A Bible translation workshop in Antsirabe this year marked the first gathering since the COVID pandemic. MAF and Helimission helped by transporting groups of translators from isolated regions around Madagascar.
MAF helped bring translators together for a two-week workshop to focus on reaching isolated communities in Madagascar with the Bible in their own languages. The event in September at Antsirabe was their first national gathering since 2019, overcoming challenges posed by the Covid pandemic and financial constraints. Leoni Bouwer, Project Leader of Together in Bible Translation, explained, "Our work involves careful investigation and discussion with different language communities. The translation teams collaborate back home and draft translations, team-check, and community-check their translations.”
At workshops, they review these translations alongside a Bible translation consultant, and after further community testing, the work is typeset, audio recorded with new songs from the Scriptures involved, and then printed.
The mission of Together in Bible Translation is to translate the Bible into various Malagasy dialects, enabling people to embrace its teachings. This vision is to ensure the Word of God becomes accessible to diverse communities across Madagascar. The project faced challenges related to distance, expenses, and time. "We have to visit each translation team, once or twice a year, and that demands significant time, especially considering the teams are in remote areas scattered throughout Madagascar," Leoni said.
Each translator typically works part-time due to other commitments. However, despite these challenges, MAF and Helimission brought together the 60 translators from across Madagascar. MAF facilitated the travel of 12 translators to Antsirabe for the workshop and subsequently flew 17 of them back to their respective regions after the event.
“The different groups all work on different books of the Bible, but our goal right now is to complete the New Testament first and then move on to the Old Testament,” explained Leoni. Extracts like the FLM Lectionary, a three-year cycle of Scripture selections utilized by the Lutheran Church, were created by some teams before completing entire books.
“The workshop in Antsirabe was, to all those who attended, a celebration of God’s goodness,” said Leoni. “It was the first translation workshop since 2019 and everyone heard and shared each one’s testimony. It was a powerful two weeks. The Lord blessed us. Without MAF, this would have been difficult.” Since 1996, MAF and Helimission have played pivotal roles in enabling the travel of Bible translators to and from remote and challenging areas in Madagascar.