Boko Haram threat has not stopped Bible translation work in Nigeria

Wycliffe says Bible translation workers in Nigeria have only been more motivated, not less, by Boko Haram's reign of terror(Photo: Wycliffe Associates)

The northern regions of Nigeria are on high alert as Boko Haram continues its reign of terror but the risk to life has not stopped Bible translation work in the region.

In fact, Wycliffe Associates reports that its team of translation workers in the area has only been spurred on to get even more of God's word translated into the local languages.

It's a huge task, with the team already having identified some 300 languages still without a single verse of the Bible.

In addition to this, the translation team is working against the backdrop of deadly suicide attacks, bombings, raids, kidnappings and lootings being carried out by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

It was Boko Haram that was behind the kidnapping of 230 Nigerian schoolgirlsfrom the Chibok Government Secondary School, triggering a global social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls. Despite the international attention, the girls have not been freed and hope is waning for their rescue.

"It likely that in the month since Boko Haram released a video of the girls flanked by gunmen, the girls have been split into groups of 40-50," former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote in Project Syndicate on Sunday.

"If one group is rescued by force, the others will be murdered, creating a serious tactical dilemma for the Nigerian government's special forces."

As Boko Haram continues its terror campaign, Wycliffe CEO Bruce Smith told MNNOnline that unfortunately, the girls kidnapped in April were "not unknown faces" but family members of some of the people directly involved in Bible translation in that part of Nigeria.

The attacks of the Islamist militant group remain a continuing and immediate threat to the translation workers and their families.

"They have essentially all abandoned their homes, and they're sleeping out in the woods and in surrounding areas because they're afraid of being attacked directly," Wycliffe CEO Bruce Smith told the news agency.

"We still have staff that are living and working in Nigeria. Bible translation is a high priority need there. They have more than 300 languages that have been identified that have not one verse of Scripture and need to be started."

The threat is real but Smith says that Bible translation workers are continuing to push ahead with projects in the area.

"The desperation of the situation actually increases their motivation for getting God's Word translated because they realise that the political and religious solutions are not working," said Smith.

"They need some truth that's going to change hearts, change perspectives, in order to make any difference for the long haul."