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Virtual Bible Translation Workshops Keep Projects Moving Forward, Despite Travel Restrictions and Targeting by Authorities

August 3, 2020 | Orlando, Florida

(Orlando, Florida, USA)—Wycliffe Associates, an international organization that empowers mother-tongue Bible translators and partners with local churches in the advancement of Bible translation, has developed a virtual rendition of its MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation) methodology.

MAST is a collaborative translation method that involves local churches as translation teams and builds on the natural language process through multiple drafting and accuracy checking steps. Mother-tongue translators work together in teams to translate Scripture.

In 2014, Wycliffe Associates launched its first MAST workshop in Asia, where 13 indigenous translators quickly drafted half the New Testament.

So far, mother-tongue translators have completed 383 New Testaments and translators are currently using MAST for 785 Bible translation projects.

However, Wycliffe Associates is currently unable to hold in-person MAST workshops in many areas due to travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, there are several nations in East Asia where local governments are using the threat of infection as an excuse to target Christians. Wycliffe Associates has received reports of authorities rounding up, harassing, and even expelling Christians from their countries.

“This is the terrifying truth of everyday life now for believers in several countries in east Asia,” says Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “In many parts of east Asia, the pandemic continues, and persecution is intensifying.”

Even so, Smith says the translators’ focus is still on translating the Bible for their language communities.

“In places where people have been waiting for generations,” Smith says, “Christians are still pleading for the tools they need to translate God’s Word into the language of their heart.”

The virtual rendition of MAST, or V-MAST, makes it possible for Bible translation to take place anywhere, away from the reach of hostile authorities. While working privately, a mother-tongue translator can still collaborate with others, the results can still be checked for accuracy and quality, and translators can still back up and store their work in the cloud.

In the next three months, Wycliffe Associates hopes to provide the tools, like V-MAST, for 70 language groups to launch. This includes computer tablets, software, secure uplinks, and digital resources, all at a cost of $19,500 per language.

A crucial aspect of V-MAST is that Wycliffe Associates can train mother-tongue Bible translators to train other translators.

“Christians can train other Christians to join the translation effort,” says Smith. “They can advance Bible translation themselves. In this way, Bible translation can begin in places where no foreigner could go, for new language groups where no foreigner could even hope to be involved.”


About Wycliffe Associates

One of the world’s leading Bible translation organizations, Wycliffe Associates was organized in 1967 by friends of Bible translators to accelerate the work of Bible translation. Wycliffe Associates empowers national Bible translators to provide God’s Word in their own language, partners with the local church to direct and guard translation work, harnessing their passion and desire for God’s Word, and engages people from all around the world to provide resources, technology, training, and support for Bible translation.

Because millions of people around the world still wait to have the Scriptures in the language of their hearts, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as it can to see every verse of God’s Word translated into every tongue to speak to every heart. Wycliffe Associates is directly involved with speeding Bible translation by providing technology, training, resources, logistics, networking, expertise, volunteers, discipleship, church planting, and support. Wycliffe Associates staff and volunteers are currently accelerating Bible translations in 108 countries. For more information, please see

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