Friday, September 21, 2007

Open Source Mission - Gospel Translations

In my prior post, we discussed the strategic importance of making gospel centered books and articles available to the growing global evangelical church. In view of the limitations of current translation and publishing models, is there a way to tackle this problem leveraging the advantages of Web 2.0 world? I think so and here’s one proposed way to do it.

Since April, I have been involved in launching a new ministry initiative called Open Source Mission (OSM). OSM is a non-profit initiative to enable translation of contemporary evangelical materials from English to various languages through the power of mass collaboration. We believe that accessibility to biblically sound content is of strategic importance to the vitality of the growing church in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

There is an opportunity to bring translated Christian materials to the non-English speaking world by taking advantage of technology innovation and an “open source”, participatory model of translation. Our vision is to create a new, revolutionary, framework for translation by combining the following components:

• Global social network of volunteer translators
• Proven “open source” methodology
• Web 2.0 collaboration platform

In essence, what we hope to see are several ongoing translation projects fueled by the passion and skills of volunteer translators, resulting in an online reference portal of translated books and articles in a multitude of languages – all available for free.

The distinctive focus of OSM is simple -

Mass Collaboration - We want to enable translation through the mass collaboration of volunteer translators. We believe the Web 2.0 world has opened unique opportunities for collaboration through a community participatory model. Such models have been proven successful in other arenas. By applying methodologies similar to those used in an open source software projects like Linux or Web 2.0 projects like Wikipedia, we hope to effectively tackle the translation challenge.

Contemporary Gospel Centric Writings - We want to focus on contemporary, evangelical, gospel centric materials. We’re not interested in doing Bible translations – that’s best left to professionals. Nor are we planning to tackle historical writings (i.e. Puritans, Reformers, early Church Fathers) - there are sufficient hurdles in bridging the translation and cultural gap without undertaking the challenge of a historical gap as well. We're initially focused on contemporary translations from our partner organizations.

Leveraging Technology - We want to leverage technology to make these materials accessible. We believe that the trajectory of technology adoption in the developing nations means that the most effective and inexpensive way to get materials to our fellow Christians in these nations is to provide this material on the web, searchable, cross referenceable and free. (Did I mention the translated content will be available for FREE?)

OSM, together with partners like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Desiring God, 9 Marks and other like-minded organizations, will work on the Gospel Translation Project. The Gospel Translation Project involves building a "wikipedia type" portal of translated content at (Disclaimer: the portal is currently in beta and content is still being loaded onto the site.) Initially, our focus will be to work on translating materials from the aforementioned partners who have generously contributed to our translation permissions library.

If you find this intriguing, interesting, or possibly even inspiring, here’s how to get involved:

1. Check out the OSM website , learn more about what we do , offer feedback and please pray for the ministry.

2. If you are bilingual, please consider using your language skills in one of our projects. You can sign up on the OSM website or email our Ministry Coordinator, Andrew Mahr - By participating in one of our projects, your contribution will impact your fellow Christians for years to come.

3. Please help spread the word. If you're a blogger, please consider blogging about OSM and the Gospel Translation Project. This is a grassroots movement and thrives on individual volunteer initiative. If you should blog on this, please let others know of the need for translation and issue a gracious call for bilingual Christians to consider participating in this.

4. Also, consider linking to Open Source Mission on your sidebar and send Andrew an email to let him know. We need help to make this work and we'd love to have you get involved in some way...even if you can't translate.

Is it just a crazy idea or something that might change how translations get done? Let us know what you think.

We realize that we don't have all the answers but our hope is that, if the Lord wills, the Gospel Translation Project might be a blessing to many non-English speaking believers throughout the world.


Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI, Good to see this activity going on. We need more of it. These people are so appreciative of good Christian books, and the need is great. There are teachings getting in like prosperity, which this work can help curb, hopefully.

I hope more of this can be done across the board from the evangelical world.

HALFMOM said...

I think it's an awesome idea - if you can just find enough volunteer translators to help. That would be my concern - and then how to check the work to make sure the translation accurately represented the work would need to be checked too.

But to have it free for anyone to find like Wikepedia - that would be wonderful!

I don't speak other languages - but certainly I can add to the side bar and blog about what a great idea this is!

Every Square Inch said...


Thanks - we already have a registry of about 20 translators and hope in the first 3 months after launch (i.e. by end of 2007) to have twice that number. Not all of them are very active but we anticipate that about half of them will be.

Thanks for being willing to blog about it. Also, if you know of others who might be interested in this, please let them know.

Every Square Inch said...


You're right - the main purpose is bringing biblically sound theology to non-English speaking churches worldwide. It is somewhat motivated by the idea that in many places in the world, the prosperity gospel which began here has penetrated much of the church in Africa, Asia and Lat America.

Real Live Preacher said...

This is a creative idea. It's like a seed. It's planted and we'll see if it takes root. But we know ideas won't take root if not planted, so...Well done.

Every Square Inch said...


thanks for your encouraging is indeed like a seed...we can plant, water but only God can by His grace make it grow.

L.L. Barkat said...

Glad you put this up. When I blog about it, I'll want some things to link to.

The Hedonese said...

well thought out vision and strategy! Wud you like to share this link at the agora blog too? :)

Anonymous said...

Would this group be willing to translate the subtitles of the page at about the hidden origin of Scientology to enable people in non-english countries to escape its clutches? This is for the upcoming release of Firefox 3.1 and translators can install a beta from and just append &action=edit to the end of the page url.

Every Square Inch said...

Anon - I don't think it's a priority for the next year - we have lots of works to translate in 2009/2010