God loves you with all his bowels

July 31st, 2014 by Hannah

Jeremiah 31 tells us that God’s heart longs for his people. Or, at least, most English translations do. Many also have a little footnote that tells us the Hebrew says that God longs from his bowels.

If the translators had opted for ‘bowels’, this message may not have been good news to many English speakers.  Communicating good news requires some knowledge of the culture.

Photo via Wycliffe Global Alliance

Timothy* works in South East Asia, where there is a large Buddhist population. He says that John 3:16 (‘whoever believes in him… shall have eternal life‘) is a verse that communicates the gospel most clearly to many English speakers -  but it doesn’t communicate good news to Buddhists.

“Buddhists believe that we are all trapped in a cycle of reincarnation — one life after another, each full of suffering. Thus, Buddhists feel like they already have eternal life, and their big goal is to escape the eternal life and all the suffering that goes along with it.”

Richard Gretsky explains…

Because of that, a verse that has meant so much to so many people is a potentially dreadful proposition to people coming from a Buddhist worldview. This, of course, doesn’t mean that John 3:16 shouldn’t be translated for Buddhists. They, like all of us, need to understand that eternal life is good and that life can exist without suffering. But it does highlight that we should know which verses speak the best to people of different cultures.

With that in mind, there is another verse, also in the book of John, which does speak deeply to Buddhists…

Read on to find out what verse Timothy picks as a clear, good news verse for Buddhists.

Wycliffe believes that the Bible – God’s message to humanity – has something life-changing to say to everyone, and want everyone to have access to God’s word in a language they understand. If you do too, there are lots of ways you can be involved in Bible translation.

* name changed to protect identity

* Names have been changed to protect identities

Which takes longer – a space mission or a Bible translation?

July 28th, 2014 by Paul

Since 2007, the European Space Agencies have been waiting to begin the PLATO mission, to look for planets outside the Solar System. It’s one of 14 missions they have planned and, although they’ve been waiting for seven years to see it started, it won’t be until 2024 that the launch takes place. That’s 17 years from start to finish.

By ignis (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

That’s comparable to the 5 to 20 years that it can take to translate a New Testament. Both activities require a lot of preparation: while for space mission, there’s a phenomenal amount of planning and engineering that goes on, for Bible translation it includes working out a way to write down a language, working out the grammar of the language, training a team who want to see the Bible in their language and getting the local churches envisioned for translation.

While many years of waiting pass, astronauts see few tangible results. Compare this to translators who see results throughout the process! It could be a dictionary, a literacy programme or even part of the Bible translated (First Gospel projects, for example, see Luke translated, recorded and dubbed onto the JESUS Film in the space of the first four or five years).

The launch of a rocket isn’t the end of the mission. It still has a long way to go and people will be watching it as it travels. The launch of a New Testament isn’t the end either: it’s the start of a journey that could see lives changed, communities tranformed and an impact for eternity. Find out how you could be part of the team launching a Bible translation mission.


From the classroom to Cameroon

July 25th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

At the end of July, new students will begin the first stage of training for Wycliffe work overseas. The Language and Culture Acquisition course (known as ʟᴀᴄᴀ) prepares workers to engage in depth with a new language and culture, and runs at Redcliffe College in Gloucester.

Suzie and Philip Burgess were at Redcliffe until recently, doing further training for work in Cameroon. We asked them what the benefits of studying there are.

Suzie and Philip Burgess

Suzie and Philip Burgess

‘It was good to be with other people who were training for overseas ministry from a number of different  organisations and it was helpful to enjoy fellowship groups and community worship times in the midst of an intense study programme.

‘We also thoroughly enjoyed the food and the pool competition (all work and no play is not a healthy balance!). It was humbling to meet others on the course who work in very different and challenging situations and see the sacrifices that they make, often just to be on the course.’

Pray for the course

Please pray for all the students and staff at Redcliffe College, especially those involved in ʟᴀᴄᴀ. Pray for good transitions back to study, good relationships and God’s enabling.

Pray for Philip and Suzie

Philip and Suzie have both worked in Cameroon before and recently returned to the capital city Yaoundé. They can’t move to live with the Parak* people Philip had previously worked with due to current security concerns. Philip will work with contacts in Yaoundé from the language group. Suzie will make short trips to the Yive village where she worked previously, and process and analyse the data at a distance.

By Christmas, Suzie hopes to be a long way through the 18,000-word dissertation which will be the completion of her MA; Philip hopes to have done more foundational analysis work in the Parak language before translation begins. They both want to encourage and build relationships within the communities despite the distance.

Please pray for safe travels, a strong marriage and wisdom about working at a distance for the projects and the peoples they have come to love.

Look into doing Bible translation and Scripture Use studies at the Redcliffe Centre for Linguistics, Translation and Literacy. Find out more about Bible translation in Cameroon.

*Parak is the pseudonym used for security purposes.

Still dreaming of Bible adventures

July 24th, 2014 by Hannah

‘I had visions of parachuting into the jungle, reaching legions of lost souls, and distributing Bibles and trust as I dashed from one Jesus-filled adventure to the next,’ said Kyle.


It was a dream Kyle woke up from. Melissa on the Wycliffe USA blog describes how Kyle grew up and became less interested in God, church and mission. It wasn’t until years later that his interest was rekindled, when a couple he knew mentioned that they were involved in mission through IT:

“At that moment, an explosion happened in my mind,” Kyle shared. “For so long I felt that I had missed my calling to missions, but the revelation that IT could be used to reach millions ignited a flame in me. I knew that I had to get involved.

“God spoke to me in that moment and I didn’t know how, when, or where, but I knew that I was being called to serve with Wycliffe.” Read the full story on the Wycliffe USA blog.

Kyle now works at the Wycliffe USA headquarters, supporting mission through IT. But even with people like Kyle on the team, IT remains one of the greatest needs for Bible translation. Without enough IT specialists, the work isn’t as efficient or effective as it could be and, in some places, it’s not able to happen at all.

Do you have the skills for IT and a passion for sharing God’s word? Find out more how you could serve in Bible translation through IT.

They heard singing…

July 21st, 2014 by Ruth

Wycliffe colleagues Tim and Ali are based in Nigeria, a country facing great challenges at the moment, particularly in the north.  But Nigeria has another huge and urgent challenge, one that has not made recent headline news.

It has a total of 520 languages, over 250 of which don’t have a single word of Scripture yet. There is a massive need for Bible translation. In fact, the country has the second biggest need for Bible translation in the world.

Tim writes,

One of our teams host Scripture songwriting workshops to help encourage churches to be using the languages that God gave them, to praise him…

Instruments ready for a song-writing workshop

Instruments ready for a song-writing workshop

Mr Sunday Timawus, coordinator of Ga’anda Bible translation project reports, ‘One of the things that attracts people in our area is songs, more than reading the Scripture actually.

‘I’ve seen the testimony of the people in our village. Most of the people who don’t come to church say, “Now you are doing something!” After the workshop we had a lot of revival in our church. Most of the time we see the elderly men and women staying at home since the services were not in the language,  but since the workshop there’s been kind of a breakthrough in our place and language. Now, most of what’s happening is in the language so they can understand it and they have rededicated their lives to God. Now they are saying, “When can we have another workshop?’’ (Read Tim’s blog here.)

Do you want to know more about the power of Scripture songs in the mother tongue?  Find out about Scripture use on the Wycliffe website.

Prayer is a risky business

July 18th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

I have a suspicion that sometimes prayer is seen as a safe option or the easier way to get involved in missions; safer than going, less costly than giving. I’d like to suggest the opposite is actually true. I think that prayer is a risky business.

A man in a baseball cap praysPerhaps we feel that praying for missions only impacts the missionaries, the situations they are in and possibly other parts of the world. While I would agree that God changes the situations about which we are praying, I believe it prayer changes us as well.

At GOfest 2014 I was privileged to attend a seminar on ‘Powerful Prayer’ run by Pray 24-7. They shared many encouraging stories about how God is changing situations, communities and more, both in the UK and elsewhere. However, the thing that struck me the most about what they shared, is that prayer is often only the beginning of something new. As they said, people ‘pray in the secret place and then step out in the market place.’

When we pray, we engage with God. It is through this process that our hearts are changed, that we become more passionate and that we can be given a vision for the path that God wants our lives to take. Prayer changes us. To me this is really exciting, but challenging and perhaps a little scary too.

So here is my challenge to you: are you willing to pray for what God is doing around the world? Are you prepared to engage with God, be envisioned, be released into passionate living and pursuing God? Are you willing to take the risk that, by praying, God may move you to get involved at a far deeper level?

If you are looking for ways to pray, follow @wycliffeuk_pray on Twitter or subscribe to receiving this blog regularly.

050Jo Johnson has worked with Wycliffe for 16 years and currently serves as the Prayer Coordinator. She is married to Stewart and has 3 children. She believes that prayer must be the foundation of all that we do.

Hot off the press: Words for Life magazine out now

July 18th, 2014 by Hannah

Teachers, singing, planes and eggs. What do all these have in common? Bible translation (obviously!).

In the most recent Words for Life magazine you’ll see how each of these had an important place in Wycliffe’s work around the world. You’ll read about what God is doing in Nigeria, Brazil, Russia, Canada and around the world. We’ve also included some super articles from our prayer coordinator about how you could run your own prayer event easily and why when we pray, God doesn’t always seem to answer.

From the editorial:

Nate is a pilot with Wycliffe in Indonesia. He’s seen firsthand how difficult it is to get the Bible to a small and remote community. Preparing a runway, sourcing the plane and delivering Bibles is expensive and difficult. Add to that many years of challenging work for the translation team, linguists and surveyors. You have to ask, ‘Is it really worth the effort?’

As he ponders, Nate says, ‘I am reminded of the immeasurable cost my God expended in searching out and finding me…’

Words for Life can be read online or downloaded. Don’t forget to explore the online extras for songs, video and a prayer that’s beautiful in more ways than one.

Bible translation needs managers

July 17th, 2014 by Hannah

Let’s break a preconception: Bibles aren’t translated by just one very dedicated man with a quill. They probably never have been (even Luther had a team!) and now, more than ever, Bible translation is tackled as a team.

But it’s better than most team projects: in this project, the result is only the beginning, as God’s word bears fruit in the lives of those who hear and read it. In this project, we have the ultimate team leader, Jesus, the Head of the Body. And in this project, whatever your skills, there’s something you can do.

This video from our partners in Papua New Guinea explains about their need for one of those invaluable, but oft forgotten roles: managers.

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Whether it’s for three months or three decades, in Papua New Guinea or in Paraguay, there’s a way you can play a part. If you are interested in seeing how you could serve overseas in Bible translation, these are your three next steps:

  1. Get a glimpse into some of the different roles on the Wycliffe website.
  2. Plan to join us at the October Next Step event with other people looking to change their lives to serve God.
  3. Chat to someone from the Wycliffe offices about what you could do.

Stronger than the spirits?

July 14th, 2014 by Hannah

When the Årsjö’s first arrived to work with the Ama people, there were no Christians. That fact didn’t change for the first six years they worked there. In the seventh, the first person – one of the men working with them on the translation – chose to believe in Jesus.

The Ninigo Islands, Papua New Guinea

The Ninigo Islands, Papua New Guinea

As the message spread and more people started to follow Jesus, there was one big issue that needed addressing: spirits.

Sören and Britten Årsjö looked in amazement at the young woman lying on their porch, as Albert, one of Ama translators, pleaded with them. “Please, you must do something!”

In traditional Papua New Guinean beliefs, the practice of sorcery and fear of the spirits govern daily life. In Ama, the word, popuwa, meant “evil spirit;” there was no such thing as a “good spirit.” A cursed person was doomed to die within three days—and if he or she told anyone, death would be immediate.

So, when Albert’s cousin courageously told him she’d been cursed, he acted immediately. They all gathered around the girl and began praying fervently, as well as administered antibiotics to help counteract any potential infection caused by the custom of inserting bone fragments into the sorcery victim’s body. They waited and prayed and waited, the whole village watching. Would she die? Or would this God be more powerful than sorcery and spirits?

Find out what happened to the girl and to the Ama community on Catherine’s blog.

We believe God can transform lives and communities, and sharing his word is a fantastic way to introduce people to him. Agree? We’re looking for people to support Bible translation through prayer, giving, advocating in churches and going to serve.

Leaving all that is familiar

July 11th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

At this time of year many cross-cultural workers and their families are on the verge of moving. Whether it’s a trip ‘home’ for the summer or an extended stay, there are adjustments to be made by everyone. Sometimes visits ‘home’ can be a mixed blessing.

Think particularly of the children: often they have grown up in another country and the UK is unfamiliar. Their parents take them to little known places and visit people they don’t remember.

Visiting the UK isn’t all bad; there are loads of fun things to do, and close family members ready to spoil you with presents and treats, but it can be stressful.

For those staying longer or moving back permanently, these challenges are multiplied by having to fit in at school or university. This can be especially difficult for those young people whose parents are returning overseas.

Will you pray for British Wycliffe families who are making a move this summer? Some are moving within the UK to start their training. Others are going overseas either for the first time or after a period in the UK. Still others are returning to the UK.

Please pray:

  • For safe travel and joyful reunions.
  • For the children who are saying goodbye to the countries that they have grown up in and their friends there. May God comfort them and give them a sense of excitement for what they are moving on to.
  • For God’s grace and strength for all the children adjusting to new environments and schools.
  • For all those who are starting university when their parents are remaining overseas, that they would have all the help they need to adjust to life in the UK. Ask God to place them in ‘second families’ and give them a home away from home. This is especially important when the finances are not available to pay for frequent visits to their real families.

To understand better how it feels to move cultures, watch this TCK re-entry video.