Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

A book for everyone

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Thank you for praying for the launch of the Baka New Testament and Genesis in March (Seeing with blind eyes). God answered your prayers in an incredible way; the event was able to take place, the books containing the New Testament and Genesis arrived and all the visitors were able to travel safely.

The launch celebrations were held in Maridi in the province of Western Equatoria. It was the biggest event held there – ever. Not only was it large but it was high profile; the governor of Maridi State and his wife as well as other dignitaries including a retired army general and bishops and archbishops of various denominations were in attendance.

Over 7000 people came along to join the 5 hour long celebrations which included speeches, singing and dancing, a meal, performances by local choirs and a showing of the JESUS Film in Baka. The film had been shown in Juba late last year but this was the first time it was shown in the Baka homeland.

We are so excited that this New Testament has been endorsed by both the Anglican bishop and the Catholic archbishop of the region. In the speeches it was made clear that this book containing the New Testament and Genesis is for everyone, it is not the possession of one denomination or another.

When the boxes of New Testaments were opened to sell, a big crowd surged towards the tables, waving their money in the air. As people got their hands on their copies they sat down and started reading immediately.

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing way that he answered our prayers. Please pray:

  • that the Baka will continue to read the New Testament in their language and that it will transform many lives
  • that God would bring peace to South Sudan and provide for those impacted by the famine

Does this answer to prayer encourage you to pray for Bible translation regularly? Subscribe to receive our free magazine, Words for Life, which is full of interesting articles and includes a prayer diary with daily prayer needs for Bible translation projects around the globe.

A day of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the Beliyan people!

Monday, April 10th, 2017 by Camilla

Rebecca Sharples writes about experiencing the all-day celebration of the launch of the Oniyan New Testament in Senegal.

In a region called Kedougou in the southeast of Senegal, a few hundred people gathered together to celebrate the completion of a very special book: the New Testament and Genesis translated into the Oniyan language. This language, sometimes referred to as Basari, is spoken by the 20-30,000 Beliyan people living in Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

The event began at 10am (only an hour behind schedule!). Locals, SIL staff, funders and guests flocked into the Kedougou stadium dressed in all their colourful Senegalese finery and found their seats in one of several large marquees that had been set up just a few hours before.

From start to finish the event was hosted by an animated Oniyan speaker who gave the announcements, introduced the speakers and got everybody warmed up for the music and dancing (not that it took much!).

The speeches were given by people from around the globe whom God has brought together for his mission of getting his word to the Beliyan community. The speakers included the funding manager of The Seed Company (American), the director of SIL Senegal (Swiss), Pastor Nicodème (Senegalese), and two long-serving missionaries (Canadian and American), among many others. The speeches were given in either French or Oniyan and always with a translation from one to the other.

In the midst of the speeches a car pulled up carrying the precious cargo: the New Testaments had arrived! They were carried in boxes into the stadium before being paraded and presented by members of the Beliyan community. It was a tear-jerking moment to see these New Testaments arrive which, after several years of dutiful and diligent work (especially by the chief translators Nicodème Biesse, Paul Boubane and Jérémie Boubane) can now be held in the hands of Oniyan speakers and read aloud in their homes in their own language.

But the printed New Testaments weren’t the only Scripture material being celebrated and shared. The Beliyan community were also able to take home an SD card containing the dramatised audio recording of Genesis and the entire New Testament, performed by local voice actors.

In the year before the launch, members of the Beliyan community and several local staff members also worked together in workshops to create, perform and record Scripture-based songs written in the Oniyan language and performed using traditional instruments. These recorded songs were then added to the SD cards, just in time to be made available at the launch.

Now the Oniyan community can not only read God’s word, but they can also listen to God’s word and sing songs about God’s word in their own language.

Could there be a better reason to rejoice and give thanks?

For more great stories about what’s going on in the world of Bible translation, sign up to our magazine, Words for Life!

Praying in new members for the team

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

A large nation, dominated by rainforest, where infrastructure is generally poor and the repercussions of long years of unrest and fighting are still significantly impacting daily life. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa is a poor nation which faces many challenges.

I was surprised to find out, however, that the greatest personnel needs are not for skilled linguists or translators, as national staff are doing a great job with the nitty-gritty of translation. What the translation projects here need is more support staff.

We praise God for what he is doing. After years of struggle in the eastern part of the country, in March 2016, three language communities celebrated the launch of their New Testaments (see our blog One New Testament? How about three?). Another New Testament is due to be launched this August but there are still over 100 languages that need the word of God and where translation has not yet even started.

However, without workers the harvest can never be gathered in. The greatest needs at the moment are for an assistant for the language programmes manager, and a finance mentor to support nationals in the bookkeeping and finance systems. Both of these roles will significantly increase the capacity of those involved in training and translating.

Please ask God to send the right people to fill the following urgent needs:

  • A finance mentor, short or long term but available for a minimum of 5-6 months. They must be able to speak French well and willing to live in Bunia, eastern DRC.
  • Assistant to the language programmes manager to support the various translation projects around this large nation. Long term involvement is preferable but even a 6-12 month commitment could make a significant difference. Again a good level of French and willingness to live in Bunia is required.

Find out how your specific skills can be used to support Bible translation.

Go along to The Next Step and find out more about Bible translation and serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Sign up for our free magazine Words for Life, which is packed full of interesting and informative articles as well as a daily prayer need for Bible translation around the world.

Full steam ahead for the Kamuku project

Thursday, March 30th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Your prayers make a difference, even from a long-distance. One of the featured projects in our prayer goody bag Finishing in God’s time is the Kamuku project in Nigeria. A lady in Scotland started praying for Bible translation to begin there, in the early 1980s. She carried on praying until 2009 when the project had started.

The Kamuku project started slowly in order to establish strong roots and has faced many challenges so we asked you to pray. Praise God, exciting things are happening; God is answering your prayers.

On 7th April, the Gospel of Luke will be launched in Kamuku both as a book and as audio recordings on SD-cards. This will be great for those who have not yet learned to read or just prefer to communicate orally.

To help the Kamuku people use Scripture well and understand it, listening group leaders have been specially trained. They have audio players to use and gospel Scripture materials with which they hope to engage the group members.

That’s not all. The Gospel of Mark has been sent off to their translation consultant for checking and the team is now working on Acts and some of the shorter epistles. They feel that they are experiencing a major boost and that it’s full steam ahead!

Here are some ways that you can pray for the continued progress of the Kamuku project:

  • Praise God for the printer who is printing 1000 copies of Luke. Pray that they are good quality and available in good time for the launch.
  • Pray that the launch will boost interest in learning to read and write and that the project will be able to meet any increase in demand.
  • Pray that many will come along to the listening groups and that many lives will be changed as a result.
  • Pray the committee has wisdom as they use funds raised from the sale of the books. It is hoped that there will be enough money to employ a full-time translator.

Check out our goody bags and pray for significant needs faced by Bible translation projects.

Subscribe to receive our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and prayer information.

Choir links translation team to community

Monday, March 20th, 2017 by Ruth

Recording worship music in the mother tongue can be a great way to cause a language community to get excited about a new translation project.  Here’s a window on what is happening near Mbeya, Tanzania, describing a choir from the Bungu language community recording with Wycliffe member Jo Clifford and team:

Choir recording (photo: Mary Pence)

The voices seemed to soar in the tall church, as if filling a cathedral. Traditional lines of melody wove skilfully together. Chants arose like medieval prayers. Then, suddenly, in an amazing fusion with African tradition, drums began, then metal whistles followed by trilled yells, as if everyone were celebrating a wedding.

Jo was impressed with the choir’s preparation. They moved quickly through the first group of songs. All had been written or translated into Bungu expressly for this day. All had solidly worshipful themes: ‘Let Us Love All People’, ‘Come to Me All Who Are Troubled’, ‘Father Please Receive Our Gifts’, ‘I Am the True Vine, You Are the Branches.’

After the first set, everyone stopped to wipe their sweat and listen to the playback. Jo’s crew handed out bottles of water. A breeze through the tall windows felt good. Outside, a schoolboy drove a herd of goats through the churchyard. The largest stopped to scratch his hide impiously on one of the church’s front steps.

Among all the percussion instruments, only the whistle seemed store-bought. Animal skins stretched over tin buckets became drums, struck by fists or a thin branch. Soda caps strung on a wire were shaken. An empty soda bottle struck with a steel opener made a sharp, far-ringing clink. One woman twisted a three-legged stool — its leg bottoms had been shaped to scrape over the surface of an overturned earthenware cooking pot. Different sized pots achieved different sounds…

Choir recordings like this are important for the project because they can be done before Scripture translation, during those first slow years while linguists build alphabets, and local speakers train as translators. An audio CD is something the community can see and hold (and hear), long before any Scripture portion gets printed. And every choir wants to produce its own recordings — it’s one of the ultimate things a church choir can do here in Tanzania. So offering this service puts the project in very good standing in the church community.

But most of all, it lets people know that, as Jo says,
“God speaks their language.”

(Read full story on TheTask.net by Steve Pence, Language Team Administrator, Mbeya, Tanzania)

You can read more about Vernacular Music and Arts on the Wycliffe blog.

Standing firm in the face of attack

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Often, as a translation project nears completion it faces increased spiritual attack. The Keliko New Testament project from South Sudan is one that has faced far greater challenges than normal and yet the team are committed to reaching their goal: a finished New Testament.

Renewed fighting in South Sudan last July near the capital Juba brought new insecurities. Branch director Jackie Marshall picks up the story:

‘As the rebels left Juba after the clashes here, they moved westward towards Congo and this has ended up destabilising areas of Equatoria which have been quite stable and peaceful for many years. One of our translation and literacy projects is with the Keliko people who live close to the border with Uganda and Congo. Now many people have fled to live in refugee camps in Congo or northern Uganda including the families of two of the Keliko translators, Enos and Ezekiah, and Elisa Ayani, the Keliko literacy worker.

Elisa recently made a trip back into his area (through Congo as that is the safest way in) to see how things were. Unfortunately civilians end up getting caught between government and rebel sides and abused or sometimes killed as a result. I spoke to him on the phone about his trip and he said that the people live with a lot of fear, and communication and transport has become much more difficult. There are only three primary schools out of more than 20 still somewhat operating. Most people (including churches) have moved away from main paths or roads and try to live and farm deeper in the forest.

The Keliko translators have now left their wives in northern Uganda to return to Juba and are doing final reviews of books to lead up to typesetting in the next few months. It now seems as if they will have to launch their New Testament in northern Uganda rather than in their home area.’

Praise God that since Christmas, security in Juba has been good and it is a safe place for the Keliko translators to work.

Please pray:

  • for an end to all political unrest in South Sudan. Pray for all those who have been caught up in the conflict and are now living in refugee camps.
  • that the translation team, churches and God’s people would have the power and strength to live lives of love, grace and truth in this fractured society.
  • for the Keliko translators in the final checks before typesetting and printing of the New Testament. Ask God to help them produce a natural, clear and accurate translation.

Around the world many translation projects are facing challenges and need your prayers. Find out more about them by subscribing to our magazine Words for Life which is packed full of interesting articles and gives a daily prayer request as well.

Seeing with blind eyes

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

South Sudan is a struggling nation. Most recently it has hit the news as the first country in six years to face famine due to instability, fighting and economic collapse. Yet in the face of all these challenges God has enabled his work to continue and one people group called the Baka will soon have access to the word of God.

The launch of the New Testament and Genesis will take place in the home area of the Baka people in Western Equatoria on Sunday 12th March. Doug who worked with the project for a number of years explains why this is such as significant milestone:

‘Most Bakas are churchgoers, but many are still influenced by traditional animistic religious beliefs and practices. This is due largely to the lack of Scripture in their own language. Although Baka church leaders have conducted prayers, singing and preaching in the Baka language for a number of years, they have had to give the Scripture readings in languages that many of their parishioners understand only imperfectly, so they do not fully understand what the Scriptures really say.  

For this reason the Baka New Testament translation project was begun in the early 1980s. It would have been completed years ago, but decades of civil war have brought many delays and hardships. Nevertheless, the translation team has persevered, encouraged by people’s response to the early drafts of Scripture portions.

One old man said that previously when he heard Scripture read in another language, it was like seeing something far off in the distance — fuzzy and indistinct; but hearing it in his own language brought it up close — clear and detailed. A blind woman even said that when she heard Scripture in the Baka language, it was as though she could see it with her eyes!’

Please pray:

  • that the launch will be a wonderful day of celebration and that a lasting desire will be imparted to the believers to study the Scriptures in their language and to use them for spiritual growth and for outreach
  • for safe transportation of people and Bibles to the launch
  • for the Baka people to be enriched by the word of God and find comfort, healing and new life.

*SIL is our primary partner

Subscribe to our free magazine Words for Life to find out more about Bible translation and for daily prayer requests to enable more language communities, like the Baka, to receive God’s word in the language that speaks to their hearts.

I want to be a lion tamer!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 by Martin Horton

In all honesty, if you looked at a survey of the most exciting jobs ever created, lion taming would be near to the top, whereas accountancy would probably be nearer the bottom. However, accountancy is an incredibly valuable profession, both in business, society and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Right now one of our most urgent needs is for an accountant to work with a project in Papua New Guinea (PNG). You may remember that we wrote about this in June last year (Volunteer to make a difference). This position has been vacant for a long time but is crucial to the running of the office. It would be a significant answer to prayer if it was to be filled by the right person, be that a volunteer or someone who feels called to serve with Wycliffe long-term.

We also need an accountant in Cameroon. The team recruited a local accountant in November 2016 and feel that an additional, more experienced accountant could greatly help get their accounting done.

You may be wondering why Wycliffe needs more than just Bible translators. The fact is, we can’t accomplish our translation work without other people taking on crucial support roles. As a recent prayer letter from SIL* Chad mentioned, it is positions like these that keep their well-oiled machine running.

Please stand in the gap for these teams and pray that the right people will feel called to these two roles.

  • Please pray that God would provide the right person to support the local accountant in SIL Cameroon – a team player with the right skills who has caught the vision for Bible translation.
  • Please pray that God will answer the prayers of the team in PNG and send them the accountant that they urgently need.
  • Please pray that people’s eyes are opened to the many different and varied roles through which they can volunteer or serve with us, either in their home countries or overseas.

Find out how your skills could be used to support Bible translation. Alternatively go along to one of our First Steps events which act as a great introduction into the world of Bible translation.

Pray regularly for Bible 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.

*SIL is our primary partner.

What kind of love?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 by Ruth

In order to get the big picture of God’s Story in the Bible across, the little details – even down to a single letter – need to be carefully considered. But how much difference could one letter actually make?

Translator Lee Bramlett and his wife, Tammi, had learned that verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels. For almost every verb, they could find forms ending in i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?

Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, which included the most influential leaders in the community, “Could you dvi your wife?”

“Yes,” they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.

“Could you dva your wife?” Lee asked.

“Yes,” they said. That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.

“Could you dvu your wife?”  Lee asked. Everyone laughed.

“Of course not!” they said. “If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say dvu. It just doesn’t exist.”

Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God dvu people?”

There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded.

“Do you know what this would mean?” they asked. “This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected his great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”

One simple vowel, and the meaning was changed from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you based on who I am. I love you because of me and not because of you.”

Without the Bible in the language that people can understand, God’s message of love isn’t getting through. More than 160 million people speak languages that could communicate God’s love clearly to them, but they still don’t know it because there isn’t a single verse of Scripture translated into their language. It’s time to #endbiblepoverty. wycliffe.org.uk

Story originally from Bob Creson, wycliffe.net.
Photo courtesy Lee Bramlett and Wycliffe USA.

The fight to keep empowering the Deaf

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

In many parts of the world the Deaf are truly marginalised. Most Deaf children are born to hearing parents, and in many countries, paying for the type of specialist education a Deaf child needs isn’t generally considered a priority.

Even when their parents are willing to pay for their education, teaching in sign language isn’t necessarily available. Schools for the Deaf play a crucial role in empowering the Deaf, but there are not always enough places for everyone who needs one.

Because of this we are saddened to hear that one such school in Kenya, the Kibarani School for the Deaf, is possibly facing closure because a major financial supporter has withdrawn its funding. Staff from our partner DOOR International, together with Kenya’s national Deaf association, teach God’s word to nearly 200 Deaf students in the school and train teachers on a regular basis.

Kenyan schools are required to provide religious instruction, which presents a challenge to teachers who often either are not sufficiently proficient in sign language or don’t have a religious background and so don’t know how to teach Bible stories to the children. This gives DOOR a wonderful opportunity to not only teach the students about God’s word but also about God’s plan for their lives, at the same time as training the staff.

Please pray with us that:

  • God will provide ongoing sustainable funding for the Kibarani School for the Deaf, so that it can stay open and continue to empower Deaf children.
  • Praise God that the teachers remain dedicated to their jobs, even though they are not currently being paid.
  • Deaf students, who are learning the gospel through DOOR, understand how valuable they are in the eyes of God and would come to have a personal relationship with him.

Find out more and read the full article on Mission Network News.

Find out more about the work of DOOR International.

Pray for other marginalised people groups by subscribing to our magazine Words for Life which is packed full of interesting articles and gives a daily prayer request as well.