Why would anyone object to Christians coming to their community, translating the Bible into their language, and trying to push their beliefs on the locals?
That’s what the leaders of one of the world’s largest Bible translation organizations were trying to figure out when they decided to blame “demonic possession.”
Bruce Smith, president of Bible-translation giant Wycliffe Associates, said Monday he blamed “demonic oppression” for certain negative incidents, which he declined to mention by name. He also didn’t mention where the devil has been attacking his workers, citing “security” concerns.
“What we’ve seen, especially in this last year-and-a-half, is that as we move into more of Satan’s strongholds around the world, he does not go quietly. We have had many translation workshops that have had demonic manifestations and impacts, where individuals in the group are being attacked and oppressed; or the group as a whole may have an oppression; just lots of things that can only be explained as spiritual warfare,” Smith said.
“This is becoming more and more a part of the daily reality of Bible translation, as opposed to the exception,” he added.
There you have it. The Bible translation business is rife with these attacks, which can only be explained by “spiritual warfare.” It couldn’t possibly be that this group is trying to spread Christianity in regions where there are other present religions that inherently contradict claims made in the Bible, and the locals are trying to preserve their own beliefs in the face of strangers foisting another holy book upon them.
Smith went on to say that the “influences of the occult” and “demonic powers” are well known to others in these unnamed regions, and that it’s a sign of growing Christian persecution worldwide. While Christians are certainly more likely to be attacked in some areas than others — they really are persecuted in some parts of the world — we can’t really look at that angle since he conveniently won’t tell us where these incidents are occurring.
Wycliffe Associates says that it works in some of the most oppressive countries for Christians, though often withholds naming specific locations for security purposes. The group has warned that its translators face threats of arrest, attacks, and even execution for their work.
The Christian Post pointed out how Wycliffe reported in March 2016 that four of its workers were killed by radicals in the Middle East. (I couldn’t track down an independent account of that attack.) More importantly in that case, though, the group blamed “terrorists” in the Middle East for what happened. There was no hint of involvement from the “devil.” And at least that explanation made sense; it tied the incident to a religious disagreement from competing faiths in the region rather than supernatural intervention.
Smith went on to say that, despite the attacks, there is a “thirst for God” in these destitute areas. That’s not the situation in the West, where religion is declining, he acknowledged.
“It’s as if we have spent most of our lives in an area where people have had access to all the water they want to drink, and they are wondering why is no one thirsty — it’s because they have plenty to drink,” he said.
“But if you go to parts of the world where people have been parched, where they do not have the water to drink, then you will find thirsty people.”
Smith was using “water” as a metaphor for Jesus, but it’s pretty fitting. These Bible translators very often go to communities where people are thirsty and starving… and bring nothing but Bibles and empty promises of God’s divine gifts.
The people need real help, but all they’re getting is false hope. No wonder they’re upset.
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