Archive for the ‘Missionary life’ Category

What’s in a name?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Living and working cross-culturally involves a huge amount of adjustment, giving up your own norms and familiarity for what is normal and familiar to those in your host country.  Rachel writes in her blog about how even her name got lost in translation.

A bracelet with lettered beads“Why is your name Rashid? You aren’t a man. Are you a man?”

Eventually I got tired of explaining that I was, indeed, a woman, despite all nomenclature to the contrary. Someone suggested I needed a Somali name and I took the first one they offered, Lula. It means diamond, or light.

In all other cases in Djibouti, my name is Rachel. It isn’t always easy for people to say and they forget it easily. I don’t mind, I forget theirs, too. Sometimes it does sound like Rashid. Sometimes it sounds like the French name Rachelle. That’s fine, too. Its my name, however it sounds on someone else’s lips and I appreciate their effort in trying it, appreciate my freedom to hold on to at least my name when I seem to have let so much else go in this expatriate life.

I feel like telling someone your name is giving them a gift. I’m saying I don’t care how you pronounce it but this is me. My name along with all the other foreign and strange things about me are what you get when we develop a relationship. I’m saying, let’s explore those differences and learn from each other, even as we learn how to say each other’s names.

She goes on to share an alternative perspective from an American woman,

[who] used to engage with Chinese students in the United States and struggled to pronounce their names, to remember their names, to remember who went with which name. They would go back and forth, battling through tones and consonant combinations, and she would still slaughter their name.

She said that when one of them would say, “Please call me David,” she felt an immense relief, sorry that she couldn’t master their original name, but thankful that they could now move beyond her embarrassing attempts and into a relationship. She knew full well what they were giving up and wished they didn’t have to. But, honestly, felt thankful. (Read full post.)

These experiences put a very human perspective on what it can feel like for the millions of people without God’s word in their language as they try to get to know God for themselves.  Without God’s word – or even name – in their language, so many think they need to talk to him in another language, or struggle to pronounce unfamiliar sounds to call on his name.  Imagine their relief when they discover God is happy for them to use his local name and for them to converse in the local language.

He is known by the names Isa, Jisas, Jesu, Jezu, Jisasɨ, Yesus, Sisa and Azezi to mention just a few.  As one who ‘became flesh and took up residence among us’, (John 1.14) he still wants to break down the communication barriers and come into relationship with people of all nations, languages and cultures.

The pain of change

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Working for Wycliffe, I’ve found it’s important to deal well with change, because it’s always happening. Sometimes change just feels normal but at other times it’s a real struggle especially when it has not been initiated or welcomed by me. Not all change is bad, some is good and some is just change. But whatever the change, it touches our lives.

From Luke and Laura's blogIn the course of my Wycliffe career, I’ve lived in four countries and worked in two others. I’ve frequently moved house and changed role and many friends and colleagues around me have done the same.

As I read the latest raft of ‘prayer letters’ that arrived in my inbox this morning, I was struck again by the number of my fellow workers who are dealing with significant change. One colleague has just finished a study programme and is preparing to go back overseas. He says of his young daughter,

‘she is mostly competent (like her mother) and a show-off (like her father), but altogether remarkably extrovert, confident and winsome – for which we’re thankful to her Creator because she seems incredibly well-suited to our weird lifestyle.’

In another email, colleagues talked of changes in their team: a national colleague who is marrying and moving to a different country is unsure whether she can continue with the project. Two expat families have been refused visas, one is seeking an alternative assignment and the other is trying to decide where to be based until they can reapply for visas. The emotions expressed are a strange mixture of joy, sadness, excitement and frustration.

Please lift up the Wycliffe family around the world as they daily deal with difficult change:

  • Pray for staff who are grieving and/or suffering, may their lives be testimonies of God’s grace, strength and power even in severe trials.
  • Lack of peace and security are serious challenges in certain parts of the world. Pray for protection and grace for workers, their families and communities where they serve.
  • For the Executive Director James Poole who is still very new in the job and for his family who have relocated so that he can take up the position.
  • For the many language groups who have received portions of the Bible in their language this year. Pray that the word of God will change hearts and lives forever.

Find out more ways to pray for Wycliffe staff by downloading the prayer resource pack, ‘Focused prayer, kingdom results.

Jo Johnson is Prayer Coordinator for Wycliffe UK, she has worked into several African countries and is now based in the UK with her husband Stewart and their teenage children.

Through the Storm

Monday, October 27th, 2014

In 1998 a tsunami hit Papua New Guinea causing mass devastation and loss of life. Translators John and Bonnie Nystrom had moved to Papua New Guinea in the 1980’s to begin work with the Arop people in translating the Bible, and the Arop village was the worst hit in this disaster. This is the Nystrom’s story of how God led them to this place and later used this tragic event to change the face of Bible translation in Papua New Guinea.

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John Nystrom says in this story,

When I was 17 I started thinking about where I wanted to go to college and then I thought, well what do I want to do for my adult life? I did some math and I figured out that between 22 and 65, 43 years! And I couldn’t think of anything that would be interesting enough or important enough to do for 43 years. During this time, I think the Holy Spirit was speaking to me saying: “You don’t know what you’re doing here on earth, you don’t know what your purpose is.”

Spring of 1982… I found out that 100’s of millions of people around the world don’t have the Bible in a language that they understand, and that something like over 3,000 different languages didn’t have any Scripture at all! I thought,  ‘How in the world can a church do what a church needs to do, how can it evangelise, tell people about the good news about Jesus, when it doesn’t have the main ingredient that you have to have do those things – the Bible in the language people understand?’ I thought, ‘This is terrible!  I want to be part of making that happen!’”

You can be part of making this happen too! Have a look at out how you can get involved with the work of Bible translation – it needs more than translators!

Why not share this video with your friends, home group, and over your social media networks.  There’s a role for everybody!

John and Bonnie Nystrom
John and Bonnie Nystrom
John and Bonnie Nystrom

Mission partners – your church in God’s mission

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Wycliffe.net has just published a story about Zion Church, a small church in Thailand that has started supporting their own Wycliffe missionaries, Ryan and Nok*.

Zion Church of Bangkok, Thailand, is small yet enthusiastic in evangelism and community service, and very mission-minded.

It’s a challenging story for us in the UK, as it gives us a taste of how a country that has traditionally received missionaries has viewed the way the western church has supported those it has sent.

‘They have observed that some western missionaries serving in Thailand for a long time have become distanced from their home church. The relationship is no longer close and vibrant. Even when they retire, the foreign missionaries are often not willing to go back to their home country. Having learnt this lesson, Zion Church deliberately invites church members of different generations to join the missionary care group so that the passion of caring for missionaries can be passed on to others.’

In fact, those at Zion Church took the support of their first missionaries very seriously. All the church leaders took an eight day Kairos course, to understand more about mission and the church’s part in it.

Rev. Dr. Saree Lorgunpai, Chairman of the Church Committee and elder, firmly stated, “If we’re going to support our missionaries, we have to understand why and how.”

If your church wants to do a better job of supporting its missionaries, there’s a handy guide on caring for your missionary on the Wycliffe website.

*Pseudonym

10 creative ways to give to God’s mission… and that’s just the start!

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

We all know that money can’t buy happiness or mission work… but it can help. And in an age of instant money transfer and worldwide connectivity, it’s never been easier to give.

Photo: Janeen Michie

Photo: Janeen Michie

Mission Catalyst has come up with a list of 75 creative ways you can ‘put your money to missional use’. Here are ten of their ideas to get you thinking about how you could serve God with your pennies and pounds…

1. Give your pastor an Amazon gift card and a list of 25 missions books you’d recommend.
2. Buy clothes and a pay for a professional photo for a young missions speaker/writer.
3. Upgrade a mission worker’s phone. Or car!
4. Pay for dental work for a cross-cultural worker.
5. Pay for a willing pastor to go on a vision trip to someplace where he won’t preach (just learn).
6. Buy a pair of walking shoes and use them to prayerwalk your city.
7. Send a worker couple to a marriage seminar.
8. Purchase a life insurance policy and make your favorite mission agency the beneficiary.
9. Pay for the person behind you in a fast-food drive through.
10. Send video tech to a worker friend at the ends of the earth to help her tell great stories of God’s work in her midst.

Go to the Mission Catalyst blog to read the other 65. Of course, you can always give easily and securely through the Wycliffe website to support Bible translation too!

Do you have another idea about how to give to mission? Leave a note to share it in the comments box.

Babysitting and Bible translation

Monday, June 9th, 2014

To celebrate their 15th anniversary, David and DeAnna (who are working with Wycliffe in Cameroon) decided to go out to dinner. They left their two children with a friend Sophie and a copy of The JESUS Film in Sophie’s own language, Ewondo.

Sophie hadn’t seen the film before. David and DeAnna came home to find her, eyes glued to the screen, watching the film. DeAnna says,

Sophie holding the JESUS Film

Afterwards I asked her what the film was like for her. She had tears of joy filling her eyes as she explained that hearing and watching the story of Jesus in her mother tongue touched her heart profoundly. She understands French, but for the message to be in her mother tongue was much more profound, she said it was difficult to use words to describe how deep it touched her.

At the end of the film there is an invitation to accept Jesus as your Savior and she recited the prayer. She had never been asked before in her mother tongue to accept Jesus as her Savior. She is a Christian and was before the film, but she said by reciting the prayer at the end and accepting an invitation in her mother tongue was a deeper commitment for her.

Sophie has been a Christian for many years and has been persecuted by her family for her faith. Her husband left her and took their children when they were young because of her faith. Her family mocks her for not participating in the things they participate in because of her faith. Her family blames her when bad things happen in the family because of her faith. She told me she wants to show her family the film because in the film people were mocking Jesus and in the end were convicted and she wants them to see that Jesus is victorious regardless of mockery.

David and DeAnna published this on their blog. Read more here.

Wycliffe partner with The JESUS Film to translate the script of the film into minority languages, like Ewondo. It is estimated that more than 200 million people have indicated a decision to follow Jesus after seeing the film. Find out more about partnering with a Bible translation project that will see the JESUS Film dubbed.

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.

The worst mission trip ever?

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Picture the scene: it’s dark, frosty and -40° outside. You are in a truck, travelling across Eastern Siberia to transport Bible portions to a remote community, and already your trip isn’t going to plan as all your audio and video Scriptures were stolen from your church before you left. What more could possibly go wrong?

This was the situation Wycliffe member Vova faced when his truck flipped. All the team on board were ok, but it took six hours to find someone who could help them to right and move the truck, and it still wouldn’t drive. They must have thought to themselves that this was the worst mission trip ever.

Vova explains what happened next:

Our intention had been to travel to the most remote regions of the far north, as my companions had previously, since they believed the people living there were the ones most cut off from the rest of the world and from God.

When our unexpected hosts heard that this was the seventh such outreach trip, they were offended – but in a good, respectful way! Why had the team’s truck passed them by those six earlier times? Why had no one ever come to visit them and tell them about the Creator, especially in their native language?

Isn’t it amazing when we see God using all things for his plans? It wasn’t easy, but Vova and the rest of the team found amazing ways to share the Scriptures without ever getting to their intended destination. Read the whole story on wycliffe.net.

There are still millions of people who haven’t heard about God – their Creator and Rescuer – in a language that communicates with them. Consider how you could tell them: Wycliffe has opportunities to give, to pray, to go and to tell other people about the need on the website.

What’s it like to be a missionary teacher?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Bob Noble teaches computing and maths to students at a mission school in Papua New Guinea. In some ways, it’s just the same as teaching in the UK: there is still a curriculum and the marking still tends to pile up! But a field trip he took his students on recently shows just how different it can be…

It was no trip to the local museum. Bob and 10 of his students, along with three other adults, travelled to Sikor village, to meet local school pupils and get a glimpse of the local Bible translation project. Travel with the class through the photos:

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The journey through the mountains took them past beautiful scenery and required four-by-fours and a whole day’s travel.

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The journey wasn’t quite done when the driving finished: reaching the ladies’ host’s home involved crossing a stream using a log bridge.

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A big part of the trip was spending time with other pupils, those at the local elementary, primary and secondary schools. Bob’s students sang songs, performed dramas and presented the gospel … with a football!

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The students shared skills, Bob’s class challenging their new friends to games of basketball (six of the students are on the undefeated A team at school!). In turn, they were shown the best way to climb a palm for coconuts and how to break one open to get the water.

edited for blog
All in all, not your average day in the classroom!

Teachers and school administrators are needed to support Bible translation and development all over the world. If you’ve got teaching talents, have a look at the vacancies that we are looking to fill and get in touch to find out more.