The Profound Impact of Oral Bible Translation

If you can read this sentence, you're in a minority.


For much of the world's population, reading is either not a preference or not an option. No Scripture has ever been written, much less translated, for thousands of oral communities. The need for a spoken version of God's Word is paramount.


Oral Bible Translation (OBT) provides the solution. Individuals living in unreached language groups who may never read can still hear God's Word and come to Christ. Now, a team of local translators can be trained to work among their own people to accurately render God's Word in a format they can understand and use.


Through OBT, those who cannot or will never read find hope in the Gospel. The following oral communities whose members have put in the work to ensure their people can hear exemplify the transformation taking place all over the world.




The Ludadiri, a tribe of 650,000 who live along Uganda's eastern border with Kenya, grow several crops, raise cattle and other livestock, and trade on a small scale. A father's land is inherited by all his sons, meaning the dense population must divide their already-minimal territory into smaller and smaller plots.


Oral Bible translators from the Ludadiri community never expected to comprehend Scripture firsthand. All avenues of oral communication—radio broadcasts, internet audio files, even church sermons—came in languages they struggled to internalize. Scripture in Ludadiri via OBT revolutionized their comprehension.


These devoted subsistence farmers have now completed Mark, Luke, Acts, and James, with plans to record Matthew, John, and 1 and 2 Timothy. Their translation of Luke has been adapted into a Gospel Film. The fruit of their labor: miraculous healing and life transformation.


Healed Through Listening


"A woman had been bedridden with illness since last week," a tribe member told us. "We went to her village for community check [of the OBT sets]. The woman heard about our work and asked her family to bring her out so she could listen to God's Word. After listening, her headaches are gone, she feels stronger, and she can speak without any difficulty."


A Deeper Understanding


While translating the book of Acts, Sanyu and Miremba were shocked to learn Paul persecuted followers of Jesus. That the self-proclaimed student of God's law had a history of obliterating early Christians caused confusion and suspicion. Both translators found clarity as they internalized the passage of Paul's conversion in context. Deep understanding developed as they explored the time-tested precision of God's Word. They realized the sharpest two-edged sword of truth exposed and overcame the lies buried deep in Paul's heart. Immediate access to God's Word in their heart language helped Sanyu and Miremba see that the Bible has eternal power to do the same in their community.


Gratitude for Scripture


Beatrice, a new Ludadiri Bible listener, shared her gratitude for the sets she plays before her evening prayers. She lets the passages of Scripture she hears direct her prayers during her nightly routine. Beatrice selects the sets at random, but Truth in her language is now easy to connect to life application.




The 196,000 Western Koromfé of Burkina Faso are a displaced people, with most living in refugee camps due to constant war. Less than one in five children can attend elementary school, and fewer still attend middle and high school. This oppressed community has no history of Christianity. Civil unrest and religious persecution bring challenges to Bible translation, with teams occasionally having to relocate for safety reasons. For the Koromfé, becoming a Christian can mean facing rejection by the family and community. The sacrifice is great.


Recently, a few Koromfé overcame social stigmas, believed in Christ, and then started an OBT project. Two story sets were completed after several months of work: Jesus calming the storm, and Mary sitting at Jesus' feet. As of this writing, Genesis and Luke recordings are complete, with Acts planned next.


Sitting at Jesus' Feet


Pierre, one of the translators, took the completed sets to the refugee camp and played them for a family. The mother had become a shell of a person after enduring the trauma of war—she sat in the corner, arms hugged around herself, not speaking. After playing the Scripture, Pierre prayed for her and her family. She released her tension, stood up, and started speaking! She had just heard that Jesus can calm her wildest storms, and she was invited like Mary to sit at Jesus' feet. Her family of 12 gave their lives to Christ. A pastor from a neighboring community has agreed to start the first church in the history of this group—right there in the refugee camp.


Moved to Tears


Due to the country's instability, the king of Louroum, a Western Koromfé province, had to move from his village to Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. Two team members—pastors from the king's tribe—gave him a Proclaimer that he may listen to Scripture. Moved by listening to the Word of God in his native language, the king wept. He trusted Jesus and now requests more Proclaimers for his people. "I have been attacked in my dreams more than twice after I converted to Jesus," he told us. "But whenever I call upon Jesus' name, the attackers disappear."




Wherever God's Word is heard, the Lord brings restoration, peace, conviction, and healing. People who cannot or may never read are finding hope in the Gospel through Oral Bible Translation. In fact, OBT is vital in achieving our Vision 2033 objectives. Thanks to our partnership with 700+ ministries and translation organizations around the planet, as well as with faithful supporters, OBT will help ensure the last, the least, and the forgotten will receive God's Word in the language and format they understand best.


More oral communities still wait to hear the truth of God's Word in their heart language. You can provide it to them. Support the recording and provision of Audio Bibles in more languages.


If you know about an oral community who needs an Oral Bible Translation, please email