A Polygot’s Dream, A Translator’s Nightmare

A partial map of Iran showing the distribution of languages from Farsi.net
A partial map of Iran showing the distribution of major language groups from Farsi.net

HEARTS RIPE FOR HARVEST: IRAN’S HUNDREDS OF LANGUAGES & DIALECTS

The Great Commission

“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”  Many Christians have memorized this verse from Matthew 28:19, but how many of us have actually considered the many obstacles involved in fulfilling the commandment.

“All nations” includes Iran.  While there are many obvious political and religious reasons this country is difficult to “go” and “teach,” think about the sheer challenge of introducing Jesus Christ to people in 150 primary languages with at least 100 additional dialects and/or derivative languages – especially when many of the languages are those of unreached, unengaged people groups or UUPG’s in ministry-speak.

A Stewpot of Tongues

Imagine taking a sampling of every language used in Central Asia and the Middle East and throwing them into a pot.  The name of that pot is Iran.  While Farsi is the official language and the lingua franca of the nation, it is not the heart language of vast numbers of its people.

There are actually more Azerbaijani-speaking people in Iran than there are in the the country of Azerbaijan – and while they are well aware they live within the political borders of Iran, they think of themselves as Azerbaijanis.  While the Azerbaijani-speaking population of Iran may be one of the largest of the “mis-placed”  people groups in the country, they are far from alone. Name a Central Asian or Middle Eastern language group.  Arabic? Russian?  Kurdish?  Turkish?  Yes, all these languages are spoken in Iran, along with Farsi and about 250 other languages and dialects.

The Magic of Technology

satellite-widescreenWhile the Russians did not exactly roll out the red carpet to Christian missionaries when Central Asia was part of the USSR, missionaries were begrudgingly tolerated.  When the Soviet Union fell apart, the proud Muslims in the Central Asian countries expelled all Christian missionaries and began to severely persecute members of the population who had embraced the missionaries “foreign” religion.  The rest, many of whom were merely deist or agnostics or even atheists, were forced to accept Islam regardless of their personal feelings about religion.  It seemed Christianity had been effectively shut out of Central Asia.

Then technology began to break down the barriers.  Missionaries were still not able to enter, but the Gospel began to seep in via the Internet and broadcast satellites.  This technological gap in the wall is still relatively new and GHM is among the ministries who are charging into this gap to bring the Hope of the Gospel to the hopeless people in these nations.

We began our work in the languages of Turkmen, Uzbek and Azerbaijani, because that is where God gave us favor.  We were innocently unaware of the miracles waiting for us.  Over time, we discovered just how far these languages would take us.  Now we know these three languages allow our programs to be understood from Turkey to China and from Russia down into Iran – even beyond.

Going Even Deeper

We are thrilled with the number of countries where our programs can be understood, but because we want to reach every person in Central Asia and the Middle East with the Gospel, we are taking yet another step.  We have begun to use lip-synch translators to dub the programs we have already completed in Uzbek into  Azerbaijani.

Lip-synch dubbing is more than merely adding Iranian translations to existing video.  Lip-synch dubbing matches the translation to the exact timing of the speakers words and when done right, a casual audience can enjoy the program as if it were originally recorded in their own language, without the distraction of the words not matching the speakers’ lip movements.  Of course, someone well-versed in the technology can tell the difference, but the purpose is not to fool anyone.  We just want to make the programs more enjoyable to the new audience.

Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.
Fulfilling the Great Commission in this generation.

Help Reap the Harvest

You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.

We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached regions of the world.

 

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2 thoughts on “A Polygot’s Dream, A Translator’s Nightmare

  1. Pingback: Our New Satellite Partner

  2. Pingback: Farsi, The Persian Heart Language

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