Harvest Church helps give written language, Bible to unreached people groups

10/3/2016

Millions of people around the world don’t have access to the Bible in their own language. In fact, more than 50 percent of world languages are still in need of completed Bible translations.

A recent State of the Bible survey, which polled 2,000 Americans and was conducted by the Barna Group, found that 72 percent of Americans believe the Bible is available in all of the world’s languages. However, the report states that only 43 percent of languages actually have Bible translations available.

Out of the world’s 6,901 different languages, 1,859 (31 percent) don’t have a Bible translation processes started. Meanwhile, the report states that 2,195 (26 percent) languages are in the process of having scripture translated but do not yet have completed scripture.

The five First Nations people groups spread across northern Canada – Oji-Cree, Plains Cree, Northern Alberta Cree, Woods Cree and Swampy Cree – are among those who lack access to the Bible in their own language, but Harvest Church, through a partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, is doing its part to change that.

Through Wycliffe, Harvest is helping give the Western Cree not just the Bible in their own language, but a written language for the first time.

“We saw an opportunity to change lives and got on board,” said Jason Meador, missions director at Harvest Church. “It’s giving them the Bible, but it’s so much more.”

Wycliffe translators and missionaries are working directly with the Cree to develop their written language and Bible translation, and Harvest Church’s congregation is committed to supporting them financially and prayerfully. 

The congregation gave generously during the church’s 2014 Christmas offering, and pledges are still being paid on those commitments, which were given exclusively to support the Western Cree Partnership with Wycliffe. The project is ongoing and complete translation will probably take another year or so. 

Harvest Church also created and printed prayer cards for the week of an important Wycliffe translation workshop. With prayer topics for each day of the workshop and names of all of the participants, congregants could pray specifically.

Though Bible translation is an intensive undertaking that can take many years to complete, the partnership has already produced results. More than 1,500 Bible verses have been translated into the Oji-Cree language, and in 2015, for the first time ever, the village church was decorated with Christmas banners in the Oji-Cree language. For many consecutive Sundays, the Scripture readings in local church services have been from the new translation into the Oji-Cree language.

“Being able to read and hear the Scripture in the language you know and understand best brings such hope and joy, and illustrates in a very real way the love God has for you,” said Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz, who are part of a Wycliffe translation team with the Western Cree. “We’re grateful for the Harvest Church’s faithful support of this project, and hope other churches around the United States will pursue similar partnerships with translation projects all over the world.”

The partnership with Wycliffe is just one way that the congregation serves others and spreads the love of Christ outside the walls of the church. The church has more than 250 small groups this season, and each are actively engaged in service within the local community. Hundreds of Harvest Church members have been empowered and equipped to serve and make positive changes within their community.

“At Harvest, we really want to live out the Great Commission, and our people like big projects that make a big difference,” said Jim Cowart, lead pastor at Harvest Church. “Translating scripture to a people group that doesn’t have the Bible is an exciting endeavor.”