Wycliffe Tries New Approach to Recruit “Missing Generation” in Translation Efforts
Wycliffe Bible Translators has begun a new recruitment and awareness campaign called "The Changing Face of Missions" in an attempt to encourage young Christians to support and get involved in missions to unreached peoples.
"There is a large task set before us," said Hyatt Moore, director of Wycliffe Bible Translators. "We have a number of people groups throughout the world who still don't have God's Word. There is a whole generation missing in this effort- not necessarily because they don't want to serve, but because we haven't done a good job in asking them," said Moore.
Wycliffe Associates, a support ministry to Wycliffe Bible Translators, is seeking to bring a new generation into the mission field both in the United States and overseas through the avenue of contemporary Christian music. "Wycliffe specializes in languages, and we are recognizing that the language of many of our young people is music," said Moore. With this in mind Wycliffe Associates has started a new "Artists Sponsorship" program to bring together popular Christian artists and their audiences in the cause of Bible translation.
"We want to bring the ministry of Bible translation to the high school, college-aged and young professional Christian audience," said Melinda Franklin, director of Public Relations for Wycliffe Associates. "Mission organizations are realizing that they have to reach out to this generation and that contemporary Christian music is one way of doing it," she said.
The first artist chosen for the Wycliffe Artists Sponsorship program is Crystal Lewis. This 24- year- old "white soul" singer has a powerful voice and communicates well with young people. Equally
important is that she has a love for the Scriptures and a heart for people of every nation, tongue and tribe. "She knows what we are doing is necessary and we are happy to have her help us reach the world," said Franklin.
Lewis will encourage those attending her concerts to consider missions as a career choice. She will also seek support for Wycliffe's efforts to translate the Scriptures for the Bafuliiru people of Eastern Zaire (which borders Rwanda). Translators there are currently working on the New Testament and are hoping to finish their work in three years with the help of this program.
At a recent concert which Lewis performed in Dallas, Texas, for Wycliffe, 10 percent of the audience expressed interest in missions as either a short-term or long-term career. Wycliffe had expected only a three percent response and thus Director Moore was pleasantly surprised. "It's really exciting to see a diverse group of young people get excited about serving God through missions."
In spring of 1995 over 30,000 people were expected to attend concerts on the eleven-city tour of the Western United States where Lewis was to perform. At each concert a video was shown featuring Lewis with Wycliffe translators in Peru, and an opportunity given for those in attendance to get involved.
"It's shocking to know that there are many people in the world who have never had a Bible in their own language," said Lewis. "Churches can be planted and evangelizing can take place throughout the world, but if people don't have the Scriptures they will never fully experience the joy, peace, and hope of Jesus Christ. I feel the work that Wycliffe does is essential and that's why I want to help them in their efforts and encourage others to do so also," she said. Wycliffe Bible Translators currently has over 5,200 career and 500 short-term missionaries working throughout the world to translate the Bible into the heart languages of people groups. They work where the Scriptures do not exist in the local languages and in cooperation with churches and other organizations.
The translators live with the people to learn their language and culture and then develop an alphabet for the local language, analyze grammar and produce primers to teach the people to read. Wycliffe members are currently working in about 50 countries. The majority of the work in the Americas has been completed, but in Africa, Asia, Eurasia and the Pacific there are still thousands of language groups needing translations. Thus far 400 New Testament translations have been completed and work continues in about 850 language groups.
For more information on Crystal Lewis concerts sponsored by Wycliffe call Metro One at (714) 673-6701.