Question: Above all others, what is the first and foremost resource that you need to get the Word of God translated into a language that has never had it?
Answer: The church. Before you need a Greek New Testament, a committed Bible Translator, or a fat multi-decade budget, you need the church. To be specific, you need people from that target language who have believed the gospel and received the Holy Spirit. You need people who have new transformed hearts. People who can understand things that can only be spiritually discerned. Before you need the Word of God, you need people who have the Spirit of God.
How do I know this? First of all it’s the example we have in Scripture. Our canon was not settled until ~70 years after our Savior ascended. What was happening in the meantime? The church was happening! The church was spreading the gospel, discipling, addressing false teaching, raising up new leaders, performing church discipline, standing amidst persecution, taking the gospel across deep cultural divides, and all the other things that the church is struggling to do today.
So that means we should… roll with the Apostle Paul. We should seek to grow the kingdom first, and as it advances in the form of indigenous disciples and churches, leave the Word of God in our wake. We are not warehouse managers that would leave the Word of God and not a church. And we are not colonialists who would never expect to see the church grow indigenously with their own Bible. We are members of the body of Christ, who was Himself, the Word of God made flesh.
It’s the reason for this blog’s seemingly ridiculous name. First we translate the church into a language/culture, and don’t leave until we’ve planted a Bible. Because from several of Jesus’ parables we know for certain what happens when we sow the Word…