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(Photo by Ed Peters)
Thanks for the Software
by Hart Wiens

I wonder how many of you have written to Bill Gates or Steve Jobs recently to thank them for the marvelous software on your computer which allows you to do things that were the stuff of science fiction only a few decades ago. Here at the CBS Translations-CAP office in Kitchener our contribution to computer software development pales in comparison to the work of these legends in computer land. Yet, we regularly receive letters and e-mails from people around the world expressing their thanks and lavish praise for the computer software package we are privileged to make available to them through the Institute for Computer Assisted Publishing (ICAP). Some are simple messages of thanks: "Paratext is an invaluable asset to our translation work. Thank you for making it available."

Others are more effusive like this one from Cameroon:

"Paratext is an indispensable tool in our ministry and your kindness towards us in this generous gift is so conspicous. Please accept gratitude welling up from my heart and my colleagues too."

A translation consultant from the Congo writes:

"As a translation consultant in regular contact with far-flung teams in DRCongo, I say that we could not do without Paratext."

An African translator profiles the widespread impact of the tool for millions in West Africa:

"... thank you for this invaluable tool, which is helping to make the word of God accessible to 4 million Wolof people in their heart language!"

When I began working in Bible translation about three decades ago, personal computers did not even exist in my dreams. I worked with a pen and paper and sometimes, when I needed to make multiple copies, I used a manual typewriter with several sheets of carbon paper. Today virtually all Bible translators, even in the remotest parts of the world are working on laptop computers and the vast majority (more than 3,000) use a cutting edge software package called Paratext, distributed by our office in Kitchener.

At the beginning of my career in Bible translation, working with a pen and paper, the next most important part of my equipment was a desk large enough to hold the array of books I needed to consult as we worked on the translation. There was the source language text (Greek or Hebrew), other English versions, commentaries, concordances and volumes of word studies. For each volume I consulted I had to constantly turn pages to get to the right place. One reason that the users of our software are so grateful is that today all of these resources are easily accessible in the computer package and every resource opens automatically at the right place. Another feature which many translators appreciate is the large number of checking tools which maximize the ability of the computer to quickly and accurately scan and compare large amounts of data in order to surface inconsistencies or errors in the text. These checking tools greatly enhance the quality of translations produced using our software.

Faithful supporters of the Canadian Bible Society have prayed consistently and given generously to make this work possible, many without even realizing what God was accomplishing through their prayers and gifts for this ministry. When it appeared that a shortfall in funding would no longer allow us to make our computer tools freely available, one particularly generous saint came through with a special contribution enabling us to continue to distribute these tools without cost to the translators, many of whom live and work in impoverished circumstances.

Thanks to the ministry you help make possible through the Canadian Bible Society, translators around the world are able to use cutting edge computer tools to enhance the quality and effectiveness of their work. We are so grateful for the privilege we have of helping to harness new tools for the glory of God and great blessing to people speaking hundreds of different languages around the world today.

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