Archive for the ‘Bible Translation’ Category

The value of 10,000 words

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 by Martin Horton

How much are 10,000 words worth? A short story? Ten pictures? For a language community in Senegal, 10,000 words are worth a lot more: it’s their first step towards having a Bible in their own language.

A lot of work needs to happen before a translation project can begin, and one aspect of this work is word collection workshops. A rapid word collection workshop was held in February in Thionck Essyl in Senegal for the Gusilay language. The goal for the workshop was to collect 10,000 words, which could then be turned into a Gusilay-French dictionary.

So how do you actually do a rapid word collection workshop? Wycliffe UK member Clare Orr describes the process they used to collect the words.

‘Folders had been prepared, with questions relating to all sorts of different topics, arranged in hierarchies of domains. For example, one domain was “The universe, creation”. This had a sub-domain of sky, which had a sub-domain of weather, which had a sub-domain of rain. For each sub-domain there were a selection of questions, like the ones above, for the participants to reflect on and write down any relevant words.’

There were 1,792 domains covering all kinds of topics, from the material to the intangible. And by the end of the workshop, 1,700 of them were covered.

The goal was 10,000 words, but even with fewer participants than they had expected, the final total of words gathered was 12,485! By the end of the workshop most of these had been translated and typed, and a first draft was printed to show what had been achieved. This draft is now being refined and made into a dictionary, which will serve as tangible evidence that their language can be written down and is valuable, and will also be a useful resource for future Bible translation work.

Pray for the Gusilay team:

  • Pray for those involved in preparing the dictionary for publication, that they would work well to create a useful resource for the Gusilay community.
  • Pray for preparations towards Bible translation, that all the background work would be completed well so that translation can start for this unreached people group.

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Life-changing, even in draft form!

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 by Martin Horton

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. Phil 4:2 

In a blog post in 2016, A DOOR to the Good News, we shared about how God’s word is beginning to come to the Deaf*.

Believed to number around 70 million globally, the Deaf are perhaps the largest unreached people group. There are an estimated 400 different sign languages around the world, yet not a single complete sign language Bible in any of them.

These are dismaying figures, yet God’s word is still making a difference, and in surprising ways.

In Kenya, a team of Deaf Bible translators had completed a final draft of the passages in Philippians 4 and they wanted to share it with the community to gather feedback. This is a very important part of the translation process.

Community testing has two benefits. First, it brings sign language Scripture to a local Deaf community and secondly it is a great way of showing the DOOR team how they can improve their translation. In this case, two churches agreed to help the translation team with their community test.

This all sounded like a great idea until the team realised that the two churches weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. As James, one of the translators shares, ‘Upon our arrival, we were shocked to find the two Deaf churches in the area couldn’t agree about anything. They were acting like rivals.

This was exactly the issue addressed in Philippians 4:2 and that verse was amongst the verses that were tested. As these two churches engaged with this verse in their heart language, they realised how they were behaving, and through the power of God’s word settled their disagreement.

Please stand in the gap for DOOR’s work in Kenya and all translation work for the Deaf worldwide.

  • Praise God for the ways he is transforming Deaf lives both in Kenya and around the world.
  • Please pray for open communication and a sense of unity between these two Deaf churches.
  • Pray for breakthrough in the work of translation for the Deaf and that soon many sign language groups will have a complete Bible.

This story is adapted from a story that originally appeared on Mission Network News. You can read the original article here.

Find out more about DOOR’s work or have a look at their website.

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

Mentoring new believers

Monday, May 29th, 2017 by Camilla

Splash is a Bible translator in Northern Botswana. Translating Scripture is difficult, and he has sacrificed much for it. Most days, Splash only gets through 10 verses of Scripture. The work is hard and keeps him very busy but the sacrifice seems little in light of what he believes his community will gain.

‘If I left the project, the translation would collapse,’ he says. ‘If the translation collapses, it means our people will not know the word of God.’

Splash says, ‘My family were Christians. I didn’t believe, but I knew Christianity could help other people. At first, I just wanted to speak for my people and for our language to be standardised.’

It didn’t take long for Splash to change his mind about the real meaning of the work he was doing. As he began to pore over Scripture day in and day out, he couldn’t help but see it as good news, saving news, for himself and for his people.

Splash is living a new life – a transformed life – fully committed to his new identity in Jesus, sacrifices and all. He’s a mentor for new believers who are just beginning to know God’s word; working hard to be a humble servant, versus an authoritative leader.

Splash talked about the difference translation work will bring for the identity of his people. He doesn’t want to abandon the many good attributes of his ancestors, but fully believes that it’s only through God that true goodness is possible. He will continue to work until the entire Bible is translated, he says, for each part is necessary and important for his people to read.

This blog post is adapted from a story by our partner The Seed Company.

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A confident smile

Monday, May 15th, 2017 by Camilla

Under a white bucket hat and blue-tinted glasses, Michael Kativa’s smile is as wide as his face.

The foundation for Michael’s vibrant joy lies within the confidence he finds in Jesus. He sits back, crossing his legs, and explains, ‘I am thankful I am saved and that my life has been transformed because of God’s word. It has brought me peace with God.’

Before he knew the stories found in Scripture, Michael would often get into fights and drink too much. His wife left him many years ago, and he has since experienced the death of his daughter and has become estranged from his son. ‘The Bible exposes what is wrong in your life,’ he says.

Now an elder in the community, Michael says hopes to be a father figure to many of the young people that live nearby. He passionately lives a changed life in order for more lives to change.

Many people in the community do not know how to read. For the San people, the life of Jesus is a story best told orally, around a campfire or under a neighbor’s tree. Michael has been part of the Bible storytelling project in Botswana since it began just over a year ago. Many more young people in his village have started attending Bible studies organised by field coordinator Eben Le Roux. This is a big accomplishment because, ‘the young people are disillusioned,’ says Eben. ‘Many do not believe that the Scriptures bring hope.’

The local village chief also recently started to come to the meetings – a small act that could greatly affect the rest of the village. Michael has welcomed the chief with open arms and glorifies God for the opportunities ministering to the chief will create.

His confidence is not just a character trait, but clearly a work of the Holy Spirit. He is an elder set on changing the world around him because he can proudly proclaim, ‘God is the same, he doesn’t change.’

This post is adapted from a story by our partner The Seed Company.

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Finally knowing what it means to believe and depend on Christ

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Many Dukawa speakers finally know what it really means to believe and depend on Christ, whereas before they had not really understood. Over 3,800 Dukawa people have turned to Christ as a result of hearing God’s word in their own language!

In early 2016, after the Dukawa New Testament was completed, a recording of the New Testament and some Old Testament portions was made. Hundreds of audio Bibles with these recordings were given to Dukawa churches, and they have produced an amazing result.

When the Dukawa team first started handing them out they believed they would help believers to grow in their relationship with Christ.

But in practice, the impact of the audio Bibles was bigger than the team could have imagined, and shows the impact of mother tongue translation.

Many Dukawa speakers had been using the Bible in the trade language, Hausa, and thought they understood. But with the Bible finally available in their own language, people started to realise they hadn’t really understood what it meant to follow Jesus.

Even local pastors admitted that they have not understood the Bible in the trade language. One of the pastors even said that some of what he had been teaching was wrong because he misunderstood the Bible.

For many of you reading this, as you may have more than one version of the Bible in your mother tongue, it is understandably hard to grasp how the Dukawa people are feeling. May the testimony of this Dukawa man give you a glimpse of the transformation that Bible translation brings.

When I first heard the audio Bible, I felt as if I was dreaming, but when I heard it 2-3 times, I realised I was not dreaming. Now I can understand…I am going to be…a Christian.’

Here are some ways that you can pray for the Dukawa people:

  • Praise God for his work in using his word in the Dukawa language to draw more Dukawa people to himself in truth and understanding.
  • Pray for pastors to have the courage to be open and honest if they realise, after hearing Scripture in their mother tongue, that what they have been teaching is wrong.
  • Pray that the Dukawa people will grow in their faith and continue to receive fresh revelation as they listen to the Scriptures in their language.

This story is adapted from a post on the Robinson family blog, Impact of Audio Scriptures.

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A book for everyone

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Thank you for praying for the launch of the Baka New Testament and Genesis in March (Seeing with blind eyes). God answered your prayers in an incredible way; the event was able to take place, the books containing the New Testament and Genesis arrived and all the visitors were able to travel safely.

The launch celebrations were held in Maridi in the province of Western Equatoria. It was the biggest event held there – ever. Not only was it large but it was high profile; the governor of Maridi State and his wife as well as other dignitaries including a retired army general and bishops and archbishops of various denominations were in attendance.

Over 7000 people came along to join the 5 hour long celebrations which included speeches, singing and dancing, a meal, performances by local choirs and a showing of the JESUS Film in Baka. The film had been shown in Juba late last year but this was the first time it was shown in the Baka homeland.

We are so excited that this New Testament has been endorsed by both the Anglican bishop and the Catholic archbishop of the region. In the speeches it was made clear that this book containing the New Testament and Genesis is for everyone, it is not the possession of one denomination or another.

When the boxes of New Testaments were opened to sell, a big crowd surged towards the tables, waving their money in the air. As people got their hands on their copies they sat down and started reading immediately.

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing way that he answered our prayers. Please pray:

  • that the Baka will continue to read the New Testament in their language and that it will transform many lives
  • that God would bring peace to South Sudan and provide for those impacted by the famine

Does this answer to prayer encourage you to pray for Bible translation regularly? Subscribe to receive our free magazine, Words for Life, which is full of interesting articles and includes a prayer diary with daily prayer needs for Bible translation projects around the globe.

Colour TV is a human right

Monday, April 17th, 2017 by Camilla

As a child, TV was very important to me. I didn’t really see the point of black and white TVs like they’d had in the old days, and I figured colour TV was practically a human right.

These days I feel more strongly about universal access to the Bible, and we know reading the Bible in a second language can be almost like watching your favourite TV show in black and white – it’s not quite how it was meant to be experienced. Like many people groups around the world, until a few years ago, the Choco of Panama didn’t have the Bible in their own language.

The Choco people’s Bible translation story is one that starts in the age of black-and-white entertainment and carries on into the age of Blu-ray. In 1960, Bible translator Dick Scott left his home in the US and made the journey to Panama, aged just 24. He would spend a total of 13 years living among the Choco people, and they wouldn’t have a complete Bible in their language, called Emberá, until 2013.

The Choco people lived in a remote rainforest, with no running water and no roads. Despite their isolation from the rest of the world, they were very open to Dick and his two colleagues.

Dick spent time with a mother-tongue speaker learning the unwritten Emberá language, and developing a writing system for it on his typewriter, before going on to translate the New Testament, starting with Mark. Over the years to come until 2013, he would travel back and forth between his home in the US and the Choco people, all the while working to complete the Choco Bible, as well as finding time to serve as a leader in an Oregon church.

With the Bible finally available in their language, the Choco people can experience the Bible as it’s meant to be experienced, in full colour.

This blog post is adapted from a story originally posted on Oregon Live’s website. Read the original article.

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Praying in new members for the team

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

A large nation, dominated by rainforest, where infrastructure is generally poor and the repercussions of long years of unrest and fighting are still significantly impacting daily life. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa is a poor nation which faces many challenges.

I was surprised to find out, however, that the greatest personnel needs are not for skilled linguists or translators, as national staff are doing a great job with the nitty-gritty of translation. What the translation projects here need is more support staff.

We praise God for what he is doing. After years of struggle in the eastern part of the country, in March 2016, three language communities celebrated the launch of their New Testaments (see our blog One New Testament? How about three?). Another New Testament is due to be launched this August but there are still over 100 languages that need the word of God and where translation has not yet even started.

However, without workers the harvest can never be gathered in. The greatest needs at the moment are for an assistant for the language programmes manager, and a finance mentor to support nationals in the bookkeeping and finance systems. Both of these roles will significantly increase the capacity of those involved in training and translating.

Please ask God to send the right people to fill the following urgent needs:

  • A finance mentor, short or long term but available for a minimum of 5-6 months. They must be able to speak French well and willing to live in Bunia, eastern DRC.
  • Assistant to the language programmes manager to support the various translation projects around this large nation. Long term involvement is preferable but even a 6-12 month commitment could make a significant difference. Again a good level of French and willingness to live in Bunia is required.

Find out how your specific skills can be used to support Bible translation.

Go along to The Next Step and find out more about Bible translation and serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Sign up for our free magazine Words for Life, which is packed full of interesting and informative articles as well as a daily prayer need for Bible translation around the world.

Full steam ahead for the Kamuku project

Thursday, March 30th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Your prayers make a difference, even from a long-distance. One of the featured projects in our prayer goody bag Finishing in God’s time is the Kamuku project in Nigeria. A lady in Scotland started praying for Bible translation to begin there, in the early 1980s. She carried on praying until 2009 when the project had started.

The Kamuku project started slowly in order to establish strong roots and has faced many challenges so we asked you to pray. Praise God, exciting things are happening; God is answering your prayers.

On 7th April, the Gospel of Luke will be launched in Kamuku both as a book and as audio recordings on SD-cards. This will be great for those who have not yet learned to read or just prefer to communicate orally.

To help the Kamuku people use Scripture well and understand it, listening group leaders have been specially trained. They have audio players to use and gospel Scripture materials with which they hope to engage the group members.

That’s not all. The Gospel of Mark has been sent off to their translation consultant for checking and the team is now working on Acts and some of the shorter epistles. They feel that they are experiencing a major boost and that it’s full steam ahead!

Here are some ways that you can pray for the continued progress of the Kamuku project:

  • Praise God for the printer who is printing 1000 copies of Luke. Pray that they are good quality and available in good time for the launch.
  • Pray that the launch will boost interest in learning to read and write and that the project will be able to meet any increase in demand.
  • Pray that many will come along to the listening groups and that many lives will be changed as a result.
  • Pray the committee has wisdom as they use funds raised from the sale of the books. It is hoped that there will be enough money to employ a full-time translator.

Check out our goody bags and pray for significant needs faced by Bible translation projects.

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

Inspired to carry on translating even in prison

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by Martin Horton

On a cluster of islands in eastern Indonesia, schoolteacher Manu* translates the Bible into his mother tongue, Kuluhi*.

The Bible does not yet exist in any of the 17 languages of these islands. Most people do not have a good understanding of Christianity because teaching and services have been held in a language they do not understand well, rather than in their own languages.

It is in this context that Manu and other translators are working. He and his team have had more than their fair share of challenges, including the death of a team member. More recently, Manu himself was sent to prison for a year because of a boat accident during a school trip he was leading.

Although unbearable at first, he now testifies to God’s faithfulness to him during this time.

‘The book I always had to hand was the Bible, as well as a booklet in my own language with the story of Joseph. Motivated by how Joseph ministered to his fellow prisoners, I prayed that I would be able to do the same. I invited all the prisoners to worship together every Saturday. This invitation was well received, and my fellow prisoners even asked me to share God’s word.’

Manu was even able to carry on translating Scripture into his language during his time in prison.

God’s word changes even the most difficult circumstances. Manu and others who are working to bring God’s word to those on these islands need our prayers as they continue the task God has given them.

Pray now:

  • Praise God for the comfort and guidance God’s word gave Manu in prison. Ask God to touch the lives of many other people in similar ways, as they read his word.
  • For good progress with translation and for the translators to know God’s help in overcoming challenges that  slow down translation.
  • For protection against spiritual opposition that can prevent work from going ahead, good relationships and unity between team members.

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

Why not commit to praying for this project regularly? Sign up and be sure to specify that you want to pray for the Kuluhi project.

Why not subscribe to our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and it contains a prayer diary with daily pray requests to help you pray specifically for Bible translation around the globe.

*Names changed for security reasons