Do you sometimes feel like “word ministry” and “using my IT/software development/techie skills” are mutually exclusive options? I thought it might be enlightening to ask Paul Morriss, IT Director at Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, to outline just some of the ways that IT is so vital in the process of translating the Bible into other languages.
IT in Wycliffe Bible Translators? Don’t you all just sit down with books and translate by hand? Not by a long way! Technology is used in Bible Translation in ways you may never have thought of.
At one end of the scale there are staff working with a laptop and a solar panel alongside someone who speaks a language that’s never been written down. They are discussing what kind of alphabet should be used. The laptop, and its owner, face the challenges of dust, heat, humidity, lightning, unreliable electricity and poor internet access. Their nearest IT support person is several hours drive away.
At the other end of a scale are IT professionals working on an enterprise scale personnel system that can keep track of over 10,000 people coming from over 45 different Wycliffe organisations, many seconded to other partner organisations. Those working on the system may not have left their home country, yet they need to raise their own financial support when many people think they aren’t ‘real’ missionaries.
In between those scenarios there are people working on:
- audio and video Scriptures, passed around in mp3 or mp4 format on mobiles and mp3 players
- getting exotic writing systems to render on computers, tablets and mobiles
- producing sign language Bibles using CGI
- developing specialist linguistic software
- mobile and web development
- general IT support
Some of these examples are specific to organisations involved in translation, but as you can see, a modern mission also relies on IT in general. Other missions will have similar lists, and will not just be looking for Bible teachers.
Is there something here that interests you or fits your skills?
Paul Morriss is IT Director at Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, overseeing three people and also doing databases and web development. His techie blog is at manypies.paulmorriss.com and he’s @paulmorriss on Twitter.
P.S. No you can’t use Google Translate to translate the Bible!