Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Signing of Agreement with Guatemalan Bible Society

Saul Sosa- Exec Director, Fernando Mazariegos- President, Nico Kattenberg, Marco Vinicio- Project Director.
Early this morning I was invited to breakfast at the offices of the Guatemalan Bible Society in order to sign a strategic agreement between the Bible Society and the FRC mission as to the work of the translation of the Bible into Cubulco Achi.  
Around 7 years ago Pastor Evert (who was working in Cubulco at that time), our linguist Jorge, and myself had gone to the Bible Society to explore possibilities of working together.  However, nothing came of it as the Bible Society was not in a position to help at that time.  In the following years the Bible Society evolved as did their policies and vision and new people entered in positions of leadership.  One of the changes in their vision was to support communities and organizations who were working on translating the Bible.  Among the new people in key positions of leadership were several men from the Presbyterian church who knew of the work that the mission was doing in Cubulco.  Around two years ago we renewed discussions with the Bible Society of working together.  They had started supporting the translation work in Cubulco by providing us with Paratext (translation software) and with training for our translators in the use of this software and also in other areas.  Paratext was a huge blessing as it helped us drastically reduce the time it took to complete a number of steps of the translation process.  Before having Paratext we projected being finished with the majority of the translation process by 2015.  By using Paratext we were able to finish this past October which saved us around 2-3 years of work.  
Even with Paratext we still faced one major hurdle which was finding a consultant who could validate the translation work. This kind of consultant is hard to find since there are very few of them in the world and these few are very busy and sought after. For around 5 years we have been using a consultant here in Guatemala. However, this consultant is very busy and can only work in his spare time so he is able to do around 35-40 chapter per year. If you do the math you will soon realize that at this rate it could possibly take around 30 years to do the almost 1200 chapters of the Bible. 
With the agreement that we signed today, the Bible Society will assign a consultant to work full-time on the Achi translation.  Part of that consulting work will include traveling several times a year to meet with the translation team in Cubulco. The Bible Society will cover all the expenses of the consultant during that time which could take anywhere from 2-5 years.  The Bible Society will also help in the promotion of the Bible in Achi not only when it is completed but starting next year to try and get especially the churches to support the work. This has been a big concern of mine for many years, that there has been very little interest from the churches including our own church in Cubulco as to the translation of the Bible. Having the support of the Bible Society will go a long way in that it will give a certain level of credibility to the translation work that we ourselves can not give.  
The signing of the agreement took close to a year to complete as there were some discussions as to what it should contain. The mission wanted certain points to be added with regards to the infallibility and accuracy of Scripture.  The Bible Society not only accepted these additions, but also applauded them as it conveyed that our convictions were the same.  
I ask that you pray for this relationship between FRMI and the Guatemalan Bible Society and for the continued work of the translation of the Bible into Cubulco Achi.  It is my hope that in less than 5 years we will be able to present the people of Cubulco with copies of the complete Bible in their language.