If we could see all of the lines that have been drawn between people, this globe would look like a ball of yarn. I’m usually hesitant to say that “all” people know something or have done something — but I’m pretty sure that everyone has experiences this separation. For those of us who have landed on the powerful or privileged side of the line more often than not, we may not be as aware of the impact those lines, however.
When we talk about languages, there is often a distinction drawn between “minority languages” and “languages of wider communication.” As an English speaker, I was born into a community that speaks not only the language of wider communication within my own country, but also one of the languages of wider communication in a global marketplace.
Millions of people are born into communities where the language spoken in the home is not used in the world outside their small community. If they have access to education at all, it is most often in a language of wider communication — English, Spanish, French, Farsi, Tagalog, Swahili, etc.
In Peru — where this nativity was made — the language of wider communication is Spanish. Historically, a person who does not speak Spanish is very limited in his ability to advance through systems of education since teachers require students to use that common language in the classroom.
Language development programs which are necessary in order for Bible translation to be done almost always elevates the value of a “minority language” in the eyes of not only the speakers of that language, but also the governments of the nations in which that language is spoken. Somehow, when a language is written, things begin to change.
Wycliffe personnel have worked in Peru for over 40 years — long enough to see the transformation that comes to people (individuals and communities) when they have God’s Word available in their heart language and long enough to see the transformation that comes when their heart language is finally seen as an asset rather than a liability.
Pali is a woman whose life has been transformed by God through the translation of His Word and the development of her language. Her story is found on Wycliffe’s website.