Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

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.

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.

nyiha-translators
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 thetask.net!

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.