New Words for Life out now

March 28th, 2015 by Hannah

The latest edition of Words for Life, Wycliffe’s news and prayer magazine is available now. In this edition:

  • Cover of Wycliffe's magazineThe vital steps between completing a translation and launching a New Testament.
  • An on-the-ground update from turbulent South Sudan.
  • A fresh look at the Parable of the Sower.
  • And answering the question, ‘Do we still need missionaries?’

… along with much more. There’s enough prayer information to keep you praying for four months, plenty to celebrate as we report on some of the latest Bible launches, and a challenge to get involved for you and your church.

Words for Life is available to download now. Not enough? Visit our Words for Life Extra page for videos, posters and more information on things mentioned in the magazine.

The Bible for the unreached

March 27th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

Did you know that there are about 400 sign languages in the world and none of them yet have the whole of the Bible? Deaf Opportunity Outreach (DOOR) International, which has a centre in Kenya, is working to change this.

One of their translation consultants, Josh, explains his work:

Celebrating portions of the Bible in Kerala Sign language

Celebrating portions of the Bible in Kerala Sign language

‘Today I have been working on a commentary piece on the fruit of the Spirit, specifically joy. After I have done the study I will sit with one of our Deaf translators and work to explain what the Bible teaches about joy so that he can sign it in a way that is clear and easily understood by the Deaf in their own language. It is exciting and fun. I love my job.

But you know what is so frustrating? Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” But that hasn’t been translated yet. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Wow! But that isn’t translated either.

Praise God for the work that has been accomplished! It is impacting lives. Deaf people in Kenya are turning to Jesus and growing in their faith.’

Please pray:

  • Pray for the translation teams working at the DOOR centre in Kenya.
  • Pray for the translators as they do the difficult work of taking meaning from one language and communicating it clearly in another.
  • Pray for those working with the teams to help them understand what the texts mean so they are able to do that work.
  • Pray for those who will be checking the translations for accuracy.’

Watch the need for sign language Bible translation, an inspiring video that explains how deaf communities are being impacted with God’s word.

I Understand This!

March 23rd, 2015 by Nick Brier

Moving meaning from one language and culture to another is a technical process. It’s something that translators spend a lot of time on in order to prevent loss of meaning from the original text. The fruits of their labor, however, are more than worth it.

Almost in tears in his enthusiasm, Ezra, a translator working amongst his people, shared with his fellow translators the exciting moment when people who had recently asked for Scripture materials exclaimed, “I understand this!

People in Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s culture are used to not understanding Scripture.

“But when they actually read something in their own language and suddenly have the experience of Jesus or Paul or Moses speaking as it were to them, it’s God’s Word to them in a significantly different way. They are sometimes amazed. “I understand this!” It’s an announcement of something grand. It’s something stupendous. Ezra and Nehemiah live in a non-reading culture. They get excited when someone understands by either reading or hearing.

That’s why we’re doing this job. For starters at least, we’re working for the ones and twos who announce this new thing to anyone who will listen.”

Read the full post on which goes on to share some of the very real challenges they face in translating the Lord’s prayer, here.

Find out how you can help Bible translation: be involved either through prayer, financially or by going.

Chris Tomlin on the Importance of Scripture for Worship

March 21st, 2015 by Nick Brier

In this short video from the Seed Company, Chris Tomlin touches on the importance of understanding God’s word when it comes to worship. For many people, this is not a reality yet, as they either do not have access to Scripture or the Scripture they do have access to is not in a language they fully understand.

To worship requires that we see God and know what he is like.  This understanding comes primarily through knowing what he says about himself in the Scriptures.  How then can anyone worship him without this understanding, or without lyrics in their own language?

“I think when you’re singing God’s word, you’re not giving people your opinion, you’re giving people his word… It’s: this is what God says about himself… That’s the power of God’s word and that’s why it is so important.” – Chris Tomlin

In order to show this video you’ll need to allow this site to use cookies. Tick here to do that:
. More about cookies.

In some language communities, Wycliffe vernacular media specialists are working to help musicians write worship songs using newly translated Scriptures and in the local style with local instruments. Interested? Find out how to be involved.

Find out more about the Seed Company

Essential cogs in the machine

March 20th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

It’s easy to think that to translate the Bible you need linguist translators, and of course that is true. However, there are many other roles that need to be filled in order for the word of God to get into the hands of the communities for which it is being translated.

Joe and Heather at the Madang Centre

Joe and Heather at the Madang Centre

Joe and Heather are regional centre managers in Papua New Guinea. The following story from them, shows how they are essential cogs in the translation machine:

‘God timed it perfectly, for the Anjam New Testament recording to happen here during the first week of February! They had done a lot of recording in the village, but there are always so many interruptions, family and community commitments, and constant background noise.

There were 280 lines which urgently needed recording, or re-recording. Sam Kenny, the coordinator of Faith Comes By Hearing in Papua New Guinea, wrote and asked if we had a flat available for them to stay in, and a room for making into a studio to do the recording. Yes we did, and they could have the flat next door for their studio.

We were painting the third flat and so able to offer use of the spare mattresses for sound-proofing. Sam came early and created a wonderful sound-proof booth in the second flat using the mattresses from Flat 3. The main Anjam translator, Sobu Waga, and his wife helped test the sound, and before the others arrived all of us on the Regional Centre staff went and had a look at the studio.’

Sam and Sobu explain the recording setup to the Madang centre team

Sam and Sobu explain the recording setup to the Madang centre team

There are many needs around the world for people to serve as ‘support staff’. The vacancies list shows a wide range of roles as diverse as a facilities manager in Ethiopia and a boat crewmen in Australia. Would you consider using your skills?

Let’s pray:

  • Praise God for the successful recording in Anjam.
  • Please pray for completion of the project soon so that Anjam people will be able to hear God’s Word and respond in obedience and faith.

Also pray for:

  • Joe and Heather have faced some struggles recently. Pray for God’s grace and encouragement.
  • Ask God to supply many people willing to take on support roles to enable God’s word to be translated around the world.

Have a look at some of the jobs that need to be filled in order for Bible translation to go ahead.

Biblical Sheep became Chukchi Reindeer

March 16th, 2015 by Nick Brier

How do you bring Bible stories to a people group in their own language? For nearly two years Zhanna, a Chukchi woman from the village of Kolymskoye in north-east Siberia, has been working on crafting Bible stories in to her own language. Two translators, Michal and Geneviève, have been assisting her. Now, with 25 stories completed, it’s time to take them to the Chukchi people for some feedback.

Geneviève writes,

“When the villagers saw our helicopter coming they thought there must be some Very Important People on board. Rumour had it that a group of Canadians were coming. In fact there were two Chukchi students, Zhanna and just one Canadian – me…”

In this great article, Geneviève tells us how the initial stages unfolded – from having the drafts checked and improved by two Chukchi ladies to having the stories recorded by a Chukchi language school teacher. Then finally they put down the papers, picked up the recordings and sat down with Chukchi villagers.

“In the process of crafting the stories from the biblical text, we made them more streamlined, made sentences shorter, anticipated questions that Chukchis would ask, made some adaptations to Chukchi culture… And so it was that biblical sheep became Chukchi reindeer. This made the ladies laugh. We wondered whether… But they said they liked it very much. It made the story real to them…

“They had heard about the Bible, but these stories in their very own language brought it all alive!” (Read Geneviève’s story in full on

The next stage of this project involves a consultant who will look over the text. Her task is to ensure that the stories are still true to the Bible, even when retold in different words. Revised stories may be tested in another village trip. Eventually there will be the final, definitive recording which will be circulated around the Chukchi villages and reindeer camps.

It’s encouraging to read about the work that is happening among the Chukchi community, however, there are still over 1,860 languages that are yet to have any Scripture in their own language. Find out how you can be involved in the work of Bible translation.


Rejoicing in what God has done

March 13th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

It’s good to look back and recognise what God has done for us. Sometimes it is only with hindsight that we can see how completely God has acted. Looking back also gives faith for the future and urges us on both in prayer and in action.

A story in a prayer letter I recently read from colleagues working in Nepal does exactly this. Praise God that he is growing the Nepali church and Nepali Christians are now translating his word:

CulturalDanceMarch2014 C‘On December 1, colleagues from many Bible translation projects joined together for a day of personal engagement with the Word of God. Expatriates were hugely outnumbered by our national colleagues. The visual impact of this gathering brought tears to our eyes, an answer to many prayers over the years. No longer is Bible translation something outsiders do, but is now a process that begins and ends with the local Christian community. Our role now, as outsiders, is to assist in anyway we can, training, consultant checking, helping with typesetting.

You might ask why didn’t translation work start out this way. The simple answer is that 40 years ago there were very few believers and education in Nepal was very basic. Forty years later there are thousands of believers (representing most of the 100+ language groups in Nepal) and education has improved to the point where local believers now seek training in the specifics of doing Bible translation for their own language.

The Nepali church is now into its third generation, has a growing mission vision and is committed to developing leadership and capacity for ministry. All new translation projects are modelled on the principle ‘You can do it, we can help’.’

Praise God for those who have faithfully prayed:

  • Thank him for the growth of the Nepali church and for how it is engaging in mission.
  • Praise him for each Nepali staff member and their contribution to Bible translation.

As anywhere else, the journey is not without opposition and struggle. Pray for:

  • endurance for the national staff involved in bringing God’s Word to their own people in their heart language.
  • health and strength for workers and their families.
  • God’s grace to face challenges and courage to overcome difficulties.

Watch this inspiring prayer video, which details the majesty of the landscape and the diversity of the peoples in Nepal.

I never realised…

March 9th, 2015 by Ruth

Joanna Magill has just finished a work experience stint in the Northern Ireland office. She shares the impact it made on her, and some of the highlights of her time.

One activity that really stood out to me was the daily prayer time in the Wycliffe office. Every morning the workers meet to hear updates from various missionaries across the world and pray over their work. It’s amazing to see people so devoted to prayer, who completely saturate their work in it…

For a start, I never realised that there were so many languages in the world! 7,000 is a very large number of languages and 2,500 languages still don’t have a Bible in their mother tongue. It seems horribly unfair to me that I have access to hundreds of different English translations of the Bible but so many people can’t access any in their own language. I read a quote at Wycliffe that really stood out to me. It was the pastor of an Asian language group without God’s Word that asked “Is the resurrection for white people only?”…

Also, I had never realised just how many career options were available in Bible translation. Obviously there are the translators, but there are also graphic designers, ethnomusicologists and computer programmers. There is a versatile range of jobs available but they all have the same goal; to see every people impacted and changed by the Word of God. (Read full post on John’s blog here.)

You might not have realised there’s a place for you too.  God is inviting people, whether based ‘home’ or abroad, to bring his word to those without it.  See why mission matters.

About the Bible

March 7th, 2015 by Phil

A few months ago, Wycliffe were asked to contribute to a short educational film about the Bible to be used in schools. It’s not a bad overview – though I’m sure that there are things we would want to express differently if it were left to us – but it does include one short segment on Bible translation which we obviously love.

In order to show this video you’ll need to allow this site to use cookies. Tick here to do that:
. More about cookies.

God in the midst of our questions

March 6th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

One of the things that I’ve learned working for Wycliffe Bible Translators is that when we pray we see that not only can God ‘accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think’*  but that he often answers in a way that we least expect.

Edward practises one of the stories

In February a team went to Yabru in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea to hold a course in Bible storytelling. Flooding of the training location was a real possibility since it was rainy season. The course was being held just before the start of the school year. Some attendees had been preoccupied with finding money for school fees and hadn’t decided whether to come or not.

But beyond the practical issues, they also faced the significant challenge of finding a method of memorising stories that worked for the participants in their cultural context. Methods used in the past hadn’t really worked.

The team and many others prayed, and God answered. In fact the team said,

God was right there in the midst of our questions with his answers.’ 

Read the whole story, ‘Rejoice with us!’ to find out the remarkable ways that God answered prayer.

Maybe you are facing a challenge in your own life, and don’t know what the answer to your insurmountable problem could be.  Let this story inspire you to ask God for an unpredictable answer!

And as those in Bible translation around the world are also facing challenges and complications, setbacks and attrition, let’s keep praying for them too, asking God to act, but not limiting how he may answer. Some of the most inspiring answers to prayer come out of the times when we reach the end of ourselves, unable to see the way ahead, and God made a way through!

For more stories about what God is doing in Bible translation in Papua New Guinea check out the Sepik Partnership and Engagement Strategy Facebook page or read The PNG Experience blog.

*Ephesians 3:20 NLT