Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

David Brainerd (1718 – 1747)

Sunday, October 9th, 2016 by Ruth

David Brainerd was not an archetypal candidate for a heroic and inspiring missionary. Before going into ministry, he had already failed at farming. On to university, where he was expelled in his second year. He was ill throughout his adult life, having contracted tuberculosis, which eventually killed him. He also struggled with depression, even praying for death on occasions. His first two years in mission saw only two converts from the Native American communities amongst which he worked.

On this day in 1747, he died aged only 29, at the home of the theologian Jonathan Edwards. Edwards looked beyond these continual difficulties. He was so encouraged by the commitment of Brainerd’s life, he decided to publish a biography, recounting trials, turned-down-offers of a more comfortable life and 3,000 miles covered on horseback.

This book of Edwards’, The Life of David Brainerd, became his most popular work. Since its publication, it has never been out of print. John Wesley prescribed its reading for every preacher. Brainerd’s life, as retold in the book, has been cited by many missionaries as influential in their lives, including Henry Martyn, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Robert McCheyne and Jim Elliot.

His work at and expulsion from Yale were also major factors in the establishment of Princeton and Dartmouth Universities. And the Brainerd Hall is the only university building at Yale to be named after an expelled student. A lot of influence for a man who during his lifetime was seen to be a sickly and melancholic failure!

Brainerd’s life was not constrained by what he appeared to be. He knew that God invites anyone and everyone to participate in his work. God is doing amazing things around the world through Bible translation. You can participate by praying, giving, going or telling someone else about the 180 million people who still don’t have a single word of Scripture in their own language. Visit to find out more.

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.

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

BBQ ribs and the JESUS Film

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 by Hannah

We always get excited when new ways of sharing the Bible in minority languages become available. Mobile phone app – wonderful! Videos – brilliant! A new New Testament – fantastic! But if you are based in the ‘West’, you might be thinking, ‘What use are these to me?’ One of the workers at JESUS Film got a chance to try out one when he stopped at a fast food place too early:

‘I wasn’t the only one drawn in by the tempting smell of slow smoked meat. Stanley, pictured by my side, was also there for a 10:30 a.m. rib fix.

‘The vendor gave us each a sample. As we waited and talked about how good it was, I noticed Stanley’s accent and asked where he was originally from. “Ivory Coast,” he said.

‘… Before I knew it, I was wiping the grease off my fingers so I could zoom in on his country on my smartphone to see if his mother tongue language had been recorded on the JESUS Film. Sure enough, there it was! “Bete!… That’s my language!” Stanley exclaimed. I selected it and it started to play. Holding my phone close to his ear he heard the narrator introducing the JESUS Film in Bete language of Ivory Coast. “This is unbelievable!” he shouted through a heartfelt laugh. “How can I get this for myself?”

‘I clicked the “share” option and got Stanley’s email address and, poof, just like that, he and his family have the JESUS film in their language. As it turns out, his mother-in-law will be arriving from Ivory Coast soon and doesn’t speak English. He plans to impress her by showing her the JESUS film in Bete when she arrives!

‘… As I drove away, I thought, “Wow, anyone could do that.” And that’s the whole point.’ Read more of this story.

You never know when you’ll get an opportunity to amaze someone by showing them that God speaks their language. Find out more about the JESUS Film app on their website. There are lots more resources for minority language speakers right here on our website – have a look around.

Photo from JESUS Film Media.

That’s not fair!

Friday, February 7th, 2014 by Hannah

Last autumn, Kaimana’o Tominkaru Paradan became available for the first time. That’s ‘God’s Holy Word’ in the Wapishana language of Guyana, in South America. The new edition of Wycliffe Canada’s magazine, Word Alive, provides some glimpses into the history of the project and the people who served God working on the project.

In his Last Words, Roy Eyre, Wycliffe Canada’s president, reminds us that – even with the 25 New Testaments launches in the last year – the plane is still far from level:

I researched the top English Bible translations in 2012 and found that no major translation team had fewer than 60 scholars. Seven out of every 10 Bible resources are in English. And, according to Bradford B. Taliaferro’s Encyclopedia of English Language Versions, there are more than 400 different English versions of the complete Bible translated into English. How many resources and versions do you have available on your smart phone right now?

Read the whole magazine on Wycliffe Canada’s website now. Find out more about what you can do to get the Bible to those who are still without it.

8 years on, what’s the impact?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 by Hannah

‘Bible translation – that’s just happening in a few remote places in Africa and Asia, right? Up mountains and hours away from the nearest city, right?’ It is happening in those places, but you might be surprised at where else it’s happening.

Romans 1 in Gullah

Until quite recently, the Gullah language – also called Sea Island Creole – had no standard writing system and no major works of literature in it. That was until the New Testament in Gullah was first published in 2005. Where is Gullah spoken? Not Congo, not Papua New Guinea, not Peru… the USA.

The publication of the New Testament did not go unnoticed, and it has inspired the community to celebrate the beauty, heritage and vitality of their language. This year was the first year (of many to come, we hope!) that Gullah Geechee Awareness Month was celebrated.

Here are some of the things people have said about the impact of Bible translation into Gullah:

‘Today speakers are much more confident to say, in contact with outsiders, “This is my language, and it is a good language, and it ought to be heard!” […] The effort to put the Bible into Gullah has been called the most significant factor in the change of attitudes toward the Gullah language.’ Dr David Frank, consultant with Wycliffe’s key partner SIL and a member of the Gullah Culural Heritage Commission.

‘The Gullah Bible has brought authenticity to a language that was labeled for so long as ‘broken English,’ something to be embarrassed about. It has certainly increased self-confidence and pride in a culture that was almost forgotten.’

‘When you read the Bible in Gullah … it’s like you’re talking to God one-on-one.

Read more about the Gullah Geechee language and culture at SIL, our key partner.

Bible translation makes an impact on speakers of all kinds of languages in all kinds of places. When was the last time you rejoiced in the Bible in your mother tongue? When did you last hear God speak to you through it one-on-one?

If you love the Bible, and want to celebrate it, what better way than by helping many more people have it in their own language? Find out what you could do.

I’ve never seen Star Wars

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 by Hannah

The JESUS Film was first released in 1979. That’s just two years after the first Star Wars film. But while Star Wars, along with Titanic and Avatar, often appear on lists of ‘the world’s most watched film’, they don’t come close in number of viewings to The JESUS Film. Estimated viewings: 6 billion!

The film’s age hasn’t dented its powerful message; after all, it’s based on the book of Luke, and that hasn’t aged in nearly 2,000 years. In this video from JESUS Film, Hmong-American student Cheeia talks about the impact the film had on her family:


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Wycliffe partners with The JESUS Film so that the script can be translated and the message can be shared in the world’s smaller languages. The language count so far is 1,200 and Wycliffe has helped with at least 65% of these.

Could The JESUS Film be helpful for your church, your family or reaching out to your community? Find downloads and the list of available languages here.

Celebrating the past: Kenneth L. Pike

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 by Hannah

As Wycliffe in the UK move out of our long-term home at the Wycliffe Centre, we’ve been thinking about some of the people who placed the founding stones of our organisation. For years, we’ve been remembering them by the buildings that we’ve named after them.

Pike earns his PhD

When Kenneth Pike graduated from his studies in Theology, his heart’s desire was to be a missionary to China. He had been inspired by a biography on Hudson Taylor and, on Christmas day 1933, send his application. He was turned down. The beginnings of a great career for God!

After this rejection, Pike didn’t give up. In the summer of 1935, he hitchhiked more than 1,400 miles across the east of the US to get to the second Wycliffe summer camp being run by William Cameron Townsend. The five students on the course travelled with Townsend to Mexico, and that autumn, Pike first visited a Mixtec village. It was a people group that he and his wife would come to know very well.

Kenneth and Evelyn lived with the Mixtec people for many years, developing a writing system and helping them to translated the New Testament into their language. When it was completed in 1951, it was the first New Testament ever completed with the help of Wycliffe Bible Translators.*

But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Pike was that, alongside his missionary life, he served as a highly respected academic. He used the research he did among the Mixtec people to complete a PhD in Linguistics, he served as president of SIL, Wycliffe’s linguistic partner, for 36 years. He also worked at the University of Michigan for 30 years, later becoming Professor Emeritus of the University. He received 16 nominations for the Nobel Prize, three for the Templeton Prize, 10 honorary doctorates, published 30 books and 200 scholarly articles.

Kenneth L PikeSo was he a missionary or an academic? ‘I am a mule,’ he said. Part horse, part donkey. Part linguist, part mission worker. His work not only had a significant impact on the academic study of linguistics and language, and established SIL as a significant linguistic and academic organisation, but it also helped the Mixtec people to have the Bible in their own language.

As we look back to our heritage, we also consider that still to do: more than 200 million people don’t have the Bible in a language they understand. In fact, they don’t even have one verse. Help them to have God’s word.

*God has used Wycliffe to help with another 830 since then!

Celebrating the past: L L Legters

Friday, October 18th, 2013 by Hannah

At our offices in Buckinghamshire, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Maybe not so much a cloud as a camp – each of the buildings here is named after a pioneer mission worker. As we plan to move to new offices, we want to remember some of the people who are named on our buildings and built our organisation.

L L LegtersIt was early 1921 and William Cameron Townsend, who would later found Wycliffe, had been working with the Cakchiquel people of Guatemala for several years. He was planning a Cakchichel Bible Conference and invited a speaker from the US who he’d been told was a ‘lively’ evangelist:

‘Once Leonard Legters arrived for the conference, Cam decided the word lively was an understatement! L. L., as everyone called Leonard Legters, was a fireball of activity. He preached day and night, using anything he could get his hands on to illustrate his sermons. The only thing he complained about was having to stand still while his words were translated first into Spanish by Cam and then into Cakchiquel from the Spanish.’ (From Cameron Townsend: Good news in every language by Janet and Geoff Benge)

Sixty people, including a tribal leader, chose to follow Jesus that week, but Legters had a glimpse of how fantastic it would be for the people to hear a preacher in their own language. He saw more of the need in Guatemala and returned to the US promising to return the following year and to tell others about what he’d seen.

LL and his wife Edna, with Townsend

In 1933, when visiting the Townsends in California, Legters convinced Cam that there was a need in Mexico too, ‘at least 50 languages!’ On November 11th that year, the two men stood on the border of Mexico and prayed, until God answered by opening the door for them there.

Legters set up and ran the Pioneer Missionary Agency to support the growing work, especially as Townsend began running Wycliffe summer school in the US to teach linguistics for Bible translation work. In 1942, this became Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International (Wycliffe’s linguistic partner).

But even outside of his involvement with Wycliffe, Legters had worked phenomenally hard for God, serving Native American peoples in the southern USA as well as being a prominent speaker and writer. As we thank God for the work he did through Legters’ life, we continue to look ahead, to the 1,967 people groups still waiting for God’s word in their language. Find out what you can do to help.

Breaking all the rules

Friday, October 11th, 2013 by Hannah

After spending so long trying to fit into a new culture, no wonder mission workers find it hard to slide seamlessly back into life in the UK or USA. Catherine’s cultural mismatches have found herself a (social) rule breaker now she’s back in the US from Papua New Guinea:

Then there are the rules for greetings. In PNG [Papua New Guinea], a proper greeting for both men and women is a handshake. In fact, it’s extremely important to shake everyone’s hand when you enter a room or a gathering. However, that’s it. Other than a handshake, men and women rarely have any other physical contact. They often sit separately, eat separately, talk separately… even married PNG couples will often barely acknowledge each other outside their own home. (In fact, I can’t even remember the last time in PNG that I saw a missionary couple offer a public display of affection—it’s rather unheard of!)

So, after living for years within this very segregated set of rules, can you imagine my absolute shock and dismay when I’m greeted with a very traditional Hawaiian HUG AND KISS ON THE CHEEK by a completely unknown young man of a similar age!!? I think a diamond statue would have been more responsive than I was! (At least, thank heavens, I managed to replace my shriek of horror with a stuttered “nice to meet you too!”)

It’s much more than just greetings that are causing headaches – read more on Catherine’s blog.

Sharing God’s word involves sacrifice, even sacrificing being comfortable in our own culture. If you think committing to another culture could be part of what God is calling you to, book into one of our First Steps events to find out more about taking steps into overseas mission.

Epic Journey

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 by Ruth

I’m often rendered speechless by the phenomenally inspiring things people do in support of Bible translation. Today was no exception. Paul and Mason are currently cycling across the US from Canada to Mexico with the needs of the Bibleless peoples of the world in their hearts and minds. And they’re having the time of their life while they do it!

Paul and Mason on their epic cycling challenge across a continent.

Paul and Mason on their epic cycling challenge across a continent.

Paul and Mason started their Great Divide Mountain Bike Race journey on 14 June, and hope to finish it in around 20 days (i.e. anytime soon, about 4-5 July). We wish them success! You can follow their progress on Facebook (CrossTheDivideRace2013).

Meanwhile others are facing epic challenges worldwide in the cause of Bible translation. Sometimes it’s because translators in dangerous parts of the world have had to relocate in order to continue work on the project they hold dear. Sometimes it’s friends dealing with termite infestations or dead bats or [fill in the gap] as part of their daily routine. Sometimes it’s persevering through what feels like a million setbacks as they face down the final stages of typesetting a New Testament or getting it to the printers.

It takes a huge and varied team to bring God’s word to those without it. You can play a part too.

Background to this story can be found here on the Wycliffe US project page. Paul and Mason are riding to raise money for a language community deep in the Himalayan Mountains, where several million people have lived their entire lives knowing almost nothing about the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ. By giving to this project, you can help this community receive Scripture in their own language. (Wycliffe US have set up an online donation page, but for UK donors, please consider donating to Paul and Mason’s chosen project The Himalayan Translation Project via the Wycliffe UK online secure donation page, where UK tax-payers can increase the value of their gift by reclaiming UK tax on the donation.) Thank you!