NRSI: Going after even greater impact

January 19th, 2017 by Camilla

We want to encourage you to stand with the NRSI in prayer as they regroup, reassess and enter a new phase.

The Non-Roman Script Initiative (NRSI, a department of our primary partner SIL International), which works to provide computing resources for minority language groups around the world, has now been going for 20 years and they feel now may be the time for them to reassess their role and priorities. We’d like to stand with them in prayer as they hold their annual team meetings in Germany this February.

Stories of the impact of translated Scripture, like the one you’re about to read, inspire the team to press on with their highly technical work. Scheherazade font, developed by NRSI, was used to print the New Testament using Arabic script in a specific language in a secret location. The book is beautifully presented and is immediately respected because of the script, and those who see it want to read it.

Many clerics have read it in secret and become believers – some forfeiting their lives by doing so. Without really trying too hard, the entire initial print run has been distributed to people of this language group all over the area. The results have been astounding.

People who have never read anything in their own language before pick this up and just start reading. Many of those who can read this script are sincere truth seekers and when they read the message, they are almost immediately willing to commit their lives to it.

They spend long hours reading the New Testament cover to cover. They read it so much that some of their New Testaments look tattered and well used even though they are fairly new. A large reprint of these Scriptures is being printed now and is planned for distribution among this increasingly closed off nomadic population. This is so encouraging, as NRSI staff rarely see the direct impact of their work and when they do, it can be years after they have finished their part.

Pray for the NRSI team and their work! Pray that:

  • The impact they have already seen would only be the beginning, and that God would use this New Testament to turn many more hearts to him.
  • The seeds of all their work would be fruitful, and have greater, wider and deeper impact than the team has asked for or imagined.
  • God would guide and inspire their meetings together in Germany, and lead them forward in the way that brings most glory to his name.

Read more about designing fonts and how this important work fits into the big picture of Bible translation.

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Lifted out of depression by good news

January 16th, 2017 by Camilla

John and Anita have given their lives to teaching others about Jesus and together, they’ve lead many in Shaikarawe, Botswana to faith.

Both describe the stark contrast between their lives now and the lives they lived outside of knowing God years ago. Although Anita attended church from a young age, she wasn’t always a believer.

out-of-depressionJohn also heard the Bible early on in life but struggled to believe until much later. It wasn’t until after he had married Anita that his life changed forever. John is partially deaf in both ears, and he has to work hard to make sure he catches people’s conversations. This disability has made it difficult for him to find work. He says that about four years ago, he fell into a deep depression about his life. He would spend all day at his house, barely moving.

Anita was already a believer by this time and had just received a Bible from a local missionary. Worried about John, she brought a Setswana translated Bible to him one day and left it by his side while he was sleeping.

John says, ‘When I got the Bible, it was like my mind stopped working. I read the Bible for three days, just reading, reading.’

The hunger to know more and more continued to grow in John. Soon, he was carrying this Bible with him everywhere and telling everyone he met about the good news inside. Anita and John are now very involved in their local church, and John is studying to learn to read the San dialect of Khwedam, his heart language, just so he can understand the word of God better. He is passionate about making sure the San people have the opportunity to read the Scriptures in words that will make the most sense and be the most relevant in their lives.

‘I must know what the Bible means in my own language.’

With purpose and focus, Anita and John will continue to live in order to lead others to their creator and saviour.

And as John likes to say, ‘The Bible is with me and in me, from the heavens to the ground.’

Interested in supporting the work of Bible translation? Find out more on how you can go, give or pray.

For more pictures and the full original story, check out our partner The Seed Company’s website.

It’s the first time I have understood

January 12th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

If you have read ‘Standing in the Gap’ for some time then you may remember praying, back in May 2014, for the Karon project which we brought to your attention in ‘a new start in Senegal’. Back then the project was just starting and we told you that the plan was to  translate Luke’s gospel over four years and use it to dub the JESUS film too.

Here is how God has answered your prayers: the team have published Luke in print and audio form and we are delighted by the news found in this excerpt from a report.

‘We have been encouraged to hear that the recently published translation of Luke’s Gospel has been well received by the Karon community, particularly the audio recording. One man commented: “Now, when I’m going to work this is what I listen to. I have listened to it over and over, and it is excellent! It is the first time I have understood the life of Jesus!”

A bar owner in an island village has reportedly been playing the Luke recording every day from morning to night for the benefit of his customers. Anyone who goes to hang out in his bar – probably most people in the village – has been hearing the word of God in Karon.

Another encouragement is that our first print run seems to be selling out fast, and the demand is such that we will probably need to think about printing more copies soon.’

Give thanks that people have such enthusiasm for hearing God’s word in their own language.

Please pray:

  • that people will be so gripped by God’s word in Karon that they will want to listen to it and read it over and over again.
  • that they will not quickly get bored of it once the novelty of having materials in their own language dies away, but that they will keep chewing over these words until they work their way into their hearts and transforms their lives.

The team are now working on translating the book of Acts into Karon. Their first consultant check is scheduled for 13-17 March. The team ask that we pray for:

  • ‘the consultant check in March, when we hope to go through Acts chapters 1-11 with a qualified translation consultant, who will help us to make sure that our translation is as accurate and clear as we can make it. Pray for God’s protection during this week, as Satan is always eager to hinder our consultant checking time.’

Interested in praying regularly for  translation projects? Sign up to receive our magazine ‘Words for Life‘ which is packed full of interesting articles as well as our prayer diary giving daily prayer needs.

A dangerous expedition

January 9th, 2017 by Camilla

Berki, a member of the Hamer community of southwestern Ethiopia, was a slight child. His father said he was too weak to look after the cattle, so when Berki was 16, he sent him to school. There Berki met an evangelist, who told him about Jesus, and he became a Christian.

Berki completed school and returned home to teach. When Berki told his family about his new faith, his father dismissed the notion. His parents stopped supporting him financially. After eight months of teaching and family tension, he sensed a strong prompting to leave his job and go to Dimeka.

berkiBerki resolved to work full time in ministry. Soon, he accepted a church position.

Berki returned home for a visit. To his surprise, his family welcomed him warmly. He hoped they had softened. Even Berki’s older brother, Gadi, seemed to set aside their differences.

‘Brother, do you want to go with me to cut the honey?’ Gadi asked. Berki loved honey.

They set out the next morning, walking far from home. At dusk, Gadi and Berki walked into a valley. Gadi told Berki to rest while he walked a little way to see where they were.

What Berki didn’t know was that his family had told his brother to kill him.

As heavy rain began to fall, Berki realised his brother had left him. He climbed out of the valley to see if he recognised any landmarks.

Terrified, he sat in the mud and cried. As Berki tried to stand again, he realised a river of sand and mud had swallowed his right leg like concrete. Exhausted, Berki pleaded with God.

Lord, if you don’t take me, help me sleep. I don’t want to be awake if the wild animals attack me.

Sleep overtook him. As dawn broke, he opened his eyes. Praise God!

Berki tugged to free himself. Hyena tracks everywhere but they had not attacked. Berki climbed to the top of a nearby mountain and breathed a grateful prayer. With renewed strength, he began the long walk home.

Later, Berki attended a workshop where he’d learn to tell accurate Bible stories. Today, as a full-time evangelist, Berki wears traditional clothing and rides his bicycle to nearby villages to tell Bible stories where people welcome him. Having access to a Bible in the local language is hugely important to his work.

This story originally appeared on our partner The Seed Company’s blog. To read Berki’s story in full, click here.

Interested in supporting the work of Bible translation? Find out more on how you can Go, Give or Pray.



Trusting God who is bigger than our obstacles

January 5th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIVUK)

Education is such a valuable gift and there are many ways around the world in which you can be educated. Here in the UK we are taught to learn facts but also to question, discuss and work towards what we feel is the right answer. There are many others however, who are taught in a different way.

Charlotte* works in a country in SE Asia where she trains school teachers. These teachers have never been encouraged to think for themselves. Instead they are taught that there is one correct way to do everything; how to think, to read, even how to clap their hands. So this is the way that they teach the children. Charlotte faces the obstacle of trying to train these teachers in a new way of learning that will better meet the needs of their young students.

Charlotte also faces obstacles in getting to these villages where she trains the teachers. She has to travel along unpaved country roads, often in the rain, meaning she often falls off her motorbike, sometimes up to 11 times in a trip, so she arrives at her destination feeling tired and bruised.

In addition to this, frequent travel means that Charlotte has the challenge of feeling disconnected from her local community. Often she finds herself in one province for two weeks and then a different province for another two weeks. This causes her to feel that she is unable to lay down roots and build connections and relationships.

Yet despite these setbacks, Charlotte thinks this is where God wants her to be. So she prays and thanks God when she sees a breakthrough, no matter how small, as she knows that means that he is doing something here and she can trust him for bigger breakthroughs.

Please stand alongside Charlotte* by praying:

  • Praise God that a few of the teachers think that what Charlotte and her team are sharing could be an interesting and helpful way to teach. Ask God to open the minds of more teachers and trainers to see the possibilities and benefits of different ways of teaching.
  • Thank God that the materials that they are using are starting to make a difference in one village school. Ask God for a ripple effect into other classes.
  • For safety and dry weather as she travels
  • Ask God to give Charlotte several more significant relationships in the different communities where she lives, so that she can feel more settled.

*name changed for security reasons.

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Touching the innermost strings of the soul

January 2nd, 2017 by Camilla

We’re always excited to hear stories about people encountering Jesus through Scriptures in their mother tongue, and this is one of our recent favourites, from Eurasia:

‘When I first got acquainted with the Bible, it was in the national language of course. I had already been used to reading the Bible in this language by the time the New Testament was presented to me in my mother tongue.

moscow-kazan-321-2‘As I started reading the gospels in the language that was my own since early childhood, I felt that Jesus himself was addressing me personally. After this experience I wanted to say to all Bible translators, “What you do is extremely significant, you are providing an opportunity for God himself to address people in their mother tongue!”

‘As for me, Tatar is my mother tongue, and my situation could have been expected, but here is an even more striking example:

‘I was sharing the gospel with my friend, who does not know the Tatar language well enough to speak it in his daily life, though he is Tatar ethnically. He normally speaks Russian. I read aloud the parable of the prodigal son from the gospel of Luke in the national language. He listened with interest, but did not seem deeply touched by what he heard. Then I took out the New Testament and started reading the same passage in our language. As soon as I reached the place where the forgiving father addresses his eldest son with our word for “son”, tears gushed from his eyes and he wept for a long time. This single Tatar word touched some of the innermost strings of his soul.’

We hope you’re as inspired by this story as we are, and share our desire for everyone to have the opportunity to experience God’s word in this way. Pray for speakers of Bashkir, a language related to Tatar, using our prayer goody bag Finishing in God’s time.

John Wycliffe: c. 1328 – 1384

December 31st, 2016 by Ruth

For God louede so the world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf. *

Today commemorates the anniversary of the death of John Wycliffe.  He believed that ‘it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence’.

He was adamant that the Scriptures should be read in the mother-tongue of all people, as it had been for the original hearers:

You say it is heresy to speak of the Holy Scriptures in English. You call me a heretic because I have translated the Bible into the common tongue of the people. Do you know whom you blaspheme? Did not the Holy Ghost give the Word of God at first in the mother-tongue of the nations to whom it was addressed?

So, he and his team, translated the whole Bible into the common English of the time.  Every word was written by hand.

Wycliffe suffered fierce opposition.  Even after his death, great hatred towards his work continued, leading the Church to declare Scripture translation a heresy in 1412.  To suffer the punishment due to heretics, Wycliffe’s remains were recovered and burnt in 1428 (44 years after his death)!

Over 600 years after Wycliffe’s death, and 160 million people, speaking 1700-1800 languages, still do not have a word of Scripture in their language and may need some form of Bible translation to begin.  At least 1.5 billion people don’t have a complete Bible in the language they understand best. Find out how you can be involved in the continuing work of Bible Translation.

*John 3.16 in the Wyclif Bible.

Resolve to make a difference

December 29th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Often resolutions are made with the aim of personal improvement, to lose weight or get fit or read more. Instead of making a resolution that you benefit from this year, why don’t you make a resolution which will profit someone else instead?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore Christmas we had an appeal to raise money for a project in the Gajara region of Chad. This project is in a remote area and many of the people groups it serves do not understand the official languages, so they have no access to Scripture that is already available. Many of these groups are followers of another major world religion and have never heard the gospel.

With this in mind the project aims to encourage national missionaries to use oral Bible stories in eleven languages and written Bible portions as the translation teams complete them. Two groups which have churches are already benefiting from the New Testaments published in 2012 and two more such groups hope to complete New Testaments in 2019. We are so grateful to all who gave to enable this vital work to continue.

However, in order for the project to reach its goals it also needs committed prayer support. Will you make a New Year’s resolution to regularly pray for this project? You could do this alone or with your home group or other members of your church.

Get started by praying for the following:

  • For perseverance for the translation teams
  • For technology to work reliably including computers and solar panels. Technical issues often slow down the translation work.
  • For the storytellers – that they will see fruit from their ministry.
  • For Bible listening groups which study the Bible using audio versions. Ask God to reveal himself to many through these groups.
  • For encouragement for everyone at seeing the results; lives transformed through faith in Christ.

Sign up here to commit to pray for this project. You’ll receive project updates to help you pray.

Why don’t you follow us on Twitter @wycliffeuk_pray to find out about other urgent prayer needs.

An unexpected assignment

December 26th, 2016 by Camilla

As she grew up, Jenny’s feelings of insignificance plagued her. The youngest of 11 children, her brothers taunted her and told her she wasn’t even part of their family.

In truth, Jenny looked like a normal, Filipino girl. But her rural neighborhood had no other children her age. Plus, she couldn’t speak English like some of the ‘smarter’ kids.

Jenny’s mother began taking her to Sunday school. Jenny attended a Christian school. She joined activities at church and school.

an-unexpected-assignmentJenny stood at the threshold of salvation for many years. She had often heard of God’s love. She attended a revival camp, and listened intently to a speaker reading from the Bible.

She heard a still, small voice that said: Jenny, it is your time. She felt so light. Jenny knelt and asked God to forgive her sins. Please live with me and drive my life, she prayed.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, she started looking for a job. Finding work proved difficult.

In 2005, a church friend told Jenny about a receptionist job with *SIL Philippines, a linguistics organisation in Manila. The requirements: follower of Jesus Christ, fluent in English, four-year degree, knowledgeable in Microsoft Excel and email.

She met the first requirement, and she decided to apply. However, when she received a call for an interview — joining 15 other hopeful candidates — she had mixed feelings.

The hiring manager called to tell her she was among the remaining six candidates. After one of the interviews, Jenny went to another part of the building and was alone. That’s when she heard the familiar voice: Don’t worry. This is the job I want for you.

Jenny was offered and accepted the job at SIL. The work was challenging. She prayed and worked hard.

Jenny became an assistant to Geri, a Wycliffe missionary assigned to SIL. God had another surprise: SIL appointed Geri to work on translation programmes for the Deaf, and Jenny began learning Sign Language.

Jenny was now learning two languages. She says, ‘Now, by God’s grace, the Deaf say, “Jenny, you know how to sign!” ‘

Today Jenny oversees project finances and is the Philippines country coordinator for SIL’s Global Sign Language Team.

Lack of sign language is common, because only those from affluent families can afford to go to specialised Deaf schools. Discrimination persists and makes it difficult for the Deaf to find work or live independently.

*SIL is one of our partner organisations

This is a shorter version of an article featured on our partner The Seed Company’s website. Read the full story.

The Deaf are one of the most overlooked minority groups in the world. There are over 400 sign languages in the world, and none of them have a complete Bible yet. For more information and fuel for prayer for Bible translation into sign languages, try our prayer goody bag Signs of Transformation.

Joy to the Bilo!

December 22nd, 2016 by Jo Johnson

As Christians living in the West, the words of the Christmas story from the gospels of Luke and Matthew are very familiar to us; we hear them at carol services and nativity celebrations every year. However, to the Bilo* people of Southeast Asia, who don’t yet have these gospels in their language, the Christmas story is brand new.

view-of-the-hill-2The good news however is that Bible translation is underway for the Bilo. The translation team have been working on Luke. Sadly it won’t be ready for Christmas but the team was not deterred. Having decided that they did not want the Bilo people to be without the Christmas story in their language for even one more year, they have compiled a booklet containing the relevant passages from both Matthew and Luke’ consultant checked and will be distributed to all the churches in the region by Christmas.

Not being content with just providing the story, the team have put together questions so that the local churches can use the booklet as a basis for a Bible study. Praise God that even churches who don’t normally celebrate Christmas are eager to receive this booklet!

The booklet will also be distributed on mobile phones both as a document and hopefully as an audio recording as well, as more people will want to listen to the Christmas story than are able to read the local language. This will be the first time they have read or heard the story of Jesus’ birth in their own language!

Some of the churches are readily accessible, but others are in quite remote villages and in at least one case, to get there you need to negotiate a difficult river crossing.

Please pray that:

  • The booklets reach all the churches in time for Christmas and are joyfully received
  • Pray that people outside, as well as inside the church, will listen to the story, hear the good news and come to know Jesus as their Immanuel

*Name changed for security reasons.

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