By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Jakarta, Indonesia.
JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BosNewsLife)-- A lack of funds overshadows preparations by dozens of native Christians to secretly translate and bring the Bible to 30 language groups in Indonesia who have been waiting for that moment for generations, an official supporting the project told BosNewsLife.
"They can start work within days—if we can provide the tools and technology," explained Bruce Smith, the president and CEO of U.S.-based Bible translating agency Wycliffe Associates. "But that is a big IF," he admitted.
In an internal email Tim Neu, the chief financial officer of Wycliffe Associates, expressed concerns about a shortfall in funding. "Bruce, this is serious. As things stand now, we can’t do Indonesia. They need 1,021 tablets—that’s $306,300 total. We just don’t have it," he wrote in the email obtained by BosNewsLife.
"Sorry—I’ve been trying to find a way to make this work, but right now the funds are just not there. Is there anything we can do?", Neu wondered.
Wycliffe Associates has been accelerating Bible translation in what it calls "the most remote, most antagonistic parts of the world," such as parts of Indonesia where Muslim hardliners oppose the spread of Christianity. When recently, "bombs ripped through churches in Indonesia—it was horrible—and now more news (of persecution)," Smith said. "But still they refuse to give up. They refuse to run and hide," the official added.
Smith cited a national Bible translation leader as saying that Christians are "feeling the pressure" in what is the world's most populous Muslim nation.
However, the national Bible leader, identified only as Dr. Y amid security concerns, said in comments seen by BosNewsLife that
"now is the time" to spread Bibles to more language groups. "After the church bombings, yes, there are security issues. But Christians are not afraid of bombings,” he wrote in a statement distributed by Wycliffe Associates.
"Thirty amazing, courageous translation teams are ready to start work secretly—to bring God’s Word to 30 whole language groups...(These) people have been waiting for generations to experience the Bible in their heart language," Dr. Y claimed.
Smith cautioned that the Christians still need computer tablets. "They’re only $300 each, fully loaded with software. But we don’t have the funds for them. We’ll need a total of $306,300."
It was not immediately clear how long the financial troubles would delay the ongoing preparations. But Dr. Y seemed determined to continue. "The Spirit is still saying to us: bring the Gospel to many people in Indonesia!," he said.
Smith said Wycliffe Associates had opened a website link for donations: https://giveto.wycliffeassociates.org/2018-august-tnt/1808-1/
It comes at a time when Christians here try to speed up Bible translations in Indonesia which remains ethnically highly diverse, with more than 300 local languages, BosNewsLife established.
Those living in this Asian country nation of 260 million people range from rural hunter-gatherers to a modern urban elite, including in Jakarta, where many use modern smartphones for popular taxi-hailing services and other online businesses.
Historians point out that sophisticated kingdoms existed before the arrival of the Dutch, who colonized what the archipelago but gave in to a bloody independence struggle in 1949.
(BosNewsLife's MISSION WATCH is a regular look at missionaries working in the two-thirds world and other difficult areas and related developments)