Incoming Translation News

Story Menu:

Translation Matters | Creativity in Bible Translation | 2023_12-2024_01

Translation Matters | Creativity in Bible Translation | 2023_12-2024_01

Letter from the Director

“All things bright and beautiful…”

I was recently reintroduced to a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It starts with vibrant, colourful images: 

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 

Then it calls us to listen as “…tumbled…stones ring;” and strings are tucked and a “hung bell's bow swung finds tongue”. There is an innate voice in every part of creation, an authentic expression of worship that corresponds to and reflects the glory of our Creator:

“…for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men's faces.”

Our worship has always found artistic expression. Think of the beauty of the rich colours illuminated within the tabernacle, or the ornate garments of the High Priest. The Feasts, called as appointments by God, were celebrated in the setting of a full moon, with candles and singing and food. God really wants us to taste and see His goodness!

The early Church used art to tell the Bible’s stories, much more than songs that today seem to have replaced other forms of art. Modern Bibles incorporate illustrations, but centuries ago the pages were adorned with illuminations. “Illuminations are much more abstract and intricate, rich with symbolic theological meaning hidden like buried treasure just waiting to be discovered.” (The History of Liturgical Art by Stephen Proctor).

Perhaps some of the long-forgotten forms of worship need to be rediscovered and incorporated back into our Sunday liturgies. Imagine worship offered by song, dance, colourful flags, paintings, light, poetry, mime, puppets, sculpture, etc. 

In Bible Translation, there are new trends coming to the movement. We talk about a multi-modal approach which includes written, oral, sign language, video, audio, poetry and song. The Word of God is not only read, but can be performed. Wycliffe South Africa launched its first “Singing the Psalms” workshop to encourage worship teams to create their own songs and poetry to be incorporated as worship elements. Processes from translating psalms formed the basis for new songs and poems coming to life.

In the celebration of a newly translated New Testament in West Africa, one of the translators sang the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew 1 because this is how this people group announced their honoured leaders. 

Bible Translation, as with worship, is a creative experience that can result in a multifaceted expression that shows forth the beauty and majesty of our glorious King. May this edition of Translation Matters inspire you to be creative in your worship. The Word, in every mother-tongue language, ensures that “Christ plays in ten thousand places.” 

Alan Webster

Back to top

Global Consultation on Arts and Music in Mission


September 2023 marked the 20th anniversary of GCAMM! Ethnodoxologists and those who use arts and music in mission gathered together in Dallas, USA, where the first ever consultation happened 20 years ago. It was a special week of networking, celebrating God and the arts, and experiencing the beautiful diversity He has blessed His people with.

The first evening saw the 20th anniversary of GEN (Global Ethnodoxology Network), where a stakeholder in theological education stated that, “Globally, the future of theological education will become more promising as it embodies and elevates the ethnodoxology voice.” Another inspiring quote came from a talk about taking the long view with global arts: “Global arts are like mustard seeds… They grow and provide branches for God’s people to find their unique voices to sing praise in witness to His goodness.” Ethnodoxology is a growing field of mission, with many people coming to see its value and importance. Two areas where this is very true is Bible Translation and Scripture Engagement!

What is Ethnodoxology? The interdisciplinary study of how Christians in every culture engage with God and the world through their own artistic expressions. (

The week was full of creativity, such as an art exhibition of faith-based art and a dance group who put movement to music to express and communicate God. A feature of every plenary session was Scripture “readings”. This varied from drama, to freeze frames, to dramatic readings using different voices and sounds, and more. We were fully immersed in God’s Word, experiencing every moment and listening to what God would say to us.

God has a plan for all people and cultures, spanning the entire Bible:

  •   Starting in Genesis where He created all languages…
  •   Through many stories where God blesses His people and invites everyone to be included…
  •   Through the psalms which call all people and all of creation to worship the Lord…
  •   Through Jesus who demonstrates and commands us to make disciples of all nations…
  •   Through Pentecost where people hear the Gospel in their own language…
  •   Through the growth of the early church where God does not discriminate against any culture…
  •   And reaching Revelation where all people and languages will worship the Lord together.

There is so much potential for us to be who God made us to be, and to worship the Lord using the gifts and skills He has blessed us with. This conference was a great inspiration and example of this. Let’s pray for the many communities around the world who are translating the Bible and grappling with what it means to be a Christian in their culture, engaging with God and the world through their own artistic expressions.

Helen van der Walt

Back to top

Bringing the Bible to Life: An Introduction to Scripture Engagement


We recently saw the power of creatively engaging with the Word of God at a Scripture Engagement Workshop organised for the young adults of GodFirst East Rand. The workshop aimed to introduce and explore various art forms as a means of connecting with and understanding the Scriptures. Drawing, drama, and other performing arts were utilised to create an immersive and interactive experience. The response from the young participants was overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing that it was the best workshop they had ever experienced.

During the workshop, participants were encouraged to use their creative talents to engage with the Bible in a unique and personal way. Drawing was one of the art forms employed, allowing individuals to visually interpret and express their understanding of the Bible. Through sketching, the young adults were able to delve deeper into the stories and messages contained within the Bible. 

Another significant component of the workshop was the incorporation of drama. Participants were given the opportunity to bring biblical narratives to life through role-playing and theatrical performances. This interactive approach allowed for a deeper connection with the characters and events portrayed in the Bible. The young adults not only gained a better understanding of the stories but also developed empathy and an appreciation of the human experience as depicted in the Bible.

The workshop received exceptional feedback from the young adults; they described it as a transformative experience. Many expressed their newfound love for Scripture, highlighting how the integration of art forms made the stories more relatable and accessible. The creative activities allowed them to explore their faith in a meaningful and engaging way. They also appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, fostering a sense of community and shared exploration of the Bible. 

We look forward to more workshops. 

Mesuli Tshele

Back to top

Stories from the Alive in Kaaps Team

From the moment they walked on stage to the moment they bowed their exit, the audience was captivated by the performance of the Alive in Kaaps team. They sang along, they roared with laughter, they stood with hands held high in worship, and they hung on every word. Such is the impact when people are able to communicate in their own language and take pride in who they are as a people created by God.

This was the second Alive in Kaaps concert, drawing an even bigger audience than the first one which was held in March 2023. The idea of the concert came about after the team of musicians had been meeting regularly to translate the Psalms into Kaaps through creative expressions, as part of the Psalms that Sing initiative. The production was planned to introduce the Kaaps Scriptures and to bring them alive in Kaaps.

Below, some of the team members tell us about their experience being part of this production.



Why are you part of Alive in Kaaps?

Firstly, it’s an amazing opportunity to share the word of God. Also, it brings more insight into the fact that the way we speak is not a slang, it’s a language; it’s our language. I get to share that with people through Alive in Kaaps.

What was your experience of putting on the production?

My experience has been amazing, it’s been wonderful, to know that we get to share our understanding of the psalms, in our language, and in song! The past two productions, I have seen the people’s response. It gets you emotional to think that we have been speaking like this all along, and people didn’t understand that it’s a language and a way that we can express ourselves differently and better. I have loved every moment of working on the production, and I’m looking forward to what else can happen with translating the psalms, making songs of them, and presenting them to people.



Why are you part of Alive in Kaaps?

I'm part of Alike in Kaaps because I get to serve my people. It's both an honour and a privilege to bring the Word of God to our people in song, dance, spoken word, drama, and in our heart language. It's humbling and awe-inspiring knowing that we bring messages of hope, healing, restoration, and validation to our people. This generation is doing the work for past, present, and future generations... I still need to pinch myself. I’m part of the healing and liberation of a people. I have a role to play... a message to give... hope to inspire.

What was your experience of putting on the production?

There is work to do and productions are our vehicle. Putting in the work is worth it when we see how our people take to what was prepared for them, by their own people, in their heart language. We are seeing liberation for present and future generations and shackles of oppression being loosened.



Why are you part of Alive in Kaaps?

It’s simple: I have always wanted to be part of something that challenged people to think and do things differently. For me, one of the biggest problems growing up was that speaking in a certain way in church, then going home and speaking Kaaps. It always felt almost pretentious, like we were pretending in front of God. I didn’t like that and I questioned it a lot. So, it was such an honour to join Alive in Kaaps, because I knew this would be something revolutionary, life-changing, game-changing.... I also knew that it wouldn’t be easy, and that people might not be open to it. I wanted to be part of a movement like this, that would start something, that allows us to be comfortable and to be ourselves in front of God.

What was your experience of putting on the production?

It was amazing, but it was also extremely difficult. It's hard to get time off from my job to make rehearsals, and I didn’t want the team to struggle with me. So, I made sure that I rehearsed my music, my parts, my moves, everything, at home, to keep me on my a-game. But also, I love what I do, and I love what Alive in Kaaps stands for. For me, it was an honour to try and do that.



Why are you part of Alive in Kaaps?

I am part of Alive in Kaaps because this is a part of who I am, my culture as a people, but most of all to go deeper into the Word of God.

What was your experience of putting on the production?

Wow, it was hard work to prepare and give a good production. We do it so that people leave with a clear understanding of who they are and their position in society.



Why are you part of Alive in Kaaps?

This is life changing for the people of Cape Town, and all those who can speak or relate to the language of Kaaps. It’s something much deeper than we imagined; people can relate to it and the songs keep singing in their ears. Even those in my church said, “wow, what an awesome way to get back to our roots.” Most people say that Kaaps has this gangster lingo to it, but it’s not that. This is a historic change. If God allows this to change someone’s life by me just planting a seed, through the way that we talk and communicate, that’s incredible.

What was your experience of putting on the production?

Putting the production together was hard work. Some of us lost our steps on stage, but people didn’t know that. There was a lady called Pauline, who was one of the leading actresses in a movie. She said that she had a very nice time with us and that she enjoyed the production so much. That’s an experienced actor saying that. The music and putting together the songs; that is what the Holy Spirit has planted inside of us, to do this thing in our own mother tongue, and to do it to the best of our ability. For that, I can only give God all the glory, the praise, and the honour.



Why are you part of Alive in Kaaps?

 I'm part of Alive in Kaaps because, not only does it teach me about my culture and my Kaaps language, but it also enables me to teach others not to be ashamed of being coloured.

What was your experience of putting on the production?

It was absolutely amazing. The fact that we could minister to people in their mother tongue while also educating them about their culture was really empowering.

Scripture Engagement Training with the Sepulana Team


In October, I was privileged to join the Sepulana translation team to take them through an introduction and training for Scripture Engagement. The whole translation team was there, plus the new Scripture Engagement facilitators – Ps Hamlet, Rev Essau, and Ps Thapela. They have been chosen for their passion for the Mapulana people, for seeing God’s Word in Sepulana, and for working with people to engage with the one true God. All of them are deeply invested in faith and church and are an inspiration to be around. 

Over the two-day workshop, we looked at many topics, like the impact of the Bible, syncretism and contextualisation, things that get in the way of people engaging with God’s Word, and the background knowledge needed to dig into the Scriptures. Other big areas included a biblical timeline of cultures, and God’s plan for all people and cultures. 

The most exciting topic, though, was CREATIVITY. We talked about a theology of creativity, and the use of art and creativity in the Bible. The Bible is creative in nature, and so is humanity and the rest of creation by design. All things are created by God and can be used for His glory! All people are created in God’s image and can worship Him in spirit, truth, and creativity! Did you know that the first spiritual gift mentioned in the Bible was artistic? When God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai, God filled Bezalel with His Spirit for wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and craftsmanship to create artistic designs and to build the ark of the covenant (Exodus 31:1-6). 

There are so many ways of depicting the Bible itself, or characters and truths found in the Bible. For the Mapulana people, who love to do carvings of animals, ideas came up to create carvings of the Lion of Judah or a dove of peace. When thinking about sharing the Bible with others, one of the things the team talked about was face painting and drama to tell different biblical stories. 

An important topic we discussed was about redeeming things for the Lord, like musical instruments previously used for idol worship. God will renew all things in the right time (Matthew 19:28), but the Holy Spirit also gives us wisdom and discernment to know when the right time is (John 14:26). Please be praying for this amazing team as they tackle difficult topics like this with churches and communities. During the workshop we created a diagram to show different areas of the Mapulana communities; pray with us as the team works with every corner of society.

Helen van der Walt

Back to top


Calling all musicians - Jubilee Album!

Jubilee Album2025 marks 50 years of making the word of God accessible in people’s heart languages in southern Africa.

For Wycliffe South Africa this is a time of reflection, gratitude, and celebration as we look back on five decades of faith, inspiration, and community. As part of our celebration, we are thrilled to announce that we will be bringing together the greater WSA community and collaborating with a variety of artists, musicians, writers, and creatives to produce an album!

Throughout 2024, we will be running a number of exciting projects and competitions as a way of building up to the final album release in 2025. We ask for your prayers as we embark on this exciting journey.

If you’d like to be kept up to speed, please send us your details here:

Calling all artists - Jubilee Art Exhibition! 

Jubilee Art ExhibitionAs part of our 50th anniversary calendar in 2025, we are also planning to hold an art exhibition to celebrate and raise funds to support Bible Translation.

If you are interested in participating or know someone who is, please send us your name and email address using this form and we will keep you in the loop as plans unfold:

Your artwork on a 24/7 prayer video

Prayer ArtHéber Negrão from the Lausanne Movement is coordinating a 24/7 live stream prayer video in preparation for the 4th Lausanne Congress that will be held in Seoul in September 2024. The video will feature ethnic artwork from across the world. If you would like to contribute, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.

Growth Partners training

Growth Partners TrainingWe were privileged to have Linda Mwania from Growth Partners with us for three days of training on resource mobilisation. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, she worked with Resource Mobilisation (RM) and Marketing teams to start formulating a partnership development plan for the coming years.

Mesuli and Busani (our RM team) are continuing to work with her remotely, while Hellen and Jen work with Sean Walker from Growth Partners to develop and refine our communications and marketing approach.

subscribe newsletter heading

subscribe newsletter heading mobile