How is the Bible like a banana plant?

October 5th, 2015 by Nick

The Bible is sometimes referred to as the sword of the Spirit or the word of God… but have you ever heard it compared to an item of botanical interest?! Here is a great story from Papua New Guinea of a New Testament translation being completed and presented to the Kamano-Kafe community. At this gathering, a man named Tuas, one of the translators, explained to everyone the reason behind the banana leaf design on the front cover and how it represents the importance of God’s word!

‘Finally, Tuas stood in front of the crowd and held up one of the Kamano-Kafe New Testaments. He pointed to the cover, which looked like a banana leaf. “The banana leaf does lots of work in our villages. When it is raining, the banana leaf covers you and keeps you dry. It shelters over you when you sleep and can be your bed on the ground. It’s your plate for food and your pot for cooking. It can be bilas [decoration] for celebrations, and it’s your material for building houses. When it’s the hungry time and all the other food like kaukau [sweet potatoes] and kumu [greens] have dried up, the banana is still there and will give food to your family.”

As he spoke, the crowd nodded and whispered in agreement. “The Bible is just like the banana,” Tuas continued, “God’s Word is everything to us—it covers us and shelters us and feeds us, even when everything else is gone. And so, that’s why there is a banana leaf on the cover of each New Testament that you are holding, to remind all of us of the important work the word of God has in our daily lives.” ‘

For the Kamano-Kafe, the Bible is just like a banana plant. Essential for nourishment, growth and protection. You can read the original article on The PNG Experience.

Find out how you can help the work of Bible translation – be involved.

Nailed it

October 2nd, 2015 by Camilla

Have you ever baked a cake that didn’t come out quite like the picture in the cookbook? Tried to fix something only to find you’ve broken it more? Or had a ‘fun’ family photo idea that seriously bombed in practice? Sometimes, our best efforts don’t turn out quite how we imagined.

In what I like to think of as a celebration of our humanity, social media is increasingly filled with ‘nailed bunnies nailed itit’ memes and ‘fail’ videos: images and short videos that invite you to laugh with someone else when they miss the mark. A personal favourite of mine is this bunny roll meme.

The concept of our best efforts not always turning out how we imagined applies to many areas of life. If we want to produce something of eternal value, it’s vital that we depend on God and commit our best efforts to him. This is why we pray for Bible translation. We need to trust God in the process of translation, testing and community checking, as God uses fallible humans to produce Scripture that will speak the very words of God to communities everywhere. At the same time, we continue to work hard, doing our very best to make sure Bible translations are accurate, readable and clear.

Pray with us:

  • That God’s anointing on our work would inspire us to do our best
  • That Wycliffe workers around the world would rely fully on God and seek to partner with him in his plans, not the other way around
  • That those involved in Bible translation would not be discouraged by setbacks or ‘fails’, but encouraged to persevere in the face of challenges
  • That God would speak clearly through the translated word!

Pray right now for peace in CAR

September 28th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

For nearly three years there has been fighting and unrest in the Central African Republic (CAR). Recently there had been a measure of security return to the country. However, the situation has significantly worsened over the weekend with fighting in Bangui, the capital city.

IMG_4616Here’s the most recent update that we have received:

‘The fighting in Bangui has escalated greatly. Sunday night a number of  NGO’s were broken into by armed bands and pillaged, including the Red Cross. Today the unrest has spread to the whole city. We are working on a way to remove our people and other missionaries from Bangui.

For further news on CAR, see:

Please join us as we pray for CAR:

  • Pray that our colleagues will be able to get on the flights they are booked on and will be able to leave safely.

Pray for the population of Bangui:

  • Ask God  to bring a quick end to the violence, pillaging, and unrest and restore peace to this city.
  • Pray that God will comfort everyone mourning for loved ones killed in the fighting, and for those experiencing fear to encounter God’s perfect love.

My chains fell off

September 28th, 2015 by Nick

God’s word has the tremendous ability to set us free. Many wonderful stories of transformation and restoration can be found amongst translation teams working with local language communities to translate Scripture. As Charles Wesley wrote in his hymn And Can It Be, That I Should Gain: ‘My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee’.

One such story of being set free is *Tony’s.

A Tontemboan man in his mid-fifties, Tony helped a translation team in northern Sulawesi (Indonesia) by testing the readability of Scripture in his mother tongue. Being a part of this work had a great impact on Tony’s life, and Tony came to accept Jesus as his personal saviour. It was also through being involved in the work that Tony came to be set free of his past in black magic and traditional rituals; his chains fell off.

Tony shared with the team that when he read 1 Peter 4:3 about giving up ‘what pagans choose to do’, he learned that it is not enough to just be called a Christian; being a Christian has to be seen in one’s life. Tony wanted to break free of the dark things in his past and truly follow Jesus, so the team agreed to pray for him. That day, the powers of darkness didn’t give up without a fight, but after a struggle, Tony found freedom in Jesus. You can read Tony’s full story here.

This is an amazing story which sheds light on the transforming power and grace of God, through his word. How important it is that God’s word is truly understood by the reader!

There are at least 1860 languages that still need a Bible translation project started. Pray, give or go, or find out other ways you can be a part of the Bible translation movement.

*Tony is a pseudonym, used to protect his identity.

Back to school

September 25th, 2015 by Camilla

All over the UK, kids have just started a new term. What about missionary kids? People are often curious about schooling when families are planning to work overseas, especially if the destination is remote. Surely schooling is bound to be an issue in many of the locations Wycliffe workers go?

Students discuss class work at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé Cameroon.

Students discuss class work at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé Cameroon.

Working in missions doesn’t mean sacrificing children’s education. No matter where a family involved in cross-cultural missions is based, you can bet their kids’ education is a priority. Parents want their kids to grow up to be successful and have an impact on the world. And there are more options for schooling than you would think:

  1. Homeschooling — This is a great option for many, especially those based in remote villages. Homeschooling offers great flexibility, and can be tailored to the individual to a much greater degree than other options.
  2. Local schools — Some missionary kids go to school in the community they live in, with local children, which can work really well. They get the cultural experience as well as a formal education, though it is at the host country’s pace and not that of their passport country.
  3. Boarding schools — Not all parents want to send their kids to a big city for schooling, but depending on the situation (like parents living in a remote village and kids needing to learn more than their parents are able to teach them), boarding school might be an attractive option.
  4. International schools — Sometimes an international school for expat children offers kids the education they need, especially if they’re planning on going to university in their passport country (like the UK, Australia, the US, etc.). Sometimes good international schools are available locally; other times students might need to travel for their education. Take a look at what international school is like through the eyes of Alan and Amanda in this video.

Would you stand in the gap for children of cross-cultural workers; especially for their education as they start the new school year?

  • Pray for inspiration for teachers and homeschooling parents concerning curriculum, teaching style and adapting schooling to individual children.
  • Pray for good friendships; that God would provide like-minded, encouraging friends for missionary kids, wherever they are.
  • Ask God to help children to be lights for him in their environments.

This prayer post is adapted from a story on Wycliffe US’s website by Melissa Paredes.

From death to life

September 22nd, 2015 by Camilla

God’s word is powerful, and it has been doing extraordinary things.‘ – Berki Banko

Check out this great video from our partners The Seed Company about one man’s commitment to follow Christ even when it cost him dearly. Berki Banko is an evangelist and storyteller from the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. After accepting Jesus into his heart, Berki’s faith became more important to him than the traditions of his people group.

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Find out more about what God is doing in the Omo Valley and discover how God’s word has changed lives in Ethiopia.

Access, engage, understand, be changed.

September 18th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

It’s great for people to have God’s word in their heart language. However, sometimes that’s not enough. Those who’ve never had access to God’s word before often need help to know how to use it. This is where Scripture engagement specialists come in.

Katherine, a Scripture engagement specialist working in Tanzania, explains why her role is so important:

‘In parts of Tanzania you can find a church on every corner – while there is much faith, there can be, at times, little knowledge of God’s word and many people who go to church do not img73have a Bible. Helping people to access God’s word and then to engage with it, understand it and be changed by it is therefore vital.

In my Scripture engagement work I am often involved in training Sunday school teachers and find that many do not know the Bible well themselves, some don’t have a Bible, and a large number struggle to find the main teaching point of a story or think how to apply it to the lives of children.

Sometimes I visit Bible colleges with my colleagues to encourage the students to consider using their local languages more in churches. We often challenge these trainee pastors by asking if they understand what ‘phylacteries’ are, but they have no idea as the word used in the Swahili Bible makes people think it is referring to a magic charm. This highlights again the need for deep engagement with Scripture in a language that is clear and meaningful.’

  • Please pray that God will give many a passion to see translated Scriptures transform hearts and lives.
  • Ask God to prepare both Tanzanian and expatriate workers to come alongside the local church, helping them to grow in Christ through the use of mother-tongue Scriptures.
  • Pray that God provides workers for these specific vacancies around the world.

Pray for Scripture engagement activities around the world using our prayer resource ‘Encountering God’s word’.

Clusters – greater than the sum of their parts

September 14th, 2015 by Nick

Over the years important advances and improvements have been made in the way that translation work is approached. Because of this, many projects have seen an accelerated pace in the undertaking of Bible translation. One of the key concepts that have helped make this possible is cluster projects.

Cluster projects?! What are they? Cluster projects are big translation projects where related languages are grouped together and teams share training and expertise, borrow ideas and solutions and encourage each other. The end result is a Bible translation for each language in record time.

The benefits speak for the Wycliffe US member, Ed Lauber has experienced, cluster projects have also increased morale and accountability! Not only does this help strengthen the work of bringing Scripture to communities, it strengthens the individual translator involved in the project! Amazing!

Ed Lauber has written a brief but very informative post on his experiences of the workings of a cluster project in Ghana.

‘I’m not sure who discovered it, but a solution to a translation problem in one language can often be used in other [related] languages. I saw it myself vividly. I was at a training course for national translators in Burkina Faso. They were all grappling with the same translation problem when one of the students – not one of the staff, mind you – came up with a solution they all could use. The solution had to do with how the passive voice is used in many of the languages. So the solution was not just for one verse, but for many of the of the times the passive voice is used in the Bible. That one solution could save days, weeks perhaps even months of work because the passive voice occurs many times.’

Read Ed’s full blog post on Cluster projects.

Find out how you can help support the work of Bible translation: pray, give or go, be involved.

Chocolate chip prayers

September 11th, 2015 by Camilla

Let’s get creative! Today we invite you to join us in baking chocolate chip cookies, and turning each step into a prayer for Wycliffe members overseas.

Rachel Allen’s double chocolate chip cookies

Makes 20 large cookies

225g (8oz) butter, softenedbowl-bright2

325g (111⁄2oz) caster sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

225g (8oz) plain flour

75g (3oz) cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1⁄4 tsp salt

175g (6oz) dark chocolate (55–70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces, or dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), gas mark 4. Line three baking trays with baking paper. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until soft.
  • Add the sugar, and as you cream the two together, pray for unity and harmony among expat workers and nationals.
  • Crack in one egg at a time, beating between each addition. As you crack the eggs, remember those working overseas who feel broken in spirit – that God would heal their hearts and bind up their wounds.
  • Then add the vanilla extract, asking God for joy to permeate the heart of every Wycliffe worker like the vanilla flavours these cookies. As you add the flour, pray for strength – for Wycliffe workers to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.
  • Sifting in the cocoa powder, pray for happy marriages, and contentment for singles. As you add the bicarbonate of soda and salt, pray for missionaries to set aside time for daily devotions and have their minds renewed by the word of God, so they can be salt and light where they are.
  • Finally, the chocolate chips: pray for more prayer support and financial support where this is needed. Just like the chocolate chips are essential to these cookies, prayer and financial support is essential to everything Wycliffe does.
  • With wet hands, form the dough into 20 balls each the size of a golf ball (or use two soup spoons to scoop up and shape the same amount of dough). As you shape them, pray for missionaries to have a spirit of humility and ask God for wisdom. Cookie dough is great, but it won’t turn into cookies without the heat from the oven. In the same way, our abilities don’t mean much unless God is behind our work and inspires everything we do. Arrange the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheets, placing 6–7 on each sheet and leaving space for the cookies to spread.
  • Bake for 10–14 minutes or until the cookies look slightly cracked on top. (With three baking sheets, you will need to cook them in three batches, or two batches in a fan oven.) As your delicious morsels are baking, ask for God’s protection from all the attacks of the evil one, fresh energy in the face of opposition, and for God to accomplish his will through the hard times missionaries often face. Take the cookies out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. As the cookies cool, pray that Wycliffe workers would cast all their cares on the Lord and rest in his peace.
  • Take the cookies off the baking sheets using a palette knife or metal fish slice and place on
 a wire rack to cool down completely. While they’re cooling, ask God to bless missionaries’ communication with supporters, helping them to be honest, and receive the encouragement they need – whether it’s kind words from a supporter, a hug from a friend on the ground, or cookies baked with love.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to four days.

For more prayer ideas for friends overseas, try our prayer pack Focused prayer: kingdom results.

Rhythm and celebration

September 7th, 2015 by Nick

‘Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.’ Psalm 149:3 (NIV)

wycliffe-logo-colourAt the recent dedication of the Bandial New Testament in Senegal, a timbrel (similar to a tambourine) and harp may not have been used, however, for the speakers of the Bandial language, singing and dancing is definitely where it’s at! With praise and celebration, they welcomed in Scripture that they can read in their heart language. This short video captures some of the celebrations that happened that day and highlights the importance of being able to read or hear Scripture in your mother tongue.

‘When it was read in French, nobody understood anything and people were just repeating words. Now everyone who goes to church understands what the word of God says.’

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Pray, give or go. Find out how you can be involved, both locally and globally.