Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

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.

Rendering God’s word clearly in the beautiful language of Kinga

Monday, February 6th, 2017 by Camilla

‘Lord, we ask you now for wisdom to render your word clearly into the beautiful language of Kinga.’

In the Mbeya cluster project’s offices in southwest Tanzania, Bible translation consultant Samuel Mubbala opened the day’s work with that prayer in his soft mellow voice. At the table also were Kinga pastors and translators Saul Lwilla and Zakayo Swallo. A draft of Hebrews 10 in Kinga shone brightly, projected on the wall. Their laptop computers were open, ready to edit the text.

To make a translation of God’s word ready for people’s hearts, it must be carefully checked. Samuel has been checking the work of other Bible translators since finishing a translation in his own Ugandan mother tongue several years ago. Today his job would be easy. Lwilla and Swallo are nearing the end of the Kinga New Testament project and their work has become very good.

Today’s work on Hebrews 10 began by simply reading. Samuel read aloud slowly in English. Saul followed him, reading the Kinga draft. Both spoke with feeling, clearly savouring the great truths of covenant and sacrifice. After each section was read, they discussed notes from Samuel’s study of the draft. Should the Kinga word for ox be used for bull? Should we say ‘the first covenant’ or ‘the old covenant’? In some African languages, God’s glory can be confused with shining. Does Kinga have this problem?

But the problems and notes were few. Yes, the work was very good. Good enough to impact these three men even in the midst of their checking. While reviewing covenant theology, Samuel suddenly became very personal.

‘When we come to Christ, something is…’ Samuel hesitated, obviously searching his own heart. ‘Something is “installed” in us,’ he continued. ‘We receive a new person and a new life. That is why [God] said, “I’ll make a new covenant. I’ll write the laws in your heart.” And we call that [being] born again.’

Lwilla and Swallo smiled and laughed, knowingly.

For two more days, these three African brothers continued smiling and laughing and thinking together very carefully through the remainder of Kinga Hebrews. Still, the text was not yet ready. Reviewers in the Kinga community must also agree. And as the Kinga New Testament approaches completion, the entire manuscript must be reviewed and typeset.

It will soon be planting season on the Kinga mountainsides. Good seed will receive summer rain and grow. The same will soon be true of God’s seed; his word ‘in the beautiful language of Kinga.’

This blog post is adapted from a story which originally appeared on Wycliffe Global Alliance’s website. Read the original story here.

Discover more stories from the Mbeya-Iringa cluster project!

Lifted out of depression by good news

Monday, 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

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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.

 

 

Resolve to make a difference

Thursday, 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.

Robert Moffat: 1795 – 1883

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 by Ruth

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of Robert Moffat, a Scottish missionary to South Africa. He worked in one mission station, Kuruman, in the north of the country for half a century. It came to be known as a ‘fountain of Christianity’.

The station was subject to robbery and violence; and yet, just 5 years after Moffat began working there, church services were packed. Additional to this work, Moffat was also a self-taught linguist. Within a year, he had written a grammar of the Setswana (Tswana) language and begun translating Luke.

This was to become what one biographer calls his ‘greatest legacy’, and it was certainly the most exhausting thing he ever did: the Setswana Bible was completed in 1857. He printed it on a hand press, and it was the first complete Bible printed in Africa.

He recalled this exchange between the Christians and non-Christians at the Kuruman base:

When the heathen saw the converts reading the Book which had produced this change, they inquired if they (the converts) talked to it. “No,” answered they, “it talks to us; for it is the Word of God.”

“What then,” replied the strangers, “does it speak?”

“Yes,” said the Christians, “it speaks to the heart!” * From David J Deane’s biography.

Moffat left a legacy. Additional to the massive impact of the Setswana Bible, he was also profusely enthusiastic about calling others to God’s work. His life may seem chronologically and geographically separate from ours, but the call is the same for us as for him: people are waiting to hear God’s word in their own language. You can be involved.

Save

The impact of Learning that LASTS

Thursday, December 8th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

In the last year or so we’ve sometimes asked you to pray for Learning that LASTS training courses that have taken place in East Africa. Whilst this course is being run around the world, recently one of the training staff from Nairobi, visited us and we were so excited by his feedback that we decided to pass it on so that you can be encouraged that your prayers are being answered!

light-bulb-1425824Learning that LASTS is a week-long training programme which equips teachers to communicate, challenge, inspire and teach their students better. Due to the high demand for this sort of training, as many as six or seven of these courses have been run over the past 18 months. The courses have been open to staff and local churches as well as partner organisations. Several church leaders as well as personnel from partner organisations have profited from taking the course.

A member of one of our partner organisations used the principles learnt in Learning that LASTS in South Sudan and said that it was like a light went on as those he was training understood much better what he was aiming to communicate.

One church leader who runs discipleship courses for men in his church said that the year before he took Learning that LASTS, he had 16 men finish his discipleship course. The year after he took the course he had 60 complete the training, and this year he is hoping for 90!

Praise God with us for how he is equipping those who teach and train his church.

A Learning that Lasts course was held at the end of November in Nairobi, Kenya. Please pray for:

  • the participants to put into practice what they have learnt
  • fruit from their ministries as they communicate more clearly and train more effectively.

Learning that Lasts is run in the UK too. Please pray for a course which is currently underway at Redcliffe College in Gloucester:

  • ask God to help the participants to understand the content well and for it to impact the way that they teach and train.

Why not subscribe to receive daily prayer requests straight to your email inbox.