Missionaries have been a core part of many religious groups for many years. They aim to reach people in different cultures and promote faith as well as provide certain services such as education and health care. One organisation that sends out missionaries is the Christian Wycliffe Bible Translators”. The goal is to give as many people as possible access to the Bible in their own language. This allows people to make an informed decision about their Christian faith and, importantly, allows them to read the scriptures in their native tongue. One of the people involved in this charity is Caroline Grant, a now semi-retired bible translator who I talked to in order to learn more about her job.


Caroline has worked as a missionary for many years, however, this career wasn’t what she had always planned. Caroline didn’t grow up in a Christian family and only turned to Christ when she “was in her 20s at university”. She discovered that “Jesus Christ was real and is real and the more I realised that he was real the more I wanted to know him for myself”. As Caroline continued on her journey in faith she felt that “God, Jesus, was telling me that he wanted to send me somewhere, and he was calling me to serve him.”. Though Caroline felt this she wasn’t sure how God wanted her to serve “whether that was short term, like a few months or a week; regularly every Sunday at church; in England; further afield.”. Caroline did eventually get her answer when a friend of her asked her if she had ever considered Wycliffe. She hadn’t but after this friend explained more she decided to go and find out more about the organisation. After a while she felt that “Jesus confirmed to me that he wanted me to go long term with Wycliffe”.


The first four years that Caroline worked with Wycliffe she was working on “language survey”. She and a small team drove into a “remote area for each survey and we would interview people about their language.”.They needed to find out if the locals even wanted their language written down or if they would prefer to learn to read in the official language of the country. From this survey the team were able to tell if a language community needed a Bible translation in their language or not. It was also really important to have a community that was enthusiastic about getting the Bible translated into their language. “We needed the local community to get involved”.


Caroline told me that the importance of the local community’s involvement is crucial in Bible translation as the missionaries are “expatriates, who will never speak the local language as well as a person who’s from that language group”. That’s why missionaries from Wycliffe focus on training locals to become Bible translators, rather than doing the translation for them. “The thing is you can’t translate literally from one language to another.”. There is a skill in knowing when to translate more literally and when not to. 


The job did not come without challenges, one of which being the weather. “the country where I worked was very hot, and funnily enough, I don’t like the heat.”. The Hot Season didn’t only affect the missionaries but also the locals: “In Hot Season, you get really exhausted, you can’t do a lot of work and the translators can’t either because, although they are locals, they find it very hot and exhausting too”. 


While many aspects of the job were challenging it was also incredibly rewarding. Caroline's local church had a Pastor who was very enthusiastic about using the local language “so when we started translating he used what we translated immediately during the church services.”. This allowed the mission team to be motivated in their work. The more that they translated, they knew that more of the Bible could be used to teach people in their own language, “The more scripture we translated into that form of Arabic, the more the Pastor would use it; preach from it; whatever, and that was just so special for us because it made it worthwhile”. 


Missionaries are people driven by their faith, and through their work they seek to serve the local church and beyond. Many people such as Caroline are working to make the Bible more accessible to give people a better chance to explore their faith. If you wish to find out about missions like the one that Caroline worked on you can visit Wycliffe’s website here: https://wycliffe.org.uk/