Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Update on CAR

Friday, February 5th, 2016

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.

Where faith comes by hearing: making audio Scriptures in Tanzania

Monday, January 25th, 2016

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!

Pray for South Sudan!

Friday, January 15th, 2016

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.

A DOOR to the Good News

Friday, January 8th, 2016

There are an estimated 400 different sign languages in the world, yet there is not a complete sign-language Bible in any of them. Thought to number about 70 million globally, the Deaf* are perhaps the largest unreached people group. Less than 2% of the world’s Deaf know Christ.

DOOR International Celebrates the completion of DVD Scripture for sign languages in Ghana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria, and the completion of a video commentary ("The Deeps") for Kenyan Sign Language. Charles Ojok, Ugandan Sign translator, lifts the completed Scripture DVDs in Ugandan Sign Language.

DOOR International Celebrates the completion of DVD Scripture for sign languages in Ghana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria, and the completion of a video commentary (“The Deeps”) for Kenyan Sign Language.
Charles Ojok, Ugandan Sign translator, lifts the completed Scripture DVDs in Ugandan Sign Language.

These are pretty shocking statistics, but things are on track to change. Deaf Opportunity OutReach (DOOR international) was incorporated as a non-profit in July of 1999 with the mission ‘to bring God’s Word and reproducing Christian fellowships to the Deaf of the world.’

DOOR has training and translation centres in Kenya, India and the USA. I had the privilege of visiting the DOOR centre near Nairobi. This purpose-built hub serves Deaf translation teams from around Africa as well as some from Europe, providing accommodation, state of the art technology and filming studios, on-site training and advice from consultants.

Deaf Translation Teams come to the DOOR centre to work for several months at a time, and then return to their communities to test what they have translated. At the centre, they are able to share with other Deaf translation teams working at the same time, and pool their wisdom to overcome challenges that they encounter.

At first, teams translate and video 110 Bible story sets using a Chronological Bible Storying/Study (CBS) approach. Praise God that teams from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Burundi and Ethiopia have completed these initial story sets and have moved onto further translation work. Currently teams from Bulgaria, Russia, South Sudan and Nigeria have started working on these initial story sets.

Praise God for this facility. However, the process isn’t without its challenges. Other than the Kenya Sign Language team, everyone is working in a culture that is not their own. Translators are away from home for extended periods of time which puts pressure on family relationships, and broken relationships can damage the witness of the translation. Limited finances mean that teams cannot travel between home and the DOOR centre in Kenya as often as they would like.

Please stand in the gap for the Deaf translation teams:

  • Pray protection over the translators and their families.
  • Ask God to help translators to make necessary cultural adjustments.
  • Ask God to provide financially for all the sign-language translations.
  • Pray that each team will have wisdom to translate with accuracy and naturalness.
  • Pray that the Deaf communities of these countries would be strongly impacted by God’s word, with many coming to know Christ for the first time.

Find out more about DOOR’s work or have a look at their website, be sure to watch the 4 videos in the Photo Gallery.

Check out Deaf Sign Language Bibles.

*Deaf is generally capitalised when it refers to not just hearing loss, but Deaf culture.

 

Kasem Scripture launch

Monday, January 4th, 2016

This is a very special story of two Wycliffe members, Philip and Judy Hewer, who spent time working with the Kasem language group and who recently had the joy of being able to join in and celebrate the completion of the Kasem Bible along with colleagues and old friends.

Back in 1962 when Wycliffe first started work in Africa, the Kasem language group was one of the first language groups to receive a Wycliffe team. With around 366,000 speakers, Kasem is a language that is spoken in both Burkina Faso and Ghana and November 15 saw the long awaited completion of the Kasem Bible!

Photo by Otabil ArthurPhilip and Judy joined the Kasem project 10 years after its start, settling in Paga, a Kasena* village on the northern border of Ghana. After getting to grips with local language and culture, they facilitated translation of the New Testament, as well as preparing literacy materials and training volunteer teachers for adult classes. The Kasem New Testament was published as early as 1988!

Though they have been back in the UK for many years now, this November Philip and Judy returned to Ghana to celebrate the launch of the whole Bible in Kasem. On the day, people pressed forward to buy a Bible in their own mother tongue and once they had their hands on one, many were so deeply engrossed that they paid little attention to further proceedings.

Representatives of supporters from the UK were also able to travel to Ghana to join in these celebrations. Tony came to represent Philip and Judy’s original sending church in Maidstone, who have faithfully supported their work with the Kasena by means of a monthly gift for 43 years! So many people and churches in Ghana, in the UK and around the world have been part of bringing the Bible to the Kasena people in the language of their hearts.

Now they may respond to God’s message in a way appropriate to their own culture without the need for interpretation by outsiders.

Kumasi 018 Presby music group ota (2)   Kumasi 068 a Bible at last ota (2)   Kumasi 083 Bible reader 4 ota (2)

For further information on the Kasem, including sound samples of the language(!), visit joshuaproject.net.

Interested in supporting the work of Bible translation? Find out more on how you can Go, Give or Pray.

*Kasena is the adjective form of Kasem

Photos by Otabil Arthur

CAR: Peace and elections

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Let’s keep praying for the Central African Republic.

Our last two prayer posts for CAR have mainly focussed on praying for God to bring an end to the violence and unrest in the country, especially Bangui (the capital), and for God to comfort all those affected by the violence. We need to keep praying for these things, especially in the face of forthcoming elections.

Bangui2There are two elections coming up, the parliamentary elections and the first round of the presidential elections on 27th December, and the second round on 31st January.

There are still significant tensions between different communities both in Bangui and in the country as a whole, despite many efforts at reconciliation. Community tensions bubble over into cycles of violence and reprisals extremely quickly. The violence in Bangui at the end of September and early October, which resulted in around 70 deaths and hundreds wounded, was sparked off by one murder after six months of relative stability. Overnight, Bangui went from a relatively peaceful city to one of burning barricades, violent murders and helicopters flying overhead. No-one would have predicted that the situation could spiral so rapidly and this is especially a concern in light of the upcoming elections.

It is particularly important that there are no inflammatory murders or kidnappings around this period of elections and that people are slow to be provoked to anger and revenge. Nobody can say whether tensions will explode into violence again during this time or not, but there is certainly the potential for significant violence if any sparks should fly.

Pray with us:

  • For special protection over the country during the three upcoming elections.
  • That the elections would be fair and democratic, and that God would open the door for the right person to step into the role of president, and use that person as a channel for change.
  • Ask God to bring an end to unrest in the country, and for his peace to reign.
  • Pray that God would use the current situation, horrible as it is, to ultimately draw people to him and change hearts and lives.

For more information about the Central African Republic to help you pray, BBC News offers a good overview.

 

A Christmas present 20 years in the making

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

This month, Wycliffe members Simon and Lynn Caudwell, who are usually based in the UK, are in South-West Ethiopia, poised to celebrate a Scripture launch which is very close to their hearts. 10,000 copies of the Basketo New Testament are ready to be distributed, and preparations for a party have been underway for weeks!

The podium in the front of a rural church.This celebration, which will take place on in two days’ time, on Saturday 26th, is the culmination of the Bible translation project that has been part of Simon and Lynn’s lives for the last 20 years. Rejoice with us in the new hope and new possibilities coming to the next generation of Basketo Christians!

The Basketo community, numbering close to 100,000 people, has been waiting expectantly for this moment and now, this Christmas, many of them will be able to hold and read for themselves – in their own language – the message of the good news of Jesus.

Pray:

  • Praise God that this long-awaited moment has finally come: that the New Testament is now available in Basketo!
  • Pray for God’s word to impact lives and bring about the change only God can.
  • •Please pray that nothing will interfere with the planning of the launch itself, and protection for each and every person travelling to the event, whether from overseas or from within Ethiopia.

Want more about the impact of God’s word in Southern Ethiopia? See how another people group, the Gamo, react to the JESUS Film in this powerful video.

The sweetness of Scripture

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Can you remember suddenly understanding something significant for the first time…? I mean, really understanding it. That light bulb moment. When all of a sudden, a flood of revelation fell on the matter, and it suddenly made sense!

I would imagine you were feeling pretty excited and joyful at the time. Well, this is probably somewhat like the experiences of the Nigerian Gworog language community when they first heard Scripture in their heart language. When they could finally understand it..and started chuckling!

Here’s a brilliant account of this moment from Marinne Weststrate, a literacy and education coordinator involved in Scripture use, of her experience in a church service with the Gworog in central Nigeria. A service much different to the norm. For the very first time, they heard Scripture in their heart language. Marinne shares this personal reflection from her time serving the Gworog people.

Gworog Cultural Festival 2015

Gworog Cultural Festival 2015

‘It is a Sunday morning in Kagoro and I decide to attend a Hausa* speaking church. Once inside, very quickly I am surrounded by elderly Gworog women that smile when I greet them in Gworog.

The service starts and the prayers, songs and announcements that follow are in Hausa. But that changes as soon as the guest speaker for today is invited to preach; he does not know Hausa, and therefore preaches in English. However, one of the Gworog Bible translators had come along and reads the passage from Philippians in Gworog. Everybody listens attentively and from behind me I hear chuckles from the women…the translator finishes the reading. The sermon starts and again, as soon as the translator starts his interpretation into Gworog I hear the chuckles again; and not just only from the women behind me but everywhere in church I hear chuckles and whispering. Then the chuckles stop but the attention continues till the end of the sermon. “Hearing the Word in Gworog is so sweet!” exclaims one of the women after the service.

And indeed hearing the Word in our heart language is sweet because the Word is sweet: “They (the ordinances) are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey from the comb.” (Ps 19:10 NIV)’

*Hausa is one of the majority languages in Nigeria.

Unsung heroes

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Sometimes the most essential parts of a machine are the parts you don’t see. Take Regional Accounting Services (RAS), a team based in Nairobi, of just five people, who I had the chance to meet recently. Their work affects Bible translation and language development teams and people groups in 12 different countries in Africa.

regional accounting servicesRAS is an awesome, behind-the-scenes group of people who ensure that the allotted finances get to the projects in these 12 countries and that the books are kept accurately and transparently.

Due to organisational change, the team have been experiencing several challenges. The way that finances are being allocated by donors has led to structural change, leading in turn to more work without extra manpower. The structural changes have not just meant more day-to-day work but have actually led to government audits and may also mean new and hefty tax bills. So, the team often work long hours to try to bring the best resolution to these issues.

As I sat and talked with the RAS team, what impressed me the most was that the team’s primary concern was clearly for their colleagues working in each of the 12 nations rather than for themselves. They were visibly moved by the situations these colleagues face; not least the need for favour from various governments, and the insecurity in several countries.

Please pray for the team, led by John with Carol, June, Jane and Nic:

  • that the team will find encouragement and strength in their relationships with God as they face the challenges at work.
  • that God would grant them favour with the various governments in Africa who are struggling to understand the changes in the way that the accounting is being done.
  • that God would bring peace to nations experiencing terrorist attacks and civil war in Africa. Ask God to open doors for translation to continue in these nations and bring hope and life transformation to many.
  • that God, in these uncertain times, would provide for the RAS team and their families.

Do you have a head for numbers? Find out how you could support Bible translation using your skills.

An app with eternal significance

Monday, December 7th, 2015

The progression of technology has opened the door to a great many things. Music in your pocket? No problem. Real-time video conversations with friends in other parts of the world from the palm of your hand? Sure. Technology does of course offer us more than just convenience – including vital progressions within medicine, finance, aid…the list goes on.

MobilephoneTech is also opening doors for accessing God’s word throughout the world. With the widespread availability of smartphones and tablets, it’s easier than ever to access Scripture. (I suspect that there is a very high likelihood that the following applies to many of us: Smartphone = Bible app).

For many, this may also be the safest way to engage with God’s word. Mobile devices have opened up opportunities for people to read and engage with Scripture in their own language where it might otherwise be very difficult to do so, for instance because of persecution. This alone is amazing.

Digital platforms are creating opportunities for Christians everywhere to grow in their walk with Christ! One of the places exciting new opportunities are opening up is Tanzania. Through the Google Play store, some of the language groups in Tanzania now have their own Bible app, available on Android devices, where they can access the books of the Bible as they become available in their languages. You can check them out and listen to the sound of the local languages by downloading the ‘Biblia katika Kinyakyusa’ app on Google Play.

As you may have guessed though, it’s only through the expertise and dedication of people creating these apps and recording these Scriptures along with translators that this is possible. If you’d like to know more and find out how you can be involved, check out the varied roles and opportunities we have within Wycliffe.