Even in the darkest times and most difficult of situations, God is at work!

Russia may be something of an outcast on the world stage, but God is still moving there, exciting things are still happening, and the good news of Jesus is still being spread in the country.

Image of a map of the region of Bashkortostan in Russia, with the city of Ufa marked

And the work of Bible translation continues, despite all the restrictions and difficulties caused by external circumstances. Translation teams persevere with their work, communities are being encouraged to engage with God’s word – and Scripture is being published.

So it was that on 19 June 2023, in the city of Ufa in the Republic of Bashkortostan, over 150 people came together to celebrate the launch of the Bashkir Bible.

After 27 years of translation work, the Bashkir people now have the whole of God’s word in their language (following the launch of their New Testament in 2015). The fourth largest language group in the Russian Federation by number of speakers (1.5 million) now has its own Bible. This is a language group that is predominantly Muslim.

‘Tears in their eyes’

There is great excitement among Bashkir Christians.

Image of two Bashkir women with the newly launched Bashkir Bible Two Bashkir women holding the Bashkir New Testament (left) and the Bashkir Bible (right)

‘To be holding the Bible in the Bashkir language is a special thing and a great joy,’ says Zilya, a Christian worker among the Bashkir. ‘The Bashkirs are clutching the Scriptures to their chests with tears in their eyes and thanking God. It’s wonderful to see how joyfully they are reading the Bible in their language.’

A Bashkir woman, Tanzila, expresses the difference the Bashkir Bible will make: ‘Praise God we are able to read the Bible in our own language. Even if we understand Russian, reading the Bible in Russian has been difficult for us. Now the Holy Scriptures are being read with joy in our own language. We are praising Jesus, thanking the Living God.’

‘This Bible will definitely bear much fruit’

Bron Cleaver, who is the director of the Institute for Bible Translation in Russia, took part in the official celebration, and said during her speech at the event: ‘I believe that 27 years of selfless work of many people invested in the creation of this Bible will definitely bear much fruit and enrich the Bashkir language and spiritual culture.’

The launch event was attended by dignitaries, leaders and officials from many institutes, societies and church denominations, as well as many Bashkir people. ‘Every seat was taken in the official presentation,’ Bron continues, ‘and there was standing room only. The atmosphere was official but joyful as well.’

Image of Bashkir Bible translator Gulsira, speaking at the launch of the Bashkir Bible Bible translator Gulsira speaking at the launch event

A highlight was the speech by Gulsira, a well-known Bashkir writer who was involved in translating the Old Testament for 25 years. At one point she commented: ‘When they told me at the beginning that this project would take over 20 years, I laughed. I thought to myself, “What is there to do? Two years will be enough for us!”’ Despite taking over 10 times as long as she originally anticipated, Gulsira stuck faithfully to her task and has seen the fruits of her and others’ labours.

Teija Greed, who serves with Wycliffe and has worked with the Bashkir Bible translation team since 2009, says:

Image of a Bashkir woman reading her newly launched Bible A Bashkir woman reads her Bashkir Bible at the launch event

‘How wonderful to see the Bashkir Bible launched! This has been about team work and effort, and more! We came from different language, cultural and national backgrounds, brought our skills and experience to benefit the common purpose, and with team effort God’s eternal message has been skilfully and creatively transferred into Bashkir.’

Nazira, a Bashkir woman, sums it all up:

‘The translation of the Bible in the Bashkir language speaks to me about the great love and care of our Heavenly Father for the Bashkir people. The Bashkir Bible will help people to go deep into the plans and purposes of the Most High for all peoples, and to accept Christ as their Saviour.’


Russia has about 90 indigenous languages; Bashkir is the state language of the Republic of Bashkortostan, and is the ninth language in Russia to have the full Bible.

The project has been a joint effort, bringing together multiple Christian denominations in Russia and various Christian agencies.

Story by: Jeremy Weightman

Date: 21/07/2023

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