From Buddhist Monk to Bible Translator

“My dream is to have the Bible in my people’s language.”

Only God knew that Rafi’s* years spent in a Buddhist temple were preparing him for his role as a Bible translator. After living and learning among the monks for 10 years, Rafi is now a Christian who is dedicated to bringing God’s Word to the people of Bangladesh.

“My dream is to have the Bible in my people’s language,” says Rafi, who works with the Bible Society to translate the Bible into 45 minority languages. With the help of American Bible Society’s financial partners, that dream can soon become a reality!

Bible translation was not the goal of the monks who took Rafi in as a six-year-old boy. They saw him as one of seven children whose father couldn’t afford to feed them. From the age of 6 to 16, Rafi and 70 other orphans and children from poor families were raised and educated by the monks.

“All of us were child monks, shaving our heads and wearing red robes. We spent our daily life praying and learning,” he says. The monks taught him to read and write his heart language, which is a dialect of Burmese, as well as two other languages — Bengali and Pali.

“I was among the intelligent boys who performed well, and the most senior monk hoped that one day I would become like him. He encouraged me and took good care of me,” says Rafi.

But at 17, he left the temple to attend Chittagong University, earning his bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees in social sciences and political science.

About three years after Rafi left the temple, he reconnected with a distant uncle who is a Christian. “Thanks to him, I came to know the Gospel and Jesus Christ and was baptized,” he says.

Rafi’s language skills were noticed by Bible translators working in Bangladesh. They sent him for linguistic training where, again, he excelled and was hired as a translator by the Bible Society. Since then, the Bible has been his life — both at home and at work.

“I am thankful to God for leading me during all these years, and for giving me the intelligence and opportunity to learn and to translate the Bible into the language of my people,” says Rafi.

And American Bible Society thanks our financial partners for bringing the Bible to waiting people groups through servants like Rafi!

*Name changed for security

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