Wycliffe Hungary News - Autumn 2006
A stitch in time saves nine
Upstream war broke out between two rival parties. As the number of floating wounded and dead bodies in the river increased, the rescue workers hurried down stream to fish the bodies and wounded from the river in order to tend to them. Another team decided that they would journey upstream to try and mediate between the two sides to try to establish peace. It was their conviction that as far as is possible, it is better to get to the roots of a problem. Of course, in situations where the outbreak of war cannot be averted it is also important that somebody takes care of the wounded in an attempt to save their lives, but the better solution is to try to prevent war in the first place. In this case there will be neither wounded nor casualties.
This illustration is often used to explain different kinds of mission activities. There are many ministries whose primary objective is to treat existing problems. There are others, however, Wycliffe included, concentrating their efforts on prevention. Through the Word of God, we would like to hand people a ‘pipe of peace’ with which they can avoid becoming the ‘dead and wounded in the river’.
What is behind these thoughts?
We consider it to be important to be holistic in our approach to meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the people we work with. What does this mean? In his book Transforming Mission: Paradigm shifts in Theology of Mission, David J. Bosch defines it in the following way: ‘Holistic mission harmonises the two conceptions of mission that developed in practice throughout church history. One extreme viewed mission as a purely spiritual activity, turning a blind eye to people’s physical needs; the other focussed simply on the encouraging humanisation of society.’ (Back translation of Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, page 353.)
Let’s examine how exactly Bible Translation can be holistic:
THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT:
THE NEED ASPECT:
But what is the relationship between these two aspects of Bible Translation and its associated ministries in practice?
Let’s take literacy for example. The acquisition of literacy plays a foundational role in the social development of the individual. It has also been proved that an individual who has first learnt to read and write in their mother tongue, will find it easier to learn to read another language. This simplifies the transition from the local language to the official national language.
Literacy can also enable people to learn basic hygiene rules helping to prevent them from falling sick so often. They are also able to learn which medicines to use to treat various common sicknesses, e.g.: malaria.
Knowledge of the biblical guidelines for abstinence can have a practical effect, e.g.: in reducing the number of HIV infected individuals and thus the spread of AIDS. (We all know that this is a significant problem in many countries).
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