Teaching through Stories

January 26th, 2015 by Nick Brier

Stories have the amazing ability to take us on a great adventure to make us laugh, make us cry and enrich our thoughts and conversations. They are also some of the most effective ways of teaching. Jesus often used stories to speak to the people around him through parables.

Nanai dancers

For a large proportion of people in the world, oral communication is their primary and sometimes only way of sharing their history and teachings. They pass these accounts and tales down from generation to generation. Often, it is far easier for them to engage with Scripture and understand it when they can hear the message.

In 2013, whilst in a meeting about Siberia, God spoke to three men about ‘feeding’ communities by using stories.  Then in July 2014, teams were commissioned and sent to four communities in Eastern Siberia with the goal of translating stories from the Bible. Anton was part of the team that visited the Nanai people. Here’s a short extract from Anton’s story about his experience:

During our visit to one village, we met two Nanai women, who invited us to tell them about God. We had blessed discussions and prayers. But there was one interesting detail, which touched me very much and showed the importance of the particular kind of work we are doing. When we were talking about God’s Word, I asked one of the women, “Do you ever read the Bible?”

“Yes,” she said, “I tried to read the Russian Synodal Bible, but I didn’t understand anything.”

Of course, my next question was, “Have you read the Nanai Gospel of Luke?” and I was ready to get the classic Wycliffe example of how reading in the language of the heart makes such a great difference. But I was really surprised to get the answer, “Yes, I tried, but it was even more difficult than reading the Russian Bible! I wasn’t even able to finish the chapter.”

Amazing! What had gone wrong? She explained: “The situation is that we never use the Nanai language for reading; it’s an oral language. Of course, if I had audio recordings with Bible stories in Nanai, I would listen to them with pleasure!

When we told her that the main purpose of our project is to produce such audio stories, she was very happy, and said that she desired to have these stories very much. She would share them with all her friends.

You can read more from the team members in the full article at wycliffe.net.

Enabling communities to learn and engage with Scripture is vitally important.  Recording audio versions of Bible stories is one of the ways this is achieved. Find out more about Scripture engagement and how you can help.

PS Why not share this story with someone you know using the Share or Twitter buttons below?

When the spoken word is more powerful

January 23rd, 2015 by Jo Johnson

Nearly 70% of people in the world are from oral cultures. Even when they can read and write they often prefer to learn through oral means. This means, for Bible translation, that we must find appropriate non-print formats in which to present God’s word.

A packed audience for a showing of the Bambalang Luke film.

A packed audience for a showing of the Bambalang Luke film.

One way is through the Luke film, a video version of Luke’s gospel similar to the Jesus Film. For just over a year the Bambalang translation team in Cameroon have been showing the Luke Film. It’s in great demand and in spite of it being four hours long people will watch it in its entirety, often standing the whole time. Sometimes the pastors show two hours one night, two the next. People are not happy that they have to wait, but they return and many others join them the second night.

Pastor Pius, one of the Bambalang translation team, tells of one showing:

‘..many followers of another religion came there including one of their leaders, who brought his own seat. One of the teachers in the Arabic school, Mr. A., said “Truly, you have shown that God is the God of Bambalang people speaking their language…. Many people will turn to God in Bambalang.”’

David Chufonmui of the Bamunka Translation team has been helping to show the Luke film. He shares about the enthusiasm which is shown by those who see it:

‘In one place, an older man who is a strong follower of traditional religion, sat captivated and urged the young people around him to be quiet and listen. But after a while he did not need to, as the level of interest was such that the whole gathering naturally became silent.

In another place, rain fell and the film had to be shown indoors. The place became so packed that no-one could enter so two boys climbed the wall of the house and removed mud blocks from the top, squeezing through between the roof and the wall and dropping down inside to get a view of the film!’

Thank God for the impact that the Luke Film is having in Cameroon and pray:

  • For good follow-up by churches for those who decide to follow Christ as a result of the showings.
  • For the interest to be carried across to an interest in the written Scriptures and thus having an impact on listening groups and Bible studies.
  • For resources to be available for the Luke film to be dubbed in the five other languages where translation is ongoing as soon as the text is approved.

Find out other ways non-print versions of Scripture are impacting Cameroonian communities.

The Impact of Prayer

January 19th, 2015 by Nick Brier

It’s not always easy to see how God is using our prayers and things can get increasingly discouraging when the results are not immediate or apparent. But prayer is having a conversation with our creator, and he is listening!

Here is a fantastic video which shares the story of two communities who were both impacted by people who continued to faithfully and persistently pray for them, despite not knowing if their prayers were having any effect.

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Prayer is an important part of the work we do here at Wycliffe, find out how you and others can be involved.

Not too remote

January 16th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

A recent letter from a colleague in Tanzania reads, ‘Pray we would be able to secure funding to start the translation of the Kisi, Manda and Pangwa New Testaments.’  Wondering what had provoked this request, I decided to investigate.

Pangwa Team membersI discovered that whilst translation work has been happening in Mbeya in several related languages since 2003 using a cluster approach* Kisi and Pangwa have not been developed nor had any Scripture published. Manda did have a translation published in 1937 but it is no longer available or adequate for the needs of the community, since the language has changed so much since then.

The need for translation in Kisi, Manda and Pangwa has been clear since sociolinguistic surveys were done in 2002, but the communities are remote and too far from Mbeya where workshops for ten other languages were being held. It simply wasn’t possible for the Kisi, Manda and Pangwa languages to be part of that cluster project.

The good news is that from 2012 workshops have been held for these 3 languages to help them develop a writing system. The district capital, Ludewa, was used as the hub for these workshops. This has worked to an extent, but the Manda, and particularly the Kisi, find travel to Ludewa a challenge, as there are no direct roads from the lake shore up the steep escarpment to Ludewa town. While some Kisi and Manda have made the 8-hour walk up the mountains for workshops, it has become clear that Ludewa is not a viable centre for a language development project involving the Kisi and Manda.

The work that has been done is appreciated by the Kisi. Language development has demonstrated to them that their community and language are valued by the outside world:

‘We don’t have any roads or phone network, and the only motor vehicles we have are boats, but to see these Kisi calendars makes us so happy that our language is being developed!’

However without committed funding, personnel with translation expertise, and creative solutions to the geographical issues faced by these projects, they cannot move forward and start translation.

Please pray:

  • That funding applications will be successful and that God will provide all the necessary finances needed to start translation in these 3 languages.
  • For planning meetings in February that God will give wisdom and guidance in planning for translation to start in these projects
  • For the right personnel to become available to serve the communities as translation advisors and consultants

Find out in this 3 minute video the Big Things God is doing in Bible translation in Tanzania.

*A language cluster refers to languages that may be linguistically related, and/or from similar geographic regions or cultural backgrounds. Speakers of these languages work together, sharing expertise, training and resources, to develop their languages and work on translation into each language.

Something New with Instruments of Old

January 12th, 2015 by Nick Brier

In 1940 a number of people of the Mono-speaking community in the village of Bili gave their lives to Christ. But when the visiting evangelist had called the people to Christ, unfortunately they were also told to ‘put away their old life’, which they understood to include all their traditional instruments.

With this, they made a decision to leave behind a part of their voice. How could they now authentically express their worship to their Saviour and Creator? They sang to God in unfamiliar languages and danced in unfamiliar styles, until inside of church looked very different from their cultural expression outside it.

Years later, the Schrag family arrived, and they encouraged the local church to explore what the Bible had to say about culture and God’s plan to redeem it all. As a result of this process, the church leaders decided to reinstate traditional instruments for worship.  The results?

I remember the first time I sang with them in a church service, a song about God reaching to earth and creating man and woman, and it was unusually silent, which made me nervous. Had we somehow made people think we were singing about Zugwa the god of the forest? So afterward I asked a friend why everyone was so quiet and he said, “What could we do? It cut our hearts.”

Today, in all of the Mono churches, we see a radical change in how Christians live, because God’s message communicated through kundi songs directly touches their hearts. Many declare by their actions that the Spirit has used this to bring them back to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.” – Reverend Gaspard Yalemoto

Read Brian Schrag’s story.

Translating Bibles is only part of Wycliffe’s goal. After a translation has been completed it’s just as important to enable them to grasp Scripture and apply it to their lives, both individually and in the life of the church. As shown in this amazing example, song is just one of the ways this is achieved. As Reverend Yalemoto said, the Kundi songs directly touched the peoples hearts and brought many to realign their focus.

Find out more about Scripture Use and how you can be involved, whether through prayer, support or by going.

The elephant in the room

January 9th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

Over the Christmas break we’ve received lots of Christmas newsletters from Wycliffe members working around the globe. Many are filled with wonderful stories of how God is using these individuals, filling our hearts with praise and thanksgiving. However, for some, slipped in, almost apologetically at the end, there is a mention of that awkward subject – money.

Most of those who work with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK are not salaried, whether they live at home or work overseas. Their financial needs are met by churches and individuals who choose to support them. Over and over again we have seen the incredible faithfulness of God and the generosity of his people providing for members’ needs. But that doesn’t make it any easier to ask for financial help when the need arises.

A woman gives for the missions offering at her churchThere are many reasons why Wycliffe members may need to increase their financial support. Some are heading overseas for the first time and have to start raising support from scratch – prayer and practical support as well as financial. Others have growing families or live in countries with unstable economies where costs suddenly sky-rocket.

For those who are making an impact worldwide while based in the UK, the cost of living may be higher than when they were living overseas. And those who have been supported this way for a long while can find supporters’ circumstances change: retirement, redundancy etc. can mean mean that financial support tails off over the course of time.

We praise God that very few of our members currently need ‘top-up’ funds. Many more however are not fully funded and are feeling the pinch.

Please pray for:

  • Those who have recently finished their initial training and are raising financial support for the first time; that God would provide a fantastic team of supporters who’ll pray and give over a significant period of time.
  • Pray for the few whose support has dipped significantly and are receiving ‘top-up’ funds that God would help them connect with new supporters and provide for their needs.
  • For others who are feeling worn down by an ongoing sense of being short of support. Pray for encouragement, provision and the faith to look to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe for all their needs.

As one of our colleagues puts it in one of the Christmas newsletters: ‘Please pray that our support would remain solid and would increase in 2015.’

Give online at www.wycliffe.org.uk/support or find out other ways you can give .

Keep the Word of God near you

January 7th, 2015 by Ruth

The Pope’s Angelus address (given at the mass celebrated on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, 6 January) turns us once more to Jesus and to the Scriptures which point to him.  He called believers everywhere to cherish God’s word and keep it near every day of our lives:

“The Magi’s experience evokes the journey of every man to Christ. As it was for the Magi, so for us to seek God means to walk, fixing our gaze on heaven and seeing in the visible sign of the star the invisible God who speaks to our heart. The star that is able to guide every man to Jesus is the Word of God: it is the light that directs our path, nourishes our faith and regenerates it. It is the Word of God, which constantly renews our hearts and our communities. Therefore, we must not forget to read it and meditate it every day, so that it becomes for each one of us a flame that we carry within us to guide our steps and also those of one who walks beside us, who perhaps finds it hard to find the way to Christ.” (read full speech here)

The Scriptures, when in a language we understand, are precious and powerful to lead us to the God who gave them, yet millions worldwide still do not have access to them.  Why? It’s not just because illiteracy bars the way, but because the Scriptures do not even exist in their mother tongue. Of nearly 7,000 languages worldwide, only 530 or so have the complete Bible.

It is for this reason that Wycliffe Bible Translators and thousands of individuals and partners worldwide continue to work together.  Our vision is that all people will have access to God’s word – the star that leads us to Jesus –  in a language that they truly understand. Through Bible translation, we too have seen hearts renewed and communities revived as God’s word becomes available in the mother tongue.  Would you like to join us?  Find out how you can be involved.

First Steps 2015 – Finding your place in God’s mission

January 5th, 2015 by Nick Brier

We’ve celebrated the birth of Jesus, the turkey has been eaten, presents unwrapped, fireworks watched and resolutions made. Now we’re in 2015, what are your plans for the year ahead?

We’re already planning our First Steps events which provide a great opportunity for you to explore the world of Bible translation and find out how God is using people with a wide range of skills to fulfil His mission.

The first event to kick off the year is set to take place on 14 February in Central London –  you can register online now. If you can’t make this event, don’t worry, we have plenty more First Steps events taking place. Have a look at our schedule for more information.

Whatever your skills or passion, from working with media and IT to teaching people to read and write or grasp Scripture, explore how you can be involved – whether through prayer, supporting others or by going!

We would love to see you there.

It’s a team effort

January 2nd, 2015 by Jo Johnson

I recently read the story of Israel’s defeat of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). Joshua led the Israelites into battle while Moses took Aaron and Hur to the top of a hill overlooking the battle field and there they prayed:

‘As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.’

DSC08576FSo who was the key member of the team? Each person was critical to the victory that God gave that day; no one person was more or less important than another, it was truly a team effort.

I read this story on the morning of one of our recent Frontline Prayer Live events and it struck me that this was exactly what we were about to do. We would be praying for spiritual victory for the many workers around the world involved in translation and that is as critical to Bible translation as those translating or facilitating in another way.

It’s not just true of prayer events though. The following story illustrates how people praying gave victory over specific spiritual attack:

‘In September I did a final consultant check by Skype on Nyaboa Ruth, Jonah, Esther, Nehemiah and Ezra. Although one can expect certain problems in the [internet] connection with Abidjan, that particular week the connection was far more difficult than usual – truly a spiritual attack. As people prayed, and especially when they prayed at the time we expected to go online, the Skype connection came up and was clear, allowing us to hear each other properly and progress well with the work. Praise God, especially as more Skype sessions are likely to take place in the coming months.’

As we re-evaluate our priorities and make New Year’s resolutions I challenge you to commit to praying for Bible translation this year. Your involvement is as vital as any of the work that is being done around the world.

His faithful love endures forever

December 26th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.’I Chronicles 16:34 NLT

In God is Good we shared 6 ways that God had demonstrated to us his faithful love through answering prayer this year. Here are some more ways that demonstrate God’s goodness and for which we say ‘Give thanks to the Lord‘.

In September we prayed for the celebration of the New Testament in Daasanach in Kenya, one person who attended wrote this:

Daasanach Dedication‘Several things marked this launch out as extra special. One was being able to clearly see the strength of the Christians and their desire to know God’s word better. Another was the sight of a local pastor giving the sermon at the event in his full traditional dress with clay and feather hair decoration with a cross painted on the back of it. And it was extremely encouraging to hear the two bishops (from different denominations) promising to promote the Daasanach New Testament in all their churches.’

At the other end of the spectrum, in May we shared that translation has begun in Karon in Senegal. The team has been translating Luke. This Christmas Karon speakers will be able to listen and read the Christmas story in their own language as the songs and text of Luke 1:5 – 2:40 have been recorded and duplicated onto digital memory cards.

We rejoiced that despite all the challenges in the troubled nation of the Central African Republic (CAR) there is a backlog of drafted scripture that needs checking. It’s exciting to hear that checking sessions took place in September and November; part or all of 6 books in several different languages were checked.

In September we asked you to pray for workshops to be held through September, October and November with people who have suffered great trauma in CAR. Some of the participants of a workshop in CAR shared how they had been impacted:

‘This seminar has helped me be freed from my fear that was caused by the violence I experienced at the hands of the soldiers. It has also helped reinforce my confidence that God is hearing me.’ Francis

‘Because of this workshop, finally my wife and I have started sleeping deeply at night.’ Elvis

‘First, I have been healed of my own inner hurts. Now I feel very strongly that I have a special capacity to help others and I really want them to receive healing too.’ Mathurin

Rejoice that God is good and his faithful love endures forever.

Read more about the Trauma Healing in CAR.