This year marks 700 years since the birth of John Wycliffe, who changed the course of history by translating the Bible into English. For years he challenged the Church where their teaching had departed from the teaching of the Bible. He was accused of heresy, rejected and put on trial, all because he knew change was needed. John realised that having the Bible in a language which people could understand was central to them knowing Jesus. 

Today 1 in 5 people still don’t have the Bible in their own language. However, there are thousands of modern-day John Wycliffes doing for their people what John did for his. People like Ibrahim*. 

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Ibrahim grew up as a Muslim and was taught that the Bible was corrupted. He was intellectually curious as a young man. He actually lost his faith in Islam and became an atheist before he became a Christian. 

He was given a Bible and became a Christian through reading it – he wasn’t satisfied with reading the Bible in the official state language, or English, but there wasn’t a Bible in his own language. So he learnt Greek specifically so he could read the New Testament in its original language. 

Ibrahim now works alongside two others, as part of a translation team. They are all passionate about reaching millions of Muslims for Jesus and know that having the Bible in their language is a crucial part of doing that.

They all face persecution for being followers of Jesus, and their work is done in secret. ‘People have the right to know what God says,’ Ibrahim explains. ‘How will they know that God loves them if they do not have the message in their language?’

‘Translators have historically been persecuted and killed – and it is the same today.’

Ibrahim’s translation team is working in very difficult circumstances. But this is urgent work to enable many more of their people to experience – like Ibrahim – that the Bible is true and that Jesus is the way to eternal life.

Community transformation 

The reason that translators like Ibrahim risk and sacrifice so much is that they want their people to know and experience God through the Bible, like they do. 

Wycliffe’s vision is for a world where everyone can know Jesus through the Bible. When the Bible is in the language that speaks to people best, it has an even bigger impact. We also see how the work of Bible translation changes culture – like developing the first written form of languages spoken by some of the most marginalised people on earth, and enabling people to learn to read and write.

Ripple effects

The effects of this ripple out beyond Christians and churches, and touch the lives of whole communities. When people learn to read and write in their language it means:

  • They can communicate in new ways, and access technology they had been cut off from.
  • They gain new opportunities to get work.
  • They can learn their legal rights, making it harder for corrupt officials to abuse them.
  • Women and girls are empowered.
  • Education is transformed.
  • Parents can read the correct dosage when giving medicine to their children.

Regular giving is so important to maintain the momentum of Bible translation. Please, would you consider a monthly gift to support translators like Ibrahim – as he works to bring God’s word to more people in their own language – and see more lives transformed. Your monthly giving will also be doubled for a limited time.


*names changed for security reasons

Please note that the image is representative of Ibrahim, and not actually him.

Words for Life Cover August 2024

Words for Life magazine

Words for Life is the Wycliffe magazine and Prayer diary, which contains the latest stories and prayer requests from around the world.

In it you can read about how God changes people’s lives through having the Bible in their language, discover more about the work of Bible translation, and meet some of the people for whom your giving and praying is making such a huge difference.

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