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Our Journey in Bible Translation

Beginning a missionary journey is nothing more than continuing what God has already started. That was how ALEM took its first steps when it was founded on August 12, 1982; continuing the work that North American translators had begun in Brazil.

We celebrated our 40th anniversary on August 12, 2022. Today we are working in 19 language projects in Brazil and 10 others spread across six countries.

I could continue writing about the number of missionaries that ALEM has integrated into its staff, or about the important meetings we took part in, or about the moments of great joy over a newly translated, consulted, and approved Bible portion. Instead, I would like to think about the 40 years of faithfulness of our Sovereign God, and about how grateful we are.



Partnership with the Local Church

Along the road there are signs that bring calm:
the local church is supporting you here, there, and everywhere  

By God’s grace we have partnered with some individual churches, men, and women, who understood that financial support is part of our work, along with prayer. Such partnership is not only necessary for sending missionaries to the field, but also in productively keeping them there.

One of our fundraising projects is P300, which has the objective of raising up partners among ecclesiastical institutions, as well as among men and women who desire to form individual partnerships, with the purpose of maintaining the ALEM Missionary Training Center, the CTA



The Missionary Calling of the Church

Where would we go? Our loving Guide is the One who knows, and He takes pleasure in leading each one, showing them every pebble in the road, every place of refreshment.

Our missionary sending model is mirrored in Acts 13, where God, through His Spirit, finds a mature and vibrant church, which was fasting and praying to understand God's leading in fulfilling their calling. In obedience to the Holy Spirit, the Church of Antioch set apart a team, diverse in its gifts, and from different social backgrounds.



Prayer as Missions

You know that one item that absolutely cannot be missing on a journey? Well…

On a trail, we are always facing challenges that we need to overcome. When we are thirsty, we have the canteen; at night, the lantern; when we get hurt, we have the first aid kit. Prayer is like one of these supplies that has sustained our missionaries in the field so that they could be prepared to overcome every challenge in the Bible translation ministry.


It is necessary to stay close to the Guide to avoid the risk of getting lost along the way, as He is the one who knows the path to follow. In fact, He is the way! Without Him we can't go anywhere; without Him we can do nothing. The closer we are to Him, the closer we will be to each other because the Lord Jesus is our point of convergence. The closer we are to Him, the closer we are to those who are close to Him.



Missionary Training

Now we can move forward with more confidence and security!

The compass, like prayer and financial support, is one of the provisions that the missionary needs in order to follow his path. In our Linguistics and Missiology Course (CLM) we seek to offer our students the theoretical and practical foundations that will help them in the process of understanding culture, as well as providing tools for language acquisition and linguistic analysis, with Bible translation and intercultural education in view.



Arrival on the Cross-Cultural Field

Arriving at the final destination… or better… starting a new journey!

After around 60 hours of travel from São Paulo to Papua, plus four hours of layover and two hours on a small SIL plane, I finally arrived in the mountains where the Ukarumapa community is located.

The first impression I had when I saw the mission base was that it was a very beautiful, full of flowers, but that it was very American. On the first day, after so many hours of travels and farewells, I panicked thinking about what I was doing so far from home and everything and everyone I know. But the next day I managed to see a lot of good things.


By Hadassa Zorzetti


Starting a New Language Program

Always keeping an eye on the Path!
When walking the earth, Jesus identified Himself with the people,
He went to them so that they could abide in Him.

In 2015 we entered the mission field where we work with great enthusiasm; the financial, logistical, linguistic, and cultural challenges were enormous, but we knew the Lord would be with us.

During the first years, we dedicated ourselves to getting into the culture and learning the language; there wasn’t much material available that could us help in this process. We lived for almost four years in one of the villages, and in the following year we began living in the vicinity of the village in order to start translating the Bible. In the meantime, our youngest daughter, Jael, was born.


by the Tuwapi (fictitious name) Project


Bible Translation

Books in the process of translation


Books Translated

23 (57%)

Bible verses in process of translation


Translated Bible verses

1.097 (27%)


Finishing the Henahi New Testament Translation

The translator's best journey is with that apparent uncertainty of someone who “…cannot say where he comes from or where he is going…”
(John 3:8)

When we start a Bible translation job, we don't know if we will be able to finish it. It's a work with so many variables that it's very difficult for the same person who started it to finish it.


Carole Lee Swain is very privileged. In the early 1970s, she began to work on the Ninam New Testament Translation (Henahi Project) and she lived to see it completed. However, she didn't finish it alone. In 2008, after 5 years of living in the village, having learned the language and culture of the Ninam people, and having taken cross-cultural preparation courses (including CLM), Rosa and I joined the translation team. At that time, there were still 12 books to be translated. Rosa and I finished those other 12, in 12 and a half years.


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The Journey Continues

He’s a guy and he puts things in his backpack!… Will you need anything else? Is anything left? Better review everything with someone who has experience with the journey.

After working in a translation project, a natural path for a translator is to become a Bible Translation Consultant. Rosa and I had thought about it, but we didn't know if we would be able to finish the Ninam NT. Nevertheless, we were still excited to make some changes in our ministry. At that point, becoming a translation consultant was a distant dream.


However, ALEM has a broad vision for Translation work. Thus I, Jacqueline, began my internship to become a Certified Translation Consultant. My internship started in January 2021 and will last for five years. In this first part of my preparation, I am studying to increase my theoretical knowledge for my certification. Rosa is supporting the new translation team for the Ninam Old Testament project, while waiting to begin her internship to become a consultant



The Mission of the Church and New Callings

There are times when you get tired… as the hiking veteran says! And there are times when the vigor, the will power, and the thirst for learning of young people create a connection between generations, full of energy to go much further

The nature of God's mission involves the entire church, without exceptions. As the Lausanne Covenant says, “World evangelism requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” This is only possible if our Christian communities develop discipleship cycles for new people called to ministry. If the Word is genuinely preached, the natural result will be the ongoing discovery of new callings.




After crossing mountains and valleys, we kneel in gratitude to God, contemplating the beauty of the step we have completed and the privilege of being part of the great journey that will only end when people from all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages stand before the Throne and the Lamb!

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