Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Christmas Appeal – God’s Quiet Revelation

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Our Christmas appeal has launched! In it we tell the story of Fatima*, a young Muslim woman, living with her family in Mindanao in the Philippines.

By her own admission, she used to be an angry person and would often act disrespectfully towards her parents. In 2001 she came across portions of the New Testament translations in her own language and for more than nine years continued to read portions of Mark and Luke’s Gospels alongside a major language translation.

“I would read in secret because my parents would get very angry with me if they caught me reading the Bible. One time my mother saw me and forbade me to continue reading.”

Anonymous Muslim worshippers After many years of secretly reading God’s word and seeking the truth of who he really is, he quietly revealed himself to her as she read the words of Jesus, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). For the first time she understood that Jesus is not just a Prophet, he is Christ the Lord—and she came to know him as her Saviour.

For Fatima, the transforming power of God’s word in her own language is both personal and dynamic.

“I just live in the way that his word teaches me to live, that’s what attracts my Muslim friends to think differently, even as I have. The change in me is the greatest testimony to the power of God and the truth of his word”.

The dedication and perseverance of the translation team working in her language has been amazing, continuing in their ministry in an Islamic context for so long before they saw the first fruit of their labour. 29 years after the project began, Fatima became the first to believe in her language community. Today her mother and sister are among the growing group of believers who are quietly beginning to form a small church.

The vision of Wycliffe remains steadfast. We want everyone in the world to have access to the Bible in the language they understand best, and are working with partners worldwide to see a Bible translation programme begun in every remaining language that needs one.

Will you make a special financial gift to Wycliffe this Christmas? A gift of just £10 could translate a single verse and change someone’s life forever. Give now.

 

*name changed for security reasons

 

Well Nourished Roots

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

How often do we actively engage with God’s word? Every day? A couple of times a week?

Scripture engagement is essential for Christians to grow into spiritual maturity. In an interesting blog post on Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer explores Scripture engagement and its impact on our lives as Christians, both individually and corporately. You can read the article in full here.

notes on an open Bible

“Engaging the Bible impacts one’s spiritual maturity more than any other discipleship attribute.” – Ed Stetzer

This article highlights the very real and essential need for Scripture to be easily accessible for us to read. But what about those who do not have God’s word in their mother tongue?

The latest statistics suggest that there are in the region of 180 million people who still don’t have any access to the Bible in their heart language. However, God is at work in amazing ways.  In Tanzania, Daniel shares his reaction to using the Scriptures in the language he knows best:

“I was trying to read the Kuria New Testament like I read Swahili. I was unable to read the Scriptures at all. But now that I’ve been taught how to read the Kuria writing system, I can understand it completely! Now I can read God’s word in my language!”

Find out more about Wycliffe and how you can be involved.

Favourite verses around the world

Monday, September 15th, 2014

The GMI Missiographics team share another eye-opening infographic with us, this time exploring how people around the world are searching the Bible, based on stats from BibleGateway.com.

Global Bible Searches - What Are They Searching For?

Global Bible Searches – What Are They Searching For?

There are some favourites of mine here, featuring across national borders, such as John 1, our introduction to Jesus, the Word of God.  There’s also the chapter about Love in 1 Corinthians 13, and the famous ‘song for the sheep’ in Psalm 23.

But Missiographics leave us some challenging questions about this snapshot. For example,

‘In Pakistan and Nigeria, all of the top 5 searches are from the Old Testament.’

‘If many searches in your country of interest are Old Testament searches, how are you weaving the Old Testament into your presentation of the gospel?’

Of all the languages in the world, only 513 have the entire Bible.  Most languages, if they have any Scripture at all, have just the New Testament, or maybe some portions of the Old.

We recently wrote about Nigeria, which has the largest need for Bible translation in Africa, with a total of 520 languages, 250 of which have no known Scripture.

So when starting a new translation project, where would you start? Would you start by translating John 3:16, because it’s your favourite verse?

Often, rural communities relate strongly to Old Testament stories rooted in pastoral culture, so it might make sense to start translating portions of the Old Testament, rather than diving straight into the New Testament gospels.  Who gets to decide?  The stats here seem to show there’s a hunger in Nigeria for the Psalms!

Decisions like these are not simple to make, and are part of a process of the language community working together with national translators and ex-pat colleagues to set project priorities.  Some books are easier to translate linguistically, like Jonah.  Some are really hard because of complex themes or ‘key terms’ used, like ‘redemption’ or ‘sin’.

But the challenge remains.  If there is no Scripture at all in the language you understand best, would you have a favourite Bible verse at all?

  • The Life of a Language Project explains some of the stages a in project, even before the first word is translated.
  • You can be involved in ensuring that those without any Scripture can have a favourite verse of their own.

God loves you with all his bowels

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Jeremiah 31 tells us that God’s heart longs for his people. Or, at least, most English translations do. Many also have a little footnote that tells us the Hebrew says that God longs from his bowels.

If the translators had opted for ‘bowels’, this message may not have been good news to many English speakers.  Communicating good news requires some knowledge of the culture.

Photo via Wycliffe Global Alliance

Timothy* works in South East Asia, where there is a large Buddhist population. He says that John 3:16 (‘whoever believes in him… shall have eternal life‘) is a verse that communicates the gospel most clearly to many English speakers –  but it doesn’t communicate good news to Buddhists.

“Buddhists believe that we are all trapped in a cycle of reincarnation — one life after another, each full of suffering. Thus, Buddhists feel like they already have eternal life, and their big goal is to escape the eternal life and all the suffering that goes along with it.”

Richard Gretsky explains…

Because of that, a verse that has meant so much to so many people is a potentially dreadful proposition to people coming from a Buddhist worldview. This, of course, doesn’t mean that John 3:16 shouldn’t be translated for Buddhists. They, like all of us, need to understand that eternal life is good and that life can exist without suffering. But it does highlight that we should know which verses speak the best to people of different cultures.

With that in mind, there is another verse, also in the book of John, which does speak deeply to Buddhists…

Read on to find out what verse Timothy picks as a clear, good news verse for Buddhists.

Wycliffe believes that the Bible – God’s message to humanity – has something life-changing to say to everyone, and want everyone to have access to God’s word in a language they understand. If you do too, there are lots of ways you can be involved in Bible translation.

* name changed to protect identity

* Names have been changed to protect identities

Issues facing Scripture films

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Watching a Bible-based film in your own language is a wonderful way to see how good the Lord is.

Watching the JESUS Film

Watching the JESUS Film

Among the most used Bible-based films are the JESUS Film and the Luke Film, which are both based on the Gospel of Luke. If a team’s already done the translation work on Luke, what could be more obvious than recording the translation and dubbing it onto a film? Of course, it’s much easier said than done!

This prayer request, from Guyana in South America, highlights a handful of the problems you might face…

When preparing for the dubbing of the Luke video or other Scripture, many challenges arise. How do you choose the right person to read the words of Jesus, Mary, or Paul? How do you get verses that take 45 seconds to read in the local language down to the 30 seconds used in the English version of the film? How many practice times are necessary for the readers to learn to read with expression and clarity?

The team are in the process of preparing the script and casting people to read the parts for the film. Stand with them in prayer.

One thing that would make the process much easier is if enthusiastic people joined the team – people who are passionate about film and about sharing God’s word: wherever you long to serve God, there is a need for people with these passions and skills so that more people can hear Jesus speak their language. Find out about ways to explore roles with Wycliffe.

What makes me me? These answers might surprise you

Monday, June 30th, 2014

What makes me who I am? The answer to that question is bound up in where I live, what I do, what I wear, what I eat and, yes, what language I speak. It even affects how I feel about myself.

Wycliffe member Matt has been asking this question too. He tells us how people answered this question at a discussion he was at, and what that has to do with working with minority communities:

At one of our community of practice events last year we asked participants that very question: What makes you part of your ethnolinguistic group? These were some of the responses:

And so what? Why does this matter? Well, what would happen if those factors were suddenly no longer around? What if you couldn’t live in a certain place, eat a certain food, wear certain clothes, speak a certain language? Would you still feel connected to others who have similar features? Would you still be you?

These are the kinds of questions many marginalised communities around the world are having to face right now. Key elements that make up who they are, are being challenged, looked down upon, outlawed and even destroyed. Their traditional ways of celebrating, their traditional foods, the language they speak, and often the very land they live on is changing and they must decide how to respond.

At its heart, this is what we are working to support. To help communities who have been looked down upon and devalued, to define their own identity and to be proud of it.

Go to Matt and Liz’s blog to read the whole post. If you’re passionate about what they are doing, you can join this work by supporting them.

Find out more about how Wycliffe works with marginalised communities.

What language did Jesus speak?

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Many of the challenges of Bible translation, in English and in other languages, come down to the fact that it’s not just languages that are different. Cultures are too. Wycliffe’s UK director Eddie has been pondering this lately, after being asked about Jesus and languages.

It isn’t often that I get called in to referee an argument between the Pope and the Israeli Prime Minister, but last week, I was interviewed by our local radio station about what language Jesus spoke. In what was a pleasant chat, I gave the generally accepted answer, that he probably spoke a number of languages; Aramaic in every day situations, Hebrew in religious contexts and perhaps some Greek or Latin.

However, what I really wanted to say was that Jesus did not speak English!

Whatever those Sunday school posters might indicate, Jesus was not a blue-eyed, Englishman. He was a first century Jew and his life and teachings are rooted in the history of his nation. Right down to which languages he spoke in particular situations. If we try to take Jesus out of his historical, linguistic and cultural setting we will fail to fully understand his teaching or the significance of his life, death and resurrection.

But – and this is amazing – Jesus does speak English!

Because the Gospels have been translated, we can read and hear Jesus’ words in contemporary English. This is so much a part of our lives that we don’t fully appreciate the strange wonder of it. The two-thousand year old story, rooted in Jewish life and culture, can be read and understood in modern English and in thousands of other languages for that matter. Though Jesus was a Rabbi, who lived in a particular context, his message is for all peoples in all times. It’s a simple fact, but a wonderful one.

Through Bible translation, Wycliffe and partners are trying to share that message with all peoples around the world. You can be involved by giving, praying, considering an job with Wycliffe or sharing the need with your community.

This post has been edited. The original appeared on Eddie’s blog; read it here.

I was willing

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

While in high school, Bev stepped forward at a Billy Graham crusade. Soon after, in a discipleship group at university, she heard about the need for people to go and make disciples. That information changed her life.

“I thought, ‘Who wouldn’t [do that]?’ To me, it was strange that anyone wouldn’t tell God they’d do anything he wanted.

I was more worried there wouldn’t be any work left by the time I finished college,” she explains, “because everybody would be obeying Christ, going wherever he wanted.”

As eager as she was to head out on the mission field, Bev was able to buckle down and complete her four-year education degree. During that time, she learned to take her own advice about telling God she’d do anything he wanted.

“I had to get to a point in my life where I told Christ … if his will was for me to stay home, live in the suburbs and work there, I was willing.”

Bev Dawson in Guyana (photo by Natasha Schmale for Wycliffe Canada)

It wasn’t just the passion of a young Christian. Bev continued in this commitment: after failing a Spanish class, Bev made up her credits at a Wycliffe summer camp and has now spend 40 years serving the Wapishana in Guyana. The Wapishana New Testament was published in 2012. Read more of Bev’s story here.

Maybe Bev’s commitment sounds astonishing, but it does prompt us to ask ourselves: am I saying to God ‘I am willing’?

If you want to explore more about the possibilities of serving God overseas, get in touch. We can talk to you about what you could do with Wycliffe or another agency (more than you think!) and what opportunities there are coming up to explore with others what obeying God looks like in your life. Get in touch.

This quote was first published in Wycliffe Canada’s excellent magazine, Word Alive, and subsequently on Wycliffe Global Alliance. Some formatting was changed.

Bible translators need wisdom

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

It’s not surprising that those involved in translating the Bible need a lot of wisdom as they make decisions – after all, these are important choices. In this diary extract ‘Aquila’ explains one of the difficulties they had on the Glossa translation, and why it’s not a word-for-word translation.

Photo by Heather Pubols

1 Corinthians 12.8: “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit.” Glossa speakers talk about knowing or understanding something, but what is wisdom?

So we had a good time this morning trying to think clearly the difference between wisdom and knowledge, the concepts we need for that verse in 1 Corinthians. That brought in related concepts like intelligence and mind.

Glossa translator Ezra is excellent at pushing me to define for him words he kind of knows in the national language but doesn’t have in Glossa. We talked about concepts in the national language for starters and then looked for a Glossa way to express that idea. This is not word-for-word translation, because no there is no corresponding word in Glossa. The way to do it is to think of experiences and actions in which wisdom and knowledge occur in Glossa society and then think how [the Glossa translators] would describe those experiences and actions using Glossa words. It was work but a fun conversation.

  • Knowledge. No noun in Glossa, but there is a verb – to know.
  • Wisdom. Again no noun, but we can use a verb with a modifier – to think deeply.

Read more from the diaries of the Glossa translators.

‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’ James 1.5

Ask God for wisdom for Bible translators: sign up to Standing in the Gap, our weekly prayer blog, and explore our website for more details about praying for Wycliffe.

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.