Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Finding healing through the word of God

Monday, April 4th, 2016 by Camilla

One reason we believe that everyone should have access to the word of God in their heart language is that God’s word addresses and can bring healing to even the greatest traumas experienced in life. Simon, a Bible translator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, became separated from his family when his village was attacked. Simon found his wife and children again, but their meeting wasn’t all happy tears.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country that has suffered years of conflict leading to mass displacement and atrocities. During a Bible translation workshop in the late 1990s, Simon’s village was attacked and he became separated from his family. Two weeks went by with no news.

‘Then one day, as he was walking along the road, he saw them coming in his direction.

As they met, his family immediately began sobbing uncontrollably. Simon could not understand whether they were happy to see him or were mourning the state of affairs they found themselves in. It took hours for him to calm his wife and daughters, and when he did, he was shocked at what they told him.

His wife and oldest daughter had been raped by the militia.

The guilt and anger Simon felt caused the worst pain he had ever experienced. How would he be able to forgive his enemies and himself?’

Simon and his family were recommended to try a trauma-healing seminar — and ultimately found healing through the Scripture-based programme. Today, Simon is helping to translate Scripture to make God’s word, and the freedom it brings, accessible to others.

Read the original post here, and find more great stories about what’s going on in the world of Bible translation!

Stepping stones through primary school and beyond

Friday, April 1st, 2016 by Jo Johnson

Most people in this world do not live in a country where only one language is spoken. It’s common for even very young children to be taught in schools in a language that is never spoken at home. Starting education in the mother tongue acts as a stepping stone to grasping skills in that second language allowing children to stay longer in education and achieve significantly more. This approach is called multilingual education (MLE).

Medium_Japan2011_Tohoku43Successful multilingual reading models need to include the following ingredients: the children need to first be taught in their mother tongue, then helped to speak the second language in which they will learn in the future and finally they need to be taught how to read this second language.

These 3 components give children the stepping stones to cross from first language reading skills to reading well in a language of wider communication.

Often the reality is that one or more of these stepping stones are missing. Mother tongue reading can be given such a small amount of teaching time that the children do not fully master the skill. They don’t speak the second language well so unless they have a lot of help and what first-language reading skills they have acquired are not well transferred to the second language.

In this too common context, expecting children to transition from reading in their own language to reading in a language they don’t actually speak is like forcing them to leap from one river bank to another rather than giving them to stepping stones they need to cross easily.

Stand with us in prayer for a MLE teacher training programme in East Africa which has encountered some challenges recently:

  • Thank God for each of the teachers and supervisors involved in this multi-lingual education programme. Ask God to help them diligently follow the programme even when they struggle or feel under pressure to use more traditional teaching methods.
  • Ask God to change community attitudes towards the local language, that many may value their mother tongue and the cultural heritage connected with it.
  • Pray for the children that they will value their mother tongue and make good progress educationally as a result of having been taught in a language they fully understand.

Check out Children learn better in the mother tongue to find out more about MLE programmes.

Watch Famata’s story and find out the difference that learning to read and write in her mother tongue made to one girl.

Pray for other MLE projects, use our prayer resource Encountering God’s word‘.

One New Testament? How about three?

Friday, March 4th, 2016 by Camilla

Here at Wycliffe, we always get excited when the New Testament reaches completion in yet another language. How do you think we feel about three New Testaments in one country in the space of two weeks!?

This month, SIL Eastern Congo Group are launching 3(!) New Testaments: the Logo New Testament on the 6th, the Mayogo New Testament on the 13th, and the Ndruna New Testament on the 20th. These will be the first SIL* New Testaments launched in the area since 2000, because DRC has long been a difficult place to work for security reasons. Check out the following video by our partner The Seed Company for more on some of the challenges they’ve faced on the ground.

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Join us in celebrating these New Testaments in the DRC, and praying for the impact of these Scriptures on the three language groups the Logo, the Mayogo and the Ndruna.

  • Pray that many will attend each Scripture launch and that God would have his hand upon each celebration – that the Enemy would not be able to interfere in any way.
  • Pray that God will use these New Testaments to impact lives and hearts beyond what we can ask or imagine.
  • Ask God to bring lasting change, healing and reconciliation to DRC, which has faced civil war and rebel activity for years on end.

For more info on the SIL Eastern Congo Group and the task they are facing to enable you to pray, visit their project page.

God speaks Dukawa!

Monday, February 29th, 2016 by Camilla

Nigeria is home to around 20 percent of Africa’s population, and over 500 languages (not dialects, but languages). One of these languages is Dukawa.

Previously, Dukawa speakers read the Bible in Hausa, one of Nigeria’s trade languages – but while they used this language in the marketplace, it wasn’t the language of their hearts. With the Bible finally available in their mother tongue, many Dukawa speakers can now understand God’s word in a way they couldn’t before.

When translation advisers David and Carleen Heath first went to Nigeria in 1995, they only knew of two churches with Dukawa pastors and a majority of Dukawa worshipers. There may have been more, but not many. But the impact of the translated word in Dukawa speakers’ mother tongue as opposed to a trade language has been huge – 340 individuals gave their lives to Christ in October 2015 alone. Churches are multiplying, and today there are over 200 Dukawa churches!

‘We went to church for many years, but it wasn’t until we saw the JESUS Film in our own language that we understood that Jesus died for our sins. We always thought he died because he did something wrong.’

Read more about how you could get involved in Bible translation.

Tanzania: Making good teachers better

Friday, February 19th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

Back in November we highlighted the importance of training those who train using a programme called Learning that LASTS, a week-long training programme which equips teachers to communicate, challenge, inspire and teach their students better. You prayed for a course that was running in Nairobi and God answered your prayers! One participant said:

Ronit Odom

Ronit Odom

‘Amen! I can’t thank God enough for such a priceless opportunity. I really did learn a lot and I must say I have already begun to apply the principles.  I would highly recommend this program to anyone!’

We are excited that another course is being held in East Africa from 22nd to 26th February. This time it will be in Dodoma,  Tanzania. It will be led by Ronit Odom, who was born, raised and educated in the United States. She has worked in Tanzania since 2011 as a linguist. Since taking Learning that Lasts in 2014 she has repeatedly used the principles in training workshops she has been involved in.

This course has a number of ‘firsts’ which make it special:

  • It’s Ronit’s first time as the lead teacher.
  • It’s the first time the instruction will be in Swahili.
  • For half the teaching staff it’s their first time teaching the course.

Please pray:

  • For Ronit’s leadership during the workshop and ask that God would help her as she builds up her teaching team.
  • Thank God for Ronit, Neema, Jeff and Samson, teaching the course. Pray that all of them will know God’s enabling. Pray that the whole team will be united, sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and able to communicate clearly.
  • For all the participants to learn well and be able to apply the principles to the situation in which they work.
  • For protection over everyone involved in the course and their families.

Find out what God is doing through Bible translation in Tanzania.

Find out more about Learning that Lasts.

Update on CAR

Friday, February 5th, 2016 by Camilla

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 by Nick

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 by Camilla

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 by Jo Johnson

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 by Nick

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