Lutheran Bible Translators Celebrates 50 Years3 min read


50 Years of Making God’s Word Accessible

Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) is 50 years old! For much of that time I have been part of their ministry: from praying for missionaries to becoming one. When LBT was just 5 years old, so was I! I first learned about LBT as my mom and I prayed for Helen Marten, then a new missionary with LBT in Papua New Guinea. During her service, Helen helped complete two New Testaments. What a joy to meet Helen—the person whose service inspired my own—at a recent 50th anniversary celebration.

In 50 years, LBT missionaries have completed 39 translations, including the Bandi New Testament in Liberia. I had the privilege of helping the Bandi team finish the project, after several other translation teams had worked on it. The New Testament was dedicated in 2000. Now, that printing is almost sold out. Please pray for the Bandi people to diligently use their Bible and for other language groups to do the same with their translations as well. This year the Kisi and Kpelle peoples of Liberia will celebrate and dedicate their complete Bibles—both Old and New Testaments.


Translating God’s Word doesn’t stop with a print version. In fact, that’s only the beginning. Many of the translations in Liberia have been dramatized and recorded. These are played on devices called Proclaimers, or more recently are downloaded on SD cards and played on any portable device accepting the cards, like inexpensive cell phones. This makes God’s Word immediately accessible even to those who can’t read their own language. Thesedramatized versions are popular and effective. Humphrey Ndorbah, one of the Bandi translators, played a Proclaimer for a group of Bandi people. He asked if they had any questions and they answered that they did not.“It is all very clear,” they said.


Last year, three new translation projects were initiated in Liberia. The Dan people desire a whole Bible now that their New Testaments are sold out. Only a few tattered copies remain. The Mann people also desire a whole Bible. The Gola New Testament was started many years ago but progress was interrupted by civil war in Liberia. The churches are asking again for God’s Word in their own languages.

A translation can take ten or more years to complete. Translation teams have been trained. They will do their part from Liberia and I will interface with them via special computer software designed just for Bible translation. Pray for the work to commence on all the projects.


Fifty years of translation work is something to celebrate. So also is 50 years of faithful prayer and financial partnership by thousands of individuals and churches to make sure the teams are equipped and supplied with what is necessary to complete the translations. Thirty-nine language groups representing millions of people can now hear the Good News thanks to the many faithful Christians who pray and partner with LBT missionaries and project teams in order to accomplish this ministry. The body of Christ is truly at work through the faithful prayers and support of the home team, through the faithful work of the missionaries and through the faithful labor of the local translation and literacy teams as they translate the works of a faithful and saving God.

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About the Author

Becky Grossman is a Bible Translation Advisor with Lutheran Bible Translators. She and her family lived and worked in Liberia from 1987-1996. After raising four children with her husband, Al, Becky has returned to service with LBT to assist the Liberian translation projects. For more information, visit

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