Standing in the Gap

God will find a way

Thursday, June 15th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Life is full of ups and downs. All of us experience frustrations and challenges as well as breakthrough and success. Often we think we have a clear picture of what success looks like, but sometimes God has a different idea.

Wycliffe is in the business of translating the Bible because we believe that the Bible is the best way for people to come to know and understand who God is.

A Bible translator in Papua New Guinea, Jonathan, had spent several mornings at Nindewari market, trying to sell Scripture books in the local language, Binandere. Imagine Jonathan’s frustration over spending all this time and only selling six books. He passionately wanted the Binandere people to read God’s word but there seemed to be little interest. Karen Weaver takes up the story:

‘He and his wife Kathy were planning to visit two Binandere villages upstream on the Gira River. Should he try to sell books there? Reluctantly he put the latest Binandere Scripture books in his backpack and carefully crossed the narrow log bridge, heading toward Kadeu village. The books he carried were a compilation of Mark, Luke, and Acts.

When he arrived at the first village, Jonathan had the opportunity to read the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14) out loud to several men who were gathered on a porch playing cards. Drawn to the words, two of the men quietly arose and began peering over his shoulder to see this book written in their language. As soon as Jonathan finished the story, one of the men announced, “I want to buy one of those books.” Just that morning the man had walked 13 miles to visit his relatives in this house and was happy to be there when Jonathan came.’

…..One by one, the Scripture books were purchased by the Binanderes.’

Read the full story on The PNG experience.

Praise God that he has opened a way for Binandere people to have portions of Scripture in their language.

Please pray:

  • For increased spiritual hunger among the Binandere people.
  • That those who bought the Scripture books will read them and that their lives will be impacted. Pray that they will share them with their families and the rest of the community.
  • Ask God to encourage Wycliffe workers around the world who are facing frustrations and challenges today. Ask him to help them seek his solution for the situation they find themselves in.

Why not subscribe to receive our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and has a prayer diary too to help you pray regularly for Bible translation needs around the world.

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.

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

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

Wholeness and healing

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

We love the word of God; not least because it brings wholeness and healing. Everybody has a time in their lives when they’ve experienced emotional pain and need God’s healing.

In some of the countries in which we work where people have experienced wars, natural disasters, banditry, rape and other severe traumas, this healing is even more meaningful. We help churches work with the emotionally wounded through trauma healing workshops which apply the word of God to these deep wounds.

On 29 May – 2 June and 5-9 June, trauma healing workshops will be held in Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The first will be taught in English and the second in Melanesian Pidgin, a language of wider communication in PNG. Participants will learn basic biblical mental health principles related to trauma care, explore their own heart wounds and bring them to Christ for healing, and learn to help others heal from trauma.

Trauma healing specialist Sam Smucker explains that these workshops are not isolated but part of a strategy to support the church and help it to engage with Scripture well:

‘I’ve been running several trauma healing workshops here in PNG. I’ve run four Pidgin workshops already and we are planning two more workshops in June, one in English and one in Pidgin.

During these workshops  I have been teaching and training a few PNG people who have a heart for helping people heal emotionally. I want to continue running these workshops so that the people I’ve been training feel comfortable teaching and running the workshops. I would love to have a group of trained people who could go throughout PNG and run these workshops for different churches and villages. That’s my vision.

Other workshops being run in PNG include Oral Bible Storytelling and Culture Meets Scripture. Together with Trauma Healing, they are making significant contributions in equipping the Church and helping Scripture come alive in peoples’ everyday lives.’

Please will you pray:

  • for the workshops, that each participant will have a significant healing encounter with God and understand the principles well so that they can help others
  • for the people that Sam is training to be well equipped to run these workshops throughout PNG
  • that many others will encounter God’s love and healing as the principles of the workshops are shared in churches and communities

Sign up for Words for Life, our free magazine which is packed full of interesting and inspiring articles and also a prayer diary giving daily requests to help you pray.

Let thy kingdom come

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Many of us enjoy the dynamic of being part of something bigger. We love being part of a crowd of supporters at a sporting event or taking part in a sponsored event to raise money for charity. Knowing that we are part of an extensive movement can give us a sense of connectivity and significance.

Something else that empowers us is knowing that God has chosen to work through his people. When we join in with his mission through prayer, God is glorified and we can watch expectantly to see him move in power to do immeasurably more than we ever ask for or imagine!

Because we think being part of a global movement is great and because we know that prayer is a critical part of partnering with God in his mission, we are very excited by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative that is running this year between ascension and Pentecost (25 May to 4 June). Called Thy Kingdom Come, it’s a global call to pray, alone or with others, for our communities and other communities for which we have concern and love, to come to know Jesus.

One way you can pray is to ask God for newly translated Scriptures to impact the people they’ve been translated for, whether whole New Testaments or just portions of Scripture. Since January we’ve told you about the Baka in Southern Sudan, the Beliyan people in Senegal, Kamuku of Nigeria, 11 languages in Papua New Guinea, and the Karon people of Senegal, but there are many others too.

Wherever you are in the world, and whatever church you’re part of – join with Thy Kingdom Come and be part of this global wave of prayer.

To find out more read Join a global wave of prayer by 24-7 Prayer’s International Director, Brian Heasley, or just head over to Thy Kingdom Come to Pledge2Pray.

The fruit of faithful prayer

Thursday, May 4th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Prayer is not always easy, especially persistent prayer. May this story give you hope and a renewed passion to see an answer to those prayers that may seem impossible!

Karen’s* heart was captured for mission whilst she was young. At a student mission conference she chose to start praying for a group of nomadic sheep herders. It seemed impossible that the B* people would ever come to Christ, but Karen kept praying for 13 years.

Karen got married and started a family, and all the while kept praying for the B people. She got the opportunity to attend a gathering of Christ followers from different religious backgrounds in Southeast Asia. It was there she met Adam*: a clan leader from the very people group she’d been praying for.

Adam had discovered Jesus through living with and being taught by a Christian teacher and his family. After coming to faith, Adam chose to stay with his people group, the first among them to become a follower of Jesus. Due to his reliability, the way he treated others and his desire to share about Jesus, Adam was later named as the new leader of the whole people group; even above the current leader’s own sons.

Adam has remained loyal to God’s word and led many others from his people group to Christ. Yet Adam has also experienced imprisonment, torture and nearly died in the mountains whilst bringing help to victims of an earthquake. Despite all these challenges, Adam’s love for Jesus remains, as does his passion for helping others.

Karen had no idea what would happen when she started praying for an unknown people group that she thought she may never see, but God has amazed Karen and Adam with the doors that he has opened over time.

Karen and her husband work with Global Teams to assist Adam with his work among the B* people and other people groups in that region.

*names changed for security reasons

This story is adapted from a story that originally appeared on the Faith2Share website. You can read the original here.

Why not commit to pray for a people group with an ongoing translation project?

Further prayer items from Wycliffe’s prayer magazine Words for Life are available daily as Daily Prayer. Download Words for Life or subscribe to receive it by post.

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.

GOfest is back!

Thursday, April 20th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Last year GOfest took a rest but is now back. It’s taking place at a new venue, Moorlands college, and instead of taking place over a weekend there is a new, one-day format. It’s all happening on 13th May 2017.

What is GOfest?

GOfest is a partnership of mission organisations working with local churches to bring you a dynamic, mission-focused event which aims to celebrate what God is doing in the world and inspire involvement in his mission locally and globally. Wycliffe is a key partner and we are so excited to see, hear and share what God is doing around the world.

Why should I come along?

  • God is at work around the world, come and find out more.
  • God wants the whole church to be involved in reaching the nations, find out how you can play your part.
  • The programme is packed with great speakers. Check out this video for more info!

Will you pray that God uses this event to glorify his name and challenge the church?

  • The planning team are in the final stages of planning for the GOfest event at Moorlands on Saturday 13th May. Pray for continued wisdom, creativity, and energy for the whole team.
  • Our keynote speakers for this event are Peter Baker (Lansdowne Church) and John Risbridger (Above Bar Church). Pray for them, as well as the seminar speakers, as they prepare to share what God has put on their hearts.
  • A number of mission agencies representing just about every nation of the world will be present on the day. Pray that many connections will be made that will help people engage in God’s mission.
  • Pray that we’ll have a full house on the day. Pray that those who attend will hear and respond to the challenge of being whole-life disciples engaging with the whole church, to reach the whole world!

Sign up for GOfest. We hope to see you there!

If you are free why not volunteer to serve on the day? Contact Stewart at askus@wycliffe.org.uk for further details.

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.

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

Standing firm in the face of attack

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Often, as a translation project nears completion it faces increased spiritual attack. The Keliko New Testament project from South Sudan is one that has faced far greater challenges than normal and yet the team are committed to reaching their goal: a finished New Testament.

Renewed fighting in South Sudan last July near the capital Juba brought new insecurities. Branch director Jackie Marshall picks up the story:

‘As the rebels left Juba after the clashes here, they moved westward towards Congo and this has ended up destabilising areas of Equatoria which have been quite stable and peaceful for many years. One of our translation and literacy projects is with the Keliko people who live close to the border with Uganda and Congo. Now many people have fled to live in refugee camps in Congo or northern Uganda including the families of two of the Keliko translators, Enos and Ezekiah, and Elisa Ayani, the Keliko literacy worker.

Elisa recently made a trip back into his area (through Congo as that is the safest way in) to see how things were. Unfortunately civilians end up getting caught between government and rebel sides and abused or sometimes killed as a result. I spoke to him on the phone about his trip and he said that the people live with a lot of fear, and communication and transport has become much more difficult. There are only three primary schools out of more than 20 still somewhat operating. Most people (including churches) have moved away from main paths or roads and try to live and farm deeper in the forest.

The Keliko translators have now left their wives in northern Uganda to return to Juba and are doing final reviews of books to lead up to typesetting in the next few months. It now seems as if they will have to launch their New Testament in northern Uganda rather than in their home area.’

Praise God that since Christmas, security in Juba has been good and it is a safe place for the Keliko translators to work.

Please pray:

  • for an end to all political unrest in South Sudan. Pray for all those who have been caught up in the conflict and are now living in refugee camps.
  • that the translation team, churches and God’s people would have the power and strength to live lives of love, grace and truth in this fractured society.
  • for the Keliko translators in the final checks before typesetting and printing of the New Testament. Ask God to help them produce a natural, clear and accurate translation.

Around the world many translation projects are facing challenges and need your prayers. Find out more about them by subscribing to our magazine Words for Life which is packed full of interesting articles and gives a daily prayer request as well.