December 6th, 2013 by Hannah
It’s a challenge we face every year: how can we embrace the wonder and joy of Christmas when all around we are hearing that joy comes from gifts and Christmas number ones? How can we remember the shock of the birth of Jesus when we are getting settled back in to tradition and comfort?
Selling Christmas lights in the Philippines. Photo by Benjamin Myers.
The story of Christmas, complete with shock factor, is not lost. Around the world people are experiencing the news of Jesus’ birth with those emotions because they are understanding it for the first time. We heard about one woman in Cabo Verde (formerly Cape Verde) who, hearing the Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth in her own language for the first time, laid down her national-language Bible and said,
‘For the first time in my life, I felt washed by the word. I thought I knew the Christmas story by heart, but I must confess that today I feel like I’ve heard it for the very first time.‘
We want to help bring back the shock and wonder of Christmas. On our website, we’ve included a short list of some resources you might find help you, your family and your church to get back to the first readers’ emotions. Included are:
- Paperless Christmas – a surprising new twist of seeing the Bible story in video
- Advent Conspiracy – turning Christmas upside down by celebrating and giving, instead of buying and eating
- And a story from Bible translation – share in your church and small groups to give you a fresh vision of Christmas.
Find these and more resources on our website.
Do you have a Christmas idea great for shaking us up and bringing back the wonder? Tell us in the comments below.
Don’t forget: you can support Wycliffe while doing your normal Christmas-y activities by adding Give As You Live to your internet browser for automatic donations and by buying your Christmas cards through JustCards Direct.
December 5th, 2013 by Phil
You may have heard through some of our publications or the wider media of unrest in the Central African Republic.
We have just received this prayer request from our colleagues in Wycliffe Global Alliance.
Greetings in Christ from this end.
I wish to invite each of you to lift up the nation of Central African Republic to the Lord in prayer. The peace situation has suddenly deteriorated since yesterday. Our colleague Bertin reports that the security forces of former president named ‘Anti-Balakas’ have attacked Bangui [the capital city] from the northern and south-eastern parts, and have occupied a military camp. They plan to take over power before the UN can pass a resolution authorising the French military intervention in Central African Republic. Everyone is currently indoors as nobody can anticipate what is going to happen.
Let’s pray for the protection of the Central African people who have already been under significant trauma for the past 24 months. Pray especially for our colleagues in ACATBA*, in language projects around the country.
The BBC have today published a report on their website, including a short video from the country.
Thank you for your prayers.
*Association Centrafricaine pour la Traduction de la Bible et l’Alphabétisation, the Central African national Bible translation organisation
December 4th, 2013 by Hannah
Ever experienced that awkward new-person mistake when visiting a church? Maybe you stood or sat down at the wrong time? Or used the wrong tune for a song? Churches can be very different.
In this video, a group of Tongwa speakers explain what their gatherings look like as they meet around an audio Bible, discussing the stories they hear. See how the audio Bible in their language has affected their community:
‘Especially along the lake shore, people don’t have access to the Bible. They are uneducated. But this is helping so much. Each one of use can hear physically. There is no need for someone explaining or interpreting. Everyone is getting the message straight. So it’s very wonderful.’
These audio Bibles come from a partnership called Davar International. Wycliffe get to work with them through the Forum of Bible Agencies. It’s through partnerships like this that we desperately want to see people around the world able to access God’s word.
If you believe that God’s word is for everyone – not just speakers of big languages and not just people who like to read – there are lots of ways you can partner.
December 2nd, 2013 by Jo Johnson
When missionaries are off overseas, people at home sometimes put them on a pedestal. Its only when they come home again that we realise that missionaries are just ordinary people with foibles and weaknesses just like everybody else. Missionaries face many of the same challenges wherever they are in the world. Eddie Arthur gives some great tips on how to pray that they will not be lead into temptation.
And lead us not into temptation
‘Missionaries are subject to temptation in just the same way as other people.
However, missionaries and other Christian workers do have a slice of issues that are a bit more specific to their roles.The biggest problem is confusing service for God and a relationship with God. It is desperately easy for Christian workers to allow their work and study to replace regular devotional time with God.
It is also true that the loneliness, isolation and stress which can be part of missionary life can reduce people’s ability to resist temptation. Those normal everyday temptations to pride, anger, lust or what-have-you can become much sharper when you are a long way from home and going through culture shock.
So, if you pray for missionaries: pray that they would not allow their work to take the place of their Lord and that they would be strong to resist temptation in all its forms.‘
Read the whole blog or get all Eddie’s thoughts on praying for missionaries in this booklet.
*Eddie is the executive director of Wycliffe in the UK. He is married to Sue, a translation consultant, and has two grown up sons. Originally from the north of England, Eddie and Sue met in Bath and worked for many years in Ivory Coast. They are now based in High Wycombe.
November 29th, 2013 by Hannah
It’s upsetting but true: the time for Christmas shopping is upon us. If, rather than battle through the hordes of people and glitter that comes with Christmas shopping, you’d rather enjoy the experience from the comfort of your armchair (with a cup of tea and cheeky mince pie), you could effortlessly raise money for Bible translation around the world.
Give as you live is a clever little programme that attaches to your internet browser and donates money automatically as your shop online. Since they’ve been running, they’ve raised nearly £4 million for charitable causes. Including Wycliffe Bible Translators.
So, if this new, charitable way of shopping while eating mince pies appeals to you, head over to giveasyoulive.com, click ‘Get started’ (it takes a matter of seconds!) and start filling up your digital basket. It’s completely free (the donations come from the shops, not the shoppers), really easy to use, and without any more effort than that, Amazon, Debenhams, B&Q, John Lewis, M&S and more will start donating to the cause of Bible translation.
Go to giveasyoulive.com to find out more and to start shopping.
P.S. You can use it when you shop online at other times of the year too!
November 27th, 2013 by Ruth
Within two weeks of the Oku New Testament launch, the newly translated Scriptures were piercing and comforting hearts in the Oku community, Cameroon. David describes in his blog what happened at the morgue in Yaoundé:
As I waited outside one of the local morgues in Yaoundé for the levée du corps (removal of the body) to take to the church for the memorial service, I was amazed at the number of people that were there during the work day. A Cameroonian co-worker’s wife, Mary, had gone home to be with Jesus…
But while I was waiting, a co-worker had brought a new Oku New Testament from the dedication two weeks ago in Oku to present to my friend who just lost his wife since he was not able to attend the dedication in his mother tongue. So she was waiting to present it to him and there were many other Oku people around so she thought she would ask someone to read the new Oku New Testament but the woman sitting beside her had never learned to read in Oku, her mother tongue, but as we sat under the overhang outside the mortuary she had her first literacy lesson in Oku. She starting reading in 1 Corinthians 15:20 and also Revelation 7:17. The Oku woman said that “Reading this took away my tears.”
Revelation 7:17 “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” NLT (Read complete post)
Reading the Scriptures in the heart language gets the message through like nothing else. But there remain nearly 2,000 language groups worldwide – representing around 250 million people – who still cannot access God’s word in the language they understand best, because translation work has not even begun. You can help to give the story.
November 25th, 2013 by Jo Johnson
‘In one part of Asia, several projects seem to be at a standstill. In some cases, the language community is isolated or inaccessible. In others, no one has been willing to commit to working on the translation. In some projects, Scripture translation has started but obtaining community feedback is difficult, hindering revisions and further progress. This is a spiritual struggle.’
Photo: Zeke du Plesis
It can be difficult to pray in response to requests like these, that are for situations you don’t really know about or understand. Sensitive parts of the world often are the most challenging to work in and perhaps those working there need the most prayer, yet for security reasons we often cannot give many details of needs. Here are some ways you can pray for this area of limited accessibility, even when you don’t know the details:
- Visas continue to be an issue in this region, both for short visits and longer-term residency. Please pray for doors to remain open.
- For those who are not able to live in the same country in which the projects that they are working on are happening, pray that they can keep good contacts and see work progress despite living outside the country.
- Those living in unsettled regions need encouragement, spiritual and physical protection and a close walk with the Lord as they face personal uncertainty and stresses at work.
- Over and above all of this, let’s continue to pray that the Prince of Peace will overcome anger and fear that fuel violence in this region, protect the vulnerable and help the suffering.
There is more about sensitive projects in the blog post ‘You’re so sensitive’. Dig deeper into praying for sensitive projects.
November 22nd, 2013 by Hannah
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. The Northern Irish-born writer died on the 22 November 1963. However, Lewis’ legacy has lived on through his works of literature, most famously in the Chronicles of Narnia.
Photo: Albert Bridge (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Why has his legacy lasted in this way? One significant reason is due to his ability to adapt his style to meet his audience in a different way. Alister McGrath, in his book C.S. Lewis: A Life , points out that one of Lewis’ major reasons for writing the Chronicles of Narnia was due to his desire to take a step back from public apologetics after World War II, feeling the strain of the public eye and family problems, and feeling out of touch with current debates (2013, Hodder and Stoughton). He decided then to concentrate on teaching his apologetics through a different medium, using stories that evoke the imagination. The Narnia writings have become classics of English literature and popular children’s stories.
Lewis changed his style of writing to meet a new audience. He gave the same message in a new, fictional form that would evoke emotions from the reader in a different way and to help them engage with the gospel anew.
Jesus did this when he told stories and parables, and the message of God touched the lives of his hearers in a powerful way. However there are millions of people today worldwide who do not have access to Gods word, because there is no Scripture in their language, or it’s in a written format that an illiterate community can’t understand.
Bible translation changes this. When Scripture is translated into another language it gives the reader access to God’s word and there is clarity in the newly translated text. One mother-tongue translator recently talked about the first time when she heard the Bible being read in her heart language. She said, ‘It was as though it was my own father just talking to me.’
The Bible is the Story everybody needs. Give the Story.
Our thanks to Richard Ferguson, who wrote this post.
November 22nd, 2013 by Hannah
On November 9, gatherings in six venues across the UK met in prayer for the world’s Bibleless people. Here’s what Martin, who was at the event in Macclesfield, had to say about the day:
At Frontline Prayer in Scotland
It was back in April when my church, Holy Trinity, Hurdsfield, in Macclesfield, Cheshire, agreed to host Wycliffe’s Frontline Prayer event. It was one of six venues for Wycliffe-organised Frontline Prayer events around the UK. Other churches organised their own events, using Frontline Prayer resources, which was a brilliant way to make the event accessible to more people.
On the day people came from Manchester, Stockport, Burton-on-Trent, even one couple from Wetherby in North Yorkshire! There were also a number of church regulars there.
After tea, coffee and home-made cakes, we got down to business with a time of worship led by some of the band. That was a good opportunity to settle ourselves and to focus on the God who supplies all our needs according to his riches in glory.
Most of the rest of the sessions consisted of one or more video clips followed by a time of prayer, usually in small groups. The video clips were very informative, mostly encouraging, often challenging, invariably thought-provoking. We were encouraged by the significance of Wycliffe’s work around the world, presented with the particular challenges of translation projects in Nigeria, and translating the Scriptures for the Deaf, and inspired by stories of successes and new initiatives.
Several people afterwards told me that they had really appreciated the opportunity to take part, and had come away encouraged, and better informed about Wycliffe’s work. I was delighted that my church had been happy to host the event: it brought together people from different places and backgrounds, to pray together for Wycliffe’s work around the world – what a privilege that is!
If any churches considered participating in Frontline Prayer, but didn’t in the end, I would definitely encourage them to go for it next year!
If you want to pray for Wycliffe’s work in your church now, you can get the prayer resources from our website up until Christmas. They are free to use and can be split up into modules suitable for slots in small groups or prayer meetings, and they are easy to run for yourself. Explore them here.
November 21st, 2013 by Hannah
When someone speaking the Ghanaian language Tampulma tells you, ‘My heart is cool,’ what do you think he means? Is he cold-hearted? Is he happy? Is he angry? Is he at peace? You’re probably going to have to guess, as we don’t have an expression like that in English.
It’s one example of the activities Wycliffe’s church engagement team will be doing with 48 children soon. On Friday 22 November, two of the team will be leading a whole morning of fun activities at a primary school near Oxford.
We are excited to have the chance to communicate to children that God has a heart for the whole world, and that we know his heart best by having his word in our own language. We’ll be looking at all kinds of different ways to communicate that message:
- a skit,
- discovering the Bible translation process in pictures,
- writing with a quill to experience what is was like for a monk to copy the Bible without mistakes,
- trying to figure where different artefacts are from,
- finding out more about unreached people groups,
- deciphering an Indian alphabet!
Sound interesting? Please pray that the programme will run smoothly, that we will be able to communicate clearly with the kids, and that the kids will have fun!
Wycliffe has a whole range of different activities on our website. Get in touch if you would like a tailored programme for your situation. We can help you put a school assembly or Sunday school session together about Bible translation.
Oh, and by the way, to come back to the expression: when he said, ‘My heart is cool,’ the Tampulma man was saying that he is happy!
This article was written by Gerdy Oldham, Kids and Mission coordinator for Wycliffe in the UK.