Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Prayer-driven progress

Thursday, December 1st, 2016 by Jo Johnson

In our prayer goody bag Finishing in God’s time you can watch a short video about the struggles that the Mangbetu project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has faced. Thank you for praying for the team. We are excited to be able to let you know that your prayers are making a difference!

mangbetu-team-and-doug-11-162There is a national team running the Mangbetu project and their translation consultant, Doug, has just returned from a successful visit to work with the team. Here is an excerpt from Doug’s report written towards the end of his trip:

‘The Mangbetu team (Marcel, Nicolas and Idrissa), consultant-in-training, André, and I have experienced good health (as have our families), warm relationships and excellent progress. We’ve all been aware of God’s special grace and blessing, including relatively few obstacles (which are normally part of everyday life here in Congo). We certainly attribute that to your prayers (including those of our partners) and the Lord’s faithfulness. In the checking work, we’re now in the 10th chapter of Mark (about a chapter per day), and continue to reach close to publishing quality. With the Spirit’s inspiration, we’ve found improvements for more than 10 key biblical terms in Mangbetu – for instance, “to repent” is “to turn one’s heart toward God”, and “to betray someone” is “to sell someone into the hands of their enemies”. We’ve also discovered and noted more than a dozen grammatical rules that will help the team improve the accuracy and consistency of their translation.’

Praise God for so much progress in a relatively short time.

Doug also expresses how overwhelming the challenges can be:

‘I was thinking about the seemingly impossible task of bringing God’s word to the remaining 120 or so language groups in Congo who are still waiting. His word in their heart languages would bring many more to faith in Christ, give them assurance of his love and hope for the future….If we offer ourselves fully and put our trust in him, he has promised to accomplish the impossible both in us and through us all!’

Please stand in the gap for the Mangbetu project, thanking God for all he is doing, and praying:

  • For protection and continued unity for the team working in the DRC
  • That God would provide for all their needs
  • That God would use Doug, Marcel, Nicolas, Idrissa, back translator Jean and consultant-in-training André to accomplish his purposes for the Mangbetu people.

Check out our prayer goody bags to pray for more teams who are facing challenges.

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

Anna grows in confidence

Monday, November 7th, 2016 by Camilla

Anna sits quietly in the circle of workshop attendees, eagerly listening to the conversation and poring over the words of her Setswana translated Bible.

Anna is a single mother from the village of Kapatura in northern Botswana. She took part in a cluster project. ‘The first time I heard some speak about the Bible was the first time I was interested in the Bible. I used to hear the Bible, but wasn’t really interested until then,’ says Anna.

confident-annaNever before had Anna received the opportunity to learn the Scriptures for herself instead of having someone tell her. The churches she used to attend taught false doctrines, she says, and convinced members that the only way to know God was directly through the pastors in charge rather than through the Bible.

When Anna began attending Sunday morning Bible study, she was suddenly handed the power and confidence to listen, ask questions and learn more and more about God’s word for herself. Each week, those that attend the studies practice their ability to memorise, internalise and then share a new Bible story. They work together to reach the best translation, and everyone’s opinion – no matter their age or background – is viewed equally.

Anna talks about the difference the ability to wholeheartedly pursue true knowledge of the Bible has made in her life. ‘I used to only know God by mouth, but now, by learning the Bible, I know this is where my life is. If I hold onto the Bible, I will have a good life.’

God is clearly using Anna and she has already begun to narrate Bible stories to her family at home, and her plan to share with the youth around her is inspiring and impressive. Here is a timid and seemingly unqualified woman proving that God’s love doesn’t differentiate.

Thankful and passionately ready to move forward, Anna prays that her actions bring glory to God.

This story originally appeared on our partner organisation the Seed Company’s website.

Interested in supporting the work of Bible translation? Find out more on how you can go, give or pray.

Hark! The Nyiha team is singing…

Monday, October 31st, 2016 by Camilla

Helen Eaton works as a linguist in the Mbeya Cluster Project, which serves 13 language groups in south-western Tanzania. She writes:

Christmas has come very early in the Mbeya office this year. Earlier this month the sounds of While Shepherds Watched in the Nyiha language were heard drifting through the office, along with a certain amount of giggling from the singers, it has to be said. The singing was not a case of the heat of Mbeya in October affecting our sanity, but actually an indication that we were hard at work, since our task for this week was to check a Nyiha hymn book.

The three Nyiha translators Helen works with

As well as breaking some spelling rules (eg using contractions) to make the songs singable, we were pondering whether to update some of the words in the hymns, especially if they are very hard to understand. Wherever we made changes, we had to check that the words still fit the tune, and that’s where the singing came in. Most of the hymns are not Christmas carols, so we were mainly able to do this with a straight face!

We spent three full days on the check and were very glad to reach the end yesterday afternoon. When a translator working on another language realised what we were up to, he told me that once we’d finished the Nyiha version, we should do a version in his language too, as they would love to be able to sing hymns in their language. I have a feeling that this might not be the last time I get to spend my workdays singing songs!

Read more about the amazing stuff going on in Uganda and Tanzania at!

Update from CAR

Thursday, October 27th, 2016 by Camilla

Thank you to everyone who read our blog post Computers looted and databases lost and prayed for our partner ACATBA’s IT challenges last week.

img_4739We are pleased to report we have received good news from ACATBA. IT specialist Mike has managed to recover the database, and the accounting computer has been fixed. This is an amazing answer to prayer! Thank you for standing with us and praying!

We are excited about this answer to prayer, and hope it is only the beginnings of more good things to come. Let’s keep praying for the team in CAR:

  • Pray for a dedicated, long-term IT specialist to join the team in Bangui, to keep things running smoothly and avert future IT crises
  • Ask God to provide the 24 new computers ACATBA still needs to replace systems that were looted or that have worn out
  • Pray for the 22 language communities ACATBA is working in. Pray that those nearing completion of their New Testaments would progress rapidly to the finish line without further hurdles to negotiate, that those in earlier stages would continue the long haul towards their goal, and that God would open doors for translation to take off in those languages that currently only have a few verses of Scripture.
  • Pray most for all people to be transformed by God’s word in their heart language.

Is it news to you that Wycliffe needs IT specialists? Find out more about how you could get involved using your IT skills.

God is changing lives in central Africa

Thursday, October 27th, 2016 by Camilla

Colossians 1:6 says ‘This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives…’ (NLT)

At this very moment, the good news is bearing fruit in central Africa. God is changing lives as followers of the majority religion in a region in central Africa hear the gospel in a language they can truly understand for the first time.

Wycliffe Bible Translators is working with partners to translate New Testaments or Bible portions in 11 different languages to support local believers in the crucial work of evangelism and discipleship.

use-image-for-prayer-cardWe’d love to share a short story about one evangelist who faithfully proclaimed the gospel in this region:

Carrying Scripture and audio Bible portions, *Ali and another local Christian travelled 40 miles over difficult terrain to a large village. The leader of the village received them warmly, and Ali told him about the Lord Jesus who came to earth to save sinners.

His message made an immediate impact on the village leader, who said, ‘I want you to go to all the villages in my area with this message. Don’t leave a single one out!’ So the evangelist and his friend visited several villages, distributing Bible portions in print and in audio wherever they went.

One week later they set off again to see how people had received the news. They rejoiced as they arrived in the first village to discover that people had read and listened to God’s word. Three people publically stated that they wanted to ‘follow the way of Jesus’.

Today, please join us in prayer for this work:

  • Praise God for *Ali’s work and the impact it has had on this region
  • Pray for more followers of the majority religion in this region of central Africa to have access to Scripture in their language
  • Please pray for adequate funding for the team to carry out the work that is planned this year
  • Pray for Bible listening groups (audio Bible study groups) and those helping people understand the good news of Jesus
  • Pray for technology (computers, solar panels, etc) to work reliably as technical issues often slow down the work

If you would also like to support this work financially, you can give online now.

*Name changed for security reasons

Computers looted and databases lost – please pray!

Monday, October 17th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

Today we are requesting urgent prayer for ACATBA, one of our partner organisations in the Central African Republic.

ACATBA* exists to promote local language development, Bible translation, literacy and community development in the Central African Republic. These would be big goals in an easy environment, but when you live in a nation that has been beset with political instability and significant unrest with large portions of the population internally displaced, how much more challenging does reaching your goals become?

img_4739As an organisation, ACATBA is facing some significant challenges which are crippling their efforts. Primary amongst these are issues with their computers. They told us that a few days ago their accounting computer stopped working. An IT specialist from the US called Mike is working online to try to save the accounting database which will otherwise be lost.

Please thank God for Mike and ask him to help Mike recover the database. Ask God to provide ACATBA Finance Services with two new computers with the appropriate software and comprehensive training so that their staff can use them well.

During the last 5 years, ACATBA funding for projects has decreased and there has not been available finance for new computers. During the civil war in the Central African Republic, a significant proportion of ACATBA equipment was looted and some computers were just too old and died. ACATBA is in need of 24 new computers to resume the work of Bible translation in the Central African Republic.

Please pray for ACATBA projects in CAR, that God would provide the computers they need. Pray also for the 22 language communities with which ACATBA is working, that God would open a way for translation to move forward so that these communities can access and be transformed by God’s word in their language.

Find out other prayer needs for the Central African Republic.

Did you know that you can subscribe to receive prayer requests daily, by email?

*ACATBA stands for Association Centrafricaine pour la Traduction de la Bible et l’Alphabétisation (the Central African Association for Bible Translation and Literacy).

Bible stories come to life

Monday, October 10th, 2016 by Camilla

When Banko Myle met a paralysed woman in her Banna village, he told her a story he’d just learned.

It was the gospel story of Jesus healing the bleeding woman (Matthew 9).

‘Can that same Jesus heal me?’ she asked.

He assured her Jesus could — both from her physical sickness and from her sin. Banko prayed for her.

When he visited her the next day, she was trying to stand, supported with a stick. On the third day she was walking. By the fourth day she was serving; she prepared coffee for Banko.

banko-myleA week after first meeting Banko, the woman praised God.

‘I was despised and neglected for many years because I was paralysed, but God healed me,’ she said. ‘I believe in him and I follow him.’

Before he learned to tell Bible stories, Banko didn’t share the gospel message with unbelievers in Ethiopia. For him, preaching from the Amharic Bible was for Christians. But storytelling in people’s everyday language provides a bridge from evangelists to the Bible.

‘We don’t need to carry around a book to share the gospel with others. We carry the stories in our hearts. Whenever I meet someone, I can share stories and talk about the meaning.’

Banko also enjoys telling the creation story. When people learn about God, many wonder why he allows sickness and death. Banko gives them an answer they understand by explaining the fall of man and then he explains God’s solution through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Banko has seen transformation in his own life. Now he’s watching God change his community by removing obstacles to faith. Where people used to seek healing from traditional healers, now many are praying and seeking insight from Scripture.

‘I have seen the power of God’s word in the Banna language,’ he says. ‘We used to think that the only person who could minister is the one who can read and write. But now everyone — even laypeople — are ministering and boldly sharing their faith.’

This story originally appeared on our partner The Seed Company’s website.

Intrigued? Find out how you could get involved.

Grinding to a halt

Thursday, September 29th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

What do you find encouraging? We think that making progress in a task or towards a goal can be very encouraging and can help us press on. Conversely, watching others moving forwards when we ourselves are not can be very discouraging.

img_2475The latter is the situation in which our colleagues in the Koro-Waci project of Nigeria find themselves. They are part of the Koro cluster project where several teams from related languages are being trained together but each working on their own translation.

The Koro-Waci team has been reduced from two translators to one and it seems that one person is not easily able to work alone, so the project has effectively ground to a halt. This is very discouraging for all who are involved, not only for the translator but the community leaders and technical experts who support the project. Perhaps it is especially discouraging as the other teams in the cluster are making good progress with their translations.

Praise God for the progress being made in the Koro cluster as a whole and that the Koro-Waci project is fully funded.

Please pray for breakthrough in these ways:

  • for the right people and creative ways to engage with the Koro-Waci community
  • against discouragement and that the Waci church leaders will find renewed vision and enthusiasm for Bible translation
  • that the church can find the right people to be translators
  • that these people can be trained well in the right skills, knowledge and would above all have the enthusiasm and persistence to push through these challenges the project is facing.

Find out how to pray for the Koro cluster projects regularly.

Did you know that you can receive prayer requests daily or weekly to your email inbox? Why not subscribe today?

Bible translation 101: Why is literacy important?

Thursday, September 8th, 2016 by Camilla

You probably know that Wycliffe Bible Translators does more than what it says on the tin – in addition to translating the Bible for language communities big and small across the world, we also have a passion for empowering people to engage with the word of God (Scripture engagement), and literacy.

high-voltage-1553669-640x480What does literacy mean to you? Maybe not all that much, if you’ve never needed to navigate the world without it. But learning to read isn’t just about being able to read the Bible and other books.

What if you couldn’t read vital information on a medicine bottle? What if you couldn’t email your best friend when they moved to another town? What if you couldn’t even tell the time? These are all everyday tasks most people in the Western world do without thinking – but these tasks all require a certain level of literacy.

Exclusively oral communities may also face major barriers to higher education, earning money, and community development.

Wycliffe Bible Translators wants to unlock new opportunities for people groups who have been limited by a lack of literacy.

We work with communities to develop intuitive writing systems (or orthographies, to use the technical term) that language communities recognise as their own and that help adults and children learn to read within as short a time as possible. How long it takes to learn to read varies from language to language and person to person, but an adult who is new to reading may learn to read confidently within six months to a year.

‘…for a long time, there were no [Ngbaka] schools at all. Now I am very glad to be learning to read and write. Now I am educated! I can read and write in Ngbaka. I can read and understand God’s word, and now we have the entire Bible in our language!’ – a woman from the Ngbaka community of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pray for literacy around the world!

  • Pray that God would inspire Wycliffe workers as they work to unlock opportunities for people groups through literacy.
  • Pray for harmony and consensus as teams develop intuitive writing systems for previously unwritten languages.
  • Pray that literacy would open doors around the world not only for people to engage with the Bible, but for large-scale community change.

Want to connect with or start supporting a specific project or missionary? Get the ball rolling on our Connect page.

New Scripture launch in Tanzania!

Monday, September 5th, 2016 by Camilla

One of our friends on the ground, Mark Woodward, writes about the recent celebration:

‘Last week I had the privilege of joining with the Mbugwe language community in Tanzania’s Manyara Region as they celebrated the publication of the books of Ruth and Jonah in their language. Apart from some old Mbugwe Scriptures that are now out of print, these are the first books that have been produced in the Mbugwe language.

Mbugwe laughingThe day started off with a service at the Catholic church, and continued with a parade bringing in the box of books. As the honoured guest at the celebration I then opened the box, and lifted up the books for the gathered crowd to see. I tried to read the first couple of verses of the book of Jonah, stumbling through the Mbugwe words that I couldn’t understand!

Immediately people came forward with money to buy the books, but they were asked to be patient until the celebration had finished!

Emmanuel Shishe, one of the Mbugwe translators, then read part of each of the books, and spoke about them in Mbugwe, which was also translated into Swahili. The atmosphere was electric as people responded to what was being said in Mbugwe, and there was a lot of joy and laughter!

After several more choirs and much drumming and dancing, I was asked to address the gathering, and to respond to the speech given by the chairman of the Mbugwe language committee. I thanked all who had been involved in the project – translators, international linguists and advisors, church leaders, the language committee and many others who had volunteered their time – and reminded us that if we are to proceed with producing more materials, it has to be a communal effort. We are all like parts of a body, and the body cannot function unless every part does its job.

Several of our office team were then given gifts, with some of us also given Mbugwe names (I was given the name “Tajala”) to commemorate the occasion. The Mbugwe clothes we were given signified being born into the community, and the stick signified becoming an elder. The two-pronged end, and dark and light colours, were said to represent the coming together of different people from different places, to serve the Mbugwe community together.

Afterwards all 100 copies of each book were quickly sold, with requests for more to be printed as soon as possible. Our hope is that the books will be well used, and that the community will continue to drive the project forward as we seek to work together in translating more books into the Mbugwe language.’

This blog post originally appeared on Mark’s own blog. Check it out for more pictures from the Mbugwe Scripture launch and more great stories from Tanzania!