According to Robert Harmon, the Wycliffe coordinator for the Pacific region, teaching natives the English language so they understand the Bible, commentaries and other printed matter enables them to then translate the Bible into their own languages.
Harmon points out that Papua New Guinea alone has 850 different languages. Indonesia has over 300. About 1,500 of the 6,800 languages in the world are in the South Pacific. In Papua New Guinea there are 350 translations that have not yet been started. Harmon adds that he has attended dedications of new translations where there are usually major celebrations.
"It's really cool to see the excitement, enthusiasm and just the joy on their faces that they're getting God's Word in their language for the first time," he explains.
"What particularly touches my heart is their response, which is, Now, God speaks our language. I don't have to learn a foreign language anymore to read about God. Now he's our God."
Harmon is one of several Wycliffe translators on a speaking tour around the nation, holding 25 banquets in five weeks in four states.