Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Dreaming Dreams

Monday, November 24th, 2014

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young will see visions.” Joel 2:28 NIV

As a young boy, throughout his childhood, Anton was often woken in the night by a bright light which would then be followed by a recurring dream. These dreams eventually led him to God. Anton now plays a key role as a narrator in the Bible translation storytelling project. This is an amazing story of how God works in unexpected ways in bringing people to know him and how he is working within the community of the San*.

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We all have a part to play in our lives, find out how you can get involved with the work of Wycliffe.

*the San – made up of 9 people groups who live in Namibia and Botswana in the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa.

Video produced by The Seed Company

What’s in a name?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Living and working cross-culturally involves a huge amount of adjustment, giving up your own norms and familiarity for what is normal and familiar to those in your host country.  Rachel writes in her blog about how even her name got lost in translation.

A bracelet with lettered beads“Why is your name Rashid? You aren’t a man. Are you a man?”

Eventually I got tired of explaining that I was, indeed, a woman, despite all nomenclature to the contrary. Someone suggested I needed a Somali name and I took the first one they offered, Lula. It means diamond, or light.

In all other cases in Djibouti, my name is Rachel. It isn’t always easy for people to say and they forget it easily. I don’t mind, I forget theirs, too. Sometimes it does sound like Rashid. Sometimes it sounds like the French name Rachelle. That’s fine, too. Its my name, however it sounds on someone else’s lips and I appreciate their effort in trying it, appreciate my freedom to hold on to at least my name when I seem to have let so much else go in this expatriate life.

I feel like telling someone your name is giving them a gift. I’m saying I don’t care how you pronounce it but this is me. My name along with all the other foreign and strange things about me are what you get when we develop a relationship. I’m saying, let’s explore those differences and learn from each other, even as we learn how to say each other’s names.

She goes on to share an alternative perspective from an American woman,

[who] used to engage with Chinese students in the United States and struggled to pronounce their names, to remember their names, to remember who went with which name. They would go back and forth, battling through tones and consonant combinations, and she would still slaughter their name.

She said that when one of them would say, “Please call me David,” she felt an immense relief, sorry that she couldn’t master their original name, but thankful that they could now move beyond her embarrassing attempts and into a relationship. She knew full well what they were giving up and wished they didn’t have to. But, honestly, felt thankful. (Read full post.)

These experiences put a very human perspective on what it can feel like for the millions of people without God’s word in their language as they try to get to know God for themselves.  Without God’s word – or even name – in their language, so many think they need to talk to him in another language, or struggle to pronounce unfamiliar sounds to call on his name.  Imagine their relief when they discover God is happy for them to use his local name and for them to converse in the local language.

He is known by the names Isa, Jisas, Jesu, Jezu, Jisasɨ, Yesus, Sisa and Azezi to mention just a few.  As one who ‘became flesh and took up residence among us’, (John 1.14) he still wants to break down the communication barriers and come into relationship with people of all nations, languages and cultures.

Drums, Dancing and Scripture

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Picture not being able read or understand Scripture, constantly struggling to grasp what is written. Now imagine the elation and joy of finally reading it in your own language, finally having it presented in a way that makes sense!  This is a glimpse of the excitement felt by people all over the world who have God’s word presented to them in their own language for the first time. Scripture dedications are an exhilarating and joyous time.

The article: God Speaks in African Sign Languages shares the moment when the Deaf translation teams from several African countries, teams made up of colleagues who have lived and worked together for years, come together for their Scripture dedication celebrations.

‘Guests from around the world gathered as the celebrations began. The teams were introduced and came to the front of the room to the beat of the drums.’
Praise God that his word is being made available and that people are able to worship him in their heart language. However, there is still plenty more work to do. The latest statistics show that as of October 1st 2014, around 180 million people speaking at least 1,860 languages still need the Bible.
Find out how you can help.

Praying on the Frontline

Friday, October 31st, 2014

8 November 2014 is a day to stand together in prayer with teams involved in Bible translation and with those who still don’t have the Bible in a language they understand. It’s the day when we are holding Frontline Prayer Live in Princes Risborough and Edinburgh.

Hear about everyday heroes of Bible translation who are translating the Bible in very difficult situations and make a difference by praying. This video is just a taster of what you will see and pray about on the day.

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Find out more about Frontline Prayer Live in Princes Risborough and Edinburgh on 8th November or Iver on 22nd November.

Can’t make it on the day?You can download all the modules to use with your church or small group.

Communicating the vision

Friday, October 24th, 2014

God gives us a vision, an idea, a dream of how he wants us to be part of his plan for this world. However, often we cannot achieve that vision on our own: we need a support team, to finance, to pray and to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty with us.

Ngangulu team with audio player loaded with passages from Genesis

Ngangulu team with audio player loaded with passages from Genesis

There are five translation teams working in Brazzaville (the capital city of the Republic of Congo) that have just started translating the Bible. Over the coming weeks, they are making their first trips to their language areas to test the work they’ve done so far. First reports are very exciting:

‘The Mbochi team said that people were very surprised and excited to hear God’s Word in their language – they said “Is it possible that the Bible is in Mbochi?” and “This is real Mbochi, with no French mixed into it”. They were able to travel to several different villages and they were very encouraged personally to find that the people are open and excited about what they are doing and want to hear God’s word in their language.’

The big challenge for these teams is that they are all based in the capital city, Brazzaville, but they want the work to be accepted in the regions where they come from. So please pray for creativity in finding ways to connect with their language areas so that people there will feel like it’s happening for them, even though it’s not happening in their regions. It seems like the initial response is very positive, but the question now is how to follow up on that enthusiasm. Some people were disappointed that the translators went to visit and show them things but then left without leaving them anything behind. Next time they go, they want to have some written and recorded materials ready to leave behind.

  • Please pray that the translators would continue to communicate the vision God has given them for translation clearly.
  • Pray that people in their language areas will really be touched by hearing God’s word in their own language, and for the churches in these areas to catch the vision of using the translated Scriptures so that it will touch and transform people’s lives.
  • Pray that interest and enthusiasm will not wane, because the process of translation is a long one.

Find out How to pray for people who need mother-tongue Scripture.

Made from concentrate

Friday, October 10th, 2014

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.

Cookies, caches and cows

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

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

Friday, September 26th, 2014

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

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

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)

Streams of water in an arid land

Friday, September 19th, 2014

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.