Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Pray for Nigeria during elections.

Friday, February 27th, 2015

On 14 February the people of Nigeria were to have gone to the polls to elect a president, a national house of assembly and a national house of representatives, followed a couple of weeks later by the election of state governors.

However, now the whole process has been postponed by six weeks because of security concerns in the north-east. The electoral commission said it made the decision after the security agencies advised there would not be enough troops available to guarantee the safety of voters.

Already tensions are high and trouble is possible. Some voters view this delay as a ploy by the ruling party to gain more ground in the campaign. Will you stand in the gap for the people of Nigeria?

Here are some ways that you can pray for:

Praying in Nigeria

Team members in Nigeria praying

Abuja, the Nigerian capital and centre of governance:

  • Pray that God would build up foundations of generous governance and humility in this city, so that his Kingdom would reign through effective national leadership.
  • Trust God for righteous leadership to be established.

Justice and righteousness in the election processes:

  • Pray for the Independent National Electoral Commission for effective fulfillment of their duties.
  • Pray that all will have an equal opportunity  to vote and for the uprooting of unrighteous practices in the electoral process.

Security forces:

  • Pray the security forces to act justly, with integrity and that God would strengthen the hearts and hands of the righteous.
  • Pray for open eyes and wisdom as they execute their duties.

Election days:

  • Stand against every evil plan and scheme to promote and spread violence during the election days.
  • Pray that God would honour the faithful fasting and prayers of his watchmen so that massive peace would be enjoyed throughout the land and God’s name will be honoured.

Strategic governmental partnerships to further God’s purpose:

  • The history of  modern Bible translation is filled with stories of how God worked in governments of the earth to fulfill his purpose for  peoples under the authority of those governments. Ask God for fresh strategic relationships to be born in this season.

Mozambique: devastated by flooding

Friday, February 13th, 2015

In the UK we experienced the havoc caused by flooding last winter. There is no doubt that for many this was a very traumatic time but the floods and their impact were relatively localised. Our colleagues in Mozambique are facing the aftermath of flooding but in their situation, several weeks after the initial storms, large areas are still facing extreme hardship.

Ian Lund, Director of Nampula administration recently sent us this update:

One of the damaged bridges in Mozambique courtesy of the BBC.

One of the damaged bridges in Mozambique courtesy of the BBC.

‘We in Northern Mozambique are in quite a difficult situation at the moment.  Due to severe weather, bridges on the main roads to South Africa and all the main towns are down and we have been without electricity for 4 weeks in the whole of the area, which is the size of the UK. All imported food and resources come into the area on this route.

We on the SIL Nampula centre are reasonably well protected from this but our local workers are suffering with food costs doubling and food scarce. Over 120,000 people are affected and there have been 150 related deaths. On Monday we started to have electricity again but the supply is a temporary supply and a permanent solution could take 6 months to be finalised.’

Please pray for:

  • Power to be permanently restored and the bridges and communications system to be fixed as soon as possible.
  • Expatriate staff to know the best ways to support national workers.
  • God’s provision for all who are affected and especially that lives would be protected.

The BBC has more about the storms that initially caused these problems.

Catching the vision

Friday, February 6th, 2015

It takes time to catch a vision. It’s not true that people everywhere are necessarily desperate to have access to God’s word in their heart language. Even in the UK, how many church-goers have so many different English versions and yet never really long to engage with the Bible text for themselves?

Back in August the audio recording of the book of Luke in the P* language took place in Nigeria. Now the MP3 CDs and memory cards for mobile phones are available! Before starting distribution, it was decided to hold a small church dedication just for Christians from that language community. This took place on 21 January in a church in the major town in the area. Sadly, people did not come on time and in fact very few people turned up at all. This was discouraging to those involved.

One of the team working with the P team reflects on some more positive aspects of the day:

‘What I did find encouraging about the dedication was hearing the  pastor give a sermon from Luke using P. Everyone else who prayed or said something also did so entirely in P (the churches here generally use the language of wider communication, Hausa). Before the sermon, that portion of  the Luke recording in P was played.

Then at the end of the meeting plans were made to ensure distribution of the CDs and memory cards to all the churches not represented at the dedication. To me, getting the Luke audio version into the hands of people is the most important thing.’

Please praise God that P speakers now have access to the audio version of Luke in their heart-language and that more copies of the memory cards containing the P version of Luke have recently been requested.

Please pray:

  • that as many P speakers as possible will be able to engage with God’s Word.
  • and that as a result the Holy Spirit will bring about changed lives.
  • for Christians in the UK to become more passionate about the Word of God.
  • for God to help the translation team with all the challenges that they face as they continue translating more portions of Scripture.

Bishop Ndukuba is from another area of Nigeria. He describes the powerful effect mother tongue Scriptures have in this video.

*P – due to security issues we have to withhold the name of the language group.

No easy answers

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Bible translation, as well as being an incredibly joyous thing,  is often difficult and challenging, with the people involved carrying a lot of responsibility. Translators have to truly get to the heart of what is really being communicated in Scripture by the writers and then figure out how to best translate it.  This means the message can be communicated successfully in the translation with minimal loss of the original meaning.

In a brilliant article, Sue Arthur gives us a brief look into the world of  being a translator, highlighting some of the challenges and complications that can arise in the process of bringing Scripture to people in their heart language.

Before you can translate something, you have to understand what it means. Understanding the meaning of a verse like this well enough to be able to re-express that meaning in another language will inevitably involve some level of interpretation, because there are always choices to be made.

There are generally no easy answers when it comes to translation, just hard work and lots of decisions… Yet often in the midst of the research, the brain storming, the testing and the checking, God uses the whole process of translation to speak through his word.

Read Sue’s full article Salted by Fire which describes the process they encountered while translating Mark 9:49 ‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ (NIV). Eddie and Sue Arthur lived and worked for twelve years in Ivory Coast where they were part of the team translating the Scriptures for the Kouya people. Sue is now based in the UK but continues to support translation work in Madagascar. Check out Eddie and Sue’s blog at Kouyanet.

Support the work of Bible translating by finding out how you can get involved. Are you up for the challenge?

A great celebration

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Do you remember what you were up to 16 and a half years ago? Unless January 1999 marked a big milestone for you, I doubt it. But for Tim Robinson, who is working with Wycliffe in Nigeria, those decade-and-a-half old memories have come flooding back:

In 1998 I took the plunge and went on my first short-term missions trip… On the 14th January 2015, 16.5 years later, I started my journey back to that very same village.

On his blog post, Tim describes the unpredictable and long journey to return to that village in Togo, as well as the warm welcome from old friends. He also describes the walk through the town, speckled with banners and parades, to get to the main event: the launch of the complete Bible in the Ncham language:

The dedication itself was marvellous. There were LOADS of people. There were some very high profile folks out there too. The national director of a denomination, the chief, the Prefet, the representative of the local government, pastors, preachers, most of the Catholic diocese, the church association committee, SIL, Wycliffe, Bible Society, two brass bands and people of literally ALL ages came out to join the celebration.

Ncham translator Samuel with some of the new Bibles. Photo by Tim Robinson.

Read on in Tim’s blog for more about the distribution, the celebration and some of the people who have been involved in the translation project from the very beginning. But the real climax came the next day:

We attended church with Samuel the next morning and it was brilliant seeing so many people clutching their new Bibles…

Happy Bible buyer! Photo by Tim Robinson.

There was a couple who were married 3 weeks before and were brought to the front of the church and introduced (it seems that is customary in this church) and when they came they were clutching a copy of the new Bible. The groom, despite not being a native Ncham speaker, received huge applause as he tried to read a couple of verses. People DO love hearing and having God’s word in their own language!

It’s an exciting day when a new Bible is launched, opening up Scripture for a whole people group. But it’s even more exciting when those books and recordings get used and God starts speaking straight to people’s hearts.

If you have a passion to see Bible words reach people’s hands and hearts, visit our website to explore opportunities to get involved.

The power of praying in Jesus’ name

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Do we sometimes doubt the power of prayer? Do we forget that God glorifies himself by answering our prayers?

Jesus said in John 14:12-14:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.  You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”‘

MEDION DIGITAL CAMERAThis story from West Africa illustrates that this is true today; there is power in praying in Jesus’ name:

‘One of the translators recently learned afresh the power of praying in Christ’s name. His wife laid their baby down on a sleeping mat, on a potentially deadly scorpion. Its sting brought on instant screams. Our friend scooped up his daughter and began to pray aloud, calling out in Christ’s name in front of the Muslim family. Very quickly the baby’s crying stopped and so did the pain. All the neighbors came to see what happened. Incredulous, they asked which Quranic verse potion he had mixed to cure the baby. He simply explained the power of Jesus to heal, just as the Scriptures declare!’

Let’s praise God for preserving the life of this baby and for the powerful impact this miracle had on non-Christian neighbours.

Ask God to help us all grow in faith that there is indeed power in the name of Jesus.

Use the prayer resource  Focused prayer: Kingdom Results to help you find fresh ways of praying.

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.