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More Than Words

by Deb Fox

In the corporate world, the term ‘consultant’ often has connotations of a role far removed from the rest of the team. But what about Bible translation advisors and consultants? Wycliffe Thai Foundation Director, Tharawat Suebthayat, suggests that Bible translation needs people trained in many different skills working together in order to effectively complete the task.

Tharawat has been Director of Wycliffe Thai Foundation since 2011. Over that time, he has developed a passion for seeing members grow not only in their knowledge of God and his Word but also in being discipled to reflect God with their lives. Tharawat suggests that the work of Bible translation is about more than just the words:

"Translation advisors and consultants have to be part of the team from the beginning to the end of the project. Each person uses their own skills and experience to bless the work. They play a crucial role in teaching about God’s Word and putting it into action. But we have to also consider the idea of discipleship when we start a translation project. Because of that, we will finally have [other people] who will become consultants too!"

Training National Leaders

There are many advantages to training local Thais to go and serve neighbouring villages and nations. Tharawat shares:

"Many young people in our churches want to get involved in mission. But we need the training and resources so they can go and make a difference. I think the Thai people can adapt easily to the [different] cultures and learn the languages. They can also help the local people to improve their lives because they know the needs."

Meeting the Needs

Those needs extend far beyond literacy and translation. Tharawat says that an elder recently complained to him, ‘Why are you people here? You’re just focused on your work but you don’t open your eyes to the people and our needs.’ But Bible translators and literacy workers cannot fulfil all of those roles on their own. That is why Wycliffe Thai Foundation is thinking about how to grow their Bible translation teams.

"We have people who can translate the Bible. They can focus on that work and we can add literacy workers to the team. We have workers who know the Bible and how to apply it, then we add people who know how to develop the community, and we add others who can strengthen relationships between the community and the team so that they can work towards a strong holistic ministry."

Champions in the Making

Tharawat says:

"We still have many needs in South-East Asia.We want to train the leaders in different skills so they can connect with the people they are called to work with. I want my people to be champions for Bible translation, literacy, and community development. They need to know how to help people read the Bible and how to apply its teaching in their daily lives. When consultants work side by side with the team, we don’t just get the Bible, we also get disciples."

Reproduced with permission from Wycliffe Australia. Photo by Gary McMaster

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