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YouVersion and illumiNations vision to see New Testament translated for 99.9% of the world's population gaining momentum

by Chantalle Edmunds

The founder of the YouVersion Bible App has told Premier the rapid development of technology and translation work means 95 percent of the global population could have access to a full Bible by 2033.

YouVersion has partnered with illumiNations to support the wide-ranging project which also aims to see the New Testament translated for 99.9% of the world's population by that date.

Bobby Gruenewald says difficulties with translation has been a historic barrier: "There's a lot of languages that are spoken in the world that people may not be aware of how many languages are spoken. So it's well over 6000 languages. But unfortunately, in spite of the fact that we've had the Bible in English, you know, for many years, we take it for granted that there are still many people and thousands of languages that actually have no access to Scripture at all, no scripture in their heart language. They might speak another language, but it's not their heart language, the language that they spoke when they were young. And so we're definitely excited about being a part of an effort to change that and make that reality different going forward."

New methodologies and technology are aiding the acceleration of Bible translation and Gruenewald says a collaborative effort is accelerating the pace of making the bible accessible worldwide.

"Donors have come together to say let's support this collective effort that's happening. That combined with new methodologies and technology that's improved the speed of Bible translation, we think it's possible in most of our lifetimes here by 2033, to be able to see God's word translated into 100% of the languages; to see the New Testament available in 99.96% of the languages available, and the whole Bible, the entire Bible, translated in 95% of the languages, which is just really a goal that seemed impossible, and most people thought it would be at least another 100 or 200 years at the pace that we were going, but there's been a rapid acceleration, and it's still a lot of work to come, but there's definitely hope and a sense of that to be possible by 2033.

The YouVersion Bible app has seen its biggest years of growth during the pandemic, with the video content added to the app, one of its most popular features. 

"We've seen like 500 percent growth year over year," Gruenewald told Premier.

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