A confident smile

May 15th, 2017 by Camilla

Under a white bucket hat and blue-tinted glasses, Michael Kativa’s smile is as wide as his face.

The foundation for Michael’s vibrant joy lies within the confidence he finds in Jesus. He sits back, crossing his legs, and explains, ‘I am thankful I am saved and that my life has been transformed because of God’s word. It has brought me peace with God.’

Before he knew the stories found in Scripture, Michael would often get into fights and drink too much. His wife left him many years ago, and he has since experienced the death of his daughter and has become estranged from his son. ‘The Bible exposes what is wrong in your life,’ he says.

Now an elder in the community, Michael says hopes to be a father figure to many of the young people that live nearby. He passionately lives a changed life in order for more lives to change.

Many people in the community do not know how to read. For the San people, the life of Jesus is a story best told orally, around a campfire or under a neighbor’s tree. Michael has been part of the Bible storytelling project in Botswana since it began just over a year ago. Many more young people in his village have started attending Bible studies organised by field coordinator Eben Le Roux. This is a big accomplishment because, ‘the young people are disillusioned,’ says Eben. ‘Many do not believe that the Scriptures bring hope.’

The local village chief also recently started to come to the meetings – a small act that could greatly affect the rest of the village. Michael has welcomed the chief with open arms and glorifies God for the opportunities ministering to the chief will create.

His confidence is not just a character trait, but clearly a work of the Holy Spirit. He is an elder set on changing the world around him because he can proudly proclaim, ‘God is the same, he doesn’t change.’

This post is adapted from a story by our partner The Seed Company.

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Finally knowing what it means to believe and depend on Christ

May 11th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Many Dukawa speakers finally know what it really means to believe and depend on Christ, whereas before they had not really understood. Over 3,800 Dukawa people have turned to Christ as a result of hearing God’s word in their own language!

In early 2016, after the Dukawa New Testament was completed, a recording of the New Testament and some Old Testament portions was made. Hundreds of audio Bibles with these recordings were given to Dukawa churches, and they have produced an amazing result.

When the Dukawa team first started handing them out they believed they would help believers to grow in their relationship with Christ.

But in practice, the impact of the audio Bibles was bigger than the team could have imagined, and shows the impact of mother tongue translation.

Many Dukawa speakers had been using the Bible in the trade language, Hausa, and thought they understood. But with the Bible finally available in their own language, people started to realise they hadn’t really understood what it meant to follow Jesus.

Even local pastors admitted that they have not understood the Bible in the trade language. One of the pastors even said that some of what he had been teaching was wrong because he misunderstood the Bible.

For many of you reading this, as you may have more than one version of the Bible in your mother tongue, it is understandably hard to grasp how the Dukawa people are feeling. May the testimony of this Dukawa man give you a glimpse of the transformation that Bible translation brings.

When I first heard the audio Bible, I felt as if I was dreaming, but when I heard it 2-3 times, I realised I was not dreaming. Now I can understand…I am going to be…a Christian.’

Here are some ways that you can pray for the Dukawa people:

  • Praise God for his work in using his word in the Dukawa language to draw more Dukawa people to himself in truth and understanding.
  • Pray for pastors to have the courage to be open and honest if they realise, after hearing Scripture in their mother tongue, that what they have been teaching is wrong.
  • Pray that the Dukawa people will grow in their faith and continue to receive fresh revelation as they listen to the Scriptures in their language.

This story is adapted from a post on the Robinson family blog, Impact of Audio Scriptures.

Interested in praying regularly for 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.

The fruit of faithful prayer

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.

What language is spoken in Syria?

May 1st, 2017 by Camilla

Ever wanted to know what language is spoken in a country? Research is easy – Google will start answering the question before you’ve even finished asking it.

Sometimes, however, you may be asking the wrong question to start with…

New-neighbour-bible.org is a new site sponsored by Wycliffe Bible Translators that highlights both the many languages of different countries and regions and also provides links to Scripture resources such as online Bibles, audio Bibles, and powerful Bible-based films such as the JESUS Film.

Initially new-neighbour-bible.org focuses on the languages of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Over time, the site will be expanding to cover a wider area, and other languages spoken by people coming to Europe as students, workers, and refugees.

The main languages in Syria and Iraq can be divided up into Arabic, Kurdish, Aramaic and Turkmen, but each of these are actually groups of languages, each made up of several distinct languages and many of those having further dialects and variations. The map (used with permission from new-neighbour-bible.org) illustrates a number of Arabic and Kurdish languages.

Some books of the Bible were originally written in Ancient Aramaic, and some of Jesus’ words are recorded in Aramaic even in some English Bible translations (for instance in Mark 5:41). But even though this is one of the primary languages Jesus spoke while on earth, it’s a language not many of us know much about. Aramaic originated in Syria and became a common trade language across the Middle East, and there are now 19(!) distinct Aramaic languages.

New-neighbour-bible.org is also available in German or French, and offers a page of links to other sites that offer resources for refugees in other languages.

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A book for everyone

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.

Uncle Cam – William Cameron Townsend (1896-1982)

April 23rd, 2017 by Camilla

Today is the anniversary of the death of William Cameron Townsend (affectionately known as Uncle Cam), founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

When Uncle Cam was just 21 he felt called to take the Bible to the peoples of South America, and set off with plenty of Spanish Bibles. But when he got there, he discovered something that shaped the rest of his life’s work: often the people he met didn’t speak Spanish. They asked Cam something that really made him think – why didn’t God speak their language? Was he only the God of English and Spanish speakers?

Cam thought everyone should be able to read God’s word in their own language. So within a few years, he and his wife were living with the Cakchiquel people of Guatemala, studying their complex language, developing a writing system for it and helping them to translate the Bible so they could understand it.

He became ill, and had to return to the US, but that didn’t stop him. In 1934, he ran the first Wycliffe Summer School. Within 10 years, this had become two partner organisations: the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Cam served for over sixty years(!) in Latin America, working in many countries. He knew everyone, including more than 40 heads of state. He received an honorary doctorate, was decorated by five Latin American governments and was declared Benefactor of the Linguistically Isolated Populations of America by the Inter-American Indian Congress.

What people most often commented on, though, was his humility: when the president of Mexico visited an Aztec village, a local man said of Townsend, ‘He treats us just like he does the President. If President Cárdenas comes, he leaves his dinner to talk with him. If one of us comes, he leaves his dinner to talk with us, too.’

Kenneth Pike, a renowned linguist, once said of Uncle Cam that, ‘Not since the third century has there been a man like Cameron Townsend who attempted so much, and saw so many dreams realised in his lifetime.

If you want news about the continuing story of Bible translation, sign up for our free magazine, Words for Life.

GOfest is back!

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.

Colour TV is a human right

April 17th, 2017 by Camilla

As a child, TV was very important to me. I didn’t really see the point of black and white TVs like they’d had in the old days, and I figured colour TV was practically a human right.

These days I feel more strongly about universal access to the Bible, and we know reading the Bible in a second language can be almost like watching your favourite TV show in black and white – it’s not quite how it was meant to be experienced. Like many people groups around the world, until a few years ago, the Choco of Panama didn’t have the Bible in their own language.

The Choco people’s Bible translation story is one that starts in the age of black-and-white entertainment and carries on into the age of Blu-ray. In 1960, Bible translator Dick Scott left his home in the US and made the journey to Panama, aged just 24. He would spend a total of 13 years living among the Choco people, and they wouldn’t have a complete Bible in their language, called Emberá, until 2013.

The Choco people lived in a remote rainforest, with no running water and no roads. Despite their isolation from the rest of the world, they were very open to Dick and his two colleagues.

Dick spent time with a mother-tongue speaker learning the unwritten Emberá language, and developing a writing system for it on his typewriter, before going on to translate the New Testament, starting with Mark. Over the years to come until 2013, he would travel back and forth between his home in the US and the Choco people, all the while working to complete the Choco Bible, as well as finding time to serve as a leader in an Oregon church.

With the Bible finally available in their language, the Choco people can experience the Bible as it’s meant to be experienced, in full colour.

This blog post is adapted from a story originally posted on Oregon Live’s website. Read the original article.

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God’s Push and Pull

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

A day of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the Beliyan people!

April 10th, 2017 by Camilla

Rebecca Sharples writes about experiencing the all-day celebration of the launch of the Oniyan New Testament in Senegal.

In a region called Kedougou in the southeast of Senegal, a few hundred people gathered together to celebrate the completion of a very special book: the New Testament and Genesis translated into the Oniyan language. This language, sometimes referred to as Basari, is spoken by the 20-30,000 Beliyan people living in Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

The event began at 10am (only an hour behind schedule!). Locals, SIL staff, funders and guests flocked into the Kedougou stadium dressed in all their colourful Senegalese finery and found their seats in one of several large marquees that had been set up just a few hours before.

From start to finish the event was hosted by an animated Oniyan speaker who gave the announcements, introduced the speakers and got everybody warmed up for the music and dancing (not that it took much!).

The speeches were given by people from around the globe whom God has brought together for his mission of getting his word to the Beliyan community. The speakers included the funding manager of The Seed Company (American), the director of SIL Senegal (Swiss), Pastor Nicodème (Senegalese), and two long-serving missionaries (Canadian and American), among many others. The speeches were given in either French or Oniyan and always with a translation from one to the other.

In the midst of the speeches a car pulled up carrying the precious cargo: the New Testaments had arrived! They were carried in boxes into the stadium before being paraded and presented by members of the Beliyan community. It was a tear-jerking moment to see these New Testaments arrive which, after several years of dutiful and diligent work (especially by the chief translators Nicodème Biesse, Paul Boubane and Jérémie Boubane) can now be held in the hands of Oniyan speakers and read aloud in their homes in their own language.

But the printed New Testaments weren’t the only Scripture material being celebrated and shared. The Beliyan community were also able to take home an SD card containing the dramatised audio recording of Genesis and the entire New Testament, performed by local voice actors.

In the year before the launch, members of the Beliyan community and several local staff members also worked together in workshops to create, perform and record Scripture-based songs written in the Oniyan language and performed using traditional instruments. These recorded songs were then added to the SD cards, just in time to be made available at the launch.

Now the Oniyan community can not only read God’s word, but they can also listen to God’s word and sing songs about God’s word in their own language.

Could there be a better reason to rejoice and give thanks?

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