Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Stepping out in faith

Friday, May 8th, 2015

You may have noticed that almost all of Wycliffe’s members are not salaried, but funded by individuals and churches who support them. Raising support can start out as a real challenge, only to turn into a faith-building adventure as God provides, often from unexpected sources. Churches and Christian friends all have the opportunity to be part of this adventure with God, either by going themselves, or by supporting someone who is!

In the West, we have an historic understanding of this pattern of support. But it’s another story for our colleagues from other parts of the world. They have the same needs, but face the additional challenge that the church there is more used to receiving missionaries than sending them.

A woman gives for the missions offering at her churchTwelve of our colleagues from Nigeria are in this exact position. Pam Hollman, a Wycliffe UK member in Nigeria, explains further:

‘This month is a very important one for twelve of our Nigerian colleagues working with SIL Nigeria – 15% of the group’s staff. They are “Nigerian Missionary Staff” (NMS). That means they are seeking to be supported by their local churches and individuals just as we are from the West. Ultimately this is the only way to sustainability for the language development, translation and Scripture engagement work. However, the idea of local church support for missionaries is a fairly new concept here and these colleagues have not been finding it easy.

So, starting today (Monday 4th May) and during the whole of this month a specific course has been arranged to help them with this – to provide ideas, tools, help with making contacts with possible supporters and so on to encourage them along. They will not be doing their normal work but will be able to concentrate wholly from Mondays to Fridays on this activity. Coaches are available to work with them and support them and each one has at least one designated prayer supporter behind them. From mid-June to mid-September they will be putting into practice what they have learned with the goal of raising their support. ‘

Please pray:

  • that the training course will be very useful and faith will rise as a result.
  • for local churches to gain a full understanding of the importance of their support of  ‘national missionaries’, whether financial and prayer support or in other more practical ways.
  • that God will abundantly provide for the twelve who are taking this step of faith.

Read ‘the elephant in the room’ and discover the challenges Wycliffe members face in raising their support.

The method of writing tone

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Translating the Bible is just one part of what is needed to bring God’s word to a community. Another important aspect is to teach people to be able to easily read what has been written!

Many languages are tonal – the sounds of vowels can be high and low (and sometimes in between).  Making sure that a writing system denotes this clearly is critical for the fluent understanding of the readers.  This is where Tone Orthography Workshops come in. To put it simply, tone orthography is the method of writing tone. These workshops help translators develop accurate writing systems so that people can read the Bible fluently when a translation is finished.

This brilliant video from Cameroon gives you a glimpse into life as a Bible translator and a brief look at what happens in these Tone Orthography workshops.  Have a watch and share with your friends.

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Find out more about the work of Bible Translation and how you can help.

Trials and testing

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Many translators work in very difficult situations. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been through years of civil war and rebel activity. Such insecurity has a ripple effect into everyday life impacting the availability of food, good medical provision and schooling, to name just a few things.

Omi team and Kabucungu

Kabucungu (back) with the Omi team

Just recently Congolese translation consultant Kabucungu and his colleague Sarah visited the Omi project, in the DRC, to check some of portions of the New Testament that the team have drafted. Sarah describes just a few of the issues they face:

‘The Omi translators work in an isolated situation and have faced big challenges in recent years, including insecurity caused by rebel activity, and the departure of a series of leaders from the project. Last year the two most experienced translators in the team suffered big health setbacks. Pario was off work for several months because of an operation for cancer, and Alimadri has just come to the end of a six month absence caused by a heart condition. Their computers were paralysed by viruses for several months – a very poor internet connection meant that they were not able to update anti-virus protection. A lack of available translation consultants means that Omi drafts of various New Testament books are stacking up waiting for the necessary checks. Translating the New Testament can sometimes seem like a test of endurance in the desert.’

Despite all this the team continues work and progress is being made. Back to Sarah:

‘Our time together was intensive and uplifting. Kabucungu and I took turns to lead the checking sessions with the team, and we managed to complete the books of 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy. It was a great bonus to have Kabucungu with us. His own experience as a translator in tough conditions, his pastoral heart and his infectious sense of humour were a huge help in encouraging the translators to keep persevering in challenging conditions.’

Please praise God for the checking that Kabucungu and Sarah were able to do with the Omi team.

Please pray:

  • for perseverance, protection and continuing progress for the Omi translators.
  • for more translation consultants to work with the Omi and other teams in DRC, so that translation drafts can be finalised.
  • for opportunities for more Omi people to hear God’s Word in Omiti, and that it will bring new life and faith.

Find more ways to pray for the DRC using our Frontline Prayer module.

IMG_4788Sarah Casson is a translation consultant and spends most of her time training translators at Shalom University, Bunia. To better equip her for this work, she is currently based in London and doing doctoral studies. She loves cricket and beautiful gardens.


Pray for the persecuted church

Friday, April 10th, 2015

More and more frequently on the mainstream news, we hear about the persecution of Christians; beheadings in Iraq, kidnappings and killings in Nigeria and much more.

Praying handsIt’s easy to be overwhelmed by the horror of these events and feel unable to make a difference. Yet we serve a God for whom nothing is impossible. As I’ve found out more about Christians under pressure, the overwhelming message that I’ve seen is this: the number one, most significant thing we can do for persecuted Christians, is to pray for them.

Yet it’s hard to know how to pray. For that reason we’ve compiled a Frontline prayer module which is available online free to download, called ‘Pray for the Persecuted Church‘.

This module will give enough material to inform you and help you to pray for about an hour. You’ll take a whistle-stop tour to many areas of the world where despite persecution the Christians are standing strong and Bible translation is happening. We give you facts and figures, videos to watch which help you understand the situation and motivate you to pray, as well as lots and lots of prayer needs. The module will help you grasp the issues and challenges facing Christians who are persecuted and resource you to pray intelligently. It’s ideal for use with groups of any size.

Hebrews 13:3 tells us ‘Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Will you pray for those members of our Christian family that are suffering today?

Check out the downloadable resource, ‘Pray for the persecuted church‘.

If you are interested in the persecuted church there is a great opportunity to find out more by attending the World Changers event ‘Church under pressure‘, in Reading on 18th April. The day is free but places are limited so please book.

Big impacts from small beginnings

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Christmas and Easter are wonderful opportunities to share small portions of translated Scripture. When people first hear God’s word in their own language the impact is often huge resulting in amazing revelation and transformation.

Karon Christmas story SD cardsTranslation in the Karon language of Senegal has recently started. In preparation for Christmas a dramatised reading of Luke 1 and 2 was recorded along with 8 Christmas songs composed using these chapters of the Bible. 250 SD memory cards were duplicated, along with a booklet of the printed chapters, a small glossary and lyrics of the 8 songs. An elderly man was dying and listened to the recording over and over all day long. Before he died he gave his life to Jesus.

The Aghem project started in 2005 and one of the first things they produced was the Easter story so that the Aghem people could celebrate Easter fully understanding the power of the resurrection of Christ.

Aghem Easter Story Flyer

10 years later and the whole of the New Testament is drafted. More and more churches are using the portions that have been published. A song book has now been printed and an Aghem dictionary is near to completion. However, it is often in the final stages of translating the New Testament and preparing it for print that teams face the greatest opposition. Please stand with the Aghem team so they can meet their goal to launch the New Testament in 2016.

Please pray:

  • for all the language communities around the world that will hear God’s word in their heart language for the first time this Easter.
  • that God will prepare the hearts of the whole Aghem community to receive his word.
  • that God would intervene and bring stability to the nations impacted by the actions of Boko Haram.
  • for safety when travelling, good health and protection for all the Aghem team and their families.
  • for functional literacy classes; that many in the Aghem community will learn to read and write in preparation for the publication of the New Testament.

The Aghem project is overseen by our partner CABTAL. Go to the CABTAL website for more information about the project.

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.