Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Pray right now for peace in CAR

Monday, September 28th, 2015

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.

From death to life

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

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.

Friday, September 18th, 2015

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’.

Rhythm and celebration

Monday, September 7th, 2015

‘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.

Transforming lives

Friday, August 28th, 2015

The Bible, in the heart language, transforms lives. Lives can only be changed however, if the translated Scripture is read or listened to, interacted with, understood and applied.

It’s easy to think that once the translation into a particular language is finished we do not need to continue praying. Yet this could be the most crucial time to pray because it is from here that the Scriptures can impact and transform lives. This focus has been picked up in Nigeria:

Picture1‘Earlier this year, at a Bible dedication in Nigeria, Justin Mbam Ogodo, a member of the Abakaliki Literacy and Translation Trust, welcomed a crowd of people who had come to celebrate the complete Bible in the Izii, Ikwo and Ezaa languages. “Today is a special day,” he began. “It is a day that proclaims the faithfulness of God.” Justin talked about the history of the translation projects and the challenges they faced. He thanked many people who were involved. And finally, he looked out at the crowd and said,

“Above all, we encourage you to ensure that these books are not for cobwebs, but for the use of the Holy Spirit as two-edged swords into the hearts of Izii, Ikwo and Ezaa people.”‘*

Wycliffe and our partners are involved in many activities to support engagement with the Scriptures as they are translated. From Sunday school teacher training to song-writing, Trauma Healing workshops to the JESUS Film we are working to provide God’s word in a form that is accessible and understandable to all, as well as all the helps that are needed to ensure that Bible translation truly results in transformed lives.

Will you keep on praying for the impact of the Scriptures on the lives of those who have not yet heard? To inspire you we’ve produced a new Frontline Prayer module Encountering God’s Word. It’s available now and free to download. Using videos and a PowerPoint to share information about Scripture Engagement, it provides about an hour’s worth of material to inspire prayer for people groups around the world as they receive God’s word in their heart language and engage with it. It’s easy to use and suitable for groups of any size.

Download ‘Encountering God’s Word.

*This story was first published by Wycliffe Bible Translators USA in The Intercessor.

Changing the course of history

Friday, July 31st, 2015

I recently read an article written by my colleague Alisha Carr who mobilises prayer for Bible translation in Nigeria. She laid down a challenge: to recognise that if we partner with God and the work he is doing through prayer, the course of history can be changed. I hope that you will be as inspired as I am.

IMG_2029Jesus’ prayer partnership with our Father changed the course of history. Jesus saw it as his job description to fulfill the will of his Father, who sent him. From him, we learn the lifestyle of obedient submission to our Father’s will, and also to welcome his will through our prayers. All of our horizontal partnership efforts in the Kingdom are built primarily upon this vertical partnership with God.

As we accept the invitation to join God in prayer partnership and see the world through his eyes, we begin to see how overwhelming the task is.

I hear his call going out over Nigeria, ‘…”The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields” ‘ (Matt. 9:37-38, NLT). With hundreds of languages in Nigeria waiting to receive even one verse of Scripture, there is an urgent cry for more workers.

The Spirit of God is waiting to birth fresh joy, life, hope and purpose through all parts of the Bible translation and language development process. From initial surveys and assessments to establishing an alphabet and writing system, to making dictionaries and primers, translating God’s word into written, audio, song and dramatic form to engage communities with practical training and tools to learn how to apply God’s word to all aspects of their lives.

This is all so that more people would come to know Jesus and worship Jesus in fulfillment of God’s will that none would perish and all would come to repentance, to the glory and honour of the Father. Through your prayers the Spirit of God is breathing fresh life over Nigerian language communities!

Joining God in prayerful partnership is always an honour and blessing. It is a partnership that can change the course of history.

May God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’

Alisha has applied these truths to Nigeria, a country with enormous needs for Bible translation. However, the principles are the same for every country where people are waiting for the Bible in their heart language.

Please join us in committing today to pray for God to send workers. Discover specific vacancies you can pray for God to fill or find out how you can get involved.

Stone or mountain? It’s in the tone

Monday, July 27th, 2015

It will probably come as no surprise that bringing a language from just a spoken form into written form is not an easy task. Also, not all languages are ‘created equal’; some are harder to write than others, and writing tonal languages well, that’s a whole different ball game. Johannes and Sharon, members of Wycliffe Switzerland, share some fascinating insight into the difficulties and complexities of translating the tonal language Mbelime.

‘One of the biggest problems of the Mbelime project remains the question of how to write the language (the spelling and punctuation rules that make up a written language are known as its “orthography”). Mbelime is a tonal language that has three distinct tone levels. This means that the tone level of a word changes its meaning. For example, if the vowel a of the word ditade is pronounced with a high tone, it means “stone”. When a is pronounced with a lower tone, however, it means “mountain”.

When the language was  first written in the 1970s, tone levels were not marked. Accordingly, readers found it difficult to read since they had to first figure out which tonal variation would apply to some of the words so that the text would make sense. Following further linguistic analysis, people started to mark tones. The stone was now written as dītáde, while mountain became dītāde. This rendered the two words distinctive in the orthography, which made the language easier to read. On the other hand, the text was now crowded with accents, which means that people still read very slowly.

Over the years many people, including literacy teachers, have told us how difficult they find it to write Mbelime. At the moment there are only a handful of people who master writing Mbelime correctly, among them Bienvenu and Claire. The three translators also find the current orthography a big challenge. Unfortunately, they feel that the current work pressure is hindering them from coming to grips with this. Bienvenu and Claire are currently reading through the first full draft of the gospel of Luke to correct the orthography. This is a lot of work and they’ll have to thoroughly proofread it twice. The orthography problem is so complex that we need a specialist who is well versed both in the tonology of African languages as well as in questions of orthography design. These people are a truly rare breed. One of them, David Roberts,  recently returned to Togo  and proposed including Mbelime in a comparative study with several other languages, as Mbelime is far from being the only language with this challenge.

Johannes, Bienvenu and Claire prepared the texts needed for the proposed reading experiment, for which we invited the best Mbelime readers. David came to Cobly in mid-June for three days during which he led the experiment (see photo). We recorded 32 people who read two short texts with the tones marked and two texts without the tone accents. They also had twenty minutes to write tones on two texts. In early July Bienvenu and Johannes went to Kara for a week to start analysing the recordings and texts together with the other four language groups that participated in the experiment.

It will be a while before we will be ready to have another orthography reform, but we’re thrilled that another important step towards it is finally happening.’

Keep up to date with the latest Wycliffe UK news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

You can help the work of Bible translation, either through prayer, giving or going. Find out how you can be involved.

Beauty for ashes

Monday, July 13th, 2015

We all have our own stories to tell of the journey that God has taken us on, each different to the next. Here’s a brilliant story about Goma Mabele. Goma is currently the director of ACOTBA-SUBO*, a Wycliffe organisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through Goma and his team, their community has seen change brought about by the translation of Scripture and publication of literature into their heart language – Mbandja. The road to this point for Goma however, was far from straightforward:

‘I’ve seen God’s hand in all of this. He told me, “This is building your character so that you can help others.” The Christian life isn’t just a straight path. There are a lot of curves. This is how he has moulded me.’

Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) shortly after the country gained its independence in 1960, Goma Mabele was raised by a single mother in a tumultuous political landscape, where poverty and death never seemed far away.

One morning when Goma was a teenager, he stopped by a friend’s home on the way to school. They planned to walk to school together, but his friend had not finished breakfast. Goma decided to continue alone. A heavy rain had drenched that area the night before. Just moments after Goma left, thousands of pounds of mud abruptly slid down into the valley where his friend lived, burying people and destroying homes.

‘Seventeen students died that day,’ Goma recalls. ‘I never saw that neighbour again. I knew that if I had been with him, I would have been dead too. That’s when I understood that God had a plan for me. That’s when I accepted him.’

Read Goma’s story.

Find out how you can support the work of Bible translation; no matter what your skills or interests, you can be involved.


*Association Congolaise Traduction de la Bible et Alphabétisation – Sukisa Boyinga (Congolese Bible Translation and Literacy Association – Conquer Ignorance)




Three unexpected guests

Monday, July 6th, 2015

How long would you wait for God to move in your community? Here is a great story from Tanzania of three church leaders who, after hearing that work had been started on translating Scripture into their own language of Ndali (something they had been waiting years for!), journeyed from their community to visit the translation team in Mbeya. Mark, a member of the translation team, recounts their visit:

‘After introducing themselves they presented a letter, asking that they be kept informed of the progress of the project, attend advisory meetings, and have access to the books that are being distributed. Their desire for Ndali books was obvious, as they explained how they use Scriptures from the neighbouring Ngonde language in church, despite it being difficult for them to understand.

Seeing some of the Bible books that our office has produced in Ndali, their eyes lit up with excitement! They pleaded that they should at least be able to take home a sample of the books, as they think through how to build a sustainable distribution network. “The people back home will not believe that these books really exist!” they exclaimed, “except there are three of us, so they’ll have to believe us!”

As they were preparing to start their journey back home, one of the men turned to me and said, “I am old, like Simeon in the Bible. Simeon had been waiting for many years to see God save his people, and was overjoyed when he finally saw Jesus when he was a very old man. I tried to start the work of translation many years ago, and now I feel like Simeon, that I have finally seen what I have been waiting for all these years!” ‘

Read the full story on Mark’s blog:

You can help bring God’s word to people in their heart language in many ways! Find out how you can be involved.

Equipping the right people for the task

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Where Bible translation is concerned, a passion for the task at hand is vital, but not all that is required. In order to produce a high-quality, natural-sounding, accurate translation, people willing to do the task need to be given the right training.

Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) in the North West region of Cameroon has chosen to take an active role in Bible translation. By sponsoring a Bible translation degree programme, they are training Cameroonian Bible translators and expanding the available resources for Bible translation in their country.

Emmanuel Keyeh

Emmanuel Keyeh, CABTAL staff member and an adjunct professor at CBTS, teaches a mother tongue literacy course that is part of the Bachelor of Arts in Bible Translation programme.

CABTAL* staff member Emmanuel Keyeh teaches mother tongue literacy at the seminary. He says the Bible translation programme is an intentional way to help get the right people involved and trained in the Bible translation ministry, so that they have the appropriate skills to serve their own people.

Rev. Nseimboh Johnson Nyiangoh is the current president of CBTS. He believes that the use of mother tongue Scriptures is vital. He works in the area of counselling, and he’s found that many people’s difficulties are tied to their struggle to keep their identity.

‘Our mother tongue is our identity,’ he says. ‘When the Bible speaks to people in their mother tongue, it touches them at their heart. They begin to see God like their God.’

A Translator for Every Language Community

Since the Bible translation degree program at CBTS started, 21 people have graduated, and 18 of these are serving in Bible translation projects.

Efi Tembon, director of CABTAL, says when Cameroonians are trained in Bible translation, their experience and skills stay in the community and lead to a more sustainable Bible translation movement.

And, with around 100 languages still needing a Bible translation, Rev. Mbongko says that much work has yet to be done to train an adequate number of personnel.

‘We want to give each language group a trained theologian and Bible translator,’ he says.

Please join us in prayer:

  • Thank God that Cameroonian Bible translators are being trained and using their skills
  • Pray that God would provide all the resources CBTS needs
  • Pray that God would make a way for CBTS to train people from more than 50 language communities in Cameroon
  • Pray that God would raise up men and women who have a burden for Bible translation


The information for this post was taken from Developing Deep Roots in Scripture by Elaine Bombay. Read the full article here.

* CABTAL (Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy) is a participating organization in the Wycliffe Global Alliance.

Photo by Rodney Ballard