Archive for June, 2010

The single-engine plane circled and landed in a remote village in Southeast Asia. As translators Andrew and Anne Sims stepped out, they were immediately surrounded by several hundred Ketengban men and women—all dressed in full celebratory dress with feathered headdresses, and even some with bones in their noses, and plugs in their earlobes. Brandishing bows and arrows, hooting, chanting and dancing, they swirled in and around Andrew and Anne, honoring them by draping net bags around their necks. (more…)

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By Mary Tindall

More than 80 years after Wycliffe founder Cameron Townsend first encountered the need for mother-tongue Scripture in Guatemala, the Bible translation movement is thriving in Latin America. Nydia Garcia-Schmidt is associate director of Wycliffe International Americas Area. She recently described how local churches are creating momentum in the Bible translation movement.

Nydia Garcia-Schmidt is associate director of Wycliffe International Americas Area.

Tell me about the Bible translation movement in Latin America.

Nydia: One of the things that is very noticeable for me is how alive the church is in Latin America. It’s a church that’s in love with God, it’s passionate about God. It’s going the second mile. It’s wonderful to see that.

Can you give any examples?

One of the young men that I was helping in the assignment process, he was from El Salvador. He was going to serve in Malaysia. He was in training and he was very passionate.

To make a long story short, the day he was commissioned, he died. He was playing soccer and he had some kind of heart problem, and he collapsed on the field.

We were wondering, “Why now? Why did he have to die the day he was commissioned?” We had to come to the conclusion that it was at that moment that the impact of the incident would cause others to think seriously about commitments. This is a young man that, hours earlier, had addressed the church and said “I’m willing to die.” And that’s when I look at things that are happening and say, “This is the Book of Acts that is being written.”

A few days ago, the person that is representing Bible translation in Venezuela, her brother had a heart attack, and when her mom knew about the incident, she also had a heart attack and she died the same day. And this week is the first week that linguistic training is being given in the country of Venezuela for the first time. You have to ask yourself, “Why this week?” And you have to understand that God is doing these things to tell us something. She writes an e-mail saying, “Although we’re suffering, we’re not defeated.” And she’s saying, “We’re going to continue, we’re going to keep training people.” And so the commitment is there. Nothing will stop the church in Latin America from being engaged in Bible translation.

What are you hearing from these emerging leaders?

We’re seeing the first generation of Latin Americans going overseas as missionaries. I heard a lot of Bible verses confirming their calling. I heard a great desire to get involved and great determination. And I also heard a life commitment. They’re not thinking short term. They’re thinking, “I’m going and I’m staying.”

What does this mean for the work of Bible translation?

In 1 Corinthians 3:7, Paul says, it is not the one that plants or the one that waters that is important; it is God that makes it grow. We can plant the seed of the vision, we can water it with information, but only God can produce all the interest that is being produced in Latin America and the momentum that we have.

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Following His Will

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Shu-Mei Lin speaks with two girls at her church in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Photo by Heather Pubols

Story by Zeke du Plessis

YAOUNDÉ, CAMEROON–“It wasn’t my plan to come to Africa; it was God’s,” surmised Shu-Mei Lin, Wycliffe staff member. “God brought me here for a reason. I wasn’t sure what that was, and I still don’t know exactly. But, what I do know is that it is his will.”

Shu-Mei Lin is a Scripture Use worker with SIL Cameroon. She is originally from Taiwan. She remarks that she can only be amazed when she looks back and thinks about the sequence of events that led to her living and working in Cameroon.

It started when Shu-Mei was a French major at university and after school moved to Paris to continue her French studies. She became a Christian while she was there. “A year after [giving my life to Christ] I felt God call me to full-time ministry,” said Shu-Mei.

After her studies Shu-Mei went back to Taiwan, excited to share about her new life with her family but apprehensive about telling them that she was not going to use her studies the way they had thought. Shu-Mei said she almost lost her calling and found herself falling back into an old way of life in Taiwan. “…I felt an emptiness. I didn’t want this feeling for the rest of my life, so I applied to Bible School.” While completing Bible School in Paris, her whole family became Christians. “I consider this a miracle because God knew I couldn’t do this by myself. I needed my family to support me.”

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Martin & Joan Weber pray with Shu-Mei on top of a mountain near Yimbéré. Photo by Zeke du Plessis

Shu-Mei has now spent four years in Cameroon. In her first two years she lived in Yimbéré, a rural village north of the capital Yaoundé. She assisted Martin & Joan Weber who have been working with the Kwanja language community since 1982. Shu-Mei was part of a team that helped the people become more engaged with the translated scriptures and make it a part of their everyday life. According to Joan, Shu-Mei thrived at this, “Shu-Mei has a gift of being able to engage people, getting them involved in scriptures.”

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Shu-Mei visits with friends in Yimbéré.  Photo by Heather Pubols

Shu-Mei is also very good at relating to people from other cultures and especially connected with the Cameroonians she worked with. Martin feels that her upbringing and cultural background contributed to this. “Along with having an open and engaging personality, coming from an Asian background helped Shu-Mei, too. In many ways, the two cultures are similar when it comes to relationships and the relational hierarchy. They also both share a strong emphasis on shame & honour as well as harmony of the group over the individual.”

Shu-Mei now lives in Yaoundé training others to help language communities use scripture effectively. She shares that it hasn’t always been easy. Shu-Mei tells of tough situations during her time in Cameroon but said she feels privileged to have come out better on the other side. “Being a missionary in Cameroon has been challenging at times, but a real blessing, too.”

Shu-Mei now has a different view of Africa, “This is a rich place…. I am drawn to the richness of Africans and how they care for and relate to each other. Also, living here has made me appreciate my culture more.”

Read a longer version of this story.


Zeke du Plessis served as an intern for three months with the Wycliffe News Network. He is a graduate of the school of digital photography and story telling at YWAM’s Media Village, in Cape Town, South Africa.


Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by Heather Pubols, a Wycliffe USA staff member based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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The Need is Great

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Wycliffe USA Board Member Tom Lin to lead InterVarsity Missions and Urbana.

Tom has been on the board of directors of Wycliffe USA since 2005.

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Unexpected Preparation

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Eunice talking with Massalit women at the Treguine refugee camp in eastern Chad. Photo by Heather Pubols.

Story by Zeke du Plessis

“The reason that I’m back in Africa is because I left a piece of my heart here and [now] I’m here to get it back,” Eunice Kua said with a glint in her eye. Not only is Eunice back in Africa, she is in a remote village in eastern Chad called Hadjer Hadid working with refugees from Sudan—an environment for which her background rather unexpectedly prepared her.

Eunice is a member of Wycliffe staff that has been seconded to work for SIL in Chad.  She is Chinese and was born and raised in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multilingual society. “It was after having been in the USA, where I studied Library Science, that I saw that Malaysia has a lot to offer in terms of its diversity. You grow up aware of differences but being comfortable with it.” It was during three-week volunteer program in South Africa with her university that Eunice got her first taste of life in Africa.

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Angela, Marthinus and Eunice pray together after a team meeting. Photo by Zeke du Plessis.

Eunice is now part of a small multi-national team who are providing guidance to a literacy program for the displaced Massalit people of Darfur living in two refugee camps in eastern Chad. Her upbringing, coupled with experience living in a Western culture, has become an ideal platform for this work.

Angela Prinz from Germany is the team leader. She confirms that Eunice had a head start coming here. “Having come from Malaysia makes Eunice’s adjustment to living here much easier. She comes from a predominantly Muslim country so her understanding of the religion helps.” The Massalit are almost entirely Muslim. “Also, because of her Malay, Arabic comes easily.” Eunice adds, “And, English helps with French. The more languages you know the easier it is to learn.” According to Angela, her colleague is indeed a quick learner as, along with the Arabic and French, she is learning the Massalit language remarkably quickly.

Marthinus Steyn, a team member from South Africa, further substantiates Eunice’s quick adjustment to this foreign environment. “Eunice has no problem with the different foods here and as a result has not become ill like the rest of us. This really is a big help because this drains your energy and can take away from your work.”

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Eunice at a market in eastern Chad.
Photo by Zeke du Plessis.

Along with religion, language and food, Eunice found the cultural adjustment a fairly easy one as well. “Asian and African cultures share quite a few similarities. One is the respect for elders.” A further similarity is hospitality. “People feel free to drop in for a visit all the time which reminds me of home except these days [back home] you’re not sure if the person will actually be in or not,” Eunice said with a chuckle.

Even though Eunice has slotted into her new environment with relative ease, she did face some struggles in the first few months. One of these was unexpectedly having to live alone. “My first house mate left for two months and it was tough being alone in a new place, especially at night.” Then of course, there were the cultural adjustments. “Adjusting to a new place and culture makes you [mentally] tired. Oh, and learning three new languages at once does take it out of you.”

Eunice going over a lesson on reading and writing Massalit with Yaya, the guard at her compound. This was the first time that Yaya has written these words. Video by Zeke du Plessis.

Eunice has no doubt that there will be future challenges. However, she feels secure knowing that this is where God wants her to be, and He will continue to equip her to face these challenges just as He has so far.

Read a longer version of this article.

Read more about this project.


Zeke du Plessis served as an intern for three months with the Wycliffe News Network. He is a graduate of the school of digital photography and story telling at YWAM’s Media Village, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by Heather Pubols, a Wycliffe USA staff member based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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