I remember the exact day I first felt the incredible effect the Bible could have on a person.
But that person was not me.
I had 50 Bibles at home – and sold hundreds of different translations through my businesses – but personally I did not read God’s Word consistently.
God had to take me to a remote community in Central America to show me that having a Bible, a chapter, even a verse in my own language, was an invaluable gift.
I had supported a painstakingly laborious Bible translation project in Guatemala and began to question my “return on investment.” It seemed to me that I had put a considerable amount of money into a project that would only benefit a few hundred people or a few thousand at most.
To be fair, I was a little cranky when I got off the awkward 10 hour bus ride to attend the ceremony marking the completion, at last, of the translation of the Bible into the Eastern language Jakaltek – an effort of 40 years in the making.
Then I saw Gaspar – and my life changed forever.
Gaspar, one of the locals, sobbed with joy as he took the Bible, his own Bible in his own language, into his hands. I had never held a Bible like Gaspar, as if he held in his hands the most precious object in the world.
At that point, I heard an inner voice: “Why don’t you go tell Gaspar that he’s a bad ROI? “
“The most important work in the world”
It was a rebuke I’ll never forget – and it helped me see that translating God’s Word into all languages is the most important job in the world, no matter what the cost and time. it takes to complete it.
My new friend Gaspar kindled a flame in my heart – a desire for the Word of God that I had never felt before. I promised God that I would read the Bible first thing in the morning for the rest of my life. And that’s when the Word of God really came alive for me.
Because of Gaspar – and millions of people like him around the world – I knew I had to find a way to make sure that everyone could have the Word of God in a language that speaks to their hearts.
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A billion people, no bible in their language
I was shocked to learn that over a billion people – speaking some 3,800 different languages - have little or no access to the Bible in a language they can clearly understand. Over 2,000 languages do not yet have a single verse of Scripture.
Granted, my answer was ambitious: to start a movement that would support translation of the Bible into all languages by 2033. I met with the heads of the top 10 Bible translation agencies, and we agreed that we could only do it together. All of the partners in this historic alliance, called ilumiNations, share the goal of eradicating “biblical poverty”.
What is exciting is that we are on the verge of finally seeing every language on the planet have access to the Bible – and to reach it within the next 12 years. No other scripture translation project in history has been so well coordinated. And never before have translators had the ability, through technology and software, to boost translation at such a rapid rate. You could say that IllumiNations is a visionary movement of “biblical proportions” – and the strategy, the people, and the technology are in place to make it happen.
Now it’s all up to you and me. The Bible has over 31,000 verses. But each new translation begins with a single verse.
What verse do you want the world to know?
This Easter, as part of the biggest Bible translation campaign ever, called “I Want to Know,” we ask that you share the Bible verse you want the world to know on social media, using the hashtag #IWTKBible. And we invite you to sponsor the translation of one or more verses into a language with little or no scripture. You can sponsor a verse for $ 35.
By 2033, I hope we will achieve our goals: 95 percent of the world’s population will have access to the complete Bible in their own language, 99.96 percent will have access to the New Testament, and 100 percent will have at least one. part of the Scriptures, including the millions of Deaf people representing 350 different sign languages.
Heaven and earth meet
This movement is especially significant on this Easter as we remember that heaven and earth meet at the point of the Word of God. The Word became flesh and lived among us – Jesus, the living Word – giving to you and to me the hope of eternal life through His resurrection, and leaving us with the Great Commission to share the Gospel with every creature and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28: 16-20).
This Easter is our time to write history, to help fulfill the Great Commission and prepare the way for Christ’s return. Translating the Bible is a huge undertaking, but we can each sponsor a verse.
What verse do you want the world to know?
Mart Green is the Investment Officer of the Department of Hobby Lobby and CEO of Mardel Christian & Education. He is a strong supporter of Illuminations, an alliance of 10 leading Bible translation agencies.