The Ethnologue

February 28th, 2015 by Phil

The Ethnologue is the world’s most comprehensive research publication into the languages of the world.

18th edition of the EthnologueIf, like many people, you think that there are just a few languages in use around the world, a few minutes with the Ethnologue will open your eyes to a world of diversity. 7,102 living languages in use around the world, over 2,000 of these in use in Africa alone.

For the past 64 years editors of the Ethnologue have been tracking these languages. Recording their names, locations and where possible the number of speakers.

The publication has continued to grow and more information added. Today, thanks to the internet, everything is available online and much of it is free.

In 1951, the first edition of Ethnologue consisted of ten mimeographed pages of language information. Since that time, it has grown into an active research project involving hundreds of linguists and other researchers around the world. It is widely regarded as the most comprehensive source of information of its kind. – SIL

The new, 18th edition of the Ethnologue, is now available to buy, download or browse. Packed with language statistics, maps and information it gives a small insight into the diversity of humanity in God’s creation.

It also highlights the challenges of Bible translation. For example, there are 17 languages in Syria, 41 in Afghanistan, oh, and Nigeria has 527. Bible translation is underway in many places, for example Nigeria, but there are harder to reach corners of the world that will not be so accessible. Are you up for the challenge of supporting financially or even going, to bring God’s word, his hope and his peace so that all people may know him?

Pray for Nigeria during elections.

February 27th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

On 14 February the people of Nigeria were to have gone to the polls to elect a president, a national house of assembly and a national house of representatives, followed a couple of weeks later by the election of state governors.

However, now the whole process has been postponed by six weeks because of security concerns in the north-east. The electoral commission said it made the decision after the security agencies advised there would not be enough troops available to guarantee the safety of voters.

Already tensions are high and trouble is possible. Some voters view this delay as a ploy by the ruling party to gain more ground in the campaign. Will you stand in the gap for the people of Nigeria?

Here are some ways that you can pray for:

Praying in Nigeria

Team members in Nigeria praying

Abuja, the Nigerian capital and centre of governance:

  • Pray that God would build up foundations of generous governance and humility in this city, so that his Kingdom would reign through effective national leadership.
  • Trust God for righteous leadership to be established.

Justice and righteousness in the election processes:

  • Pray for the Independent National Electoral Commission for effective fulfillment of their duties.
  • Pray that all will have an equal opportunity  to vote and for the uprooting of unrighteous practices in the electoral process.

Security forces:

  • Pray the security forces to act justly, with integrity and that God would strengthen the hearts and hands of the righteous.
  • Pray for open eyes and wisdom as they execute their duties.

Election days:

  • Stand against every evil plan and scheme to promote and spread violence during the election days.
  • Pray that God would honour the faithful fasting and prayers of his watchmen so that massive peace would be enjoyed throughout the land and God’s name will be honoured.

Strategic governmental partnerships to further God’s purpose:

  • The history of  modern Bible translation is filled with stories of how God worked in governments of the earth to fulfill his purpose for  peoples under the authority of those governments. Ask God for fresh strategic relationships to be born in this season.

Staying Connected – IT and Bible Translation

February 23rd, 2015 by Nick Brier

Today it’s increasingly easy for us to stay connected with our loved ones, friends and colleagues. At our finger-tips we can have PC’s, Laptops, phones, tablets – you name it, all with the latest apps and all with ability to share documents via Email, chat via Skype and catch up via Facebook (to name a few platforms).

Photo from PNG. Many advances have been made over the past several years but it still is challenging to keep the infrastructure working.*

Connectivity is also vitally important in the work of Bible translation and for teams separated by distance and circumstance, having access is essential in facilitating this. But, this technology also needs to be improved and maintained.

For example, recently one of our IT specialists from the UK office, equipped with supplies,  traveled to Congo to help with cable installation work at the Congo offices. Take a look at the pictures from the project on Facebook and Twitter.

Translating and developing a language doesn’t just need linguists and translators, it needs tech teams and IT specialists.

  • Please pray for the provision of IT personnel
  • If IT is your passion, see how you can be involved.


*Find out more about Bible translation in PNG here.

International Mother Language Day 2015

February 21st, 2015 by Nick Brier

Today is International Mother Language Day. What is it? It’s a day founded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, designed to raise awareness and celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity. Each year on February 21st UNESCO sets a theme; this year is “Inclusive Education through and with Language – Language Matters”.

How fantastic that the diversity of languages is celebrated in the world! But it’s not often that we consider how much language forms an important part of our identity. It helps us to communicate and teach, to share culture and history.  And when languages are developed in a written form, rich cultural heritages are documented and preserved.

However, there are still millions of people whose mother tongue is not developed in a written form. No alphabet. No dictionary.

Help raise awareness and celebrate language diversity by sharing International Mother Language Day with your friends and family. Jump into the action on twitter by tweeting your favorite phrases, greetings and translations in your mother language – find out more at about how to tweet in your #MotherLanguage.

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. – UNESCO

So much happens when Bible translation gets underway in a language community.  Wycliffe Bible Translator’s commitment that all should have access to God’s word in the language they understand best opens amazing doors, as we celebrate today. Find out more about International Mother Language Day on UNESCO’s website.

Equipped to serve God anywhere!

February 20th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

The training arm of Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK, the Centre for Linguistics, Translation and Literacy (CLTL), operates as part of Redcliffe College in Gloucester. Redcliffe seeks to ‘provide excellent Bible-based training in cross-cultural mission, leadership, member care and linguistics, equipping you to serve God anywhere!’

Changes are afoot at Redcliffe, as a press release issued on 30th January explains:

CLTL literacy classThe needs of mission training in the UK and abroad are changing very quickly. It is our view that only radical change will enable us to meet those needs.’

Part of this radical change will be a physical move to new premises. The current building which houses Redcliffe College and CLTL will be sold and the college is currently looking for new premises that will better fit their needs, but still in the Gloucester area.

Please pray for all those involved in pushing forward this new initiative:

  • for wisdom in all the decision making and details. It necessarily will require consultation with many different parties.
  • for current students and staff and for those starting study there in the next few months, who are part of this transition. Ask God for grace, to counter stress, and to live and work well together.
  • for God’s provision of the right premises for the college to move into and the right buyer for the current college building, at just the right time.

Read the whole press release giving more details about the upcoming changes at Redcliffe college.

Breaking Down Walls

February 16th, 2015 by Nick Brier

Why do we translate the Gospel into people’s mother tongue, their heart language? Is it not enough that people have Scripture in a secondary language, one they have learnt, such as a trade language? Although there are many churches and communities with access to some Scripture, it isn’t always in a language that enables them to intimately understand what God is saying on a personal level.

Not only does this impact the growth of the Christian community, it can also make it difficult to communicate the Gospel message to friends and family. But when Scripture is translated in to their own language, it resonates much more deeply with the hearers.

By bringing the Gospel to people in their heart language, lives are being changed.

This is what translators Amanda* and Spring* are finding as they bring Scripture to their own families.

“One day, the two women went to visit Amanda’s aunt, who is terminally ill. Although Amanda had tried to share the Gospel with her aunt before, she wanted to try again. In the past, Amanda felt like there was a barrier preventing her from truly communicating to her aunt. She thought that it might have been because of the opposition and influence of another aunt who lives nearby and is a shaman in her community. But Amanda had been praying, and friends had also prayed that God would use her and Spring, as a testimony to Amanda’s aunt.

So Amanda went and shared portions of her draft translation about the story of creation. During their visit, the women shared who God is and what it means to follow Him. And this time, something hit home…”

You can read the rest of Amanda and Spring’s story in the full article on A Change of Heart.

“God is doing great things among people who are able to hear the Gospel in their own language. Hearts are changed and lives are redirected as the seed of God’s Word takes root.”

The Gospel changes lives. Find out how you can get involved through prayer or by going, locally or globally.


Mozambique: devastated by flooding

February 13th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

In the UK we experienced the havoc caused by flooding last winter. There is no doubt that for many this was a very traumatic time but the floods and their impact were relatively localised. Our colleagues in Mozambique are facing the aftermath of flooding but in their situation, several weeks after the initial storms, large areas are still facing extreme hardship.

Ian Lund, Director of Nampula administration recently sent us this update:

One of the damaged bridges in Mozambique courtesy of the BBC.

One of the damaged bridges in Mozambique courtesy of the BBC.

‘We in Northern Mozambique are in quite a difficult situation at the moment.  Due to severe weather, bridges on the main roads to South Africa and all the main towns are down and we have been without electricity for 4 weeks in the whole of the area, which is the size of the UK. All imported food and resources come into the area on this route.

We on the SIL Nampula centre are reasonably well protected from this but our local workers are suffering with food costs doubling and food scarce. Over 120,000 people are affected and there have been 150 related deaths. On Monday we started to have electricity again but the supply is a temporary supply and a permanent solution could take 6 months to be finalised.’

Please pray for:

  • Power to be permanently restored and the bridges and communications system to be fixed as soon as possible.
  • Expatriate staff to know the best ways to support national workers.
  • God’s provision for all who are affected and especially that lives would be protected.

The BBC has more about the storms that initially caused these problems.

Don’t lose your head

February 9th, 2015 by Hannah

“Who are you who come to me with a stick and sling like a dog?!” roared Goliath, towering over the tiny David. “You are nothing!!!!” He shook with rage.

And then, his head promptly fell off.

Not again! I peeked above the tabletop, trying to see where his cardboard noggin might have flown to, as the audience roared with laughter.

No, it’s not a strange, alternative translation of the Old Testament story, just one of the adventures that comes from working with children and giants!

Catherine helps individuals and communities in Papua New Guinea engage with the Bible, even when they have only a little bit – or none at all – printed in their language. In September, one of the ways she helped do this was at a workshop for Sunday school teachers. Read her post to see what duck, duck, goose, three-legged races and buckets of water have to do with Sunday school lessons.

But, to get back to Goliath…

Photo by Rebecca Drew via

“I come in the name of the God of Israel!” squeaked David, as I frantically tried to shove Goliath’s head back on his stick body and leaf armor. “And He fights for us!” David whirled a piece of vine above his head and sent the tiny stone flying into Goliath’s forehead—knocking off his head once again.

Now, even the cooks had emerged from the fires to find out what the commotion was and were crying, they were laughing so hard. Inga, my puppet partner, and I kept biting back the giggles, as I rewedged the head into the twig.

“Victory!” crowed David, wiggling in a happy dance. “The God of Israel has won!” David picked up the pocket knife and attempted to saw off the head of the fallen Goliath.. .but now the head wouldn’t come off. Finally, Inga jumped up and jerked the head off. “Hooray!!!”

Read all of Catherine’s blog post.

If you want children in your local church to engage more with the Bible, have a look at the great resources we can offer on our website. Many of them are great for adults too!

Catching the vision

February 6th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

It takes time to catch a vision. It’s not true that people everywhere are necessarily desperate to have access to God’s word in their heart language. Even in the UK, how many church-goers have so many different English versions and yet never really long to engage with the Bible text for themselves?

Back in August the audio recording of the book of Luke in the P* language took place in Nigeria. Now the MP3 CDs and memory cards for mobile phones are available! Before starting distribution, it was decided to hold a small church dedication just for Christians from that language community. This took place on 21 January in a church in the major town in the area. Sadly, people did not come on time and in fact very few people turned up at all. This was discouraging to those involved.

One of the team working with the P team reflects on some more positive aspects of the day:

‘What I did find encouraging about the dedication was hearing the  pastor give a sermon from Luke using P. Everyone else who prayed or said something also did so entirely in P (the churches here generally use the language of wider communication, Hausa). Before the sermon, that portion of  the Luke recording in P was played.

Then at the end of the meeting plans were made to ensure distribution of the CDs and memory cards to all the churches not represented at the dedication. To me, getting the Luke audio version into the hands of people is the most important thing.’

Please praise God that P speakers now have access to the audio version of Luke in their heart-language and that more copies of the memory cards containing the P version of Luke have recently been requested.

Please pray:

  • that as many P speakers as possible will be able to engage with God’s Word.
  • and that as a result the Holy Spirit will bring about changed lives.
  • for Christians in the UK to become more passionate about the Word of God.
  • for God to help the translation team with all the challenges that they face as they continue translating more portions of Scripture.

Bishop Ndukuba is from another area of Nigeria. He describes the powerful effect mother tongue Scriptures have in this video.

*P – due to security issues we have to withhold the name of the language group.

No easy answers

February 2nd, 2015 by Nick Brier

Bible translation, as well as being an incredibly joyous thing,  is often difficult and challenging, with the people involved carrying a lot of responsibility. Translators have to truly get to the heart of what is really being communicated in Scripture by the writers and then figure out how to best translate it.  This means the message can be communicated successfully in the translation with minimal loss of the original meaning.

In a brilliant article, Sue Arthur gives us a brief look into the world of  being a translator, highlighting some of the challenges and complications that can arise in the process of bringing Scripture to people in their heart language.

Before you can translate something, you have to understand what it means. Understanding the meaning of a verse like this well enough to be able to re-express that meaning in another language will inevitably involve some level of interpretation, because there are always choices to be made.

There are generally no easy answers when it comes to translation, just hard work and lots of decisions… Yet often in the midst of the research, the brain storming, the testing and the checking, God uses the whole process of translation to speak through his word.

Read Sue’s full article Salted by Fire which describes the process they encountered while translating Mark 9:49 ‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ (NIV). Eddie and Sue Arthur lived and worked for twelve years in Ivory Coast where they were part of the team translating the Scriptures for the Kouya people. Sue is now based in the UK but continues to support translation work in Madagascar. Check out Eddie and Sue’s blog at Kouyanet.

Support the work of Bible translating by finding out how you can get involved. Are you up for the challenge?