Madagascar’s many tongues

Madagascar’s many tongues

MAF in Madagascar was excited to support SIL International and Wycliffe Bible Translators by bringing together translation teams from every corner of the island.

Madagascar’s incredibly poor infrastructure and vast distances create great challenges for those travelling in the world’s fourth largest island.

As one of the few organisations able to overcome the difficulties of land travel, MAF was called in to handle the logistics so that SIL and Wycliffe could come together for a translation workshop.

'What a joy to enable these language groups to meet.... to support them as they translate God’s Word into other tongues!' 

The two organisations usually work closely together to translate God’s Word, equip field personnel with linguistics skills, and promote the translation of the Scripture. But despite their shared vision to make the Scriptures available in every heart language, opportunities to bring the different teams together are rare.

Although the teams dispersed across the island work in many different settings, the challenges faced by the translators are very similar.

‘Communities that speak lesser-known languages face many challenges when it comes to pursuing social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual goals without losing their ethnolinguistic identity,’ explains MAF Pilot Josh Plett.

Teams working on translations for the Tandroy, Bara, Betsimisaraka, Antaisaka, and Tanosy people groups were collected over a two-day period. MAF Pilots Patrick Keller and Josh Plett carried out the busy flight schedule and really enjoyed meeting the teams.

‘The flight was an incredible experience,’ grins Josh. ‘Imagine flying around the people involved with the tower of Babel and you get a glimpse of the diversity of languages we are working with!

‘The reference to Babel is actually quite applicable,’ he continues. ‘When man wanted to build the tower, God took a group of people who were working together for ungodly purposes and scattered them across the earth, leaving people with the confusion of suddenly speaking multiple languages.

‘But unlike that ungodly act, today, God is calling many language groups to come together so they may better understand the Gospel story, each in their own mother tongue. God is bringing back His message of redemption using Madagascar’s many tongues.

‘Where there was once disunity because of people speaking different languages,’ he explains, ‘God is now bringing salvation through these diverse languages to build up His Kingdom.’

Two weeks after the original flights, the teams took to the air once more to fly home.

‘Imagine flying around the people involved with the tower of Babel and you get a glimpse of the diversity of languages we are working with!

‘What a joy to be called to this work,’ says Josh, ‘to enable these language groups to meet. What a joy to support them as they translate God’s Word into other tongues; bringing the Gospel story to people in a language they can understand and identify with.

‘SIL and Wycliffe continue to remain great partners of MAF Madagascar,’ he concludes, ‘and we look forward to our next flight with them!’