the people groups of the world to worship Him around His throne in Heaven, and He is NOT coming back for us, until each of those people groups have had the chance to hear about Jesus in a way that gives them a choice to follow or not.
    There is so much more, like fellowship with many others who are like minded, taking the course with us. Jeff took a course last year about how to witness to Muslims, (another 16 week one) and I participated, so I knew some of the ideas, but Perspectives is so much more.
    They have a website, if you want more info. It is:

    Susan :o)

  4. Wow! That's wonderful, Susan. We're really looking forward to it!!!

  5. Great post! A tight vision is good, but it can become all consuming at the expense of the broader vision, mission.

  6. Amen! Yes, the Bible isn't an end in and of itself or everyone in America would be a Christian. Having the Word in a langauge that is understood is a huge part in the task but there is a lot more invovled in the work.


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