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Looking Ahead: Wycliffe Taiwan

Stories from the Field, 2 January 2024

Speaker: Albert Fung

Albert Fung, Director of Wycliffe Taiwan, began by affirming that God’s Word is the cornerstone of missions, and that Bible translation (BT) will always be needed. However, he also pointed out that the traditional approach of recruiting people to serve overseas in projects which focus mainly on BT is not the only way for Wycliffe organisations to do missions.

Albert highlighted that Wycliffe Global Alliance’s statistics showed that there were 3,658 languages with at least some scripture out of a total of more than 7,000 languages in the world. As the number of languages with some scripture only grew at the rate of about 50–70 languages a year over the period 2008–2023, and Bibles will need to be revised over time as languages change, it is certainly true that BT is a never-ending ministry.

However, the number of people who have joined Wycliffe Taiwan to do BT in recent years has declined. Albert gave some reasons for this:

  1. Language extinction: the spread of majority languages “suffocates” aboriginal (ethnic minority) languages. Also, many of the remaining language needs are in difficult-to-access places.

  2. Localisation of BT: early Wycliffe missionaries not only translated the Bible, but also trained and equipped locals to do translation and literacy work. Increasingly, new BT projects are being undertaken by locals.

  3. Awakening of ethnic identity: in Taiwan, most of the aboriginal communities are well able to worship and study the Bible in the national language. The focus has switched to making audio recordings of already translated scriptures in order to preserve the language and identity of the communities.

Albert shared Wycliffe Taiwan’s newly worded vision statement explicitly includes scripture engagement and life transformation as well as translation. He went on to outline Wycliffe Taiwan’s local and overseas ministries.

[Note: the names of the ministries reflect the shape of Taiwan island!]

Local “sweet potato” ministry

Wycliffe Taiwan focuses on language preservation. From 2019 to 2023, it partnered with United Bible Societies and Faith Comes By Hearing to produce audio Bibles for the Tao, Amis, Tsou and Rukai aboriginal peoples. An audio Bible for another aboriginal language, Kavalan, is under consideration.

Some speakers of another aboriginal language, Siraya, want to revitalise their language (previously declared “extinct” by UNESCO). They intend to use texts of Matthew and John which were translated 400 years ago to produce songs and textbooks to teach children the language. Wycliffe Taiwan is considering helping them to use AI to translate other books of the Bible.

Upcoming event: Wycliffe Taiwan plans to hold a second Tour de Formosa in 2025! This is a 7-day, cross-island bicycle ride to raise awareness of Wycliffe Taiwan’s ministries, especially its ministries to aboriginal communities. For more information, see below.

Overseas “kiwi” ministry

Cross-cultural and language training: Members of Wycliffe Taiwan are accompanying seminary students (3 families) who are on a one-year course overseas. They will support the students in cross-cultural adjustment and language learning for eventual service in missions.

Ministry to refugees: Wycliffe Taiwan is discussing with refugee organisations how its members can partner with them by drawing on Wycliffe’s accumulated expertise in cross-cultural adjustment, language learning, literacy, trauma healing and community development.

Prayer items:
  1. Thanksgiving for the 4 audio Bibles that have been completed for the Tao, Amis, Tsou and Rukai aboriginal peoples. Pray for manpower and resources for future recording projects.

  2. Pray for Wycliffe Taiwan as they plan to help the Siraya people preserve and revive their language that has been declared extinct.

  3. Pray for the first batch of seminary students who are on a one-year programme overseas accompanied by members of Wycliffe Taiwan. Pray that they will be well prepared for the mission field.

  4. Pray for Wycliffe Taiwan as they explore partnering with other organisations to minister to refugees overseas.

About the speaker:

Albert Fung has served in various fields, including 7 years in the Cibarut (Africa) project. He has 20 years of national and international experience in various Wycliffe and related organisations. He has been the director of Wycliffe Taiwan since 2015 and practises dentistry on a part-time basis.

Tour de Formosa in Taiwan

21 Feb 2025 (Mother Tongue Language Day)

Take part in a bicycle ride across Taiwan, from south to north. Over 7 days, covering about 500 km, riders will visit aboriginal groups along the way, greeting them in their languages. Share about Wycliffe’s ministries with people you meet.

Bicycles can be provided for overseas participants.

There will be a vehicle for riders to get a lift if they need one!

Get on our mailing list to be notified when details are released! Or watch our Events page.


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