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A Growing Number of Iranians Are Working Underground To Translate the Bible Into Their Heart Languages

Photo by Aaron Burden (via Unsplash)

Everyone has a “heart language,” often the first language learned and spoken at home. Words read and spoken in a person’s heart language are much more meaningful and more easily understood. That’s why many Iranians are working tirelessly to translate the Bible into dozens of their own heart languages.

“Every person in the world needs the Bible in the language they understand the best,” says unfoldingWord, a non-profit that helps church networks with Bible translation. One Iranian translator, “Miriam,” agrees: “Having the gospel in my heart language makes it much easier to talk to my family about Jesus.”

Iranians Secretly Translating the Bible To Share the Gospel

Christians in closed countries struggle to have access to a Bible and often lack traditional church interaction and community, which are vital to the learning and growing journey. The Christian Post interviewed “Evan Thompson” (a fake name to protect his identity) with unfoldingWord to get a better understanding of what it’s like for Christians in Iran.

“There are 1.45 billion people in the world who speak about 5,500 languages that do not have the whole Bible in their heart languages,” Thompson said. “The Church has expanded exponentially in the last 20 years. And what these folks have learned is that you can lead someone to Christ, but if they don’t have a church, they don’t survive on their own.”

Especially in closed countries such as Iran, governments can forbid or strictly limit any missional activity. Iranian leaders prohibit people in Iran from studying their heart languages in schools. Farsi is the official national language of Iran, but many natives speak other dialects much more fluently.

“All of these oppressive countries, like Sudan, like Iran, and some others we could name, are trying to Islamasize their whole population,” Thompson explained. “And one of the ways that they do that is by forcing them to speak this one national language, and it’s causing their heart languages to die out.”

Thompson drew a parallel to American schools. “It’s very much like anybody that comes to America from someplace else, and we put them in American schools to learn English,” he said. “Unless their family makes it a point to keep their native languages…alive in their families, by the second or third generation, the kids can’t speak their native language anymore.”

The ministry provides a way in Iran—and in other parts of the world—for local Christians to translate the Bible. “We don’t make Bible translations. We help develop Bible translators. Because that’s what the Church really needs all over the world,” Thompson said.

Bible Translation Has Given Iranians Like ‘Miriam’ Hope

“Miriam” (not her real name) also spoke with The Christian Post about how she, along with other Iranian translators, risks her life to translate the Bible in Iran.

“I cannot even imagine leaving this work unfinished. I must complete this work and see the result. I want to see my beloved ones experience salvation in Christ,” Miriam said. “This is my dream: that my people can talk about God and speak his name freely without any hesitation; without any fear they can talk about God.”