Posts Tagged ‘Bible translation’

The value of 10,000 words

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 by Martin Horton

How much are 10,000 words worth? A short story? Ten pictures? For a language community in Senegal, 10,000 words are worth a lot more: it’s their first step towards having a Bible in their own language.

A lot of work needs to happen before a translation project can begin, and one aspect of this work is word collection workshops. A rapid word collection workshop was held in February in Thionck Essyl in Senegal for the Gusilay language. The goal for the workshop was to collect 10,000 words, which could then be turned into a Gusilay-French dictionary.

So how do you actually do a rapid word collection workshop? Wycliffe UK member Clare Orr describes the process they used to collect the words.

‘Folders had been prepared, with questions relating to all sorts of different topics, arranged in hierarchies of domains. For example, one domain was “The universe, creation”. This had a sub-domain of sky, which had a sub-domain of weather, which had a sub-domain of rain. For each sub-domain there were a selection of questions, like the ones above, for the participants to reflect on and write down any relevant words.’

There were 1,792 domains covering all kinds of topics, from the material to the intangible. And by the end of the workshop, 1,700 of them were covered.

The goal was 10,000 words, but even with fewer participants than they had expected, the final total of words gathered was 12,485! By the end of the workshop most of these had been translated and typed, and a first draft was printed to show what had been achieved. This draft is now being refined and made into a dictionary, which will serve as tangible evidence that their language can be written down and is valuable, and will also be a useful resource for future Bible translation work.

Pray for the Gusilay team:

  • Pray for those involved in preparing the dictionary for publication, that they would work well to create a useful resource for the Gusilay community.
  • Pray for preparations towards Bible translation, that all the background work would be completed well so that translation can start for this unreached people group.

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.

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.

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

Mentoring new believers

Monday, May 29th, 2017 by Camilla

Splash is a Bible translator in Northern Botswana. Translating Scripture is difficult, and he has sacrificed much for it. Most days, Splash only gets through 10 verses of Scripture. The work is hard and keeps him very busy but the sacrifice seems little in light of what he believes his community will gain.

‘If I left the project, the translation would collapse,’ he says. ‘If the translation collapses, it means our people will not know the word of God.’

Splash says, ‘My family were Christians. I didn’t believe, but I knew Christianity could help other people. At first, I just wanted to speak for my people and for our language to be standardised.’

It didn’t take long for Splash to change his mind about the real meaning of the work he was doing. As he began to pore over Scripture day in and day out, he couldn’t help but see it as good news, saving news, for himself and for his people.

Splash is living a new life – a transformed life – fully committed to his new identity in Jesus, sacrifices and all. He’s a mentor for new believers who are just beginning to know God’s word; working hard to be a humble servant, versus an authoritative leader.

Splash talked about the difference translation work will bring for the identity of his people. He doesn’t want to abandon the many good attributes of his ancestors, but fully believes that it’s only through God that true goodness is possible. He will continue to work until the entire Bible is translated, he says, for each part is necessary and important for his people to read.

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

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God’s amazing love drove demons away

Monday, May 22nd, 2017 by Camilla

Maricel recalls vividly the day an angry traditional healer threatened her father in their home. The healer was her mother, Carolina.

Carolina was furious because her husband and Maricel’s father, Sotero, had again brought Christian pastors to their home in Palanan, a small town in the Philippines. They tried to tell her about Jesus.

‘I will kill you!’ she shouted at Sotero. ‘If I give up witchcraft, the spirits will come and kill us all!’ She mocked Sotero’s faithfulness.

An evil spirit that controlled Carolina made her weaker day by day, Maricel says. Her entire body ached for two months. The family took her to the hospital, but the doctor found nothing wrong. She was terrified.

Maricel was a teenager at the time. Looking back, she believes evil spirits tormented her mother.

Sotero persisted in sharing Scripture with Carolina. Other Christian friends came to pray. Finally, she relented: ‘I will surrender my life to your God.’

Maricel recalls, ‘When the Christians, including my father, came to pray, the evil spirit still fighting inside of her wanted her dead. Suddenly, God opened my mother’s heart and touched her. She was free at last.’

Maricel recalls that after Carolina accepted Christ, ‘She became a changed person,’ Maricel says. ‘There was peace in the family.’

When Maricel was 9, she asked Jesus to be her Saviour. Nine years later, a church friend who was a Bible translator asked Maricel to check the comprehension level of her work. When she read the story of God calling Samuel in her mother tongue, Maricel thought, serving God is good.

The next year, Maricel joined the Paranan translation team in Bagabag. She lives at the International cross-cultural leadership training centre, where she is working on the Paranan Old Testament.

Everyone at the centre has multiple duties. Maricel helps with information technology, secretarial work and bookkeeping. She helps with farm chores. As a translator, she follows a stringent process of reading, outlining, analysing, drafting and revising Scripture. She writes questions and checks her work with partners and community members.

‘I thank God that he changed my family. I thank God because of his love for us.’

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

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A confident smile

Monday, 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.

For more great stories about the fruit of Bible translation, sign up for our magazine Words for Life!

Finally knowing what it means to believe and depend on Christ

Thursday, 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.

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Uncle Cam – William Cameron Townsend (1896-1982)

Sunday, 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.

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Colour TV is a human right

Monday, 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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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.

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*Names changed for security reasons

‘Is this really from the Bible??’

Monday, February 27th, 2017 by Camilla

Luna* grew up in a Southeast Asian country in a community that farmed rice and animals, hunted for their favourite source of wild meat and gathered whatever they needed from the forest that hedged their village on the cool mountain slopes.

One day a week, she would follow her parents and other families to a larger wooden hut at one end of their village. There they would sing some songs from memory and then someone whom everyone called ‘Pastor’ would rise, open a book and begin reading from it. She could not understand what Pastor was saying when she was a child. As she grew older, she was able to understand some words and phrases, but not all. It was not the language that she spoke at home or with her village community.

Luna also learnt from her parents who would regularly place some delicious portions of chicken meat at the trunk of certain trees beside their home and farmland. Her mother whispered to her that there were “unseen beings” that protected them from harm and must not be angered. She remembered when she fell very sick once and drifted in and out of consciousness from the high fever. Her mother had carried her to a big house in the centre of the village. The master of that house put on strange headgear and began prancing around her as she lay on the floor. Whatever he did frightened her, but her mother held her down. Eventually, she was given something very bitter to drink, which somehow made her well.

One day, two girls she knew from the next village visited. They had fun chatting and catching up with each others’ news. Then the girls shared a story from the Bible in the local language.

Is this story really from the Bible??’ Luna asked, wide-eyed. The other two nodded. ‘This is so much easier to understand than the sermons in our church!’ she exclaimed. That day, Luna understood a lesson on God’s grace and on being obedient to God in a way she had never been able to before.

In Luna’s community, there are many people who are Christian in name but are still following folk religious practices because of their lack of understanding of God’s word in their own language. An oral Bible story project is underway to develop Bible stories in their language community for a better understanding of God’s word.

*name changed for security reasons

This story is adapted from an article originally published in Wycliffe Singapore’s magazine – More than Words, June 2015.

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