In Pakistan, God’s word is reaching many hearts, working through different languages, ongoing translation projects and various Bible formats. In the midst of poverty, hunger and despair, the Bible has been central to recent conversations with Afghan callers to a radio station. One caller, Miss F said, “I follow your radio programs and read a lot from the Bible. Every day my faith grows. I believe that God is at work and that he will save those who believe in him.” Another lis-tener, Mr M S said, “When I read [the Bible], my heart fills with joy and peace.”
Bible Society Pakistan is reaching people like this by assisting with two Bible translation projects, one in the Saraiki language and another for Afghan Pashto speakers. Pashto is a widely spoken and understood language in two provinces of Pakistan and has many dialects. The people who speak one of these dialects expressed a special interest in the word of God. This project began in 2010. As translation work continues, it will mean that more Afghan Pashto Scripture recordings can be made, which will enable more use of Afghan Pashto Scripture in radio programs, fol-low-up talk with radio listeners and apps.
“I want to thank you for providing the word of God through your website so people can read… and through the radio broadcasts that we can listen to.”
It will be possible to share Pashto Scriptures via SMS messages, and Facebook and other social media outlets will be able to share God’s word in this heart language. Another radio listener, Mr A said, “I follow your Facebook and website, and I love the video talks. I remember bad experiences as a boy, being forced into religion. It was at university that I first heard about the teaching of Jesus, when our professor said that Jesus taught people to turn the other cheek. That started to change my thinking. I read a little from the New Testament and I loved it. I hope to learn more, follow Jesus and share the Gospel with other people.” “I want to thank you for providing the word of God through your website so people can read,” said Mr S, “and through the radio broadcasts that we can listen to.”
As well as seekers and new Christians being impacted by God’s word in their language, Bible translators in Pakistan are finding their lives changed by their work. A translator working on the Saraiki Bible translation, Baz* asks rhetori-cally, “Who does not want God’s word in his own language, before him, in his hands?!” Baz goes on to say, “I have been gaining a lot of blessings through translating into [this] sweet, rich and heart touching language.” Saraiki is the largest local language of Pakistan, after the four main regional languages. It is spoken by around 26 million people. Before this project began, there was no Scripture available in this language, so the need for a Bible translation is great.
Saraiki speaking Christians have been anxious to have a Bible in their native language. The leader of the translation team also feels blessed by his role. He says, “It [is] my great privilege that I am part of this team, which is serving God’s word and his people, who are in the millions.” He believes he was created for this purpose of translating the word of God. “God prepares us in our life for his purpose, for which he created us,” he says. “He leads us through various circumstances and events and prepares us.” Both men are finding it particularly enriching to immerse themselves in the Saraiki language and culture like never before, as they translate God’s word.
“It [is] my great privilege that I am part of this team, which is serving God’s word and his people, who are in the millions.”
The team leader recalls the day he gave a lift to a shepherd on his bike. He couldn’t resist asking him questions about sheep, goats and his work. The shepherd was surprised and asked, ‘Why are you asking all this?’ The team leader says that while learning Greek and studying English Bible translation is important, “The most important part is the chance we get to study our culture and community deeply.” Baz has also found that he has a unique opportunity to share the Gospel message with his non-Christian family, friends and colleagues. “Through discussion with close friends on the vocabulary of Saraiki, the courage to share the word has been grown in me [in] imperceptible way(s), which [has never happened before in the] last 25 years. Also, when choosing words from the Saraiki vocabulary, sometimes I need to talk with my wife, children and elders of the family, and discussion turns to sharing the testimony and the [Bible] in moderate ways. And I think, this work of translation is serving as [a] tool of witnessing for me.”
Through his deep study of verses of God’s word, Baz has found that ‘more loving and enriched feelings’ have grown in his heart. His work means he is getting the chance to read and understand the Bible more deeply. “In difficult times [of the working process], there is always time to get help from [the] Holy Spirit in prayer.” Similarly, the team leader says, “I always plead before God’s Holy Spirit, [acknowledging that] it is not our ability, [and asking him to] be with us as [he was] with [David, Moses and Paul].” Baz’s prayer is that God Almighty would be the helper and guide for all of the team.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.