Archive for the ‘Missionary life’ Category

A rocky road

Monday, October 26th, 2015

The Christian life has never been guaranteed to be an easy one. Jesus said: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33 NIV).

This is the story of Sakias, a translator in Papua New Guinea, involved in pivotal work, but affected by family tragedy and frustration which almost led to him completely leaving translation projects, twice. However, God wasn’t ready to let this man give up, and through the work Sakias was involved with, many people’s lives have been affected.

‘My life hasn’t been easy,” Sakias shared, “But I believe God is there with us, despite it all…He showed us the road we were supposed to walk, and now I couldn’t leave it… I am with the Lord, and I’ll die with Him.’

Read Sakias’s story: Bush Road, on the fantastic PNG Experience website.

Find out how you can support the work of Bible translation. Pray, Give or Go.

Back to school

Friday, September 25th, 2015

All over the UK, kids have just started a new term. What about missionary kids? People are often curious about schooling when families are planning to work overseas, especially if the destination is remote. Surely schooling is bound to be an issue in many of the locations Wycliffe workers go?

Students discuss class work at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé Cameroon.

Students discuss class work at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé Cameroon.

Working in missions doesn’t mean sacrificing children’s education. No matter where a family involved in cross-cultural missions is based, you can bet their kids’ education is a priority. Parents want their kids to grow up to be successful and have an impact on the world. And there are more options for schooling than you would think:

  1. Homeschooling — This is a great option for many, especially those based in remote villages. Homeschooling offers great flexibility, and can be tailored to the individual to a much greater degree than other options.
  2. Local schools — Some missionary kids go to school in the community they live in, with local children, which can work really well. They get the cultural experience as well as a formal education, though it is at the host country’s pace and not that of their passport country.
  3. Boarding schools — Not all parents want to send their kids to a big city for schooling, but depending on the situation (like parents living in a remote village and kids needing to learn more than their parents are able to teach them), boarding school might be an attractive option.
  4. International schools — Sometimes an international school for expat children offers kids the education they need, especially if they’re planning on going to university in their passport country (like the UK, Australia, the US, etc.). Sometimes good international schools are available locally; other times students might need to travel for their education. Take a look at what international school is like through the eyes of Alan and Amanda in this video.

Would you stand in the gap for children of cross-cultural workers; especially for their education as they start the new school year?

  • Pray for inspiration for teachers and homeschooling parents concerning curriculum, teaching style and adapting schooling to individual children.
  • Pray for good friendships; that God would provide like-minded, encouraging friends for missionary kids, wherever they are.
  • Ask God to help children to be lights for him in their environments.

This prayer post is adapted from a story on Wycliffe US’s website by Melissa Paredes.

Chocolate chip prayers

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Let’s get creative! Today we invite you to join us in baking chocolate chip cookies, and turning each step into a prayer for Wycliffe members overseas.

Rachel Allen’s double chocolate chip cookies

Makes 20 large cookies

225g (8oz) butter, softenedbowl-bright2

325g (111⁄2oz) caster sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

225g (8oz) plain flour

75g (3oz) cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1⁄4 tsp salt

175g (6oz) dark chocolate (55–70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces, or dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), gas mark 4. Line three baking trays with baking paper. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until soft.
  • Add the sugar, and as you cream the two together, pray for unity and harmony among expat workers and nationals.
  • Crack in one egg at a time, beating between each addition. As you crack the eggs, remember those working overseas who feel broken in spirit – that God would heal their hearts and bind up their wounds.
  • Then add the vanilla extract, asking God for joy to permeate the heart of every Wycliffe worker like the vanilla flavours these cookies. As you add the flour, pray for strength – for Wycliffe workers to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.
  • Sifting in the cocoa powder, pray for happy marriages, and contentment for singles. As you add the bicarbonate of soda and salt, pray for missionaries to set aside time for daily devotions and have their minds renewed by the word of God, so they can be salt and light where they are.
  • Finally, the chocolate chips: pray for more prayer support and financial support where this is needed. Just like the chocolate chips are essential to these cookies, prayer and financial support is essential to everything Wycliffe does.
  • With wet hands, form the dough into 20 balls each the size of a golf ball (or use two soup spoons to scoop up and shape the same amount of dough). As you shape them, pray for missionaries to have a spirit of humility and ask God for wisdom. Cookie dough is great, but it won’t turn into cookies without the heat from the oven. In the same way, our abilities don’t mean much unless God is behind our work and inspires everything we do. Arrange the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheets, placing 6–7 on each sheet and leaving space for the cookies to spread.
  • Bake for 10–14 minutes or until the cookies look slightly cracked on top. (With three baking sheets, you will need to cook them in three batches, or two batches in a fan oven.) As your delicious morsels are baking, ask for God’s protection from all the attacks of the evil one, fresh energy in the face of opposition, and for God to accomplish his will through the hard times missionaries often face. Take the cookies out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. As the cookies cool, pray that Wycliffe workers would cast all their cares on the Lord and rest in his peace.
  • Take the cookies off the baking sheets using a palette knife or metal fish slice and place on
 a wire rack to cool down completely. While they’re cooling, ask God to bless missionaries’ communication with supporters, helping them to be honest, and receive the encouragement they need – whether it’s kind words from a supporter, a hug from a friend on the ground, or cookies baked with love.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to four days.

For more prayer ideas for friends overseas, try our prayer pack Focused prayer: kingdom results.

Behind the Facebook photos: Let’s pray

Friday, August 7th, 2015

How do you pray for your friends involved in cross-cultural work? How much do you know about their day-to-day life? Do you picture friends in cross-cultural ministry floating from one victory to another, constantly feeling the favour of the Lord upon them like the sun on their back?

need-help-1221821-639x579Following on from Monday’s reality check about what everyday life is like for many cross-cultural workers, we want to talk about how we can be effective pray-ers for friends working overseas. Because believe it or not, cross-cultural work is not an endless string of success stories punctuated by encounters with exotic animals, new foods and funny cross-cultural misunderstandings. Cross-cultural workers often try to put the best possible spin on things and may be giving you the impression that everyday life is a bit easier than it really is.


How can I pray?

  • Be specific. Use the specific prayer requests in newsletters, and if they’re not specific enough or recent enough, ask for more details or an update.
  • Use Scripture. Another option is to use Scripture to pray effectively for friends in cross-cultural ministry. A great resource to help you get started is the article God Bless Justin in our prayer pack Focused prayer: Kingdom results.
  • Persist. If you don’t see answers to prayer straight away, keep praying!
  • Pray with others. Finding it hard to remember to pray? Set aside time to pray with others for friends working overseas, or agree with others on a time when you will all pray on your own.

For more about what might be going on behind the Facebook photos, see Monday’s post.

Behind the Facebook photos

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

What kind of pictures do your friends involved in cross-cultural ministry post on Facebook? What kind of things do you hear from them?

Christians in cross-cultural work can feel that need-help-1221821-639x579supporters, friends and sending churches expect them to be ‘conquering heroes’. This means it’s easy for cross-cultural workers to focus on the good stuff when communicating with their supporting team. Generally, it’s not a lie but rather an attempt to stay positive, and to avoid giving anyone the impression that they might be ‘failing’.

In reality, cross-cultural workers face a variety of challenges, starting before plane tickets are even booked. Raising the financial support required to take an unsalaried position with a mission organisation can be tough, especially as here in the UK it’s not very appropriate to talk about money.

Challenges once overseas include old stereotypical favourites like language learning, culture shock, bugs and getting used to new foods. There are many less well known ones too such as disagreements with other missionaries, marital problems or singleness made worse by the pressures of being in another culture, not enjoying the job your supporters are enabling you to do, or the discrepancy between the super-Christian some people think you are and your own perception of how little you’ve actually ‘achieved’. Read a refreshingly honest account of the reality of everyday life of one family in cross-cultural ministry here.

What can I do?

  • Ask. If a friend working overseas writes in a newsletter that they are ‘struggling’, support them by showing concern and asking for more details so you can pray more effectively. If you haven’t had an update or newsletter recently, ask how things are going.
  • Share. Communication with friends working cross-culturally should be a two-way street. If they ask what’s going on with you, it’s because they want to know.
  • Be understanding. Let your friends in cross-cultural ministry know that it’s OK if it’s not going well. They’re doing something amazing for the Kingdom and opposition is completely normal. Let them know you understand that it’s hard.
  • Encourage. A phone or Skype call can be hugely encouraging when things are hard. Also, most cross-cultural workers are very excited to receive anything in the mail. Popular gifts include chocolate, clothes and DVDs – and no one turns their nose up at a card just expressing that you are thinking of them! Ask if it’s safe to send things through the post, what they would like to receive, and, more importantly, how packages going into their country should be labelled.

Stand by for a post this Friday about how you can stand in the gap for your friends in cross-cultural ministry.

Stone or mountain? It’s in the tone

Monday, July 27th, 2015

It will probably come as no surprise that bringing a language from just a spoken form into written form is not an easy task. Also, not all languages are ‘created equal’; some are harder to write than others, and writing tonal languages well, that’s a whole different ball game. Johannes and Sharon, members of Wycliffe Switzerland, share some fascinating insight into the difficulties and complexities of translating the tonal language Mbelime.

‘One of the biggest problems of the Mbelime project remains the question of how to write the language (the spelling and punctuation rules that make up a written language are known as its “orthography”). Mbelime is a tonal language that has three distinct tone levels. This means that the tone level of a word changes its meaning. For example, if the vowel a of the word ditade is pronounced with a high tone, it means “stone”. When a is pronounced with a lower tone, however, it means “mountain”.

When the language was  first written in the 1970s, tone levels were not marked. Accordingly, readers found it difficult to read since they had to first figure out which tonal variation would apply to some of the words so that the text would make sense. Following further linguistic analysis, people started to mark tones. The stone was now written as dītáde, while mountain became dītāde. This rendered the two words distinctive in the orthography, which made the language easier to read. On the other hand, the text was now crowded with accents, which means that people still read very slowly.

Over the years many people, including literacy teachers, have told us how difficult they find it to write Mbelime. At the moment there are only a handful of people who master writing Mbelime correctly, among them Bienvenu and Claire. The three translators also find the current orthography a big challenge. Unfortunately, they feel that the current work pressure is hindering them from coming to grips with this. Bienvenu and Claire are currently reading through the first full draft of the gospel of Luke to correct the orthography. This is a lot of work and they’ll have to thoroughly proofread it twice. The orthography problem is so complex that we need a specialist who is well versed both in the tonology of African languages as well as in questions of orthography design. These people are a truly rare breed. One of them, David Roberts,  recently returned to Togo  and proposed including Mbelime in a comparative study with several other languages, as Mbelime is far from being the only language with this challenge.

Johannes, Bienvenu and Claire prepared the texts needed for the proposed reading experiment, for which we invited the best Mbelime readers. David came to Cobly in mid-June for three days during which he led the experiment (see photo). We recorded 32 people who read two short texts with the tones marked and two texts without the tone accents. They also had twenty minutes to write tones on two texts. In early July Bienvenu and Johannes went to Kara for a week to start analysing the recordings and texts together with the other four language groups that participated in the experiment.

It will be a while before we will be ready to have another orthography reform, but we’re thrilled that another important step towards it is finally happening.’

Keep up to date with the latest Wycliffe UK news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

You can help the work of Bible translation, either through prayer, giving or going. Find out how you can be involved.

Journey With Us – GOfest 19-21 June 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

It’s not long now, in fact 10 days 14 hours, until GOfest starts later this month! These will be an amazing few days of exploring God’s heart for the world, what he is currently doing and how you can be a part of it. To say we’re excited is an understatement! There’s a packed programme of speakers, seminars, worship, exhibition space and youth and children’s programmes with plenty of opportunities for you to engage, reflect and relax.

To get a taster for what it’s like Paul, an IT specialist exploring a sense that God may be calling him to mission, shares his family’s experience of GOfest [14] [last year:]

Coming to GOfest was very helpful for us. There is a real advantage to looking into someone’s eyes when they are talking to you and knowing what feels right

…We had two organisations we wanted to talk to. When I look back at the conversations I had with the people on the WEC* stand I know that God was at the center of it all – he simply anointed those conversations. The first person we spoke to was not at all pushy, just very relaxed. She then introduced us to someone who was in a very similar role to the one I was looking for. We had a great chat but what was truly amazing was that he literally answered all the questions that we needed answering without us needing to ask them! It is times like that, you realise that God has his hand on the situation.

Added to which the whole environment of GOfest was excellent for seeking God’s calling, from the honesty of the speakers to the feeling that you are in a place with people who are in the same position as you – all looking, praying and seeking God’s calling for them. There is a real sense of unity to the festival.

Read the rest of Paul’s story.

This year we have an amazing line up of speakers: James Hudson Taylor IV, Rosalee Velloso-Ewell and Dr Joseph D’Souza to name a few, as well as Pete James who will be returning from last year to lead the main meetings in worship.

GO2015logoSo pack your camping bags, prep your Sat Navs (or cast your finger to the wind), pick up your Bibles and come journey with us from 19-21st June at GOfest 15.

For all the information you need, including how to register, visit We look forward to seeing you there!


The method of writing tone

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Translating the Bible is just one part of what is needed to bring God’s word to a community. Another important aspect is to teach people to be able to easily read what has been written!

Many languages are tonal – the sounds of vowels can be high and low (and sometimes in between).  Making sure that a writing system denotes this clearly is critical for the fluent understanding of the readers.  This is where Tone Orthography Workshops come in. To put it simply, tone orthography is the method of writing tone. These workshops help translators develop accurate writing systems so that people can read the Bible fluently when a translation is finished.

This brilliant video from Cameroon gives you a glimpse into life as a Bible translator and a brief look at what happens in these Tone Orthography workshops.  Have a watch and share with your friends.

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Find out more about the work of Bible Translation and how you can help.

Traversing Translators

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Wycliffe’s goal is to bring Scripture to those without, with a focus on minority language groups. Often this leads to work taking place in remote regions throughout the world. As a result, journeys are not always that straightforward.

In this fascinating story, Geneviève recounts a recent trip she took to visit reindeer herders in north eastern Siberia as part of an anthropological study of the region. What should have been a journey to the herders camp that lasted around three hours, changed drastically when the teams snowmobile broke down over a frozen lake.

Geneviève writes:

‘But we were stuck. In the middle of nowhere. You can’t simply fix a frozen engine while on a frozen arctic lake. There was an all-pervasive frozen mist and we could see nothing in any direction. And the local Chukchi couple told us to walk. I thought they knew we were going to die, and they didn’t want to witness it. And so Zhanna and I started walking, while the local couple stayed with the frozen snowmobile. I wasn’t afraid. I don’t think I was afraid to die. I thought, if this is it, then it’s an interesting choice on God’s part…’

Read Geneviève’s full story

Translators face many challenges and adventures, some of which, can be found on the route to the destination. But the goal is more than worth it and God is faithful to provide.

Being involved in Bible translation can take you to all sorts of places in this diverse world. You can help and support this amazing work of bringing God’s word to people in a language they can understand. Find out how you can be involved.


I Understand This!

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Moving meaning from one language and culture to another is a technical process. It’s something that translators spend a lot of time on in order to prevent loss of meaning from the original text. The fruits of their labor, however, are more than worth it.

Almost in tears in his enthusiasm, Ezra, a translator working amongst his people, shared with his fellow translators the exciting moment when people who had recently asked for Scripture materials exclaimed, “I understand this!

People in Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s culture are used to not understanding Scripture.

“But when they actually read something in their own language and suddenly have the experience of Jesus or Paul or Moses speaking as it were to them, it’s God’s Word to them in a significantly different way. They are sometimes amazed. “I understand this!” It’s an announcement of something grand. It’s something stupendous. Ezra and Nehemiah live in a non-reading culture. They get excited when someone understands by either reading or hearing.

That’s why we’re doing this job. For starters at least, we’re working for the ones and twos who announce this new thing to anyone who will listen.”

Read the full post on which goes on to share some of the very real challenges they face in translating the Lord’s prayer, here.

Find out how you can help Bible translation: be involved either through prayer, financially or by going.