A new strategy called The Ripple Effect shows promise and may cut decades from translation timelines.
Would you rather have a penny that doubles each day for a month or $1 million? You might think $1 million, but you’d end up with more if you went with the penny. In fact, a single penny doubled every day adds up to $5,368,709.12 after just 30 days. That’s the power of multiplication.
An organization in a Muslim-majority nation in Asia is adopting a similar strategy called The Ripple Effect to multiply its translation efforts.
The Beginning of The Ripple Effect
In May of 2022, a collection of eight ministries and Christian denominational organizations met to discuss the future of Bible translation in their country. They needed a targeted plan, as their country is densely populated, Muslim-majority, and home to nearly 300 languages still in need of heart language Scripture.
One specific organization that had partnered with Seed Company’s Growth Partners team had seen incredible success. That led to the question: could the same approach be replicated by clustering organizations together to learn the Growth Partners model?
Traditionally, the dozen or so global organizations working in the country focused on a handful of languages, and they weren’t starting new translation projects. But the team that had worked with Seed Company had started three dozen new projects. What if they used what they’d learned to train leaders in other organizations? And what if they multiplied growth, like Paul outlined in 2 Timothy 2:2, by teaching those leaders to then go on to teach other leaders?
After crunching numbers and making some growth estimates, the organization determined that by implementing the Growth Partners model, they could accelerate Bible translation exponentially, finishing in 10 years what was on track to take 30. This was the beginning of The Ripple Effect.
The Success of The Ripple Effect
Since implementing The Ripple Effect, more organizations have gotten involved in Bible translation. One church with a million members spread across hundreds of parishes has seen the importance of the work. A pastor on their leadership team said, “Bible translation is not an option; it is an obligation.” As a result, they’ve begun sending missionaries around the country to facilitate translation.
And it hasn’t stopped there. The passion for translation has become contagious. Churches, parachurch organizations, and even marketplace leaders have started to get involved.
The CEO of one Bible translation ministry made this bold statement: “If you refuse to engage in organizational development and capacity building, you are rejecting God’s blessing!”
One translation team has harnessed the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to accelerate translation, using Paratext to aid in the production of initial drafts. The team’s willingness to use technology eventually led to two language groups drafting their entire New Testaments in months, not years.
While these drafts must still be revised, tested, and reviewed by a translation consultant, their quick production will still save about five years.
Seed Company Embraces The Ripple Effect
Our CEO, Larry Jones, was blown away by what he called “zealous, continuous improvement for God’s glory.” He compared the incredible growth coming from The Ripple Effect in this country to Jesus’ parable of the 10 minas (Luke 19:11-26).
Only the servants willing to take risks and strive for multiplication received the approval of the king. Larry explained, “I think God wants us to stretch ourselves and push the margins to find more efficient, effective ways to support Bible translation.”
It’s an honor and privilege to play a part in the inspiring progress that’s come about through The Ripple Effect in this region of Asia. Our prayer is that, by 2030, every language in the country will have heart language Scripture available to them. And as we look to the future, we are hopeful that the leaders of translation teams in the area will continue to train up new leaders to meet needs in other parts of the world.