Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

‘Is this really from the Bible??’

Monday, February 27th, 2017 by Camilla

Luna* grew up in a Southeast Asian country in a community that farmed rice and animals, hunted for their favourite source of wild meat and gathered whatever they needed from the forest that hedged their village on the cool mountain slopes.

One day a week, she would follow her parents and other families to a larger wooden hut at one end of their village. There they would sing some songs from memory and then someone whom everyone called ‘Pastor’ would rise, open a book and begin reading from it. She could not understand what Pastor was saying when she was a child. As she grew older, she was able to understand some words and phrases, but not all. It was not the language that she spoke at home or with her village community.

Luna also learnt from her parents who would regularly place some delicious portions of chicken meat at the trunk of certain trees beside their home and farmland. Her mother whispered to her that there were “unseen beings” that protected them from harm and must not be angered. She remembered when she fell very sick once and drifted in and out of consciousness from the high fever. Her mother had carried her to a big house in the centre of the village. The master of that house put on strange headgear and began prancing around her as she lay on the floor. Whatever he did frightened her, but her mother held her down. Eventually, she was given something very bitter to drink, which somehow made her well.

One day, two girls she knew from the next village visited. They had fun chatting and catching up with each others’ news. Then the girls shared a story from the Bible in the local language.

Is this story really from the Bible??’ Luna asked, wide-eyed. The other two nodded. ‘This is so much easier to understand than the sermons in our church!’ she exclaimed. That day, Luna understood a lesson on God’s grace and on being obedient to God in a way she had never been able to before.

In Luna’s community, there are many people who are Christian in name but are still following folk religious practices because of their lack of understanding of God’s word in their own language. An oral Bible story project is underway to develop Bible stories in their language community for a better understanding of God’s word.

*name changed for security reasons

This story is adapted from an article originally published in Wycliffe Singapore’s magazine – More than Words, June 2015.

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The power of a good story

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 by Martin Horton

There are many ways that God’s word can reach people around the world. His word can be read on the printed page. It can be shared on a mobile phone via blue tooth or an SD card. It can be heard and seen through the JESUS Film which has been watched by millions but there is one form that existed long before these others. A form that has been used to share myths, facts and legends since humankind learned to use the gift of human language and that form is orality.

There are currently an estimated 5.7 billion oral learners all over the globe, and they learn mainly or entirely through oral not written means. This can be via songs, drama, proverbs, media or stories. And it is though the telling of stories that some members of Wycliffe Thailand are sharing the good news of Jesus.

The team are working on a set of Biblical stories that will help Thai non-believers from an animist/Buddhist background to understand more about the Christian faith. Many of those with an animist background believe that all natural things have a soul, such as rocks, rivers and even the moon and stars. So, the team begin with the story of creation, continuing with selected stories from the Old Testament that lead up to Jesus Christ and then they end with a story from the book of Revelation.

Please stand alongside this team in Wycliffe Thailand by praying:

  • Praise God for all that he is doing through this storying team. Some of the things that are happening especially widening opportunities to talk and share about orality & storying are definitely not their doing.
  • that the team will continue to be obedient to God’s will and his ways; that they would be sensitive to what God is doing and learn to follow him down the path he is leading.
  • for faithfulness to finish the storying work they’ve started, specifically finishing up the Central Thai & Northern Thai story-sets.
  • for Thai-speaking believers to rediscover the power of telling Bible stories and that their confidence will grow with each story that they tell.
  • that many are impacted by the stories and will understand the life changing message of Jesus for the first time

Read Scripture stories for Chukchi reindeer herders for another example of how God is transforming lives through the power of story telling

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Sing a new song with gongs!

Thursday, January 26th, 2017 by Camilla

The name of our organisation is Wycliffe Bible Translators. Bible translation is a huge part of what we do – but it’s not all we do.

Recently in a country in Asia*, Wycliffe Bible Translators held EthnoArts and Storying workshops, designed to equip people to tell accurate Bible stories in their own language and culturally authentic storytelling style. The idea is to encourage local Christians to share the content and message of the stories with songs, music and other art forms that are rooted in their own culture.

One worker involved with the workshops reported: ‘In one location all of the language groups involved have historically used gongs for their indigenous music. In a previous training, several groups lamented that the Christians among them had given up using gongs when they became believers, and now they no longer owned any gongs. They recognized the value and power of using these traditional instruments and musical style to worship God. At the most recent workshop two groups reported that they had acquired some gongs and were composing new worship music to glorify God. One man told of playing the new songs on the gongs and four families (about 15 people) responding by deciding to follow Jesus! A man from another group told of making a recording of their new songs on the gongs and introducing this to a neighboring community. They were having trouble with people stealing the discs from each other because the music was so popular! Part of a new song: Lord, show mercy to my villagers because so many have not come to know Jesus. The coming day of Jesus Christ is so soon; He promised to come back.’

Back in the UK, we’re so encouraged by this, and we hope you are too!

  • Praise God for these translated Bible stories, new songs, and new believers!
  • Please pray that God will help these new believers to become strong in their faith over the coming weeks, months and years.
  • Pray for further workshops over the next year – for good attendance, participation and new, culturally authentic music that glorifies God.

Read more about why we have a passion for Bible translation, and how we help to bring God’s word to people groups around the world.

*details withheld for security reasons

Trusting God who is bigger than our obstacles

Thursday, January 5th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIVUK)

Education is such a valuable gift and there are many ways around the world in which you can be educated. Here in the UK we are taught to learn facts but also to question, discuss and work towards what we feel is the right answer. There are many others however, who are taught in a different way.

Charlotte* works in a country in SE Asia where she trains school teachers. These teachers have never been encouraged to think for themselves. Instead they are taught that there is one correct way to do everything; how to think, to read, even how to clap their hands. So this is the way that they teach the children. Charlotte faces the obstacle of trying to train these teachers in a new way of learning that will better meet the needs of their young students.

Charlotte also faces obstacles in getting to these villages where she trains the teachers. She has to travel along unpaved country roads, often in the rain, meaning she often falls off her motorbike, sometimes up to 11 times in a trip, so she arrives at her destination feeling tired and bruised.

In addition to this, frequent travel means that Charlotte has the challenge of feeling disconnected from her local community. Often she finds herself in one province for two weeks and then a different province for another two weeks. This causes her to feel that she is unable to lay down roots and build connections and relationships.

Yet despite these setbacks, Charlotte thinks this is where God wants her to be. So she prays and thanks God when she sees a breakthrough, no matter how small, as she knows that means that he is doing something here and she can trust him for bigger breakthroughs.

Please stand alongside Charlotte* by praying:

  • Praise God that a few of the teachers think that what Charlotte and her team are sharing could be an interesting and helpful way to teach. Ask God to open the minds of more teachers and trainers to see the possibilities and benefits of different ways of teaching.
  • Thank God that the materials that they are using are starting to make a difference in one village school. Ask God for a ripple effect into other classes.
  • For safety and dry weather as she travels
  • Ask God to give Charlotte several more significant relationships in the different communities where she lives, so that she can feel more settled.

*name changed for security reasons.

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An unexpected assignment

Monday, December 26th, 2016 by Camilla

As she grew up, Jenny’s feelings of insignificance plagued her. The youngest of 11 children, her brothers taunted her and told her she wasn’t even part of their family.

In truth, Jenny looked like a normal, Filipino girl. But her rural neighborhood had no other children her age. Plus, she couldn’t speak English like some of the ‘smarter’ kids.

Jenny’s mother began taking her to Sunday school. Jenny attended a Christian school. She joined activities at church and school.

an-unexpected-assignmentJenny stood at the threshold of salvation for many years. She had often heard of God’s love. She attended a revival camp, and listened intently to a speaker reading from the Bible.

She heard a still, small voice that said: Jenny, it is your time. She felt so light. Jenny knelt and asked God to forgive her sins. Please live with me and drive my life, she prayed.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, she started looking for a job. Finding work proved difficult.

In 2005, a church friend told Jenny about a receptionist job with *SIL Philippines, a linguistics organisation in Manila. The requirements: follower of Jesus Christ, fluent in English, four-year degree, knowledgeable in Microsoft Excel and email.

She met the first requirement, and she decided to apply. However, when she received a call for an interview — joining 15 other hopeful candidates — she had mixed feelings.

The hiring manager called to tell her she was among the remaining six candidates. After one of the interviews, Jenny went to another part of the building and was alone. That’s when she heard the familiar voice: Don’t worry. This is the job I want for you.

Jenny was offered and accepted the job at SIL. The work was challenging. She prayed and worked hard.

Jenny became an assistant to Geri, a Wycliffe missionary assigned to SIL. God had another surprise: SIL appointed Geri to work on translation programmes for the Deaf, and Jenny began learning Sign Language.

Jenny was now learning two languages. She says, ‘Now, by God’s grace, the Deaf say, “Jenny, you know how to sign!” ‘

Today Jenny oversees project finances and is the Philippines country coordinator for SIL’s Global Sign Language Team.

Lack of sign language is common, because only those from affluent families can afford to go to specialised Deaf schools. Discrimination persists and makes it difficult for the Deaf to find work or live independently.

*SIL is one of our partner organisations

This is a shorter version of an article featured on our partner The Seed Company’s website. Read the full story.

The Deaf are one of the most overlooked minority groups in the world. There are over 400 sign languages in the world, and none of them have a complete Bible yet. For more information and fuel for prayer for Bible translation into sign languages, try our prayer goody bag Signs of Transformation.

Joy to the Bilo!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016 by Jo Johnson

As Christians living in the West, the words of the Christmas story from the gospels of Luke and Matthew are very familiar to us; we hear them at carol services and nativity celebrations every year. However, to the Bilo* people of Southeast Asia, who don’t yet have these gospels in their language, the Christmas story is brand new.

view-of-the-hill-2The good news however is that Bible translation is underway for the Bilo. The translation team have been working on Luke. Sadly it won’t be ready for Christmas but the team was not deterred. Having decided that they did not want the Bilo people to be without the Christmas story in their language for even one more year, they have compiled a booklet containing the relevant passages from both Matthew and Luke’ consultant checked and will be distributed to all the churches in the region by Christmas.

Not being content with just providing the story, the team have put together questions so that the local churches can use the booklet as a basis for a Bible study. Praise God that even churches who don’t normally celebrate Christmas are eager to receive this booklet!

The booklet will also be distributed on mobile phones both as a document and hopefully as an audio recording as well, as more people will want to listen to the Christmas story than are able to read the local language. This will be the first time they have read or heard the story of Jesus’ birth in their own language!

Some of the churches are readily accessible, but others are in quite remote villages and in at least one case, to get there you need to negotiate a difficult river crossing.

Please pray that:

  • The booklets reach all the churches in time for Christmas and are joyfully received
  • Pray that people outside, as well as inside the church, will listen to the story, hear the good news and come to know Jesus as their Immanuel

*Name changed for security reasons.

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Does God speak my language?

Monday, December 12th, 2016 by Camilla

In a small rural church nestled in the mountains of West Timor*, seven families worshiped together. In their homes and with each other outside of church, they primarily spoke their own language, called Tetun. But in church services, following the only model they knew, they used Indonesian**. Their Bibles were also in Indonesian. Because they didn’t speak Indonesian very well, there was a lot they didn’t understand.

Then came exciting news: God speaks Tetun! Tetun translators, working under the direction of the Evangelical Protestant Church of Timor (GMIT) and guided by Wycliffe advisor Dr Barbara Grimes, had translated and published the New Testament plus Genesis in their language.

With Scriptures that made sense to them, they could finally relate to God in their own language! They decided to begin worshipping in Tetun three Sundays a month, leaving one service a month in Indonesian, the language they shared with other GMIT congregations. In their home groups, they studied the Tetun Scriptures.

Equipped to dig deeper into God’s word than they ever could before, the church began to grow. Within a few weeks, seventeen(!) new families had joined the church, and more copies of the Scriptures were needed. Nearly two years later, that congregation is thriving and still using the Tetun Scriptures.

Many other Tetun congregations in the GMIT also shifted some of their worship services to their own language. Often this was three Sundays each month in Tetun (their language of discipleship), followed by one Sunday in Indonesian (their language of fellowship). Rather than spinning their wheels trying to make programs in Indonesian successful, congregations were now seeing real growth and transformation as they engaged with Tetun Scriptures.

Interest in the Tetun Scriptures also spread across denominational boundaries. A Catholic priest became one of the best distributors of the Scriptures! He sold book after book after book, repeatedly asking for more boxes, selling those, and asking for more. Both priests and pastors in the region have said that introducing the Tetun language and Scriptures into their worship services has brought meaningful change and spiritual growth they hadn’t seen before.

*West Timor is a political region that comprises the western half of Timor Island, north of Australia. It is part of Indonesia.

**Indonesian is the national language of Indonesia.

This story is adapted from a blog post that originally featured on Bob Creson’s (President/CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA) blog. Read the original story here.

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Pray: the Republic of Korea

Thursday, November 17th, 2016 by Camilla

Our partners Wycliffe Global Alliance have some great prayer videos. This week, this one about the Republic of Korea inspired us to intercede for this nation. Let it inspire you too!

Prayer Video: Republic of Korea from Wycliffe Global Alliance on Vimeo.

Check out the other prayer videos on the Wycliffe Global Alliance website, and Wycliffe UK’s prayer resources.

‘Follow what the Lord is telling you…’

Monday, September 26th, 2016 by Camilla

Lina couldn’t even look at Margie like a daughter, or talk to her. Her family had sacrificed, so Margie could get her nursing degree. But now she wanted to be a missionary. Margie felt the persistent sting of her mother’s rejection.

In her sorrow, Margie turned to her father, Liborio. His comforting words were, ‘Follow what the Lord is telling you in your heart.’

follow what the lord is telling youAs a little girl, Margie tagged alongside Liborio to a missionary’s house, where translation of the Kalanguya New Testament was underway. Liborio served the project team as a language resource worker.

When the Kalanguya New Testament was printed, Liborio often read it with his daughter.

After university, Margie had to wait a year to get her nursing license. She spent time working as a nurse in a Kalanguya tribal centre for university students. When time permitted, she helped revise the New Testament — the same one her father had worked on.

A co-worker invited her to a translation workshop. There she was amazed to see mother-tongue speakers translating the Bible into their own languages.

I could also do this! Margie thought. Margie became a translator with the launch of the Kalanguya Old Testament project. Then, at 24, she took over as manager of the tribal centre overseeing the centre’s dormitories and running a discipleship program for students.

Lina observed her daughter’s growth and passion for her work. ‘It opened her eyes to the vastness of work she could be involved in, in service to God,’ Margie says.

In time, it became difficult for Margie to manage the centre and be a translator. “When my mum realised the eternal benefits of what I was doing, she realised that she and my dad could help me in the ministry,” Margie says.

Liborio and Lina became managers and dorm parents at the tribal centre. ‘It was God’s doing, all of it, because I was not equipped to manage and take care of that many young people,’ Margie says. Thanks to her parents’ assistance, she completed a master’s degree in applied linguistics.

Liborio served at the tribal centre for seven years before he died in Margie’s arms in June 2010. His final words were again to encourage her to ‘follow what the Lord is telling you.’ Lina continues to manage the centre today.

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

Obura Bible reprint

Monday, August 15th, 2016 by Camilla

The Bible in the Obura language of Papua New Guinea was first printed in 1982, but many Obura Bibles were never used, as not many people could read. Then, a literacy programme was started which ended up changing everything. Watch the video to see what happened!

For more about why literacy is an important part of our work, check out our Bible translation 101 post about literacy.