CSM celebrates 40th language translation of Simple Truths
From humble beginnings and limited expectations, June 2018 saw the completion of the 40th language translation of Simple Truths for the New Believer. When asked about the milestone, Clear and Simple Media founder, Tom Castor, simply said,
Our “little book” is being used in places we would never have expected by people we could never have imagined. God has been incredibly gracious to us. For that, we are thankful.
Simple Truths had its genesis in a modest project intended to meet a specific need in SE Asia. Beginning in 1999, Tom had started to travel to Vietnam to teach in a project connected to Canadian Baptist Seminary and South East Asia Training (SEATS). As the result of a week long class in 2004 in which translation was moving from English to Vietnamese to a tribal language and back, Tom asked himself (and the powers that be), “How can we be certain that the students were understanding what we said, and further, that they were passing it along to their students (churches)?”
The answer, “Why don’t we see if we can find out?” So, Tom returned and climbed on the back of a motorbike with a digital recorder and a set of questions. He and his Vietnamese driver and guide, Pastor Hue, made several stops over three days recording faith stories and then asking questions like, “Where did the world come from?” and “What does it mean to be made in God’s image?”
They (with language helpers) transcribed and translated the material and, as a result, decided that a small catechism might be in order to fill some of the “gaps” they discovered. Such a set of questions and answers could help the church train its new believers and also give some basic means of examining those who might aspire to ministry. Susan Moore helped Tom develop the first draft in 2006. The English version was then translated into Vietnamese and eventually into three additional Vietnamese tribal languages. With that, Tom believed that the project was complete. But, vver the next several years, as other missionaries and pastors came across the little book, they thought it might be helpful to their people as well.
And the little book “escaped”.
George Verwer of Operation Mobilisation (OM) decided that 10,000 copies ought to be distributed at the World Cup matches in South Africa – and so they were. Another 50,000 were distributed in India (Hindi translation). By 2012, the book had been translated into 14 languages with a few more being added every few years.
Since that time, mission agencies and church-planting networks from Africa, South America, Europe, the Middel East, Central and SE Asia have requested that CSM make the book available in additional languages. With the completion of the Cerma language for Burkina Faso, CSM has now put this small, evangelical catechism into 40 languages worldwide. Approximately 500,000 books have been printed and distributed and hundreds of electronic copies are downloaded each year.