The process of translating the Bible for people who have never had it in their own language requires an understanding of their way of life. Only through that understanding can we properly communicate the complex, powerful concepts found in the Bible.
For example, we are called to love God with all of our hearts, and we often talk about accepting Jesus “into our hearts.” But in many cultures around the world, the heart is not considered the center of the emotions. Consider the Awa people of Papua New Guinea, who express feelings and importance with the liver. They wouldn’t say “I love you with all of my heart”; they would say something along the lines of “I love you with all of my liver.”
Cultural context aside, we must also consider the many complexities of language. For example, some languages have multiple ways to describe something that may be a single-word concept in English, while other languages may not have a word for that concept at all. And some languages take entirely different forms, like those that are whistled or signed. (There are nearly 400 different sign languages in the world, and most of them are without any part of the Bible!)
All of these factors help explain why Bible translation takes so much time, dedication and personal investment. And in the end, nothing can replace that personal connection.