Combrink Chronicles


Our vision: The Word of God in their heart language

Have you ever wondered how hard it must be to NOT have Scripture in your heart language? We do not usually miss the things we have, until we are forced to go without them. Consider your car: you do not readily consider its significance until it breaks down and you have to get around without it. Only then do you realise how much you depend on it and what a struggle and frustration it is to go without it. So, too, it is with the Word of God!

Many people around the world still do not have Scripture in their language. They daily experience the frustration of trying to read God's word in a language of wider communication; many have never even heard the Gospel proclaimed in the language of their heart. It is estimated that about 340 million people are still without a Bible or New Testament in their language. For a summary of the Bible translation statistics worldwide, please visit this link.

Aware of this great need, we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1996 with a desire to be part of the process of facilitating Scripture translation. After our period of training in linguistics and translation in Melbourne, Australia, in 1997, we returned to South Africa in 1998 for a year to build a support base. We were seconded to work with SIL International in Malaysia and arrived here in April 1999. We spent the first 8 months learning Malay to gain the necessary language proficiency. In the year 2000 we were invited by the Kenyah language community to assist them in the process of language development and Scripture translation.

SIL International is a faith-based nonprofit organisation committed to serving language communities worldwide as they build capacity for sustainable language development. SIL does this primarily through research, translation, training and materials development.

SIL's service with ethnolinguistic minority communities is motivated by the belief that all people are created in the image of God, and that languages and cultures are part of the richness of God's creation. Thus, SIL’s service is founded on the principle that communities should be able to pursue their social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual goals without sacrificing their God-given ethnolinguistic identity. Though faith-based, SIL limits its focus of service to language development work. SIL does not engage in proselytism, establish churches or publish Scriptures.

In Malaysia, SIL serves language communities by facilitating the process of language development and Scripture translation.

Language development is the series of ongoing planned actions that a language community takes to ensure that its language continues to serve its changing social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual needs and goals. SIL's expertise related to language development includes training and consulting for activities such as linguistic analysis, orthography and writing systems development, literature development and multilingual education and literacy.

Translation in SIL focuses on research and development in translation theory and practice; academic training programs related to translation; consultant and technical support for producing quality translations of texts; and building capacity within ethnolinguistic minority communities to be able to translate the materials of particular interest to them. Materials that SIL helps to translate include books and booklets for educational programs, stories related to culture and folklore, health and community development resources and Scripture texts. SIL facilitates the translation of Scripture in contexts where such activity is within the scope of SIL’s working agreements and where translation of Scripture texts has been identified as a needed resource for spiritual development. The translation goals for each language are decided in close interaction with communities and partner agencies, thus Scripture translation is not always included in SIL’s language development services.

By working in partnership with a multitude of agencies and organisation and facilitating the process of language development and Scripture translation for local language communities, we hope to give individuals and communities the opportunity to realise their social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual goals.


Though we work with SIL, our comments on this website are our own and do not necessarily reflect SIL's perspective nor its varied kinds of work around the world.

Please do not post, publish or redistribute any information on this site without our written permission. 


Around the world there are still around 2,000 languages communities without adequate access to Scripture in their language. The good news is that the pace of translating the Good News is accelerating! Work is currently underway in more than 1,600 language communities globally.

Language Development and Scripture Translation in Malaysia