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Bible translators martyred in Middle East

NEWS  |  Kaley Payne

Thursday 31 March 2016

Four Bible translators have been killed in the Middle East after their translation office was attacked by militants.

“They shot and destroyed all the equipment in the office … invaders burned all the books and other translation materials,” said US-based Wycliffe Associates in a statement.

The translators were local translators from the region. Wycliffe Associates said two workers died of gunshot wounds and other two workers, in an attempt to shield the lead translator, died covering his body and deflecting “bludgeoning blows from the radicals’ spent weapons.” The men saved the lead translators life.

Wycliffe Associates, which in February announced ten new translation projects in a region where conversion to Christianity is punishable by death, says the risk for translators in these areas is great.

“Yes, it’s dangerous,” said Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “But so many people still have never seen God’s word in their own heart language.”

The organisation said it was praising God that computer hard drives containing translation work for eight language projects were not destroyed in the raid.

The surviving translators will remain in the area to continue their work.

“Pray for others to step up and take on the translation task,” writes the Wycliffe prayer coordinator Mae Greenleaf. “Please ask the Lord to mend the hearts and wounds of the translation team who have gone through this horrible ordeal. Pray that God will strengthen their minds, their hearts and their bodies to be able to continue the translation of the gospel for their people.”

Wycliffe Associates left the Wycliffe Global Alliance – a community of over 100 Bible translation organisations and networks – earlier this year citing reasons including controversy over the use of Bible translations that use literal common language for “Father” and “Son of God”.

Another distinctive of Wycliffe Associates is its plans to push forward with a new approach to Bible translation called MAST (Mobilised Assistance Supporting Translation) which claims to be able to translate almost half of the New Testament in two weeks, drastically shorter than any other Bible translation process. The speed of the process has attracted some criticism from other Bible translation organisations.

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