Update on CAR

February 5th, 2016 by Camilla

We last posted about CAR on Boxing Day with a call to prayer in the face of forthcoming elections. We’d like to report back that the elections went amazingly well, and there were no major incidents during the election period. Praise God for his protection over the country during this time!

Bangui streetWill you pray for the next round of elections, which is planned for mid-February, and will be between just two presidential candidates? Prayers for peace are still critical, and pray for widespread acceptance of the result – and most of all that the new president will be God’s person for the job and seek the best for the country in the months and years to come. The legislative elections have been declared void because of various irregularities, and so that process needs to start again.

Another prayer item on our hearts is a trauma healing workshop currently taking place in Bangui, for six different Central African language groups. Trauma healing workshops deal with some of the effects of violence and unrest that countries like CAR have seen over the past few years. We will be praying about potential communication issues, unity among the teaching team, and stamina for teaching staff and participants alike – will you join us?

Pray for CAR!

  • Praise God that the last elections went so well, and ask God for his continued peace during this next round.
  • Pray for clear, unadulterated, undisputed election results that ultimately lead to lasting change in the country.
  • Bring the trauma healing workshop before God and ask for unity among the teaching team, clarity in communication, and that God would bring deep healing to each participant.

If you want to keep praying this Lent that God would bring lasting change in CAR, there’s a great prayer calendar available to print out to guide you day by day. More ideas for prayer, getting into the word of God and being generous this Lent will follow on Monday.

Who’s the expert? More insights from a translation consultant

February 1st, 2016 by Ruth

Following on from our previous post, Wrapping up Scripture translation? Bring in the translation consultants!, Sue further explains her role as consultant on her latest blog post at kouya.net.  Here’s a snippet, but she gets into some interesting details about translating difficult concepts, how they work across different languages, and on-the-job training – so do head over to read the whole blog post!

The ‘Expert’?

Just as the church is like a body made up of different parts, a translation team needs to be made up of members with different gifts and skills. No one person has everything it takes to do a great translation (including linguistics, translation, theology, anthropology, Greek/Hebrew, Biblical studies, facility in the language etc) but if each one plays their role, together they can do a good job. As a consultant I bring my areas of expertise, but I am not there like a teacher with a red pen correcting all the mistakes! I don’t speak their language and I certainly don’t have all the answers. I am there to come alongside the team, not to find fault, but so that together we can all play our part in making a good translation better.

(Read full blog post on kouya.net.)

By now, you might be thinking what a challenging role it is! Wycliffe workers worldwide often find themselves stretched and challenged in their work, but that also drives them to prayer.  Why not join in today, and pray for Bible translation teams as they wrestle together to produce clear, natural and understandable translations for those who are still waiting for God’s word in their language.

Staying focused

January 29th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

‘We pray because we know that God listens….needs are met because we are praying and God hears our prayers. That is how it works.’  Hiroshi Minegishi: Pastor, Kesennuma, Japan

Prayer is not an optional extra, it is the key to all we do. In our Standing in the Gap blog posts we often ask you to pray for a specific event, project or country. We are learning, however, that there are many types of prayer and many levels of prayer need.

This year we are going to present to you some high level requests, five in all. These are things which will enable us to meet strategic goals – goals which without God’s miraculous intervention, we cannot hope to attain. Yet, we serve the God of the impossible. We pray regularly and trust that he will act for us.

Will you join us in praying for these things?

The Kuman people number about 120,000 and are found in the northern part of Simbu Province in Papua New Guinea. Kuman is the 3rd largest language group in the country. The complete New Testament in Kuman was dedicated on June 27, 2008, in Kundiawa, the provincial capital of the province.

A Kuman man from the northern part of Simbu Province in Papua New Guinea with the complete New Testament in Kuman, dedicated on June 27, 2008.

There are five prayer goals in all, outlined by our director James Poole, and each one is designed to help keep our focus on God.

Here is goal number one:

Our vision is this:

‘Wycliffe Bible Translators exists to enable all peoples to engage with the Bible in a language that speaks to their heart.’

All peoples: that’s about 7000 different language groups. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that this is a big job. Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK faces a large task and limited resources.

Please pray that we will stay focused on our vision. Ask God to empower us, along with our partners, to pursue this until we have achieved our goal.

  • Join us as we ask God to give us wisdom to know what to pursue and what needs to trust to him.
  • Pray also that we will not be distracted from the task to which we’ve been called.

Check out our resources to help you pray for Bible translation.

Where faith comes by hearing: making audio Scriptures in Tanzania

January 25th, 2016 by Nick

The majority of people in the world belong to oral cultures. For them, faith literally comes by hearing. With this in mind, one of the tools we use to share Scripture with these communities is audio recordings of Bible stories! So how does Scripture go from words on paper to audio?

Jo Clifford shares a great step-by-step account of one of the many trips she takes to record Scripture, this time to Mpanda in Tanzania. From invitation to hanging blankets over wooden frames, this is a brilliant window into the world of Scripture audio recording:

‘I regularly receive requests from various language projects to do audio recordings of Scripture. A couple of months before a trip I need to prepare the script of the audio recording – taking the Scripture text and dividing it up into the different characters (narrator, Ruth, Boaz, Jonah etc). Then copies of the parts are given to the different people who have agreed to read for us, so they have time to practice. I discuss with those hosting the recording work what location might be best. The preference is for somewhere quiet, with power if possible (otherwise a generator is necessary to run the equipment). I also ask if there are blankets available for soundproofing the studio structure as well as some wood to make the frame. I bring the rest of my recording equipment.

When I am recording I rely on others to help me. I explain the recording process to the person who has come to read the part. Before we start recording I always get people’s consent to use their voice.

JoC recording3

Jo at work

I usually ask for at least one translator of the language being recorded to be present to follow the reading and make sure words are read correctly. I have the text so I can generally follow along, but I don’t know the languages and some languages incorporate tone to express meaning.

Before a reader begins, I often paint a picture of the context to help them think about what they are reading. To get the most realistic recording, I often ask if there is special way of saying something in their culture which signals for instance an attitude of prayer or of showing fear or celebration.

At the time of recording I will do a rough edit of each clip. The same evening I will go through all that has been recorded that day and edit each clip, taking out breaths, clicks from lips smacking together and any extra space between phrases and sentences.

JoC recording2

Editing audio recordings

[Then] I will start to put all the clips together to make each chapter and will add the sound effects.  I will play it to the translators who speak the language to check all the text is correct, that they like the sound effects and that I haven’t edited something out by mistake!

When the translators are happy with the audio, then I can produce the MP3 tracks which can be made into CDs, or be put onto a mobile phone, uploaded onto the language website and put onto the language Scripture app.’

Interested in finding out more about the work of Wycliffe and how you can be involved? Come along to one of our one day events First Steps!

The beauty of everyday service

January 22nd, 2016 by Camilla

Generally on a Monday, we post a story of something like a Scripture dedication, a Bible translation breakthrough, or dramatic life changes brought about by a newly published Bible. But these stories wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for everyday service, which is something cross-cultural workers do, just like you.

Washing upBy everyday service, I mean getting up and going to work even when you don’t feel like it. Pushing on when you feel like your supporters have forgotten about you. Choosing to honour God in small things. Serving your family by doing the laundry, tackling another pile of dishes you won’t get credit for, or enduring yet another viewing of Frozen. These things may not be as highly prized as discovering a local word that will unlock the Bible for a people group, developing groundbreaking software that will make the Bible accessible to the Deaf, or leading someone to Christ on their deathbed. But none of the big stories – in remote locations or at home – would happen without everyday service.

Everyday service isn’t something we talk about a lot in most Christian circles – we’re better at focusing on milestones and dramatic conversion stories. But everyday service is the drip, drip, drip that helps us reach the goal. The small, regular investments that accumulate and ultimately yield big results.

We want to encourage you in your everyday service, whatever that looks like for you, and ask you to celebrate our everyday service with us!

  • Praise God that Christians around the world are faithfully doing their everyday service and standing together to honour God and make Jesus known to people everywhere – whether they are in Tewkesbury or Timbuktu.
  • Pray for Wycliffe workers or friends at home who are finding everyday service a struggle, asking God for strength and fresh inspiration.
  • Ask God how you can encourage a friend in their everyday service – it might be as simple as going out for coffee together or telling them that you prayed for them today.

Myles Coverdale (c. 1488 – 20 January 1569)

January 20th, 2016 by Ruth

Myles Coverdale was the translator of the first complete Bible into English, published in 1535. His work followed on from other first mother-tongue translations of Europe – French, German and Dutch – and the work of Tyndale, whose New Testament was published ten years earlier.

Coverdale began his work despite knowing that Tyndale was working on a complete Bible translation. ‘Why should other nations,’ he said, ‘be more plenteously provided for with the Scriptures in their mother-tongue than we?’

Like Tyndale, his translation was written and published in Europe, and was smuggled into Britain. In many ways, though, Coverdale’s translation was very different: he was not as proficient a linguist as Tyndale, and knew no Hebrew. Instead he worked from other translations. However, he was a great executor of the English language, and his translation is greatly admired for its literary, as well as spiritual, significance.

Despite his substantial work and impact, Coverdale was not a celebrated man. He was not born to a great family – in fact, the date of his birth is not even known. He never rose to great position in the church of his day, and died aged 81, in relative obscurity – 447 years ago today. Others thought he was humble and unassuming, a ‘very gentle spirit’. And he was phenomenally industrious: his notes suggest that he began his first translation less than a year before its publication, which meant he translated or revised on average 2,400 words a day – a remarkable feat.

He remained adamant in his belief that God used translations effectively. In response to objections to vernacular translations, he said, ‘The Holy Ghost is as much the author of it in the Hebrew, Greek, French, Dutch, and English, as in Latin… The word of God is of like worthiness and authority in what language soever the Holy Ghost speaketh it.’

Today, while English-speakers are indeed ‘plenteously provided for’, of 7,000 living languages in the world only 554 have a complete Bible. And around 1,800 languages don’t have any access to God’s word in their mother tongue at all. Give the Story.

Wrapping up Scripture translation? Bring in the translation consultants!

January 18th, 2016 by Nick

What does a translation consultant do? Bible translation is currently active in around 2000 languages, however, before Scripture is pressed and printed, a translation consultant comes in.

Following on from last Monday’s post, Why does Bible translation take so long?, today we’ll be taking a look into exactly what a translation consultant undertakes, thanks to a brilliant blog post by Eddie Arthur and his wife Sue (herself a translation consultant).

‘There are two essential aspects to a translation; firstly that people can understand it and secondly that it means the same thing as the original.’ – Eddie Arthur

Once all the hard work of an initial translation has been completed it’s up to a consultant to ensure it meets the two criteria mentioned above. It’s their job to sign the translation off and give the go-ahead when it’s ready to be published.

What makes a consultant? Well, you need to be familiar with the original text and have experience in translation. Once a consultant has been deployed to a project, they review the entire translation, holding fast to the importance of accuracy. In her role, Sue has been checking that the meaning aligns with the original Greek and studying back-translations (you can find out more on back-translation by having a read of another of our blog posts Belt and Braces).

Constant communication needs to be maintained with the translation team, face to face and through mediums such as Skype. Along with the team, someone external is also brought in who is less familiar with the translation text.

There is also testing, or village testing, which is where the text is read to native speakers of the target language who do not know the original passage and then asking questions about it.

This is all really very thorough. Again, why do this? Eddie writes:

‘Very simply, because God’s word is important. We need to know that people can understand what the text says and we need to know that the text is an accurate representation of what Paul wrote. It is worth taking time to get this right. In general, testing, consulting and revising the text takes longer than the initial draft of a translation.’

Eddie’s post What Does A Translation Consultant Do? gives great insight into his and Sue’s experience of what it means to be a translation consultant.

Curious to know more? Come along to one of our introductory courses later this year! Find out more about First Steps – a day to explore the world of Bible translation.

First Steps events coming up

January 15th, 2016 by Camilla

Got questions about what Wycliffe does and how you could be involved – either here in the UK or by going overseas? First Steps is an event specifically designed to answer those questions.

If you decide to come to an event, you’ll be welcomed by our friendly team and offered tea or coffee before we get underway at 10am, and the day will run until 4.30pm. The event is free of charge – all you need to do is get yourself there, and bring a packed lunch (this helps keep costs down).

Maggie and the others look forward to meeting you and answering your questions!

Maggie and the rest of the team look forward to meeting you and answering your questions!

On the day, there will be 3 or 4 Wycliffe members with experience in different roles and different parts of the world sharing about how they have seen God working. Interspersed are videos from around the world and there’s also a cross-cultural simulation, where you’ll be trying to buy things in a market somewhere overseas!

Every event is different with regard to numbers – sometimes there are 5 or 6 participants, other times 20! There’s plenty of time to ask questions informally over coffee and lunch, as well as a question and answer time with all the team.

We would love to meet you and share our vision with you for everyone in the world to be able to engage with the Bible in a language which speaks to their hearts. If you’ve got questions and want to know more about Wycliffe – please come!

First Steps event photoFirst Steps events coming up:

Saturday 6 February 2016, Newtownabbey
Saturday 27 February 2016, Orpington
Saturday 19 March 2016, Cheadle Hulme

Register online for free!


Pray for South Sudan!

January 15th, 2016 by Camilla

South Sudan needs our prayers now more than ever.

The country is facing a humanitarian crisis. Political conflict has led to displacement, violence and massive food shortages. South Sudan remains one of the least developed countries in the world, and a lack of formal infrastructure, including roads, makes it difficult to transport food and supplies. Almost 800 000 people have fled, but the majority of citizens are trapped in the country. Almost four million people are at risk of starvation. Read more on the general situation at mercycorps.org.

Despite this, Wycliffe and SIL* are currently working in nine full time translation projects and six more languages are in the early stages of Bible translation. Five New Testaments with Old Testament portions are due to be typeset in the next 12 to 18 months. Alongside this, Wycliffe and SIL are supporting linguistic, literacy and Scripture use work with these communities.

Most staff and project members in South Sudan are based in the capital, Juba – about 17 expats and 40 South Sudanese. As the country lacks infrastructure, security challenges mean this is an easier way of working. But the obvious disadvantage is that most translators live apart from their families.

Wycliffe and SIL staff are mostly affected with regard to general security and petrol shortages (petrol shortages can mean difficulties in local, everyday transport as well as affecting long-distance travel for translation workshops, etc). Road travel has also become more difficult because of decreased security. Staff have been subject to three armed attempted SIL compound break-ins between Sept-Nov (one fairly successful), various disturbances in the night (shooting in the neigbourhoods, etc), and near misses in terms of road security, but each member of staff has been kept safe so far. We praise the Lord for that and that they can continue to be there. Right now the peace process between the government and the opposition group is progressing and looks hopeful – but there are a number of other rebel groups not included in that.

Pray for South Sudan:

  • Praise God that the translation teams have been kept safe and ask for God’s continued protection over each member of each team.
  • Pray for deep repentance amongst different groups for wrongs done to each other and church and other leaders with courage to work and speak for the good of the whole country.
  • Pray for the Scripture due to be printed over the next 12-18 months, for God’s protection and blessing for those translation teams especially.

*SIL is Wycliffe’s primary partner organisation.

Why does Bible translation take so long?

January 11th, 2016 by Camilla

A full Bible translation takes a long time to complete, sometimes 30 years or longer, and a New Testament alone can take from 5-20 years to complete. So what is it that takes so long?

Small_20120307-IMG_8079Bible translation projects face prep work in the form of raising local awareness and support for the project, finding and training the right translators, and finding the right people to join the project from overseas. Projects which concern previously unwritten languages also require language analysis and orthography design and testing (creating and testing a written form of the language) before translation can start.

Once translation is underway, delays and bumps in the road are generally par for the course. Bible translators are people; and illness, children, study, interdenominational and interpersonal conflict can all affect a project.

But even without delays like these, producing good quality Bible translations is a slow process. The Bible is a long, complex book written in a different time and culture, and an accurate rendition in another language is a tall order not to be taken lightly!

Passages are first painstakingly translated by a team made up of mother-tongue speakers and Bible translation experts (mother-tongue speakers themselves often being the experts). Next, a translation consultant is called in to review the entire text. This is no small task – read more about this process in next Monday’s post!

Issues with just about any aspect of a translation can crop up all the way up until printing (and sometimes even after printing). Sometimes an already well-tested writing system still requires some minor tweaks, other times the language in question doesn’t have a word for a key concept such as forgiveness, or a particular Bible story needs to be written more clearly so that it communicates what is intended.

Read about a Nigerian translation team’s journey dealing with the word manger in Wycliffe US’s article Does It Matter Which Word We Use?.