Lutheran Bible Translators, a Recognized Service Organization of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, is partnering with Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to provide select seminarians with the opportunity to pursue a concentration in biblical languages and Bible translation skills as part of their pastoral preparation.
At an estimated 9.6 million members, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) is the largest and fastest-growing Lutheran church body in the world today.
In a sermon preached on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, EECMY Presiding President Rev. Yonas Yigezu emphasized the ongoing need for Bible translation:
“The church needs to make certain that everyone is able to read and hear the Gospel in a language that is understandable.”
Many who speak one of the 88 languages of Ethiopia are still waiting.
The EECMY and Lutheran Bible Translators formalized an agreement in 2016 to consult on six minority-language Bible translation projects in southwest Ethiopia.
Now, Lutheran Bible Translators is working with the seminary to provide a biblical languages and translation major concentration for MYS students as they prepare to be pastors.
According to MYS President Rev. Dr. Bruk Ayele, 40 candidates were proposed for the program through their congregations and synodical structures. Following a selection process, the top 15 have been awarded scholarships to the program.
Lutheran Bible Translators Executive Director Dr. Mike Rodewald says the seminary initiative “is particularly exciting … not only for future Bible translation projects but for building capacity to proclaim the Gospel without barrier.
“A common problem in emerging church theological education is that students from minority-language communities learn through foreign languages while at the seminary. When they later serve in parish ministry — whether in their own or a differing language community — they are not able to adequately express what they learned and instead revert to preaching through the foreign language.”
New graduates may or may not be placed into a full Bible translation project, but they will be equipped to translate biblical content and proclaim the Gospel to minority-language communities not only in the remoter parts of Ethiopia, but in other areas of the world that remain without God’s Word in a language the people can understand.
Lutheran Bible Translators Executive Development Officer Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mendedo says, “This project will empower indigenous translators to speed up our translation efforts in Ethiopia and beyond. It is a timely and well-planned program that provides resources, skill sets and commitment to Bible translation through the leadership and ownership of indigenous pastors and translators.”
Rodewald says the plan is to add more students as the program progresses and, “as resources are available, [to duplicate it] in other Lutheran seminaries throughout the globe.”
Lutheran Bible Translators also announced that the Rev. Dr. Berhanu Ofgaa, the outgoing general secretary of the EECMY, will be joining its staff to coordinate the program when his term as general secretary ends.
“Dr. Berhanu is well-known and respected throughout the wider Lutheran community,” says Rodewald. “His experience will be invaluable to the success of this new opportunity.”Visit lbt.org
Posted Aug. 9, 2018