First Steps Oxford – 29 November 2014

October 20th, 2014 by Nick Brier

Do you find yourself asking, ‘What is all this translation business about? What is the importance of enabling people to read and write in their own language? This really interests me but what can I do to help? What use are my skills? Do I need to travel to far-flung places? Surely this work is only for people who can speak multiple languages?…’ Yes? Then come along to First Steps!

Question – What is it?

Answer – First Steps is an informative, inspiring and interactive event, designed solely to help you know more about how God is using people with a wide range of skills throughout the world to fulfil his mission.

What have other people been saying about it?

“I never realised how much goes into translating a language.”

“It was really informative and helpful, and it has given me a lot to think about.”

What will you say?

Register online for First Steps

If you can’t make it to Oxford, there are more First Steps events happening in the near future.

We need those techies

October 16th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

You may not automatically think it but IT support is crucial to Bible translation. Steve Pence who works in IT support in Tanzania explains why:

IMG_3221‘My short time in Tanzania has taught me the importance of these information technology (IT) roles. Translators spend all day, every day, at their computer. When a translator brings a troubled laptop into my office, at that moment, for that translator, Bible translation has stopped.

In Africa: laptops get stolen far from police protection, server rooms have fires where there are no fire departments, and roofs leak onto backup drives that can’t be replaced in-country. At times, due to war or instability, staff must be evacuated. As IT professionals, it is our responsibility to insure survival of translation work stored on computers. Many risks need to be anticipated and mitigated through diligent and prayerful planning.’

Please pray:

  • that God will provide many more people to work in IT support; there is always a shortage.
  • that God will provide those working in this area with grace, strength and good health on a daily basis.
  • that good internet provision will be available to ensure good communication wherever the Bible is being translated.

Whilst we are not translating the Bible here in the UK offices the IT support team play an equally important role. Between 16th and 19th October they will be working with an external company on a reorganising some of our servers.

Please pray:

  • for health, strength and wisdom for the IT support team.
  • for a good working relationship with the support company.
  • that the reorganisaiton will go ahead smoothly without any unforeseen problems and with minimal disruption to the rest of staff in the UK.

Read more about Steve Pence’s IT experiences in Africa in ‘Embrace yourselves’.

Find out how you could use your IT skills to support Bible translation.

Multimedia and the Gospel

October 13th, 2014 by Nick Brier

In a multimedia-saturated world how can we use this to the benefit of minority groups who desperately need to hear and engage with God’s word? In an article by Wycliffe Global Alliance, Chew, an audio engineer who is serving on a multimedia training program, talks about his desire to see Christians in minority groups trained up in multimedia to help their people engage with the word of God.

Since 2011 Chew has served in Thailand with a multimedia training program. This program aims at training Christians from minority language groups to produce culturally-relevant, Scripture-based multimedia materials and reproduce their skills within their communities. Chew is a trainer and mentor for the course. He is also involved in designing and developing some of the curriculum.

He shares about multimedia and its role in facilitating the spread of the gospel:

Chew Tong sits in front of an audio panel in a studio room.

Chew Tong sits in front of an audio panel in a studio room.

Why are you passionate about doing this training?

My passion in training comes from a realization that multimedia is part of God’s strategy to reach those who cannot read. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be formally trained in audio, and I want to give back by serving in the media field to communicate His grace and love. I find it very meaningful to share this with Christians from minority groups who do not have the opportunity to learn the multimedia skills. As we pass on these skills to those we work alongside and who will train others in turn, we will have continuity in seeing the word of God impacting and transforming minority people in the future.

Why are multimedia materials important to Scripture engagement and Bible translation?

Wycliffe works with minority language groups, and the majority of them consist of people who do not read and write. Many lack interest in learning to read. One way to communicate with these oral communities is by using oral forms such as songs, storytelling, drama, painting and dance. Multimedia helps facilitate these natural communication forms. Besides selecting the right media tools, the media products have to be culturally appropriate to achieve a good response. Multimedia can be a catalyst to help the people from minority language communities to have a better understanding of the Bible’s message. (Read the full article.)

Multimedia is just one of the ways in which the kingdom of God is being brought into the lives of others. Find out more about the different ways in which you can be involved.


Made from concentrate

October 10th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Despite the ongoing turmoil and violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), translation teams there have continued to produce draft translations of Scripture. This is at once an item for praise and a challenge. As there are no translation consultants currently able to live in CAR, there is a large backlog of unchecked draft translations.

IMG_4921-1The checking process is vitally important to ensure that each translation is correct and communicates clearly. Regular checking is useful to translators as they are able to learn from any mistakes they have made and problems can be caught early before they have the chance to become habits.

Praise God that recent consultant visits have resulted in Scriptures being checked.  The ‘concentrated’ style of working – when consultants come in for just a few weeks, work flat out and then leave again – is not ideal, but it’s the best solution for the current situation.

Will, a translation consultant to CAR, used to live and work in CAR but is now based in the UK. The security situation there has prevented him from visiting for three years but he is visibly excited that he has a trip lined up for November. He hopes to be joined by a colleague who has just moved to Cameroon. In order for that to happen his colleague needs her residency papers before she can travel.

Please pray:

  • That many consultants would be able to make regular visits to Bangui and clear the backlog. Pray that they encourage the translators and other national staff.
  • For the Gbeya and Kaba teams, who are close to finishing the New Testament. None of the consultants involved in CAR have experience in the final stages of preparing a New Testament for printing. Please pray that God would  help both teams and related consultants to finish well. Find more ways to pray for projects nearing completion.
  • For the teams who are early on in the process of translating the New Testament. Pray that God will help them grow in translation skills and that God would provide consultant support for them.
  • Pray that Will and his colleague would both be able to go to CAR in November. After not doing any consulting for 3 years Will is concerned he is out of practice.  Pray that God will help them both do a great job.
  • Pray for peace and reconciliation in CAR.

Find out more about the situation in CAR via the BBC.

Frontline Prayer modules – Pray with us from where you are

October 3rd, 2014 by Jo Johnson

‘Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.’ Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

Frontline Prayer

We know that being persistent in prayer can be a challenge, so we regularly produce materials to help you pray. We think that these materials are so good that we use them ourselves at our annual prayer event Frontline Prayer Live and we want to share them with you.

They are called Frontline Prayer modules because when we pray, we are on the frontline, fighting a spiritual battle and through our prayers we are supporting those who are on the frontline facilitating Bible translation.

The hour-long modules are inspiring, interesting and easy to use; all the materials are downloadable and each module has clear instructions, PowerPoints and videos as well as specific prayer requests.

We are holding Frontline Prayer Live on 8th November but the modules are relevant for several months. They will be as useful to you in February as in October and as we write three or four modules a year there is always new material being added. They are flexible too, as each hour-long module can be used in isolation and some can be broken into smaller chunks; ideal if you have less than an hour to pray.

We would love to see you at Frontline Prayer Live on 8th November in Princes Risborough or Edinburgh. If you can’t make it, why not plan your own Frontline Prayer Live?

Are you hesitating because running an event sounds a bit daunting? Download our prayer pack: Focused prayer, kingdom results, which is full of ideas and tips for running events and using the Frontline Prayer modules. Are you still nervous of using the modules? Contact Jo Johnson, Wycliffe UK’s prayer coordinator with your questions. She may even be able to help you run an event.

Find out more about Frontline Prayer Live.

Download the Frontline Prayer Modules.


Cookies, caches and cows

October 1st, 2014 by Ruth

If you think it’s hard to translate concepts like ‘sin’ and ‘redemption’, what about the challenges of making smartphone operating systems understandable for minority language speakers? In a fascinating article from the Economist, we are introduced to the challenges mainstream developers are facing as they try to translate terms like ‘cookies’, ‘caches’ and ‘crash’.  Working with local language speakers, you’ll be amazed at the solutions they are coming up with.

Firefox for a computer uses about 40,000 words; for the phone OS, 16,000. Translators must express technological terms in languages shaped by livestock, farming and fishing, and choose alternatives for culture-specific words such as “cookie”, “file” and “mouse”.

Ibrahima Sarr, a Senegalese coder, led the translation of Firefox into Fulah, which is spoken by 20m people from Senegal to Nigeria. “Crash” became hookii (a cow falling over but not dying); “timeout” became a honaama (your fish has got away). “Aspect ratio” became jeendondiral, a rebuke from elders when a fishing net is wrongly woven. In Malawi’s Chichewa language, which has 10m speakers, “cached pages” became mfutso wa tsamba, or bits of leftover food. The windowless houses of the 440,000 speakers of Zapotec, a family of indigenous languages in Mexico, meant that computer “windows” became “eyes”.

The world speaks nearly 7,000 languages. Mali, with a population of 15m, has 13 national languages and 40-60 smaller ones, depending on where the border between language and dialect is drawn. Firefox is available in 90 languages, which serve almost all of the 40% of the global population already online… But some languages spoken by millions are excluded, including Tibetan (3m-4m speakers) and Bambara (10m, including those for whom it is a second tongue). Bringing the rest of the world online is not just a technical challenge, but a linguistic one. (Read full article here)

 Man in Mali leans on his table of mobile phones

Speaking the customer’s language

Major Internet companies are seeing the need to make web content accessible to a wider market.  They’re prepared to invest heavily to make sure minority language speakers can access their content.  But what about the worldwide church?  Are we as committed to seeing God’s life-changing words made accessible to every language group that needs it?

Wycliffe Bible Translators and partners worldwide are already being part of that solution.  Find out how you can play your part too.

Wounded people on the road to healing

September 26th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.” (Psalm 119:49-50).

God’s word is full of comfort, guidance, wisdom, and strength.  How often do we turn to it, as Christians in the West? Yet many people living in the most difficult contexts around the world – war zones and areas devastated by natural disasters – do not have the word of God in their own language.  They need God’s comfort the most, but where can they find it?

South Sudanese participants in a previous trauma healing workshopOne extremely useful tool to reach those most hurt by the crises around the world are trauma healing workshops. These workshops seek to train local church leaders; to equip them to be God’s agents of inner healing for those who have suffered severe trauma and loss through war, violent crimes, natural disasters and epidemic disease.

Reports from a recent workshop in Central African Republic (CAR) show how important this ministry is:

“There was an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the trauma healing through stories. People loved that they were telling stories in the mother tongue! Deeply wounded people began on the road to healing. People felt heard and understood. The best reaction was people understanding through the story of the creation that God loves us and that we are made in his image. We are not worthless. With all the trauma happening here, people feel like they are worthless and there is no hope for them. God is restoring hope through these stories in the mother tongue.”

Will you commit to praying for trauma healing workshops which help whole communities start on the road to recovery?

Upcoming Trauma Healing workshops are being held:

  • 22-26 September in Juba, South Sudan in partnership with the Bible Society.
  • 10-22 October in Juba refugee camp on the border of Sudan and South Sudan using oral storying in partnership with The Seed Company (TSC), working with refugees from the Nuba mountains.
  • 10-29 November in Bangui, CAR, again with TSC. Working with different groups using both the classic model and oral storying.

Please pray:

  • For the right participants at the Juba workshop; those who will be capable of helping others.
  • For the physical stamina for everyone involved in the refugee camp and for peace in the area. This seminar is physically demanding as the facilitators stay in tents in the camp.
  • For Bangui, that the facilitators will be allowed to go. They never know until the week before as it depends on the security situation.
  • For peace for CAR.

Find out more about Trauma Healing.

Holding multilingual church services

September 23rd, 2014 by Ruth

Increasingly in the UK, multi-ethinic churches are faced with a dilemma.  Should everything be done in English, or should prayers and songs in another language be incorporated?  It’s a challenge faced the world over, and we in the UK have much to learn from those who have wrestled with this very issue for years.

Ghana is a country with over 60 languages, and these languages are not expressed in well-defined, discrete areas of the country.  Language communities overlap, people groups intermingle, and there is significant cultural and linguistic diversity in many churches.  Ed Lauber, working with partner organisation GILBT* shares some ways the church in Ghana has embraced this challenge.

Singing hymns in two Ghanaian languages as the same time. This was at a business meeting conducted in English.

Figuring out how to be one, unified church while making sure that everyone hears the message in a language they fully understand is a challenge. There are many approaches, such as having more than one service each in a different language, then once a month having a unified service in a regional or national language. Some churches conduct services in two languages. But translating everything is time consuming plus it is difficult for listeners to stay focused when every other sentence is in a language they don’t understand. Others have church services in a regional or national language, and home Bible studies in local languages. There are no easy answers. But some ignore the issue altogether and do everything in a regional or official language. But that leaves those most disadvantaged in that language to fend for themselves. It is hard to imagine how a person can become a thriving Christian while understanding only a fraction of the Bible and the teaching and preaching in church. (Read whole post here)

English speakers have the hardest challenge of all.  As the speakers of a dominant world language, it is almost impossible for us to imagine what it’s like to be a minority language speaker, where we are not widely understood.  Let’s not ignore the issue.

The Bible paints a picture of unity and diversity, of God reaching out to great and small, bringing us together as one Body.  The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 for the one lost sheep, and Revelation describes this:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb… they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7.9-10

That great shout will be in thousands of languages! What will the overhead projector look like for that worship service?  Somehow I don’t think we’ll be needing words on a screen, and it’s just as well!
Nevertheless, the Wycliffe website has some helpful suggestions for churches here: Support Non-English Speakers.

* the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT)

The Next Step: 31 October – 2 November

September 22nd, 2014 by Ruth

At the end of October Wycliffe offers a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time with others considering your next steps in God’s mission.  ‘Where could I fit?’  ‘What might God be leading me to next?’

TThe Next Stephe Next Step is a residential weekend designed for people who are interested in being part of God’s mission by making the Bible available in everyone’s heart language, but don’t know how they could be involved. We explore both language related options for service and non-language support roles at home and overseas. Such roles might include IT support, teaching opportunities or project management roles as well as joining the team that is part of the Bible translation movement through literacy, language survey, Scripture impact and linguistics.

We also explore in some depth what is needed to make Bible translations clear, natural, accurate and acceptable to local language communities.

A previous participant says,

“I can’t tell you how important the weekend has been to me, and how it gave an impulse in finding out what our God has in mind for me and my wife and sons.”

Book now!

If this isn’t the right thing for you right  now, why not share it with someone who would find it challenging and helpful?

Streams of water in an arid land

September 19th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

The far north of Kenya, near the border with Ethiopia is the homeland of the Daasanach people. They live in a dry and arid part of the world, remote and difficult to reach. Yet they are not beyond the reach of the love of God; on 20th September 2014 the Daasanach New Testament will be launched.

Janet Sweet (Typesetter) with the New Testament in Daasanach

Janet Sweet (typesetter) with the New Testament in Daasanach

The celebration will be held in Ileret, which is a challenging place to get to. At some points the roads become ‘suggestions’. Using public transport, it can take between three days and a week to make the journey between Ileret and Nairobi! That’s why Bible Translation and Literacy* (BTL) is chartering planes and sturdy vehicles from other mission agencies to allow 100 guests to travel from Nairobi. Another 100 plan to travel down from Ethiopia and about 600 locals are expected to attend too.

The team chose the unusual combination of blue page edging and a sandy brown cover for the New Testaments to represent precious streams of life-giving water in the arid landscape of northern Kenya. Please join us in praying that God’s living water will transform many lives.

  • Praise God that the lorry carrying the New Testaments and some supplies for the celebration has arrived at Ileret despite encountering some problems en route.
  • Praise God that even those who live in isolated places are not isolated from God’s love. Pray that many will encounter his love through the newly launched New Testament.
  • Pray for all the final preparations for the celebration. Due to the remote location it may be challenging to have everything ready on time.
  • Those who will be flying there on the day will fly from Nairobi. Please pray the transport logistics will run smoothly so that that guests can get there and back within permitted flying hours.  Pilots’ flying hours are restricted for safety reasons.

*Bible Translation and Literacy is the national bible translation organisation in Kenya.

Find out more about the Daasanach project.

Find out how to pray for communities with the New Testament by downloading our free prayer pack.