Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

When the spoken word is more powerful

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

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.

Not too remote

Friday, January 16th, 2015

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

Monday, January 12th, 2015

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.

It’s a team effort

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

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

Friday, December 26th, 2014

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.

Trauma healing at Christmas

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK love to share stories about what God is doing through Bible Translation. In this months e-newsletter, we shared this story of a family in Central Africa Republic who narrowly escaped devastation, thanks to a Trauma Healing workshop they attended.

Trauma Healing at ChristmasFrom the Central African Republic

On Christmas Day last year, a family in the Central African Republic had to flee from their home.

Having attended a Trauma Healing workshop run by Wycliffe Bible Translators’ key partner SIL, they were prepared. Every member of the family had a backpack packed with all the things that are really important. Their identification documents, some food and other precious items.

They crawled out of their home, under the gunfire, to the nearest church that had been marked out as a place of safety and spent the rest of the night there.

Early the next morning when things had gone quiet, they made their way back home. There they found their neighbours lying on the road, having been killed during the night.

If you thought that Bible translation was only about giving Bibles to people in their heart language you’d be wrong. It is that and it’s so much more. It’s about sharing the light of Jesus Christ with a community so that they may enjoy life to the full in him.

Trauma Healing is just one of the many ways in which the translated Bible may restore life to a community. Whether through helping to heal the hurts of the past, or preparing for future trouble, Wycliffe and our colleagues are able to share the love of Jesus in a practical way.

If you would like to find out more about Trauma Healing and how Bible translation is impacting communities, the latest edition of Words for Life (viewable online) contains an article on page 30 that explains more.

Sign up to receive our bi-monthly e-newsletter – a great way to keep up to date with the very latest news from the world of Bible translation.

God is good

Friday, December 19th, 2014

As we approach Christmas and celebrate what God has done for us in sending his son to live on earth and die for us, let’s also take time to pause and consider how God has acted for us this year. Of course, we have many things to praise God for, but here are just some of the things that he has done. Rejoice with us!

IMG_0786.jpg Bassar Bible is hereIn both February and September we focused on the challenges faced by the team working on preparing the Bassar Bible for printing (also called Ntcham). Here is a picture of translator Samuel Kpagheri holding the newly printed Bassar Bible, he says:

‘I have seen the first bound copies of the Bassar Bible! Tears of joy flowed on my cheeks.’

In February, June and September we asked you to pray for the Logo team of the Democratic Republic of Congo as they made final correction to the New Testament. The New Testament is in the final stages of typesetting before being sent to print.

In December 2013 the Executive Director Eddie Arthur announced his resignation and the process of finding his replacement began. In both January and again in April we asked you to pray for the search for a new director. In June we were excited to announce James Poole‘s appointment. James began work in September and is settling in well.

Dogara and RussellThe Theological College of Northern Nigeria’s linguistics and translation department was our focus in April as we shared the news of a significant shortage of teaching staff. Here are Dogora and Russell the new teaching staff who were in place and ready to start at the beginning of the new academic year in August.

In April we shared the initial successes of a Bible storying project in several languages of South Asia. Throughout the year we’ve heard of how the storytellers have been given many opportunities to share stories that have been translated and as a result people have given their lives to Christ.

We held Frontline Prayer Live on 8th and 22nd November in 3 venues. One participant said ‘This was the best prayer event I’ve ever been to.’ Another thanked us saying ‘I just wanted to thank you for such an inspiring and informative event …and what a privilege it was to pray with you and for Wycliffe and their partners.’

Thank God with us for these answers to prayer. If you don’t already follow ‘Standing in the gap‘ and receive a weekly email, why not subscribe and join the army of people praying for Bible translation worldwide? We’ll be sharing other ways God has answered our prayers this year in the following post – watch this space!

Special Delivery, Happy Christmas MAF

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

We are so happy to hear that Christmas came early for MAF, one of our partner organisations, this year. Two weeks before Christmas eve, a D4 Caterpillar and Bobcat were delivered, which will enable work to start on new airstrips in Angolia.

It’s an amazing job that they are doing, airstrips open the way for Bibles, translators, health materials and medical help to reach more people in hard to access areas.

Visit MAF’s website to find out more about their work.

The Sound of Carols in Senegal

Monday, December 15th, 2014

As we’re getting ready for Christmas, what are you doing? We may be thinking about things such as decorating the house, buying presents, nativity plays, log fires, turkey? But what about writing Christmas carols?

We love to get together to sing and bring worship to the Lord, and this time of year, it’s a way of jointly expressing as a community our joy and gratitude for God arriving among us. Carols are also a great opportunity to bring our friends and family who wouldn’t normally go to church to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

But what if you have no songs to sing? No Christmas carols in your own language? The answer for the Karoninka people in Senegal – write your own!

The translation team working with the Karoninka people were joined by 4 composers/singers from the people group. They composed songs based on the checked texts of Luke 1 & 2 and the songs and text were recorded and duplicated onto digital memory cards.

This year the Karoninka will be able to read and listen to the Christmas story in their own language!

Songs are a brilliant way of celebrating the Gospel but are also fantastic in providing the opportunity for people to learn and understand the Bible. Find out more about how music is involved in Scripture use on our website.

Healing in the midst of trauma

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Can there be hope for the war-torn nations of the world? Can there be healing from the pain and trauma experienced by millions living in insecurity? We believe that Christ is that hope and that the Bible in every language will be a means of bringing that hope to the world.

IMG_4552The Central African Republic (CAR) is a nation that has experienced intermittent instability and bloodshed ever since Independence in the 1960s and a vicious civil war for the last two years. We’ve asked you to pray several times in the last year for peace and for its people whose wounds are not just physical but emotional too.

Trauma Healing workshops were recently held in Bangui, the capital city of CAR. In these workshops Scripture Engagement Consultants work through a process with delegates to help them find peace from traumatic events they have experienced. Some of these delegates are then equipped to take what they have learnt back to their communities to share with others.

Here is the story of one of the participants in the recent workshop. It highlights the importance of this work as the instability and the effects of fighting continue to impact many:

‘We had only just finished the trauma healing workshop when on 3rd December, at 2.50pm, as I returned to work, I was the victim of an armed hold-up.

Three unidentified, armed men drove their motorbikes towards mine. One of them told me to stop or they would open fire on me. Their leader demanded that I give him my motorbike. I did so without any resistance. Straight away they disappeared into thin air. Thanks to that my life was saved because I put into practice that which I’d learned during the Trauma Healing workshop.

As a result of the political crisis in the Central African Republic my family has lived through some very challenging times; domestic looting, the kidnapping of one of our children… and now this hold-up. It has brought to the surface once more all the pain and hurt in our hearts and we feel like we are back to square one.

Please pray for the healing of this trauma for our family.’

Please praise God for the recent workshop and how it helped this participant in this situation.

Please pray:

  • For emotional healing for this family
  • That the participants who took part in this workshop will know best how to bring the message of hope and healing to many of those around them who have suffered in CAR.
  • For peace and reconciliation in CAR and an end now to the almost two years of war there.

Find out more about the impact of trauma on those who suffer in CAR from the Red Cross.