Celebrating Our 2,000th Language Engagement

Celebrating Our 2,000th Language Engagement

August 9, 2023

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This milestone is more than just a number.

Imagine a world where language is no longer a barrier to experiencing the power of God’s Word. Thanks to partners like you, that world is closer to becoming a reality.

For three decades, an extraordinary global community of partners has embarked on an awe-inspiring mission, shattering barriers and illuminating the path to accessible heart language Scripture. Today, we stand together, unified in our celebration of a momentous milestone: our 2,000th language engagement. Your partnership, investment, unwavering support, tireless dedication, and unshakeable belief have propelled us forward. God’s Word knows no bounds.

Doubling the Harvest

In 2014, Seed Company celebrated its 1,000th language engagement. It took a little more than two decades to reach that milestone, but since then, the count has doubled.

In less than a decade, the landscape has changed and our vision has grown into a reality that surpasses all our collective expectations. Together, we have proven that with determination, collaboration, and an unyielding commitment to our shared purpose, no goal is beyond God’s reach.

We started on this journey in 1993 with a small team of dedicated individuals who shared a passion to see the Bible in every language, in every corner of the world. Today—thanks to a network of faithful investors and ministry partners—we have grown in grace and favor, acknowledging the work we have done so far but steadfastly looking ahead to what remains: more than 1,400 language communities still waiting for God’s Word. We know those people groups in eager anticipation (whether they know it yet or not) will continue to dwindle. God has equipped us with the foundation needed to see this through.

How Partnering in Translation Accelerates Engagement

One of our keys to success is our core pillar to “Partner in Translation.” We cultivate relationships with local leaders to produce trustworthy Scripture.

Randall Lemley, our vice president of Collaborative Exploration, dives into what makes an effective partnership, and it starts with connected translation teams. “The most significant solution has been the Internet and the connectivity that it affords,” Randall says. “In 2008, I believe, we began to make a concerted effort to get our teams connected to [it].”

Until then, only a quarter of the people groups Lemley worked with had any level of Internet. They started off with satellite-based Internet, which was “like sipping the Internet through a straw.”

As time progressed and the Internet became more widely available, another huge paradigm shift surfaced during the coronavirus pandemic. “For years, we talked about the potential of doing remote consulting via teleconference, but it wasn’t until it was forced on us that a lot of people actually embraced it and found it an effective way to work.”

Lemley credits the hand of God in creating and sustaining successful partnerships around the globe. And it’s this mindset that has bolstered Lemley and launched Seed Company forward. “Technology is the Lord’s; he’s just letting businesses borrow it until his purposes are achieved,” Lemley says. This beautiful perspective informs not only Lemley’s work but how Seed Company interacts with its partners. It’s a privilege and honor to serve them, many of whom, according to Lemley, represent first-generation churches. “That’s truly a special thing to be involved in,” Lemley adds.

How Building Capacity Accelerates Engagement

To “Build Movement Capacity,” our second core pillar, we equip individuals and organizations to thrive through customized growth programs. Establishing tried and true operating procedures over the last 30 years means we have the structure and the flexibility to offer language communities the mentoring they need to get started on translation projects for their people. Seed Company’s Growth Partners team is a group of consultants who come alongside organizations worldwide as they take on greater leadership and ownership of Bible translation efforts in their respective areas. Growth Partners consultants equip these organizations to launch, fund, and manage their own translation projects.

In one example, a movement called The Ripple Effect—used in a Muslim-majority nation in Asia—has become a powerful growth strategy toward multiplying translation efforts in that region. Recently, our CEO Larry Jones met with partners there, and he was encouraged by their desire to work together toward that end. Several times throughout the visit, he heard them share these beautiful words: “I am so glad we are not in this alone.”

Larry reflects, “This appreciation was both for Seed Company and for other organizations [in their region] who, together, were striving to glorify God and do their part in meeting the remaining need for Bible translation.”

The Spirit is moving powerfully among various churches and Bible translation ministries in Asia. They aspire to greater capacity, sustainability, and ultimately, greater Bible translation impact for God’s kingdom. One Bible translation leader in the area said through tears, “This is growing far faster than we anticipated. This isn’t a ripple anymore; it is becoming a tsunami!” Larry added: “I emphasized that Seed Company is with them for the long haul. Supporting the growth of their capacity for Bible translation ministry is a fundamental priority in Seed Company’s field strategy.”

How Scaling Translation Solutions Accelerates Engagement

Our last core pillar is to “Scale Translation Solutions.” We seek new translation technologies and methods, scaling what works globally.

According to Lemley, the next big technologies to scale for Bible translation are artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP). At Seed Company, we have not only begun to explore how automation and machine learning can revolutionize field work, but also how those technologies can improve the efficacy of everyday tasks as well. Finding better ways to do the work is part of our DNA.

Gilles Gravelle, our director of Research and Innovation, can attest to that fact. We have always been about learning the best strategies and methodologies for making Scripture accessible to waiting communities. He recalls our first steps as an organization, reaching out to local translators to accelerate the work in their communities: “When we developed the process, it was a process to engage their hearts. It was a very tailored approach. Mother tongue translators loved the structure and the planning. And now—2,000 languages later—it’s still going.”

Gravelle reminisces about his twenty years of service with Seed Company: “We have had an amazing ride where we got to disrupt the whole world of Bible translation. … Mother tongue translators are now the default go-to. I’m still here at Seed Company because still, of all the [Bible Translation] places, it’s the best place to be.”

Thankful for Your Partnership

As we celebrate our 2,000th language engagement, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work of our team members, our dedicated volunteers, and our generous investors. We want to affirm our belief that access to heart language Scripture is an essential means by which people not only learn about the good news of Jesus, but grow deeper in its truth.

As we embark on our next chapter, we invite you to join us. God has accomplished much through your investment, prayer, and partnership. Thank you for your support in helping us engage with 2,000 language communities thus far. Let’s continue this good work for the next language, the one after it, and the one after that … until everyone has experienced the best story ever told.

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Help Reach People Waiting for God’s Word

God’s Word changes everything. And everyone deserves to have God’s Word in the language they understand best. You can help make that happen.

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