I remember the exact day I experienced for the first time the incredible effect the Bible could have on a person.
But that person wasn’t me.
I had 50 Bibles of my own at home — and sold hundreds of different translations through my business enterprises — but personally, I didn’t read God’s Word consistently.
God had to take me to a remote community in Central America to show me that to have one Bible, one chapter, even one verse in my own language, was a priceless gift.
I’d been supporting a painstakingly laborious Bible translation project in Guatemala and began to question my “return on investment.” It seemed to me I’d put a considerable sum of money into a project that would benefit just a few hundred people or a few thousand at most.
To be honest, I was a bit cranky when I got off the uncomfortable 10-hour bus journey to attend the ceremony marking the completion, at last, of the translation of the Bible into the Eastern Jakaltek language — an endeavor 40 years in the making.
Then I saw Gaspar — and my life changed forever.
Gaspar, one of the local people, was sobbing with sheer joy as he took the Bible, his own Bible in his own language, into his hands. I’d never held a Bible like Gaspar did — as if he were grasping the most precious item in the world in his hands.
At that moment, I heard an inner voice: “Why don’t you go tell Gaspar that he’s a poor return on investment?”
‘Most Important Work in the World’
It was a rebuke I will never forget — and it helped me see that translating God’s Word into every language is the most important work in the world, regardless of the cost and the time it takes to complete.
My new friend Gaspar lit a flame in my heart — a desire for God’s Word that I’d never felt before. I promised God I’d read the Bible first thing every morning for the rest of my life. And that’s when God’s Word really came alive for me.
Because of Gaspar — and millions like him around the world — I knew I had to find a way to make sure everyone could have God’s Word in a language that speaks to their heart.
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One Billion People, No Bible in Their Language
I was shocked to learn that more than a billion people — speaking some 3,800 different languages — have little or no access to the Bible in a language they can clearly understand. More than 2,000 languages don’t yet have a single verse of Scripture.
I admit my response was ambitious: to launch a movement that would support translation of the Bible into every language by 2033. I met with the leaders of the 10 largest Bible translation agencies, and we agreed we could only do this together. All the partners in this historic alliance, called ilumiNations share the goal of eradicating “Bible poverty.”
The thrilling thing is that we’re on the cusp of finally seeing every language on the planet with access to the Bible — and achieving it within the next 12 years. No other Scripture translation project in history has been this well coordinated. And never before have translators had the ability through technology and software to supercharge translation at such a rapid pace. You could say IllumiNations is a visionary movement of ‘biblical proportions’ — and the strategy, the people, and the technology are in place to make it happen.
Now it all comes down to you and me. The Bible has over 31,000 verses. But every new translation starts with just one verse.
What’s the one verse you want the world to know?
This Easter, through the biggest-ever grassroots Bible translation campaign — called “I Want to Know” — we’re asking you to share on social media the Bible verse you want the world to know, using the hashtag #IWTKBible. And we’re inviting you to sponsor the translation of one verse, or more, into a language with little or no Scripture. You can sponsor a verse for $35.
By 2033, I’m hopeful we’ll meet our goals: 95 percent of the world’s people will have access to the full Bible in their own language, 99.96 percent will have access to the New Testament, and 100 percent will have at least a portion of Scripture, including the millions of Deaf people representing 350 different sign languages.
Heaven and Earth Meet
This movement is especially significant this Easter as we remember that heaven and earth meet at the point of God’s Word. The Word became flesh and lived among us — Jesus, the Living Word — giving you and me the hope of everlasting life through His resurrection, and leaving us with the Great Commission to share the Gospel with every creature and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:16-20).
This Easter is our moment to make history, to help fulfill the Great Commission, and prepare the way for Christ’s return. Translating the Bible is a huge undertaking — but we can each sponsor one verse.
What’s the one verse you want the world to know?
Mart Green is the ministry investment officer of Hobby Lobby and CEO of Mardel Christian & Education. He’s an avid supporter of illumiNations, an alliance of 10 leading Bible translation agencies.