Archive for the ‘Missionary life’ Category

God’s Push and Pull

Thursday, April 13th, 2017 by Martin Horton

When Rebecca* was sent, by the voluntary organisation she joined aged 18, to a country in Southeast Asia, little did she know that she was destined to spend a significant portion of her life in that country.

She later returned there to serve as a literacy worker for minority language groups. Rebecca has recently reached her ten-year milestone with Wycliffe.

God uses many ways to direct our path. Here’s a glimpse of Rebecca’s experience:

In my case, God used a combination of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors to get me to apply to become a full-time missionary. The ‘push’ factors included dissatisfaction with my career and prospects, and a lack of desire to settle down into what I saw as a mundane life. The ‘pull’ factors included longing to see the country where I had spent my gap year; hankering after adventure, travel, challenge and excitement; and my training at Bible school which had focused on missions.’

 Working overseas isn’t always easy. Here’s Rebecca again:

By nature, I am an individual pioneer type. However, God had plans to mould me into more of a team player. He sent me to a highly group-oriented culture, and I had to adjust. One small example of this is having colleagues who love to seek an occasion to all dress the same. Even if the prescribed outfit or colour everyone agrees upon looks awful on me, I still have to wear it!’

Praise God that Rebecca has known God’s peace and abundance though the past decade:

‘The Lord has enabled me to weather many storms during my time on the mission field and I have discovered the peace that comes with personal and spiritual growth. This is part of what Jesus meant when he said that he has come to give us “life, and life more abundantly” (John 10:10).’

Please pray:

  • for Rebecca to continue to become a better team player, recognising and maximising her strengths
  • for what God is doing through literacy work amongst the people of South East Asia
  • for us all to be receptive to the different ways that God speaks to us; that we may hear and obey whenever he calls and however he asks us to serve.

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

Take The Next Step!

Monday, March 13th, 2017 by Camilla

The Next Step is an exciting three-day event where you’re invited to explore how you could be involved in bringing God’s word to people groups who are still waiting to hear God speak their language.

Close up of two feet walking into the distanceYou might be surprised at how varied the roles in Wycliffe Bible Translators are – they are not all language related, and they’re not all overseas! Come along to find out more about opportunities, hear stories from people already involved in what God is doing through Wycliffe, and learn about what it takes to really make the Bible available to a people group.

This time, The Next Step will take place at St Andrew’s Church in Cheadle Hulme (near Manchester), on 21-23 April. Because we want as many people as possible to attend, the event is free of charge (you just need to arrange for somewhere to stay, and sort out your own food).

Find out more, and register online.

Strapped for cash – send prayer!

Thursday, November 10th, 2016 by Camilla

Several of our members working overseas have written to us requesting prayer for more financial support. The drop in the value of the pound, combined with regular fluctuations in support due to, for example, supporters having to decrease or discontinue their financial contributions, means many members have recently taken a big hit.

help-153094_640Many understand the emotional toll of having to tighten your belt over an extended period of time. When you are living in an already stressful situation it can bring you to tipping point. It can even cause you to question if you are in the right place or whether the decrease in finances are an indication that God has something different for you.

Please stand with us in prayer for our members overseas who find themselves struggling financially:

  • Ask that God would provide more support for our members working in other countries, from sources expected and unexpected.
  • Bring the emotional impact of this drop in support to God, and pray that members would know that their true foundation can never be shaken.

We hope to be able to write soon and report that these prayers have been answered!

Connect with a specific member who you can pray for or support financially!

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!

Behind the scenes

Monday, July 11th, 2016 by Camilla

‘I don’t think I have a lot of skills that would make me a good traditional missionary; my contribution lies in technical behind-the-scenes work, so it’s really satisfying knowing that my day-to-day work facilitates Bible translation in a very real, very tangible way.’

In last Thursday’s prayer post, we asked you to celebrate with us that we’ve got so many new members, and pray with us for more volunteers as well as members. Jo also wrote that we’re not just looking for ‘traditional missionary types’ – God loves diversity and the pool of people who serve overseas is no exception!

Check out this video from one non-traditional missionary serving with Wycliffe.

Click here if the video is not visible.

Want to know more about how you could get involved? Check out our roles page!

Thatched huts, wood fires and solar panels

Monday, June 6th, 2016 by Camilla

If you’re hankering for a night in front of a wood fire in a traditional thatched hut but can’t bear the thought of having to manage completely without electricity, maybe you could try a trip to Kuyawage in the highlands of Papua, Indonesia. Wycliffe UK member Alice Eastwood tells us about her recent visit.

alice eastwood‘The Lani-speaking people there live in thatched huts and keep pigs. They eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potato leaves, cabbage, rice and very little else (pork and crayfish occasionally). All cooking is done over wood fires, and in the evenings people sit around a central fire to keep warm, eyes streaming from the smoke if they stand up to move around (only crouching is possible).

The daytime temperature averages perhaps 15 degrees Celsius, so visitors from elsewhere in Indonesia (in our case, two colleagues and me) have to mix hot water from the cauldron above the fire with cold water in a bucket in order to brave having a wash. Locals walk far and fast, often barefoot, despite the cold. Western-style clothes have only been worn in this area for about 30 years; previously, the Lani people wore traditional clothing such as grass skirts.

lani people alice eastwoodIt might, then, come as a surprise to know that many of the traditional thatched huts in this area have solar panels by which they light their huts at night. Assuming you had brought your international socket adapter, you could plug whatever you needed to into the socket at the back of the hut before heading in the twilight into a nearby field or down to the communal bathing spot at the river. Alternatively (and this was our preference), you could make do without power for just a night or two.

Wycliffe members and Indonesian partners have initiated a mother tongue literacy programme in Kuyawage, which was the reason for our visit. As in many other remote areas of Indonesia, the national language (Indonesian) is scarcely used here. The Lani people are fortunate enough to have the Bible in Lani, and for most it is their only reading text. Helping young children to learn to read in Lani will help them to transition to readinlani people alice eastwood2g and writing Indonesian in school. This new-found literacy will enable them to read the Bible in the language which speaks best to their heart.’

For more on why multilingual education (MLE) is important and how you can be praying about it, take a look at Jo Johnson’s great post Stepping stones through primary school and beyond.

If you want to know more about Alice’s work or connect with her or another Wycliffe member, please use our Connect page.

Remembering the ordinary

Friday, March 11th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

For a number of years we lived in Africa. Once, a friend said to me that it was important we visit the UK often because the longer we were away the higher she put us on a pedestal. Face to face she remembered that we were just ordinary people with hopes and fears, successes and failures.

Medium_DSC_1856Today I want to remind you, as you pray for missionaries you know, that they need prayer for everyday aspects of life as well as the big stuff. Recently as I have read prayer letters from colleagues around the world it has struck me how much the everyday things really matter.

One family serving overseas shared their joy at the eviction of an unwelcome houseguest:

‘One of the scenes in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz shows a gaggle of munchkins celebrating as they sing about the demise of the Wicked Witch. We had a similar scene in our house on Monday when we discovered we had successfully captured our (previously) resident rat. Of course, we did not have quite as many munchkins in attendance, and the joyful song was about a rat instead of a witch, but the essence of the moment was the same. Nearly every morning for the past month or so we would awaken to find its most recent depredation (gnawing or pooing or both), but not anymore! We used peanut butter for bait and rat glue (we are not making this up) to apprehend the not-so-little vermin (8 in/20 cm from nose to butt, plus the tail).’

Why not rejoice with them?

In another newsletter the teenage son of one missionary couple expressed the struggles he was facing as the only Christian in his class.

Do you know other Christian teenagers facing those types of challenges?

Another family shared that the school their children attend is spread over five sites. On each of the sites the headteacher is leaving at the end of the academic year.

How would you feel if the whole leadership team at your child’s school was changing?

So when you pray for cross-cultural workers, by all means pray for their work and the spiritual impact of what they do but also remember to pray for them in the everyday challenges they face:

  • Ask God to bless them with a good living situation which is not infested with rats, bats, insects or other unwelcome guests; that your missionary friends may have a secure and clean environment in which to live.
  • Challenges that their children face. These are often much the same as the challenges that children and young people in the UK face: friendship issues and peer pressure to name just a couple. Use your imagination and pray that above all they would grow in their relationship with Jesus.
  • For good solutions to education needs, church and community involvement. I can guarantee that cross-cultural workers want to live ordinary lives in an extraordinary context.

Get some other ideas to help you pray for missionaries.

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!

The beauty of everyday service

Friday, January 22nd, 2016 by Camilla

Generally on a Monday, we post a story of something like a Scripture dedication, a Bible translation breakthrough, or dramatic life changes brought about by a newly published Bible. But these stories wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for everyday service, which is something cross-cultural workers do, just like you.

Washing upBy everyday service, I mean getting up and going to work even when you don’t feel like it. Pushing on when you feel like your supporters have forgotten about you. Choosing to honour God in small things. Serving your family by doing the laundry, tackling another pile of dishes you won’t get credit for, or enduring yet another viewing of Frozen. These things may not be as highly prized as discovering a local word that will unlock the Bible for a people group, developing groundbreaking software that will make the Bible accessible to the Deaf, or leading someone to Christ on their deathbed. But none of the big stories – in remote locations or at home – would happen without everyday service.

Everyday service isn’t something we talk about a lot in most Christian circles – we’re better at focusing on milestones and dramatic conversion stories. But everyday service is the drip, drip, drip that helps us reach the goal. The small, regular investments that accumulate and ultimately yield big results.

We want to encourage you in your everyday service, whatever that looks like for you, and ask you to celebrate our everyday service with us!

  • Praise God that Christians around the world are faithfully doing their everyday service and standing together to honour God and make Jesus known to people everywhere – whether they are in Tewkesbury or Timbuktu.
  • Pray for Wycliffe workers or friends at home who are finding everyday service a struggle, asking God for strength and fresh inspiration.
  • Ask God how you can encourage a friend in their everyday service – it might be as simple as going out for coffee together or telling them that you prayed for them today.

Wrapping up Scripture translation? Bring in the translation consultants!

Monday, January 18th, 2016 by Nick

What does a translation consultant do? Bible translation is currently active in around 2000 languages, however, before Scripture is pressed and printed, a translation consultant comes in.

Following on from last Monday’s post, Why does Bible translation take so long?, today we’ll be taking a look into exactly what a translation consultant undertakes, thanks to a brilliant blog post by Eddie Arthur and his wife Sue (herself a translation consultant).

‘There are two essential aspects to a translation; firstly that people can understand it and secondly that it means the same thing as the original.’ – Eddie Arthur

Once all the hard work of an initial translation has been completed it’s up to a consultant to ensure it meets the two criteria mentioned above. It’s their job to sign the translation off and give the go-ahead when it’s ready to be published.

What makes a consultant? Well, you need to be familiar with the original text and have experience in translation. Once a consultant has been deployed to a project, they review the entire translation, holding fast to the importance of accuracy. In her role, Sue has been checking that the meaning aligns with the original Greek and studying back-translations (you can find out more on back-translation by having a read of another of our blog posts Belt and Braces).

Constant communication needs to be maintained with the translation team, face to face and through mediums such as Skype. Along with the team, someone external is also brought in who is less familiar with the translation text.

There is also testing, or village testing, which is where the text is read to native speakers of the target language who do not know the original passage and then asking questions about it.

This is all really very thorough. Again, why do this? Eddie writes:

‘Very simply, because God’s word is important. We need to know that people can understand what the text says and we need to know that the text is an accurate representation of what Paul wrote. It is worth taking time to get this right. In general, testing, consulting and revising the text takes longer than the initial draft of a translation.’

Eddie’s post What Does A Translation Consultant Do? gives great insight into his and Sue’s experience of what it means to be a translation consultant.

Curious to know more? Come along to one of our introductory courses later this year! Find out more about First Steps – a day to explore the world of Bible translation.