Nigerian Bible translators are seeking help after having to suspend translation projects in 30 languages due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing terrorist violence throughout the country.
Wycliffe Associates, an Orlando-based nonprofit that works with national Bible translators across the globe on over 700 translation projects, announced that the global pandemic, terrorism and economic collapse in Nigeria have “brought Bible translation to a halt in the most populous nation on the African continent.”
The organization, which was founded in 1967 and partners with the local churches to direct and guard translation work in their communities, partners with an organization called Nigerian Bible Translation Trust. The trust works on several Old and New Testament translation projects in a country where there are over 200 million people and over 500 languages.
However, in 2020, translators have not been able to gather in central locations as they would normally to check each other’s translation work.
Along with the pandemic, Nigeria has been marred by increasing trends of violence carried out in recent years by various actors — including Islamic terrorist groups, radical herdsmen and bandits. It’s estimated that thousands are reportedly killed by systemic acts of violence each year, including many Christians.
“With the pandemic, the issues of terrorist attacks and thievery, and the amount of starvation that is going on in the country, makes people desperate. There is a fear that drives that,” Wycliffe Associates Vice President of Translation Services Tabitha Price told The Christian Post.
“Travel is becoming more difficult. There is a lack of infrastructure already. And then to be concerned about the corruption and violence and terrorism that they are going to face when they try to travel, those challenges have really kept translators from being able to get together.”
Price said that translators working on the same projects often do not live in the same village.
“And the only way they can work together and check each other’s work and continue with the project is to come together in a central location,” she said. “With the pandemic and travel restrictions, besides all the dangers that have intensified, they really haven’t been able to do that.
“It’s varying degrees of the pandemic and violent militant and terrorist groups and kidnappings that have happened. Of course, situations like that are always exacerbated by something like this pandemic so those who are violently opposed to Christianity will take every opportunity to express it.”
Wycliffe has been working with the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust to train translators and provide them with resources. But restrictions on travel have made it difficult to be able to start on projects they planned to begin in 2020.
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