We celebrate the extraordinary life and legacy of Margaret Hill, who has died aged 82, after almost 60 years in service with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Image of Margaret Hill with students at an August 2023 translation workshop in Uganda, holding the Bible study books they wrote in their own languages during the workshop Margaret with students at an August 2023 translation workshop in Uganda, holding the Bible study books they wrote in their own languages during the workshop

Bringing people into a living relationship with Jesus was core to all Margaret did. She dedicated her life to making the Bible as available and accessible as possible, and always sought practical ways to help people and communities encounter and apply God’s word in their daily lives.

She worked tirelessly and cheerfully, and never retired – in fact, she had been due to fly to Nairobi this month to facilitate a Bible translation workshop until illness prevented her.

Dedicated to Bible translation

Margaret was born in Wales on 6 July 1941. She accepted Jesus into her life when she was a teenager. Even from early on, she would meet with other young Christians and pray for those serving with Wycliffe.

Margaret joined Wycliffe in 1965, and a year later went to serve in Nigeria, translating the Bible. In 1976, after the Nigerian government ordered Wycliffe’s partner, SIL, to end its activities, Margaret returned to the UK and completed a Master’s degree in education and linguistics at Manchester University. It was during this time that Holy Trinity Platt Church became her home and main sending church.

In 1987, Margaret returned to Africa to work with the Ngbaka people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Over two million spoke Ngbaka, and there was a vibrant church – but they had no Bible in their language. Margaret worked alongside local translators, and together they completed the translation of the Ngbaka Bible in 1995.

Making Jesus known

Margaret loved translating God’s word, but she was also desperate to see it transform lives and communities.

Using her expertise in education – and her entrepreneurial mission spirit – she helped to develop a Ngbaka adult literacy programme as well as a school programme for over 100 schools. These measures enabled the Ngbaka to read the Bible in their language. But Margaret wanted people not just to read the Bible, but to apply it, so she pioneered a Scripture-use course for the church leaders.

When the DRC descended into civil conflict in the 1990s, many Ngbaka people were traumatised. Margaret’s response was to develop basic trauma-healing lessons for church leaders to teach their members. Out of this came the book Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help, which is now available in 170 languages.

Image of Wycliffe member Margaret Hill

Sharing her expertise

Margaret became a translation consultant in 1987 and a senior translation consultant in 2012, supporting Bible translators across Africa and the world as they translated God’s word into their own languages.

Margaret’s life was one of dedicated, humble service. Her legacy stretches not just to all those who knew her, and not just to the communities where she helped to bring life and healing, but also far beyond to people and communities she never met who have benefited from her vast and broad range of service.

Story by: Jeremy Weightman

Date: 21/05/2024

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