What Christmas means to Bible translators

by: Melody Kube

The Christmas season can be difficult for Bible translators. They often live far away from their families and sometimes in climates and settings very different to childhood memories of this special holiday. Most are adventurous folk, willing to try new foods and new cultural forms, but for some at least, Christmas is a little harder than an average day. 

But, it’s also brilliant! Filled with so much hope and encouragement for the true task of Bible translation. Because, Christmas and Bible translation are pictures of each other. 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. 

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, 

who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

John 1:14 NIV

Jesus came and was born on earth as one of us. As the testimony of Him is translated into new languages it is also like a new birth of the Word of God in each separate nation. 

Some of us have had the honour of being there as the very first verses from the Bible became incarnate in the words of a new language that had never had Scripture before. It can be a difficult and arduous task, but its also incredible to watch this miracle happen! 

Earlier this year Miliwanga Burben saw the Word of God take its first breath in her own Rembarrnga language. The verses she translated were from Luke 2:6-12 about the birth of the Holy Infant. Miliwanga recorded these verses in the sound room at Nungalinya College, with Paul Kube (Bible Society Australia), and when they were played back for her she broke down in tears of joy, which quickly spread to us all. For the first time ever the Word of God had taken on Rembarrnga flesh. Paul, himself a father of three, said it was like watching a baby being born. 

This is why I am especially excited about the AuSIL Christmas project. It is very appropriate that the first verses translated into languages that have waited so long be the story of the long-awaited Messiah. This is also why Bible translation is so important. The message of Christmas is that God found it good to come and be one of us, to bring us his word and to redeem us. Giving people the Bible in their own language gives them the opportunity to see that God has come to them as well. 

Because Jesus is born for all of us!