Archive for the ‘Pacific’ Category

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

Together We Can

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 by Martin Horton

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there-all nations and tribes, all races and languages. Rev 7:9-10 (MSG)

In November last year, there were fantastic celebrations in the Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea, as 11 language groups celebrated receiving a mini-Bible in their own mother-tongue.

What is in a Mini-Bible? They consist of the Gospel of Mark, which is the easiest gospel to translate, the book of Acts which covers how the church was established and then a panorama of the Old Testament which includes sections of the Old Testament that cover key Biblical events mentioned in the New Testament.

These were completed through a project called VITAL* which adopted the PNG Branch’s motto, ‘Together We Can’. Karla Watt, who was the project manager, believes that this motto sums up a new approach to Bible translation. In essence it is about the value of team work. VITAL is a multi-language translation strategy designed to meet the needs of language communities and dialects of the East Papua Region of Papua New Guinea that had no other way to begin a programme in the near future.

Karla goes on to explain,

The expatriates brought their Bible, linguistic, exegetical and software A to the table, while the nationals from each group brought the expertise in their languages so that “together” we could accomplish the task.’

VITAL has helped 14 language groups print books in their languages. These include literacy materials, AIDS materials, trial dictionaries, portions of Genesis, a Mark Bible Study and first editions of Mark as well as publishing and launching the Mini-Bible for 11 languages in late 2016.

Please pray for the work of VITAL and the people of Milne Bay:

  • Pray that as the fruit of 10 years work goes out to 11 language groups in Milne Bay, lives will be transformed as people read and understand his great love for them in their own heart languages.
  • Pray that those who aren’t able to read will be reached through listening to God’s word on Megavoice Storyteller MP3 players.
  • Pray that these teams will be motivated to continue translating God’s word using the equipment and training that they received through the VITAL Project.

Looking for more ways to pray for Bible translation? Sign up for our free magazine Words for Life which includes a prayer point for each day, or have Bible translation prayer points emailed to you each day.

*Vernacular Initiative for Translation and Literacy (VITAL) is a project run by SIL who are one of our language partners.

I want to be a lion tamer!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 by Martin Horton

In all honesty, if you looked at a survey of the most exciting jobs ever created, lion taming would be near to the top, whereas accountancy would probably be nearer the bottom. However, accountancy is an incredibly valuable profession, both in business, society and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Right now one of our most urgent needs is for an accountant to work with a project in Papua New Guinea (PNG). You may remember that we wrote about this in June last year (Volunteer to make a difference). This position has been vacant for a long time but is crucial to the running of the office. It would be a significant answer to prayer if it was to be filled by the right person, be that a volunteer or someone who feels called to serve with Wycliffe long-term.

We also need an accountant in Cameroon. The team recruited a local accountant in November 2016 and feel that an additional, more experienced accountant could greatly help get their accounting done.

You may be wondering why Wycliffe needs more than just Bible translators. The fact is, we can’t accomplish our translation work without other people taking on crucial support roles. As a recent prayer letter from SIL* Chad mentioned, it is positions like these that keep their well-oiled machine running.

Please stand in the gap for these teams and pray that the right people will feel called to these two roles.

  • Please pray that God would provide the right person to support the local accountant in SIL Cameroon – a team player with the right skills who has caught the vision for Bible translation.
  • Please pray that God will answer the prayers of the team in PNG and send them the accountant that they urgently need.
  • Please pray that people’s eyes are opened to the many different and varied roles through which they can volunteer or serve with us, either in their home countries or overseas.

Find out how your skills could be used to support Bible translation. Alternatively go along to one of our First Steps events which act as a great introduction into the world of Bible translation.

Pray regularly for Bible translation projects! Sign up to receive our magazine Words for Life which is packed full of interesting articles as well as our prayer diary giving daily prayer needs.

*SIL is our primary partner.

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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Surely Australia doesn’t need Bible translation?

Monday, September 12th, 2016 by Camilla

When you think about Bible translation, which countries pop up in your head first? Probably not Australia.

Australia is generally thought of as a white Anglo-Saxon, English-speaking country. But in fact, Australia has an Indigenous population of 500,000, speaking over 200 distinct languages – different from each other and certainly different to English! Though many Indigenous Australians speak English, for most, it isn’t their first language, which means an English Bible translation won’t speak to their heart. For this reason, Wycliffe Australia and partners are working with these language groups to translate the Bible and make the Scriptures accessible to Indigenous Australians.

The Kriol* Bible, the first full Bible in an Indigenous Australian language, was launched in 2007, and represented a major milestone in Australian Bible translation history. It marked a change in the status of Australian Indigenous languages. Australia has a sad history of racism and lack of respect for Indigenous languages and culture. Despite Kriol having over 30 000 speakers, when the Kriol translation project started all those years ago, Kriol was a despised language, and some people doubted it was even possible to translate the Bible into Kriol.

Starting a Bible translation project in Kriol put the language on the linguistic map, recognising it as a language in its own right, and brought appreciation and respect to a marginalised people group. Over 100 people were involved in the Kriol Bible translation, and it took 30 years to complete.

Though the wait for a full Bible in an Australian Indigenous language has been long, the first Scripture portions were published in the Indigenous language Ngarrindjeri as early as 1864!
The Torres Strait Creole Shorter Bible, due to be released in July 2014, will be the thirteenth New Testament or Shorter Bible published (a shorter Bible includes parts of the Old Testament as well the New Testament) in this part of the world. Smaller portions of the Bible have also been published in 30 more Indigenous languages. Some of the Bibles are available online – check them out for yourself!

*Kriol is considered an Indigenous language, even though it is a pidgin-type language based on English.

Is it news to you that Australia needs Bible translation? Take a look at this page on our website for an overview of how many people are still waiting for the Bible in their language, and where these languages are spoken.

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.

38 years in the making

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 by Camilla

We are celebrating: another New Testament has reached completion and is being launched this weekend in Papua New Guinea!

We are celebrating because we believe that the word of God is truth and now the Urat speaking community will be able to connect with God through the New Testament in their own language. Urat is one of over 800 languages in Papua New Guinea, spoken by 6800 people in the north of the country. The journey towards a Urat New Testament has been a long one.

Urat1Efforts began in 1978 under SIL* translators Nate and Jude Baker. In 1984 they passed the baton on to Robert and Dawn Barnes, who continued the program for about 11 years until they had to return home for medical reasons. Hilkka Arminen became involved with the Urat New Testament in 2001 assisting BTA (Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association) translators David Belyeme and Enoch Mundum.

After all that work, the day has finally arrived. The Urat New Testament is now a reality.

Pray with us for:Urat2

  • Last minute transportation logistics. The New Testaments have arrived in Wewak, six hours from the Urat area, and now need to be transported out to the village in time for the launch on 30th July.
  • Rain! Water tanks are emptying and an event like a Scripture launch uses lots of water.
  • David Belyeme, one of the BTA translators, who is very stressed with ensuring the dedication team are satisfied with the planning, preparations and schedule for the big day.
  • A sense of God’s peace to preside on the day, that he would be glorified and his word to the Urat people would go forth.

Want to pray more for Bible translations that have been a long time coming? Try our prayer goody bags, packed with information and inspiration to help you pray for more projects like this one.

*Our primary partner organisation

Volunteer to make a difference

Thursday, July 7th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

If you read Standing in the Gap regularly you will know that one of our strategic prayer goals for this year is for more workers. In our blog post More workers we focused on the need for more members, but not all the gaps need to be filled by someone working full-time or giving a long term commitment.

We are so excited that record numbers of people are applying to join us as members! However, we also need volunteers to serve both in the UK and overseas.

Fishing Benin 6It’s easy to feel that to be involved in Bible translation you need to have a very specific linguistic skill set. However we need people with all sorts of strengths: accountants, IT experts, administrators, and teachers to name just a few.

As we look to God to expand our ability to partner with churches and support projects both financially and in prayer we also need to increase our capacity to steward our resources well and we need volunteers to help us do that.

Remember, volunteers can play a significant role. At the moment one of the most urgent needs that we know of is for a qualified accountant to go and support Bible translation in Papua New Guinea. This role could be filled by a volunteer, and would provide much needed relief by filling a long-standing but crucial vacancy.

As you have been praying for more workers, will you also ask God to send us more volunteers?

  • Praise God that we are seeing many people joining as members.
  • Please pray that God will enable us to work more efficiently and effectively by providing volunteers to fill some of the gaps.
  • Please ask God to provide an accountant to go to Papua New Guinea and work with the team there.

Find out more about how to pray for our strategic goals.

Contact us if you are interested in volunteering!

Why not encourage a small group you are part of to pray for Bible translation? Use one of our prayer goody bags and check out Focused prayer: Kingdom results for some creative ideas.

Progress in Polynesia

Monday, July 4th, 2016 by Camilla

Tikopia is a Polynesian language spoken by 3500 people in the Solomon Islands. Tikopia speakers have been waiting for the word of God in their language for a long time.

Things got started in 1984, when some Tikopians attended a Bible translation workshop organised by the Bible Society. Nico and Pam Daams, who were already working in the Solomon Islands with another Polynesian language group, helped to get the project started. By 1990 most of the Tikopia New Testament had been drafted, but when it came to testing the translation, the project stalled, and nothing more would happen for several years.

In 2005, a translation committee was set up to translate the rest of the NT, and in 2013 Fr Walter Tamasia, a young Tikopian priest, was appointed as translation coordinator for the Tikopia project.

In 2015, the Gospel of Luke was recorded in Tikopia, and it became clear that the original draft translation would require some corrections (it was now 30 years old).

Later that year, Chief Nathan, a member of the team, wrote to Nico that he had spent time testing the translation in the large Tikopian settlement of Nukukaisi on the neighboring island of Makira. Nathan and a group of 25 reviewers worked hard together to correct and improve the original translation of the Gospel of Luke.

The next meeting with the Nukukaisi reviewers is now planned for this September, and the plan is for Nico and Nathan to spend a week there. Nathan is also planning to make a similar trip to Nukufero, another Tikopian settlement in the Solomon Islands. After many efforts to get the reviewing of this New Testament started and get the project moving again, it is finally happening!

This blog post is adapted from a story on the Isles of the Sea website. You can read the original version and more about the Isles of the Sea project here.

Hope in a hard context

Thursday, June 30th, 2016 by Jo Johnson

Jackie originally worked as a literacy specialist. Now as director for the work in South Sudan she doesn’t have much time to focus on literacy work but she is able to support literacy work with one people group, the Keliko. She recently let us know some exciting developments that are happening with this project in a nation that until recently was ravaged by conflict.

Jackie and her husband Wes
Jackie and her husband Wes

‘The Keliko are in the last stages of their New Testament translation but since the beginning of their project around 2000 they have also been doing literacy work both with primary schools and through churches. One of the men who has been involved from the beginning and leads the work in the home area is called Elisa Ayan Cosmas. He gives part of his time to literacy work and the rest of the time he farms with his family in order to support himself.

The school system is now facing many challenges because the government has virtually seized up, but since 2011 Elisa and another team member have run a literacy and Scripture use workshop for different kinds of church leaders (pastors, women’s groups, and other lay leaders). Each year they helped build the skills of the same group of people, helping them to be better readers, spellers and writers of Keliko and to use different methods for Scripture engagement, Bible study, dramas etc.

Elisa teaching a big book
Elisa teaching a big book

Last December Elisa gave this same group some introductory teacher’s training which covered how to teach the ABC book and use big book Bible stories. Now most of this group have either added a literacy component to their Sunday school class or added adult literacy classes during the week (but using these easy reading Bible stories).’

Join us in praising God for each person who is now able to read Keliko and therefore have access to the word of God in their heart language! Please pray:

  • for these church leaders as they minister to their people in different ways.
  • that they might be encouraged by the refresher training they are about to receive.

Watch Obura Bible Reprint by The PNG Experience to find out the difference literacy made to a community in Papua New Guinea.

Follow us on Twitter @wycliffeuk_pray for daily prayer requests and more inspiration to pray for Bible translation.