Thinking about mission?

April 16th, 2014 by Hannah

‘I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelise all the yet unreached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond!’ Isobel Kuhn, missionary with the China Inland Mission

201401-gohowIf Kuhn is right,* then spending some time considering mission work – and whether it’s right for you – is something every Christian should do. If you are in the process of exploring, here are a few places to have a look:

Do you have questions about what going with Wycliffe looks like and if it’s the fit for you? Get in touch.

 * She’s not the only one to say things like this – read this blog for some more of our favourite quotes.

How to make a little go a long way

April 14th, 2014 by Hannah

Chris and Marina are working in Senegal with the Manjak community. Their work is incredibly important for Bible translation, as this video from Wycliffe USA shows, but they aren’t Bible translators – that work is done by Manjak people. So what do Chris and Marina contribute?

Chris and Marina are literacy specialists, working with Wycliffe’s linguistic partners SIL International. Watch the video to see how their work helps a little Scripture go a long way:

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The Power of Bible Translation and Literacy from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

‘It wasn’t as if I wanted to translate the Bible into Manjak. It was that I needed to translate the Bible into Manjak. God’s word is something of greatness, and it’s for all the Manjak people. If the word of God was translated and nobody was able to read, that would make me very, very sad.’ Pierre Nassadiou, Manjak Bible translator

Working with local communities to develop literacy programmes allows many people to access God’s word for themselves for the first time. It also opens up doors to education, health information and legal rights in communities that have been denied these in the past.

If it’s something you feel passionate about, find out more about literacy roles in Wycliffe and the literacy work SIL does.

One for the language lovers!

April 13th, 2014 by Hannah

Translation – and especially translating something as important as the Bible – is never straightforward, but you might be surprised by the words that have been challenging the Bena team in Tanzania. Researching how words are used in context is essential as Elizabeth, their translation advisor, illustrates…

tanzaniaGive me justice

One challenging section was the persistent widow story. The Bena have no word for ‘justice’. There was a loan word from the national language Swahili (‘ihaki’) in the text, which the Bena replaced as they know the reviewers won’t accept loan words. We tweaked this verse with the words in bold and came up with

‘…neke kangi pakuva umufwile uyu akufwahidza mbandu, lino ndikumutanga ukupata fye ivagila, ukuta atane ukundaasa mbepali!’

which roughly translates as ‘…but because this widow is really bothering me, now I will help her get as she deserves, so that she won’t bother me again!’ (Luke 18:5) This was the best we could do with ‘justice’.

Sabbath rest

The Bena word for Sabbath is ‘Nyuwabaaha’ which means a day of rest but could refer to any day of the week, not necessarily Saturday.

Heal me

There are currently two dialectal variations of the verb ‘to heal’ in the text – ‘kuhooswa’ and ‘kunaniya’ – but one word throughout which everyone understands would be the best.

Pray for the Bena team: the consultant will be checking the last section of Luke very soon.

Getting words like this right is incredibly important if a translation is going to communicate clearly and accurately, and be well used. If examples like this get you eager to support translation, find out more about how you could be involved.

Searching until the right leader is found

April 11th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

In January we asked you to pray for Wycliffe Bible Translators UK during our transition to new leadership, as our current director, Eddie Arthur, finishes his term and someone new steps into the role.

A recent message from team who are searching updated us on how the process of identifying the new director is going:

‘Although we met with a number of good applicants we felt that we had not yet seen the right candidate to lead Wycliffe forward… We will now re-advertise the position and looking for fresh applications. The closing date for applications is Monday 28th April at 5:00pm.’

The search team have stressed the importance of prayer through this process. Wycliffe needs God’s person for the job. Please stand with us in prayer.

Here are some specific requests:

  • Praise God that the search group have known his leading so far.
  • Pray for everyone prayerfully considering applying for the job, that they would have a clear sense of God’s guidance.
  • Pray that the right person, with the right skills, vision and passion would apply. That person could either be from within Wycliffe or from outside the organisation.
  • Ask God to help the search group as they lead the selection process. They need wisdom, guidance and God’s grace.
  • Please also pray for the rest of Wycliffe’s UK team. It’s challenging to know things are changing but to not know how or who will be leading things forward.

A role for you? See the Executive Director job description.

In their own words

April 9th, 2014 by Hannah

It used to be that only the eloquent or those with very good memories dropped quotes into conversation. With Twitter and Facebook, sharing a profound phrase or two has now become far more widespread. But sometimes a hundred characters and a name misses something important.

The quotes below about using your life for God are ones that have stuck with us, not just for the words but for the speaker…

‘A little while and we are in eternity; before we find ourselves there, let us do much for Christ.’ Ann Judson

Ann Judson‘s (1789 – 1826) missionary career included helping translate the Gospel of Matthew into a Burmese language and living in a hut outside a prison for 17 months when her husband was imprisoned. In the first nine years of their work in Myanmar, they saw only 18 people turn to Jesus.

‘To stay here and disobey God — I can’t afford to take the consequence. I would rather go and obey God than to stay here and know that I disobeyed.’ Amanda Berry Smith

Amanda Smith (1837 – 1915, right) was born a slave, taught herself to read and shared the gospel through preaching and song, in the USA, UK, India and for eight years in Africa.

‘If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.’ C.T. Studd

C.T. Studd (1860 – 1931) was an accomplished and famous cricketer. He gave the majority of his inherited fortune away and chose to be a missionary, first to China, to India and then to modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. When he married and told his wife what remained of his inheritance, she asked him to give away what was left.

Their lives backed up their words. The work they were doing – telling God’s Story to those who have never heard – is far from finished. Find out about using your life to share the message.

Tech guru, mission newbie?

April 8th, 2014 by Hannah

Did you know that more than 70 different types of software have been designed to equip Bible translation? When people think of technology and mission, they tend to jump to aeroplanes and satellite phones, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

timortechnologyIf you can think of an IT role that an organisation in the UK needs doing, mission overseas needs it too, and many more like non-Roman script or mobile technology specialists. You can find out a lot more about roles like this at checkitout.org.

Maybe you’ve never thought about using your technology skills in mission. Neither had Tim:

Tim Sissel was on the move, typically driving 600–1000 miles each week servicing IBM equipment in Nebraska and Colorado. This gave him plenty of time to listen to the radio, pray, or just think. One day a question came to his mind: “Tim, do you want to do missions work when you retire in 13 years?” His immediate response was, “Yes, Lord.” Two other questions came in rapid succession: “What if the Lord were to return in 13 years?” and “What if the Lord were to take me home in 13 years?”

Tim pondered these for a few moments, then responded, “Yes, Lord. I’m willing to do missions work now.” He spent the rest of his driving time that day praying his wife Carol would feel the same way. That evening when he told her what had happened, her immediate response was, “Yes!” Tim and Carol now provide computer support to Bible translation teams in Mexico.

Find out more about IT roles in the ministry of Bible translation at checkitout.org. The events they list are based in the US, but if you want to explore more about roles like this while staying in the UK, get in touch.

Do you translate the Old Testament too?

April 6th, 2014 by Hannah

A lot of translations start off with the shorter projects. They translate Jonah or Luke, maybe combining the translation of Luke with an audio recording and dubbing the JESUS Film into their language. ‘Shorter projects’, yes, but they still take four or five years.

Photo: Tim Scott at thepngexperience.wordpress.com

It’s why it’s not surprising that it’s a big step for a translation team to move on to a New Testament. New technology and ways of working can often speed up a New Testament translation, but it’s still not unusual to hear of New Testaments taking 20+ years! You can understand why, given the size of the undertaking, we don’t hear as much about Old Testaments.

Max and Johnny, Papua New Guineans who speak Wuvulu, attended a five-week course to prepare them to translate the Old Testament. Why?

Max Benjamin helped translate the Wuvulu New Testament for his people… He hoped that he could one day also help translate the Old Testament. When his co-translator, James Hafford, sent him a text message to asking if he would like to attend an upcoming course on the Old Testament, Max didn’t hesitate, “Yes! This is what I’ve been dreaming of!”

When Max travelled to the course at the Ukarumpa Training Center, he brought along another Wuvulu man, Johnny Namor, who also wants to help translate the Old Testament for his people. Johnny explained, “When a passage in the New Testament refers back to the Old Testament, sometimes the meaning isn’t clear. We need to know the background so we can better understand the teachings in the New Testament.” Read the full story here.

As mother-tongue English speakers, we are blessed to have the whole Bible. We’ve had it for 400 years. We have hundreds of versions. But many people don’t know about God’s creation, miracles, merciful character and promises, because they don’t have the Bible – any of it – in the language they know best. Do something to help.

Ideas for Easter

April 5th, 2014 by Hannah

Easter’s coming soon, a time to celebrate Jesus as our Saviour and Jesus as our Risen King. We’ve been trawling through the web to find some of the best resources to help you and your church community celebrate.

  • Provoking the adults – SGM Lifewords have a series of videos to take you through Holy Week. They can be used for personal reflection, in a church services (they are short enough to use more than one per service) or as a way of sharing the gospel with someone else. They also provide  leaflets explaining the gospel.
  • Reflect - Easter, and particularly Good Friday, is an appropriate time to spend some time reflecting somberly on the truths the gospel writers tell us. Christian Aid’s short video is very thought-provoking. You might also want to explore spiritual practices over a few weeks with a group, using the resources produced by the Methodist Church.
  • Get praying - As we reflect on the central celebration of the gospel, we’ll want more people to hear it. Pray particularly for the distribution of Luke this Easter in Russia for a group who have never previously had God’s word in their language. More here.

As Christians, Easter refocuses us: we celebrate and rejoice in the new life God has given us and we’ll want to share it with others. Take a few minutes over the season to consider whether you, your church or your small group want to commit to supporting Bible translation through giving or prayer. Find out more about what you could do here.

Photo by Tim Scott.

‘We can’t get the staff!’

April 4th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

In Africa there are 776 languages which still need Bible translation work to begin. Over 300 of those languages are in Nigeria alone. The task is enormous and, although several different agencies in Nigeria are rising to the challenge, the quantity of work seems overwhelming.

One of these agencies, the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN), offers degree programmes that are designed to prepare Nigerians for cross-cultural missions in the development of Bible translation and literacy work in local languages. The department exists to train those who have the heart and calling to make God’s word available to the Bibleless peoples of Nigeria.

A recent update from staff at the college reports  some of the challenges they are facing:

Translation Department at TCNN

Translation Department at TCNN

One of the pressing needs for the Bible translation department is for more staff. At this point we are short of three PhD teaching staff out of six. For the department to function well we need to have more staff for the next academic year.

We are waiting to hear the decision of one couple who God may be leading to join us. Our desire is to see an increase in the number of Nigerian teaching staff, for a long-term sustainable programme that is the only way forward. So join us in praying for God to raise up Nigerian staff for this task and ask him to help us recognise those that are currently studying in the department who God may be preparing to come and teach her in the future.’

  • Praise God for the Nigerians who are being trained through the Bible translation department at TCNN.
  • Please pray for the tranlsation department teaching team, that they would know God’s grace and strength while they are so short-staffed and that God would provide the new members of staff the department needs.
  • Pray for wisdom for those considering joining the team as well as for the current team in identifying potential future members of staff.

Find out about agencies, including TCNN, involved in Bible translation in Nigeria.

The Next Step: how it went

April 2nd, 2014 by Hannah

At the end of March, nine participants, eight from the UK and one from the Netherlands, travelled to Oxford for The Next Step weekend, a chance to explore how they could fit into God’s work in Bible translation. It was a great weekend and, as you’ll see, helpful for everyone who came…

The team and participants at March's The Next Step weekend

The team and participants at March’s The Next Step weekend

Jetro from the Netherlands wrote,

I can’t tell you how important the weekend has been to me, and how it gave an impulse in finding out what our God has in mind for me and my wife and sons.

Helen, a UK participant, wrote,

Thank you again for the wonderful weekend, and for your email. I am due to talk at my church’s leadership team meeting this Thursday about the weekend and my application, and possible church visit. I will also check with work about the Two Week Stint in France. I think that it would be helpful for me to go.

Stewart Johnson, director of the Wycliffe church engagement team, says:

The Next Step weekend was successful in answering the question: is Wycliffe and the Bible translation movement the right fit for me? God spoke to all nine participants. Four have decided to begin the application process immediately. One couple is looking into a short-term assignment with Wycliffe soon. In fact of the nine participants, no one went away saying, ‘Wycliffe is not for me’!

The weekend was a huge success largely because of God’s presence. It was also due to the hard work of the team there for the whole weekend and for the guest speakers who came in for large parts of the weekend.

If you want to find out more about any of the events Wycliffe run, go to wycliffe.org.uk/events.