What Is God’s Language?

Submitted by Helmut Giesbrecht
Serving as Project Funding Coordinator in Malaysia with SIL International

What is God’s Language?

Since 1968, Wycliffe Canada has served minority language groups worldwide by fostering an understanding of God’s Word through Bible translation, while nurturing literacy, education and stronger communities. Our team and our partners strive to create access to education for language groups around the world. We want marginalized groups, the poor and the overlooked to have a chance to know God’s incredible love and escape poverty. Wycliffe Canada is changing lives by translating God’s Word into the heart language of the people and communities we serve.

In 1999, motivated by the desire to accelerate the pace of Bible translation worldwide, Wycliffe adopted Vision 2025. It is a bold call to action and commitment; a firm “no” to the status quo; it is thinking “outside the box” and it is willing to take risks. Together with partners worldwide, we envision Bible translation in progress for every language that needs it by 2025.


  • There are approximately 7,000 living/spoken languages in the world!
  • 1,800 of these languages still need scripture translation to begin, representing over 180 million people.
  • 2,300 languages have active translation in progress
  • More than 1,300 languages have access to the New Testament or a portion of scriptures
  • Only 500 languages have a complete Bible.


Is there a faster way to do Bible translation?  In the past, it has taken years to translate the New Testament; now, with the new collaborative translation method called MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation), it could be possible for a full team of 26 translators to draft a translation of the entire New Testament in as little as two weeks.

Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates says, “What it really means [MAST] is a group of people coming together with complementary resources and skill sets to assist a language group as they launch the Bible translation process in their own language, and to train them and coach them in a new strategy that accelerates the process of drafting and checking Bible translation.

“MAST gathers a larger group of people who already speak the target language… and it organizes them into working in parallel instead of working in sequence.

“We had a couple dozen people working simultaneously in parallel through Scripture. So, one group would work on Matthew, another group would work on Mark, another group would work on Luke, and so on, so that the progress through the translation happened faster.”

Traditionally, Bible translation is done by foreigners, who come in and learn the target language and grammar, and conduct a linguistic study prior to the translation work beginning. They then work chronologically through the New Testament; this process had an average of 6-8 years for completion. That is why MAST could revolutionize Bible translation efforts around the world, making Vision 2025 an achievable goal.

  • Translation consultants checking the MAST work say it is some of the highest quality and most accurate translation they have seen.
  • There are 125 MAST teams actively translating scripture into their own languages. These are in addition to all the other active translation projects in progress.
  • In 2016 Wycliffe Associates is launching translation work in 500 languages using the MAST strategy.
  • It costs just $19,500 U.S. to launch Bible translation in a community that has never had one verse of scripture.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela

Wycliffe Bible Translators, Wycliffe Associates and SIL International are part of the Wycliffe Global Alliance and work alongside in scripture translation.

If you are interested in more information, please contact Helmut at helmut_giesbrecht@wycliffeassociates.org

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