COVID-19 Opens Up New Opportunities for Bible Translation Interns

COVID-19 Opens Up New Opportunities for Bible Translation Interns

April 3, 2021


During a normal workday, Seed Company interns closely follow their mentors—sitting beside them to study their exegesis, visiting their desks to receive spot checks for their work, or brainstorming strategies for engaging people with God’s Word. But 2020 changed “normal” for everyone.

When it felt like COVID-19 closed down the world, a whole new avenue of opportunity opened up for 184 Seed Company interns. As they biked up dusty roads, drove many miles, and harnessed technology to receive and give training, they grew as Bible translation leaders in their communities.

Here are just a few stories of how they rose to the occasion.

Pravda: Traveling by Phones and Roads in Eurasia

In 2018, Pravda graduated from a theological college in his country with a master of divinity in theology. For the last two years, he has been serving as a Scripture-engagement intern in Eurasia. He’s less than one year away from becoming a Scripture-engagement specialist.

Pravda works with nine language teams, helping them think through ways for their communities to actively use Scripture in an Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) context. Normally, Pravda hosts monthly meetings where multiple volunteers from neighboring villages come together to craft Bible passages into stories and then learn how to share them with others.

But when his country in Eurasia shut down, Pravda had to rethink how they should connect.

Although the locals weren’t allowed outside their villages, Pravda was still able to travel into theirs. But with public transportation halted, he had to drive his motorcycle for long hours on bumpy roads. It took a great deal of time to visit each village, one by one.

“It was very difficult for me,” remembers Pravda, “but one day, I was studying the Bible for a session, and I was encouraged by Philippians 4:13. I would say, ‘Pravda can do everything through Christ who gives him strength.’”

Many people have attended Pravda’s OBS meetings, sometimes more than they had before the pandemic! And they are taking what they learn home to their families.“One OBS worker told me that, because of COVID-19, he was able to start family prayers in his home. This was very encouraging to me,” Pravda said.

OBS workers and volunteers are free to continue sharing Scripture within their own villages. And in between his monthly motorcycle visits, Pravda continues his duties, using his phone as a tool for mentoring and encouraging them.

Josema: Stepping Up to the Challenge in Lugue, Paraguay

After more than three years of hard work, Josema is only one year away from becoming a full-fledged Bible translation consultant. He also currently serves as a professor at the Evangelical University of Paraguay.

Josema recently learned that pandemic delays can often have the opposite effect—in his case, accelerating his training.

Chris, one of Josema’s translation consulting mentors, will soon be reassigned to another location. To be ready for that transition, Josema must keep up with his studies so he is ready to step into independent consulting when Chris moves on.

Using Zoom, Josema led his first translation checking session of Acts in the Mixe del Istmo Guichicovi language. He also continued gaining expertise in Paratext and Logos, two innovative translation software technologies. In fact, he learned them so well that he was able to lead a Zoom workshop in Paratext and solve issues within both systems.

When Josema isn’t consulting, he teaches Hebrew, Old Testament exegesis, and missiology at the Evangelical University of Paraguay (UEP). But even while teaching, Josema is working for the Bible translation cause. “My main goal in teaching is recruiting people from my classes to be part of the Bible translation movement,” Josema shares. This summer, he recruited two of his students to serve as exegetes, checking the Ache and Ñandeva translations against the original Hebrew and Greek texts.

Working steadily toward the mission of Bible translation requires patience and a vision for what the church can accomplish with time. When he began his consultancy training, Josema asked himself, “How can I fully enjoy being part of missio Dei [God’s mission]?” This year, he discovered his answer:

“I have realized that dedicating your entire life to the mission is living one day at a time, enjoying every moment. That is my main prayer today: enjoy God’s mission every day.”

How Seed Company’s Internship Program Works

Our internships provide an opportunity for growth in various roles essential to Bible translation. Seed Company partners with local organizations around the world to offer study programs, training, and practicum for interns. The program offers two main tracks:

Quality Assurance

Interns in this track act as final advisors and checkers for translated manuscripts. They seek out effective communication of the text in four areas: accuracy, clarity, naturalness, and acceptability. Interns graduate as either consultants in training or exegetical facilitators.

Capacity Building

This track focuses on building strategies for Scripture engagement in local communities. Interns fill roles needed to build capacity in Bible translation worldwide in areas like leadership, operations, and field programs.

Once interns complete their programs, they will be able to train others—amplifying a cycle of growth where native speakers empower community members to take the lead in Bible translation and engagement.

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