When a young Lusi believer went to town to buy a Bible, she came back empty-handed.
Her husband has a New Testament in the Mouk language, but she cannot read that. The stores had Bibles in English, but she cannot read them either. She was willing to settle for a Bible in the trade language, even though it has a very limited vocabulary, but she could not find one.
Rick and Anji Zook are trying to remedy that by translating the Bible into the Lusi language.
“Most people in NTM starting into translation and Bible lesson writing don’t have our situation,” Rick and Anji wrote. “We have a small group of Lusi believers who were reached previously by the Mouk people.”
Those believers need Bibles. “If you don’t have a Bible for yourself and you are a believer, how do you feed yourself?” Rick and Anji asked. “How do you grow? How do you have your mind renewed? How can you be encouraged? … We are here to put God’s word into Lusi to strengthen the church and to reach those who are lost.”
“We look forward to the day when that young Lusi mother can read a Bible in her own language.”
Just the first few steps – creating a draft in good Lusi that sounds natural – has taken about 20 hours per chapter.
Content checking comes next, by Rick comparing the Lusi passage to a rather literal English translation.
“I am checking to make sure that the full meaning of the portion has been transferred over,” Rick wrote. “This is challenging as many times we can’t just substitute a Lusi word for an English word: there is not a one-to-one correlation as both languages see the world differently.”
The biggest concern is not leaving anything out or adding anything. Rick is also proofreading and checking the grammar. If he has any concerns, he goes over those with Anji.
Then the draft is ready for comprehension checking. Each passage is read to and commented on by at least three Lusi speakers. That leads to a third draft in Lusi which contains the changes that were necessary.
“While these are not usually many, they are significant,” the couple wrote. Sometimes they need to go all the way back to the start with a passage.
The next step is a back-to-English translation. “My goal here is not to create a new English version (we probably don’t need any more of those), but rather, … I want what is being communicated in Lusi to be apparent to anyone else reading it who doesn’t speak Lusi,” Rick wrote.
This allows a missionary experienced in Bible translation, who does not know Lusi, to check the translation. Rick and Anji check it again, then send it off to be checked.
All that work means they’re getting closer.
Pray for perseverance and wisdom as Rick and Anji translate God’s Word.