Alumnus Assists Bible Translators in Africa
Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Scripture is the main mode by which we receive wisdom from God in all things pertaining to the Christian life. An anthology this important should be available to all people! But unfortunately, about 1.5 billion people do not have access to the Bible in their own language. The weight of that statistic has struck the hearts of Christians all over the world, leading them to devote their lives to the accurate translation of Scripture.
Grace graduate Bethany Ingram is one such person.
After volunteering for ten years with Bibles International, she became a full-time missionary last year. Beginning in May, she spent a month in Chad, Africa, assisting a group in translating the book of Isaiah into the native language of the area. She served as a consultant and worked with native speakers and Bible translators to ensure that their translations were true to the original Hebrew.
As she continues to pursue God’s will for her life, Ingram can look back at her college experience and share with certainty that the Lord led her to Grace. In fact, she committed to the school before she even knew they offered her desired major in Bible translation.
“I think the school designed the ministry degree well when considering what is needed for Bible translators,” she said. “I am not the one translating Scripture into the target language, the mother-tongue speakers do that, but I do need a solid grasp of Greek and Hebrew to come alongside translators and ensure their content is accurate. I am grateful that I received a well-rounded education at Grace – studying theology, hermeneutics, Biblical languages, cultural anthropology and intercultural studies, and even linguistics and morphology.”
But academic knowledge was not the only thing that she gained from her time as a student. “I went through tremendous spiritual growth during my time at Grace as well,” said Ingram. “My knowledge would mean nothing if I didn’t have the spiritual maturity necessary for one called to full-time ministry.”
In her role, Ingram has encountered both challenges and joys. Thanks to God’s provision and faithfulness, she says the joys far out weigh the difficulties. One factor that Ingram has found difficult is being patient in the long process of translation. At Bibles International, the Old Testament takes 17-20 years to translate, and the New Testament takes 10-14 years. This does not include the several-year process of building literacy in some communities. These extended periods of time test the patience and resolve of the Bible translators, consultants, and their sending churches.
According to Ingram, the most joy-filled part of the process happens after everything is complete. “It is hard to describe the joy from seeing how other believers respond when they finally receive a copy of the Bible in their own language for the first time,” said Ingram. “Their joy, their relief, and their thanksgiving to God is amazing to see and to be a part of.”
To those considering going into full-time ministry, Ingram encourages seeking wisdom from others. The counsel of other Christians is incredibly valuable in decision-making of all kinds — especially when it comes to pursuing full-time missionary work.
But once you feel confirmed, Ingram says to go for it. “If you feel firm in your convictions and calling, then do not be afraid! Give your worries to God and take a step forward in faith, allowing God to lead you wherever that may be.”
Does the work of Bible translators fascinate and excite you? If so, then consider an education at Grace College to prepare you for the difficult and rewarding work that awaits you!