Celebrating International Mother Language Day and Bible Translation Work

Join us as we pray for everyone to experience God’s Word in their mother language

On February 21, 1952, Bangladeshi students at Dhaka University set out to do something remarkable—preserve their beloved mother language of Bengali. They protested the current language policy which established Urdu as the only language to be taught in schools. Sadly, four students lost their lives that day.

In 1999, the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization declared February 21, International Mother Language Day, recognizing their brave efforts and the right of all to speak their mother tongue. On this day we celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity and promote efforts to protect and preserve all languages.

Bible Translation is Preserving Endangered Languages

Languages are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. Multilingual speakers are often forced to use popular languages, making them less likely to pass on their own language to a new generation. Around a third of the approximate 7,000 languages spoken today are considered endangered, having dwindled to fewer than 1,000 speakers.

One way to preserve lost and dying languages is through Bible translation. Translating Scripture into one’s mother tongue revitalizes the language within the community by providing resources that document and preserve the language, while also bringing spiritual revitalization and hope to unreached communities.

Today, a collective impact alliance of Bible translation partners and resource partners, known as illumiNations, is working together to make God’s Word accessible to all people by 2033.

And thanks to their dedicated efforts, people around the world are experiencing the hope found in God’s Word in their mother language. Just like the Emakhuwa Christians in Mozambique’s Nampula province. Check out this video as they celebrate the completion and distribution of a new translation of the Emakhuwa Bible.

Please join us as we pray that all people will experience the beauty and transforming power of God’s Word in their mother tongue. Also, to help you pray for Bible translation work, check out this 5-day prayer guide.

Let’s Pray Together

Father, on this International Mother Language Day, we celebrate global efforts to preserve languages thus keeping cultures alive and embracing diversity. We pray for all Bible translation efforts. We ask you to grant grace, resources, and wisdom to those carrying out the work. We also pray for the completion of Bible translation projects so that every person on earth can encounter Jesus in the pages of Scripture. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

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Nena Podbury
Nena Podbury

Nena Podbury is a Prayer Mobilization Associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

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