Grinding to a halt

September 29th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

What do you find encouraging? We think that making progress in a task or towards a goal can be very encouraging and can help us press on. Conversely, watching others moving forwards when we ourselves are not can be very discouraging.

img_2475The latter is the situation in which our colleagues in the Koro-Waci project of Nigeria find themselves. They are part of the Koro cluster project where several teams from related languages are being trained together but each working on their own translation.

The Koro-Waci team has been reduced from two translators to one and it seems that one person is not easily able to work alone, so the project has effectively ground to a halt. This is very discouraging for all who are involved, not only for the translator but the community leaders and technical experts who support the project. Perhaps it is especially discouraging as the other teams in the cluster are making good progress with their translations.

Praise God for the progress being made in the Koro cluster as a whole and that the Koro-Waci project is fully funded.

Please pray for breakthrough in these ways:

  • for the right people and creative ways to engage with the Koro-Waci community
  • against discouragement and that the Waci church leaders will find renewed vision and enthusiasm for Bible translation
  • that the church can find the right people to be translators
  • that these people can be trained well in the right skills, knowledge and would above all have the enthusiasm and persistence to push through these challenges the project is facing.

Find out how to pray for the Koro cluster projects regularly.

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‘Follow what the Lord is telling you…’

September 26th, 2016 by Camilla

Lina couldn’t even look at Margie like a daughter, or talk to her. Her family had sacrificed, so Margie could get her nursing degree. But now she wanted to be a missionary. Margie felt the persistent sting of her mother’s rejection.

In her sorrow, Margie turned to her father, Liborio. His comforting words were, ‘Follow what the Lord is telling you in your heart.’

follow what the lord is telling youAs a little girl, Margie tagged alongside Liborio to a missionary’s house, where translation of the Kalanguya New Testament was underway. Liborio served the project team as a language resource worker.

When the Kalanguya New Testament was printed, Liborio often read it with his daughter.

After university, Margie had to wait a year to get her nursing license. She spent time working as a nurse in a Kalanguya tribal centre for university students. When time permitted, she helped revise the New Testament — the same one her father had worked on.

A co-worker invited her to a translation workshop. There she was amazed to see mother-tongue speakers translating the Bible into their own languages.

I could also do this! Margie thought. Margie became a translator with the launch of the Kalanguya Old Testament project. Then, at 24, she took over as manager of the tribal centre overseeing the centre’s dormitories and running a discipleship program for students.

Lina observed her daughter’s growth and passion for her work. ‘It opened her eyes to the vastness of work she could be involved in, in service to God,’ Margie says.

In time, it became difficult for Margie to manage the centre and be a translator. “When my mum realised the eternal benefits of what I was doing, she realised that she and my dad could help me in the ministry,” Margie says.

Liborio and Lina became managers and dorm parents at the tribal centre. ‘It was God’s doing, all of it, because I was not equipped to manage and take care of that many young people,’ Margie says. Thanks to her parents’ assistance, she completed a master’s degree in applied linguistics.

Liborio served at the tribal centre for seven years before he died in Margie’s arms in June 2010. His final words were again to encourage her to ‘follow what the Lord is telling you.’ Lina continues to manage the centre today.

Read more about how you could get involved in Bible translation.

Crafting kingdom prayers

September 22nd, 2016 by Camilla

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matt. 13:31-32

Today we want to inspire you to get creative in your praying. Using these two verses as your inspiration, think about which aspects of the kingdom of heaven you want to see most in the missions, countries or people God lays on your heart to pray for.

  • Draw/paint/create a tree representing the kingdom of God. Your tree can be as simple or as extravagant as you like – a line drawing is fine, or you could try finger paint, fabric scraps or twigs. The size iimg_5650s also up to you – you can make it as a bookmark, or a mural on the wall if you have the space!
  • Once you’ve got something on your canvas, get creative and adorn your tree with whatever you like – different coloured branches, blossoms, fruit, birds, etc…
  • Big branches can represent different aspects of the kingdom of God/parts of the world, different topics or different people you want to pray for, while smaller branches on your tree can represent sub-topics, and your decorative details may represent specific things too. Label branches with prayer headings, or write prayer requests directly on the paper, incorporating your words into the artwork.

Mine, as you can see, is very simple (I’m not exactly the world’s best artist…). I quilled my rainbow leaves, which turned out to be very easy once I’d found a YouTube tutorial. Feel free to make yours as simple or as complex as you like!

Want more creative prayer ideas? Why not try Chocolate chip prayers?

What language do soft toys speak?

September 19th, 2016 by Camilla

Jesus talks to people in lots of different ways. Until recently, I wasn’t aware that Jesus sometimes speaks very clearly through animals (apart from that talking donkey in Numbers 22:28).

So the question remains: what language do soft toys actually speak?

Turns out they do talk – and there’s no limit to the number of different languages they could be speaking. A great new sub-species of soft toy called the Wildlife STORY TELLER comes in the shape of tigers, elephants, lambs, lions, and teddy bears, with an audio Bible inside. Wildlife STORY TELLERS provide vulnerable, hurting children (or adults) with a soft, furry, tangible way to engage with the Bible.

toy-with-audio-bibleThese soft toys arrive ready to tell Bible stories as well as play the audio adaptation from the JESUS Film in the recipient’s heart language. These amazing furry friends are the result of a partnership between the JESUS Film, Global Recordings Network, MegaVoice and Simply the Story.

Though soft and furry, the impact these animals have is not inconsequential. Read what MegaVoice say on their own website:

‘Susan, the visionary behind the partnership, describes the effect the Wildlife STORY TELLER had on a disabled boy in Guatemala: “The second the child felt the tiger’s soft fur, his face lit right up. When he pushed the little audio button, the tiger began to tell him a Bible story — in his own language.”

In South Asia, Latha, a child bride whose husband sold her into prostitution, faced daily abuse. One morning Christian aid workers found Latha badly beaten lying in the rain beside a road. They quickly took her to the hospital along with a bag of supplies — including a Wildlife STORY TELLER bear with audio Bible.

Day and night, Latha clung to her bear and listened to the stories about Jesus—including the audio adaptation of the JESUS film in her heart language. By the end of her stay, everyone in the ward knew the stories. A non-believing doctor remarked that the presence of prayer and truth in that dark place changed the lives of everyone at the hospital.’

I take my hat off to those involved in making these talking furry friends, whose gentle presence and delivery of God’s word will come to be treasured by many.

Read the original story on MegaVoice’s website and watch a video about Wildlife STORY TELLERS.

Pray for Chad

September 15th, 2016 by Camilla

Chad, a country in Central Africa, has a population of 11 million people speaking over 100 languages.

SIL Chad, our primary partner conducting Bible translation there, have put together some prayer goals for the next two years. We want to encourage you to stand in the gap for this SIL organisation with us.

137(!) different languages are spoken in Chad, and to date, only ten of these have the whole Bible. The SIL team in Chad is comprised of 36 expat volunteers and 18 national workers, working to make the Bible available to ever more people in a language they fully understand.

It’s exciting times for this SIL organisation. Several New Testaments and full Bibles are nearing completion, in the following languages: Chadian Arabic, Guerguiko, Migaama, Mango and Garab.

Pray as they:

  • nurture and release domain consultants and specialists to serve Bible translation and language development movements in Chad and beyond
  • further embrace a servant attitude to respond flexibly to opportunities to serve the Chadian church
  • continue to develop a healthy SIL Chad community, particularly in the domains of prayer and communication
  • participate in the Central Africa Basin zonal collaboration initiative, sharing their needs and resources
  • pray for Scriptures nearing completion; that God would highlight any necessary last-minute changes, that each launch would be a success and that God would use the Scriptures to really touch people’s hearts

Want more fuel for prayer? Check out our Daily Prayer page and subscribe!

Surely Australia doesn’t need Bible translation?

September 12th, 2016 by Camilla

When you think about Bible translation, which countries pop up in your head first? Probably not Australia.

Australia is generally thought of as a white Anglo-Saxon, English-speaking country. But in fact, Australia has an Indigenous population of 500,000, speaking over 200 distinct languages – different from each other and certainly different to English! Though many Indigenous Australians speak English, for most, it isn’t their first language, which means an English Bible translation won’t speak to their heart. For this reason, Wycliffe Australia and partners are working with these language groups to translate the Bible and make the Scriptures accessible to Indigenous Australians.

The Kriol* Bible, the first full Bible in an Indigenous Australian language, was launched in 2007, and represented a major milestone in Australian Bible translation history. It marked a change in the status of Australian Indigenous languages. Australia has a sad history of racism and lack of respect for Indigenous languages and culture. Despite Kriol having over 30 000 speakers, when the Kriol translation project started all those years ago, Kriol was a despised language, and some people doubted it was even possible to translate the Bible into Kriol.

Starting a Bible translation project in Kriol put the language on the linguistic map, recognising it as a language in its own right, and brought appreciation and respect to a marginalised people group. Over 100 people were involved in the Kriol Bible translation, and it took 30 years to complete.

Though the wait for a full Bible in an Australian Indigenous language has been long, the first Scripture portions were published in the Indigenous language Ngarrindjeri as early as 1864!
The Torres Strait Creole Shorter Bible, due to be released in July 2014, will be the thirteenth New Testament or Shorter Bible published (a shorter Bible includes parts of the Old Testament as well the New Testament) in this part of the world. Smaller portions of the Bible have also been published in 30 more Indigenous languages. Some of the Bibles are available online – check them out for yourself!

*Kriol is considered an Indigenous language, even though it is a pidgin-type language based on English.

Is it news to you that Australia needs Bible translation? Take a look at this page on our website for an overview of how many people are still waiting for the Bible in their language, and where these languages are spoken.

Bible translation 101: Why is literacy important?

September 8th, 2016 by Camilla

You probably know that Wycliffe Bible Translators does more than what it says on the tin – in addition to translating the Bible for language communities big and small across the world, we also have a passion for empowering people to engage with the word of God (Scripture engagement), and literacy.

high-voltage-1553669-640x480What does literacy mean to you? Maybe not all that much, if you’ve never needed to navigate the world without it. But learning to read isn’t just about being able to read the Bible and other books.

What if you couldn’t read vital information on a medicine bottle? What if you couldn’t email your best friend when they moved to another town? What if you couldn’t even tell the time? These are all everyday tasks most people in the Western world do without thinking – but these tasks all require a certain level of literacy.

Exclusively oral communities may also face major barriers to higher education, earning money, and community development.

Wycliffe Bible Translators wants to unlock new opportunities for people groups who have been limited by a lack of literacy.

We work with communities to develop intuitive writing systems (or orthographies, to use the technical term) that language communities recognise as their own and that help adults and children learn to read within as short a time as possible. How long it takes to learn to read varies from language to language and person to person, but an adult who is new to reading may learn to read confidently within six months to a year.

‘…for a long time, there were no [Ngbaka] schools at all. Now I am very glad to be learning to read and write. Now I am educated! I can read and write in Ngbaka. I can read and understand God’s word, and now we have the entire Bible in our language!’ – a woman from the Ngbaka community of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pray for literacy around the world!

  • Pray that God would inspire Wycliffe workers as they work to unlock opportunities for people groups through literacy.
  • Pray for harmony and consensus as teams develop intuitive writing systems for previously unwritten languages.
  • Pray that literacy would open doors around the world not only for people to engage with the Bible, but for large-scale community change.

Want to connect with or start supporting a specific project or missionary? Get the ball rolling on our Connect page.

New Scripture launch in Tanzania!

September 5th, 2016 by Camilla

One of our friends on the ground, Mark Woodward, writes about the recent celebration:

‘Last week I had the privilege of joining with the Mbugwe language community in Tanzania’s Manyara Region as they celebrated the publication of the books of Ruth and Jonah in their language. Apart from some old Mbugwe Scriptures that are now out of print, these are the first books that have been produced in the Mbugwe language.

Mbugwe laughingThe day started off with a service at the Catholic church, and continued with a parade bringing in the box of books. As the honoured guest at the celebration I then opened the box, and lifted up the books for the gathered crowd to see. I tried to read the first couple of verses of the book of Jonah, stumbling through the Mbugwe words that I couldn’t understand!

Immediately people came forward with money to buy the books, but they were asked to be patient until the celebration had finished!

Emmanuel Shishe, one of the Mbugwe translators, then read part of each of the books, and spoke about them in Mbugwe, which was also translated into Swahili. The atmosphere was electric as people responded to what was being said in Mbugwe, and there was a lot of joy and laughter!

After several more choirs and much drumming and dancing, I was asked to address the gathering, and to respond to the speech given by the chairman of the Mbugwe language committee. I thanked all who had been involved in the project – translators, international linguists and advisors, church leaders, the language committee and many others who had volunteered their time – and reminded us that if we are to proceed with producing more materials, it has to be a communal effort. We are all like parts of a body, and the body cannot function unless every part does its job.

Several of our office team were then given gifts, with some of us also given Mbugwe names (I was given the name “Tajala”) to commemorate the occasion. The Mbugwe clothes we were given signified being born into the community, and the stick signified becoming an elder. The two-pronged end, and dark and light colours, were said to represent the coming together of different people from different places, to serve the Mbugwe community together.

Afterwards all 100 copies of each book were quickly sold, with requests for more to be printed as soon as possible. Our hope is that the books will be well used, and that the community will continue to drive the project forward as we seek to work together in translating more books into the Mbugwe language.’

This blog post originally appeared on Mark’s own blog. Check it out for more pictures from the Mbugwe Scripture launch and more great stories from Tanzania!

What can I pray for when I’m praying blind?

September 1st, 2016 by Jo Johnson

Technology has revolutionised our ability to communicate well with those working overseas. When I first went overseas the only way to communicate with family, friends and supporters back in the UK was via airmail letters and we only had the opportunity to send and receive them when we went to town or someone from town visited us. Sometimes that would mean no communication with home for three to four weeks.

SK_Moz_7_41pNow of course we have email, Skype, various social media and instant messaging opportunities as well as mobile phones. These have made instant contact a reality but even so internet connections are not always available and mobile phone network coverage can be patchy. What do we pray then, when those we pray for haven’t been able to get in touch?

One family who works in West Africa recently broached this issue in their regular prayer letter. Here are their suggestions of how to pray. Depending on who you’re praying for, not all the items will be relevant, eg family-related items. If you’re praying for a single person, why not pray for other relationships with friends and colleagues and against loneliness, instead.

  • ‘Pray for us each to remember God as we go through each day. We’re blessed that our routine accommodates our quiet times well, but it’s easy to forget about God once we’ve finished reading the Bible!
  • Pray for us in our marriage, that we would be patient and understanding towards each other even when we’re feeling hot, tired and frustrated!
  • Pray for us as parents; our children are growing up in a very different context to anything we knew at their age, and we need constant wisdom to know how to help them make sense of life and to point them to Jesus.
  • Pray for our children that they would trust in Jesus as their saviour. Having parents as Christians does not give them an automatic pass into heaven!
  • Pray for us at work, that we would be joyful and diligent and make a useful contribution to the work of Bible translation.
  • Pray for us in our neighbourhood, that we would see and seize every opportunity to share our faith, and that God would work in our neighbours’ hearts to soften them to him.
  • Please pray for our physical protection from illness, accident and disaster, and the faith to trust when these things threaten us in reality or imagination.’

If you are looking for more information to help you pray for Bible translation, why not check out our goody bags? Use them alone or share them with your friends or small group.

Bible Translation 101: Scripture engagement

August 29th, 2016 by Camilla

Wycliffe Bible Translators does more than just translate the Bible. Through our work in the areas of Bible translation, literacy and Scripture engagement, we see God opening minds to understand Scripture and see lives transformed by God’s love and word expressed in languages and cultures all over the world.

This post is the fourth in our Bible Translation 101 series, giving you a window into our world to learn more about our main focuses: Bible translation, literacy and Scripture engagement.

A man listens to the audio Scriptures for the first time at the Naro New Testament Dedication in November of 2012.

A man listens to the audio Scriptures for the first time at the Naro New Testament Dedication in November of 2012.

You might think Scripture engagement is a focus area for after the full Bible has been printed – in fact Scripture engagement is necessary before anything is translated and throughout the whole process!

So what is Scripture engagement? It’s more than telling people to read their Bibles! Scripture engagement is:

  • building relationships with people in the community
  • promoting local ownership of a Bible translation project
  • deciding what format to produce and distribute Scripture in (whether a book, videos, recordings, etc)
  • teaching and modelling how to engage with the Bible and put it into practice in our daily lives (this may include teaching about how to meditate on God’s word, how to lead a Bible study, how to use listening devices to listen to audio recordings of Scripture, etc
  • identifying needs for, developing and distributing materials that will help people engage with the Bible
  • working with local musicians, actors, storytellers and artists to create ethnically authentic worship songs and Scripture presentations (EthnoArts)

Are you enjoying our Bible Translation 101 series? Are there other Wycliffe basics you want to see featured on our blog? Why not drop us a line at communications@wycliffe.org.uk.