Still traveling, but beginning to feel aimless, one night they pulled off a dirt road in a remote area of British Columbia and Gleason got out some translations and other books they had with them. Filled with a purpose that he could not explain, armed with a notebook and small torch, he began to translate the Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7), into a series of simple easy-to-read sentences.
He was amazed that in a few evenings he had completed the task, and read the results to Kathryn who also was pleased. The result was very gratifying and he felt that the Lord wanted him to continue, and so with God as his right hand, he wrote furiously translating the New Testament.
What had originally been thought of by him as impossible now become possible. He saw for himself that God empowers you when he calls you to a task and without further adieu the translation of the New Life Version of the Holy Bible had begun.
Instead of reaching people personally in remote areas, the Ledyards now devoted their energies to sitting at a desk and translating the books of the New Testament. It was quite a change, but they diligently pursued the new challenge God had given them.
They set up some significant guidelines for the work:
- do a lot of research;
- try to use only one meaning for each word;
- use short phrases to translate all difficult words;
- keep the sentences short as much as possible.
As parts of the New Testament were completed, they sent to their completed manuscripts to fellow missionaries for their response and see what they felt that they did not address or had ignored. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the work continued.
The task of translating the entire New Testament proved to be a daunting . They had estimated that it would be a two-year project, but the work actually required four years of very long days.
The total word count at the completion of the project yielded only 850 words plus proper names making their goal of a Bible vocabulary simple complete. Now though they had to find a venue to publish their work. To this end, they created a non-profit organization, Christian Literature International, to publish and distribute the New Life New Testament. Soon 125,000 copies were in the hands of Indians all across the U.S., Canada, and Alaska. But circulation was not limited to North America. People from around the world were asking for copies, and the new version soon circled the globe.
The huge success of the New Life New Testament raised a significant question: Should the Old Testament be done as well?