Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

How to make a little go a long way

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Chris and Marina are working in Senegal with the Manjak community. Their work is incredibly important for Bible translation, as this video from Wycliffe USA shows, but they aren’t Bible translators – that work is done by Manjak people. So what do Chris and Marina contribute?

Chris and Marina are literacy specialists, working with Wycliffe’s linguistic partners SIL International. Watch the video to see how their work helps a little Scripture go a long way:

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The Power of Bible Translation and Literacy from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

‘It wasn’t as if I wanted to translate the Bible into Manjak. It was that I needed to translate the Bible into Manjak. God’s word is something of greatness, and it’s for all the Manjak people. If the word of God was translated and nobody was able to read, that would make me very, very sad.’ Pierre Nassadiou, Manjak Bible translator

Working with local communities to develop literacy programmes allows many people to access God’s word for themselves for the first time. It also opens up doors to education, health information and legal rights in communities that have been denied these in the past.

If it’s something you feel passionate about, find out more about literacy roles in Wycliffe and the literacy work SIL does.

One for the language lovers!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Translation – and especially translating something as important as the Bible – is never straightforward, but you might be surprised by the words that have been challenging the Bena team in Tanzania. Researching how words are used in context is essential as Elizabeth, their translation advisor, illustrates…

tanzaniaGive me justice

One challenging section was the persistent widow story. The Bena have no word for ‘justice’. There was a loan word from the national language Swahili (‘ihaki’) in the text, which the Bena replaced as they know the reviewers won’t accept loan words. We tweaked this verse with the words in bold and came up with

‘…neke kangi pakuva umufwile uyu akufwahidza mbandu, lino ndikumutanga ukupata fye ivagila, ukuta atane ukundaasa mbepali!’

which roughly translates as ‘…but because this widow is really bothering me, now I will help her get as she deserves, so that she won’t bother me again!’ (Luke 18:5) This was the best we could do with ‘justice’.

Sabbath rest

The Bena word for Sabbath is ‘Nyuwabaaha’ which means a day of rest but could refer to any day of the week, not necessarily Saturday.

Heal me

There are currently two dialectal variations of the verb ‘to heal’ in the text – ‘kuhooswa’ and ‘kunaniya’ – but one word throughout which everyone understands would be the best.

Pray for the Bena team: the consultant will be checking the last section of Luke very soon.

Getting words like this right is incredibly important if a translation is going to communicate clearly and accurately, and be well used. If examples like this get you eager to support translation, find out more about how you could be involved.

‘We can’t get the staff!’

Friday, April 4th, 2014

In Africa there are 776 languages which still need Bible translation work to begin. Over 300 of those languages are in Nigeria alone. The task is enormous and, although several different agencies in Nigeria are rising to the challenge, the quantity of work seems overwhelming.

One of these agencies, the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN), offers degree programmes that are designed to prepare Nigerians for cross-cultural missions in the development of Bible translation and literacy work in local languages. The department exists to train those who have the heart and calling to make God’s word available to the Bibleless peoples of Nigeria.

A recent update from staff at the college reports  some of the challenges they are facing:

Translation Department at TCNN

Translation Department at TCNN

One of the pressing needs for the Bible translation department is for more staff. At this point we are short of three PhD teaching staff out of six. For the department to function well we need to have more staff for the next academic year.

We are waiting to hear the decision of one couple who God may be leading to join us. Our desire is to see an increase in the number of Nigerian teaching staff, for a long-term sustainable programme that is the only way forward. So join us in praying for God to raise up Nigerian staff for this task and ask him to help us recognise those that are currently studying in the department who God may be preparing to come and teach her in the future.’

  • Praise God for the Nigerians who are being trained through the Bible translation department at TCNN.
  • Please pray for the tranlsation department teaching team, that they would know God’s grace and strength while they are so short-staffed and that God would provide the new members of staff the department needs.
  • Pray for wisdom for those considering joining the team as well as for the current team in identifying potential future members of staff.

Find out about agencies, including TCNN, involved in Bible translation in Nigeria.

Why learn to read Manjak?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

In Senegal and much of the west of Africa, the official language is French. French is what you learn at school, the language of official documents and what the news on the main TV stations is read in. So if everyone wants to speak French, why worry about teaching Manjak speakers to read their own language?

This was the question that a lot of Manjak speakers had when linguistic specialists started helping to plan literacy work among the adults and mother-tongue lessons at school for the children. In the video below from Wycliffe USA, some of those who’ve been part of the literacy programme, including UK Wycliffe members Chris and Marina Darby, speak about why learning Manjak is worth it:

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Marina says she keeps speaking to people who, explaining why they want to learn to read Manjak, say, ‘It’s our language!’ and that one woman explained that it’s like seeing by her own lamp now.Literacy helps members of minority language communities embrace and use their language, learn other languages more easily and have access to a wealth more information. It’s a crucial part of the Bible translation ministry. Find out what you could do to be involved.

God is so wonderful and great

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Half the 12 languages in the Adamawa Cluster* of Nigeria have met their initial goals: Luke’s Gospel has been published, the Reading and Writing literacy book is either in print or going to press and the JESUS Film has been recorded with launches completed or scheduled. The other six projects are also making great progress.

We are delighted that these projects, supported from the UK as First Gospel, have reached this milestone but even more exciting is that already the newly-launched Scriptures are already impacting lives and communities. Yungur team member Pastor John said:

People gathered at the Lala Launch of Luke

People gathered at the Lala Launch of Luke

‘God is so wonderful and great, because many who were unbelievers are now believers through this Bible translation work. ‘

After the premier showing of the Yungur JESUS Film in the evening after the launch of Luke’s gospel, over a hundred people, including children, came forward to give their lives to Christ. About half of these turned up the next morning for follow-up instruction.

The Ga’anda team reports:

‘The translation work is having a positive effect on the lives of the translators, language committee members and the entire Ga’anda population.’

The Lala team reports that their youth are singing worship songs in the language and many have repented and become Christians.

Please join us in praising God for all the ways that he has enabled these projects to reach their initial goals. Thank God that these first six projects in the cluster are now transitioning to full New Testament translation projects. Praise God for each person who has found salvation through hearing the good news in their mother tongue and pray that they will continue to grow in their new faith.

Find out how you can pray for a First Gospel project.

*This cluster is a strategic network of related language teams translating Luke and the JESUS Film script.


Words for Life: out now

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The latest Words for Life, Wycliffe’s UK magazine, is out now. It’s hitting doormats, landing on tables at the back of churches and flying into cyberspace onto our website. We’ve packed it full of stories about how God’s word is changing lives as it is translated into people’s own languages. For example…

WFLThis was the reaction when partners from another organisation helped to ‘field test’ a draft translation of Luke into an African language: ‘This is the first time I’ve ever read anything in my language. My heart is on fire. I love this!’

Another man (not a Christian) was asked to read another portion and then to explain what the text said. He did so, summarising with, ‘And the boy was healed in front of everyone,’ and adding, ‘Jesus has all the power.’

What an impact God’s word has! And these quotes come from just one of the little snippet stories – there’s so much more to inspire you in the rest of the magazine. Flick through it on the website or download it here.

It’s also packed full of prayer information. To receive the prayer items as a weekly bulletin, sign up to Seven Days of Prayer here.

You wrote the book that taught us this

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Becoming literate can have a much greater impact on ordinary people’s lives than simply being able to read the newly translated Scripture, as this story from Ghana shows:

Matthew (right) with literacy books behind him

Matthew (right) with literacy books behind him

‘Towards the end of 2013 Hanga literacy worker Matthew Mprah was on his literacy team motorbike taking a cross-country track. A farmer ran out onto the track to flag him down. He said that he and his brother were working on their farm when the brother accidentally cut his leg while using his cutlass and that Matthew should come and help.

Matthew went with him and found that the injured man was lying on his back with leaves tied around the  wound and with the leg raised, supported by a stick. Matthew asked, “How did you know to tie leaves around the wound and to raise the leg to reduce bleeding?” The man replied “What! Are you not the people who wrote the book that taught us this?” The Hanga literacy book of extracts from Where there is no doctor was published in 1987 and re-published in 1996. These men have never been to school, but one of them remembered what that book, written in Hanga, had taught them.’

  • Praise God for the impact that literacy has had on the lives of many who have not had the opportunity for a formal education.
  • Praise God classes have been so successful that more of each of the Hanga reading primers are needed as well as further copies of the training book for school teachers.  Please pray that God will provide all the necessary funds for these books and to bring the teachers together for training.
  • Deforestation is a problem in the Hanga area of Ghana. Pray for a new booklet that is ready for distribution to promote planting fruit trees to help combat this problem.

Find out more about the impact of literacy and Bible translation in Ghana.

‘I’m not going alone!’

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Clare is one of the latest people to sign up with Wycliffe in the UK to serve Bibleless people around the world. After training, now she’s off to Senegal. We asked her about what’s waiting for her in West Africa and how she’s feeling about all the changes…

clare-orrAs I write, it is just over a week until I leave for Senegal to begin a literacy assignment with SIL [Wycliffe's linguistic partner overseas]. I completed my initial training at Redcliffe College in December and can’t wait to put some of what I learnt into action. I greatly enjoyed my time at Redcliffe; there was a real sense of community among the students, who come from all over the world and hope to serve God in many different countries.

Once in Senegal, I will spend the first few months in Dakar, getting stuck in to learning the culture and the language. I love language learning and especially learning about life in other cultures, so I’m looking forward to this part, especially as I know it will also be preparing me for what’s next.

A literacy class in DR Congo. Photo: Heather Pubols.

A literacy class in DR Congo. Photo: Heather Pubols.

During my time in Dakar, we will figure out where the best assignment for me will be. With a national literacy rate of only 40%, there is plenty of literacy work to be done in Senegal. SIL help to provide adult literacy classes as well as assisting with the provision of mother-tongue education in primary schools, before pupils make a transition to being taught in French. These are two key areas and I am looking forward to finding out where I fit into this!

Of course, as my date for leaving gets closer, nerves are setting in too, about whether I’ll settle in, whether I’ll be able to learn the language or cope with the weather and how much I’ll miss home. However, I go confident in the knowledge that I’m not doing this alone – it has been such an encouragement to see how God has led me here and has brought people together to partner with me. I am going to Senegal along with God and all my partners back home and am thankful to God for this assurance.

In Senegal, West Africa and the rest of the world, there are big needs for people who can help others to learn to read and write, giving them access to education, healthcare and the powerful and life-changing words of the Bible. What could you do?

The heat is on

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Last year we prayed for the Logo team in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who are in the final editing stage and close to finishing the New Testament translation, are making revisions in preparation for publication. A recent update from the team stresses their need for continued prayer as the spiritual battle intensifies.

The Logo team: Adara and Hélène, Madrakele, Francine and kids, Aguma and Andiru.

The Logo team: Adara and Hélène, Madrakele, Francine and kids, Aguma and Andiru.

‘Many have been waiting to hear that we have finished the Logo New Testament manuscript. Actually, we’re still in the final and most intensive stage of the battle, and we need your prayers more than ever. We’re making good progress every day in the final editing step and the quality is increasing. But, we still have about 15% of the New Testament to finish editing, and about 50% of the book introductions, glossary and other supplementary materials… We’ve also suffered unexpected hardships lately including serious illnesses among all the team member’s families.

‘We feel it’s right to extend the manuscript completion date to the end of July (instead of April). Doug Wright (translation consultant) is planning an extended trip in June-July to work with the Logo team to finalise the manuscript. Then he will work with a colleague at JAARS* to do the typesetting, and hopefully the Logo New Testament will be sent off for printing before the end of the year.

Praises and most pressing prayer needs:

  • Praise God for enabling the team to complete 85% of the manuscript editing, significantly increasing the quality so the his word will be sharp and powerful for transforming the lives of 400,000 Logo speakers.
  • Pray for God to continue to pour out his Spirit, protection and strength on all the Logo team members and their families. Pray for healing for all in the project who are sick, especially for Neema who has been in hospital with undiagnosed stomach problems for two months, and Surube, an infant, who has suffered with frequent vomiting for months.
  • In March a meeting of Logo church and community leaders in March is planned for a final read-through of much of the New Testament and to give high-quality feedback.’

See the original blog The final stretch.

*JAARS, a partner organisation, practically supports Bible translation.

Preparing for the publisher

Friday, February 14th, 2014

There are many stages in the process of translating the Bible. Towards the end, the manuscript is made ready to go to the printers, this process is known as typesetting. This can be a complicated task and we are excited that one typesetter, John in Ghana, has a lot of work coming his way:

1167eR 0102 Woman reading Bible‘On 22nd November one of the teams signed a paper saying that they would make no more changes to the manuscript of their Bible, and the typesetter was free to complete the work, and send it off for printing.

‘This was the first in a line of Bibles for the typesetter, John. We hope that before next Christmas (2014) the Deg and Vagla teams will also pass this milestone. At least three other languages are in the line-up for John. We hope that Bibles in at least six different languages will reach their target audience in the next couple of years. Praise God for his enabling for all the teams who have reached this stage, and for others also well on the way.’

Please pray for those involved in the typesetting process, especially John:

  • Pray for health, strength and safety especially as teams travel.
  • Ask God for protection, especially freedom from family problems.
  • Please pray for accuracy in making final corrections and that any technical hitches will be resolved easily.
  • Finally ask God to provide all necessary funding for the printing and good solutions to unforeseen problems, such as the logistics of transport and storage for the many thousands of Bible we are expecting to receive and then distribute.

The Wycliffe Global Alliance website explains the importance of typesetting.