Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Ideas for Easter

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Easter’s coming soon, a time to celebrate Jesus as our Saviour and Jesus as our Risen King. We’ve been trawling through the web to find some of the best resources to help you and your church community celebrate.

  • Provoking the adults – SGM Lifewords have a series of videos to take you through Holy Week. They can be used for personal reflection, in a church services (they are short enough to use more than one per service) or as a way of sharing the gospel with someone else. They also provide  leaflets explaining the gospel.
  • Reflect - Easter, and particularly Good Friday, is an appropriate time to spend some time reflecting somberly on the truths the gospel writers tell us. Christian Aid’s short video is very thought-provoking. You might also want to explore spiritual practices over a few weeks with a group, using the resources produced by the Methodist Church.
  • Get praying - As we reflect on the central celebration of the gospel, we’ll want more people to hear it. Pray particularly for the distribution of Luke this Easter in Russia for a group who have never previously had God’s word in their language. More here.

As Christians, Easter refocuses us: we celebrate and rejoice in the new life God has given us and we’ll want to share it with others. Take a few minutes over the season to consider whether you, your church or your small group want to commit to supporting Bible translation through giving or prayer. Find out more about what you could do here.

Photo by Tim Scott.

You search the Scriptures…

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Bible Gateway, the ubiquitous Bible website, has released statistics about which countries have been searching for which Bible passages. It turns out that the whole world isn’t searching for John 3:16. In fact, some countries search a lot for chapters that we might sometimes forget.

Ed Lauber, who works in Ghana, looked at the research from a Bible translation angle:

A snippet of Bible Gateway's infographic.

A snippet of Bible Gateway’s infographic

[The research] shows that people from different countries had very marked differences in the attention they gave to different verses and books of the Bible…

While the relevance of the Bible is universal, the perceived relevance of different parts of the Bible varies according to one’s culture. World-renowned historian of Christianity, Professor Andrew Walls, notes that for most Western Christians some parts of the Bible might as well not exist. When was the last time you read Numbers? On the other hand, when the Bible was translated into some languages, the people found the genealogies to be significant, while another group was brought to faith by Acts 17:26-27 when it was first translated into their language.

… Many peoples without the Bible in their language also live in places where they suffer severe economic, political and social oppression. Parts of the Old Testament speak directly to that. We should not be surprised or condemning when they read, study and get comfort from those parts more than an affluent American. During the civil rights movement in the United States, many African-Americans drew solace and strength from the parts of the Old Testament that address social and economic oppression. In fact, during the reformation, many Europeans developed their stance against the monarchy, for religious freedom and for the rule of the people from the Old Testament recently translated into their languages. More of this blog.

The Bible gives comfort for those who are refugees, far from home and feeling lost, because many people of the Bible had that experience. It gives hope to those facing famine, because famine isn’t foreign to the Bible. It can strengthen those in prison as they read about Bible-writers themselves imprisoned.

But not if they don’t have it.

Help get the Bible translated for those who haven’t got it in their language.

God at work in the world, and our place

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

One of the joys of being a Christian is knowing that God is at work in the world and that he gives us an opportunity to join him in that work. But from our vantage point it can be very difficult to see all the things that are happening. In fact, very often it can feel like the pressures of the world are overwhelming us and that God has disappeared when we need him most.

Eddie Arthur

Eddie Arthur

In a recent talk at Above Bar Church in Southampton, Eddie Arthur, the Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK, tried to give mission some context, showing how the gospel has spread around the world in the last 100 years and what may be next for mission.

Listening to this talk (opens in a new window) is a good use of 40 minutes you may have spare, or you can download it and the accompanying PowerPoint from Eddie’s website - Kouyanet.

What’s in the Bible about the Bible?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

‘The Bible is to me the most precious thing in the world just because it tells me the story of Jesus.’ George MacDonald

A man from the Central Africa Republic translated the Bible by handAt Wycliffe, we love the Bible and we love being able to share it. But despite being around stories about the amazing things God is doing through his word, we are forgetful folk, and sometimes we – and many, many other and Christians – forget just how knock-your-socks-off the Bible is.

One great way to remind ourselves is to read what the Bible says about God’s word. That’s how those attending the annual meeting of one of our partners, the Forum of Bible Agencies, are preparing. They’ve set up a 30-day reading plan about the Bible, with over 100 Bible passages about the word of God, and with inspiring quotes about the Bible from all sorts of people (the one at the top of this post is from day 11).

They’ve made the whole reading plan available online as a pdf or through YouVersion’s Bible app. Why not use this plan to spend a few minutes for 30 days thinking about the Bible?

The Forum of Bible Agencies International, is a group of organisations committed to sharing the Bible around the world. With a commitment like that, it’s not surprising that Wycliffe is involved. If you’ve been reading about the Bible and agree that everyone should have it in the language they know best, find out how you can be involved.

Pass It On: some surpring numbers

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

In the UK, a quarter of children say they have never seen, heard or read the Nativity story. Half say the same about Joseph and his coat of many colours. 60% don’t know that Jonah appears in the Bible and 6% think that Hercules does.

Bible Society’s Pass It On report

It’s part of research done by YouGov for the Bible Society of England and Wales about how the Bible is being passed on to young children, and encouraging parents and grandparents to read Bible stories to their children. The society has highlighted several reasons why they want Bible stories more read:

  • They are fantastic stories, whether you believe them or not
  • Many parents believe they demonstrate values they want to see in their children
  • It encourages reading in children
  • It increases understanding of our culture

There is also the overarching aim: that the Bible shows God to us clearly. The Bible Society want to see one million children have a ‘Bible bedtime’ this year. Find out more about the Pass It On campaign.

Wycliffe believe that the Bible is the Story that everyone needs: children and grown-ups, in the UK and around the world. Many millions of children don’t have a chance of a ‘Bible bedtime’ because the Bible has never been translated into the language they know. Support Bible translation.

 

Scripture engagement for English speakers

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

One of the privileges of having the Bible in our language is the depth to which we can know it. One of the responsibilities is sharing it with others. Enter The Mark Drama. It’s Scripture engagement for English speakers, great for churches and great as outreach.

From The Mark Drama

The idea behind The Mark Drama is this: your church or Christian Union want to share the Bible in a fun, accessible way, and wouldn’t it be super if you got to know the Bible really well while doing it? Drama could be great, but you don’t have a theatre, or actors, or costumes, or props. And you don’t have lots of time to learn it. Do The Mark Drama.

It’s based on The Mark Experience, a book taking you through the book of Mark and splitting it up so that you can memorise it – every story in order. You might not get every word right, but the big picture will be there. Once you’ve done that, a director comes to help you and 14 others learn to act it in just three rehearsals.

The Mark Drama is being used by churches and CUs across the UK and throughout Europe. The result: ‘big audiences, rapt attention, God at work.’ Watch the video below to get a glimpse of one experience of performing it, and have a look at the website, themarkdrama.com.

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Wycliffe cares about people loving and using their Bibles, and not just in the UK. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see people not only holding aloft New Testaments in their language, but opening them, reading them, acting them, telling the stories, studying them, singing them… all over the world! You can get involved by giving, praying, working on the team or by telling others about the need for Bible translation.

Big Bible’s Big Read

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Over Lent and Easter, Big Bible runs an annual Big Read. It’s a chance to reflect spiritually and to learn and grow with others. This year’s Big Read book is Stephen Cherry’s Barefoot Prayers.

Barefoot Prayers is a series of meditations to use throughout the Lent and Easter period. Its aim is to inspire genuine and honest prayer.

There are lots of ways to be involved in the Big Read:

  • You can read the book (this one’s pretty self-explanatory)
  • You can read it with a group, and use the free small group materials the Big Bible team have developed to reflect on it together
  • You can listen to the online reflections through Facebook or Twitter
  • You can join the conversation – Big Bible have tip and training for social media on their website (they are looking for people to record the poems too)
  • Join in with #Do1NiceThing, a series of activities inspired by the poems to do during the eight weeks.

Find out more about Big Bible’s Big Read here.

Big Bible is all about providing resources to help people engage with the Bible, especially in their online lives. But many people can’t access the Bible because they don’t have it in their language. Support Bible translation for those who can’t access it.

Rethink your Christmas story

Friday, December 20th, 2013

English speakers are fortunate; we have more translations of the Bible available to us than anyone could reasonably study in a lifetime. However, the fact that we have easy access to the Scriptures in our language can make us forget that they are essentially a very foreign series of documents. They written a long time ago in a country far, far away.

This makes life difficult for us; like it or not, we tend to read the Bible through our own cultural spectacles. It is easy to make the Bible fit into our own setting, rather than to make the step to read and understand it on its own terms.

Photo: Marc Ewell

Photo: Marc Ewell

One example of this is the Nativity story. So often we see Joseph as a noble, but disorganised bloke who dragged his heavily pregnant wife off to a strange city; only arriving there at the very last moment. His poor wife had to give birth alone and lonely in an animal shed.

However, if you look at this story through ‘Eastern eyes’, it is rather different, as Rachael Pieh-Jones shows:

Joseph, a man of courage and faith, realizes that his fiancee is in serious trouble. She could be stoned any day by the villagers because she is pregnant and not married. He is not required to bring Mary along to be counted in the census because she is a woman but he decides to tie his name to hers, tie his reputation to hers, and saves her life by taking her out of the village until the baby is born and emotions can simmer down. Who knows if they walked or rode donkeys but there is a distinct possibility that they rode in a cart. In any case, they arrived in Bethlehem before the day of Jesus’ birth. The Bible says: While they were there the time came for Mary to give birth. The Bible does not say: the moment they arrived they frantically pounded on doors.

He is wise, planned ahead, and is a hero. Not merely a background character, indistinguishable from shepherds in most nativity scenes.

Rachael goes on to paint this lovely picture:

Mary didn’t give birth alone. No place in the Bible is this written or implied. More likely she was surrounded by women. A midwife, Joseph’s relatives, neighbors. Shepherds came and found the child and his mother and left rejoicing because not only had they seen Grace and Mercy in the flesh, but they had seen a woman and child well-cared for and surrounded by caring women. Otherwise, they more likely would have praised God for that Grace and Mercy and then said: What are you doing here alone and cold?! Come with us, our women will care for you! No way would they have left a young mother and infant in that state and left rejoicing.

One of the great advantages of living in a different culture is that it gives you eyes to see new things in the text of Scripture. Go on, read the whole post; give yourself a treat.

This post was written by Wycliffe’s UK Director Eddie Arthur, and was originally published on his website, kouya.net.

Bring back the wonder – Christmas resources

Friday, December 6th, 2013

It’s a challenge we face every year: how can we embrace the wonder and joy of Christmas when all around we are hearing that joy comes from gifts and Christmas number ones? How can we remember the shock of the birth of Jesus when we are getting settled back in to tradition and comfort?

Selling Christmas lights in the Philippines. Photo by Benjamin Myers.

Selling Christmas lights in the Philippines. Photo by Benjamin Myers.

The story of Christmas, complete with shock factor, is not lost. Around the world people are experiencing the news of Jesus’ birth with those emotions because they are understanding it for the first time. We heard about one woman in Cabo Verde (formerly Cape Verde) who, hearing the Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth in her own language for the first time, laid down her national-language Bible and said,

‘For the first time in my life, I felt washed by the word. I thought I knew the Christmas story by heart, but I must confess that today I feel like I’ve heard it for the very first time.

We want to help bring back the shock and wonder of Christmas. On our website, we’ve included a short list of some resources you might find help you, your family and your church to get back to the first readers’ emotions. Included are:

  • Paperless Christmas – a surprising new twist of seeing the Bible story in video
  • Advent Conspiracy – turning Christmas upside down by celebrating and giving, instead of buying and eating
  • And a story from Bible translation – share in your church and small groups to give you a fresh vision of Christmas.

Find these and more resources on our website.

Do you have a Christmas idea great for shaking us up and bringing back the wonder? Tell us in the comments below.

Don’t forget: you can support Wycliffe while doing your normal Christmas-y activities by adding Give As You Live to your internet browser for automatic donations and by buying your Christmas cards through JustCards Direct.

Literacy at the morgue

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Within two weeks of the Oku New Testament launch, the newly translated Scriptures were piercing and comforting hearts in the Oku community, Cameroon. David describes in his blog what happened at the morgue in Yaoundé:

Oku literacy

As I waited outside one of the local morgues in Yaoundé for the levée du corps (removal of the body) to take to the church for the memorial service, I was amazed at the number of people that were there during the work day. A Cameroonian co-worker’s wife, Mary, had gone home to be with Jesus…

But while I was waiting, a co-worker had brought a new Oku New Testament from the dedication two weeks ago in Oku to present to my friend who just lost his wife since he was not able to attend the dedication in his mother tongue. So she was waiting to present it to him and there were many other Oku people around so she thought she would ask someone to read the new Oku New Testament but the woman sitting beside her had never learned to read in Oku, her mother tongue, but as we sat under the overhang outside the mortuary she had her first literacy lesson in Oku. She starting reading in 1 Corinthians 15:20 and also Revelation 7:17. The Oku woman said that “Reading this took away my tears.”

Revelation 7:17 “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”  NLT (Read complete post)

Reading the Scriptures in the heart language gets the message through like nothing else. But there remain nearly 2,000 language groups worldwide – representing around 250 million people – who still cannot access God’s word in the language they understand best, because translation work has not even begun. You can help to give the story.