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

Celebrating God’s Word

March 2nd, 2015 by Nick Brier

Soon a Safwa marching band took the field. Painted turquoise flowers shone fluorescent from their faces.  One man carried a big bass drum—of African cowhide, tied with leather cords—on his chest, his beat resonating with the feet of the dancers.

Translating Scripture is no easy undertaking. It takes years of dedication and the patience of many but the end results, are oh so very rewarding. You see, Bible translation is a mixture of hard work and celebration.

Dedications for Scripture are amazing events to be a part of. Whole communities turn up, driven by a curious desire to participate. These are times of great celebration; and why not, God’s word is finally in their language!

From parades to dancers, Join Steve and Mary Pence as they take us on a journey with this brilliantly detailed description of the celebration that followed the completion of Mark’s Gospel in the Safwa language.

Our growing procession wound through the narrow market streets of Mbalizi, a Sawfa-speaking community near our Mbeya translation office in southwest Tanzania. Merchants and their customers stared at us amidst racks of used shoes, sacks of corn, and stacks of shiny pots… (Read Steve and Mary’s full story here).

But there is still much more work to be done:

For Waya, Mwasonzwe, Andrea, and the Safwa people, there is much to feel good about, much to celebrate. God’s Word has arrived. But it has only begun to arrive. Completion of the New Testament is several years away. Literacy rates must rise. Safwa churches and believers need to learn to use God’s Word in their meetings and their lives. But today, in their dances, in their music, in the words of their leaders, Safwa people are now agreeing together that this work of Bible translation is Safwa work.

You can play your part too. Pray, give or go. Find out how you can be involved, both locally and globally.

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 tweetmotherlanguage.org 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 wycliffe.net: 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 catherinepng.blogspot.co.uk

“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!