Archive for August, 2010

By Alan Marsala

There are places in this world that go unheard of, overshadowed by the accomplishments and advances of more developed nations. The stories from these lost places are among the fewest and most encouraging to be told. Such are the stories from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

One of these stories revolves around the work of Don and Sharon Hutchisson, translators for the Sursurunga people, as witnessed by a team of five men who went to New Ireland to document the Hutchissons’ 36 years of mission work. Along with help from local workers and the Sursurunga Talk Place Committee, the Bible has come alive in Sursurunga. The People of Tantamount Worth is a documentary that captures an incredible tale of love, dedication, and the culmination of an intense desire for this community to become literate.

It was hard for me to imagine receiving the Bible for the first time in my own language. It proved even harder for me, as a filmmaker, to capture the emotion and sense of worth that went into the process of making the Bible available for the Sursurunga. I saw some amazing things through my viewfinder, things that made me realize that God is a God beyond our American comprehension, and He works in ways that we, as first-world citizens, do not often get to witness through all our cultural clutter.

This documentary will offer a fresh look at God’s work in Papua New Guinea and will give insight into the daunting task of translating the Bible. There is a disconnect between today’s society and missions because of our “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. I hope to bring the Hutchissons and the Sursurunga people within sight to plant them within the minds of the American Christian public.

Every missionary has a story that deserves to be told. It’s time we listen.

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Alan Marsala is an independent film maker from Menifee, Calif., and has a growing interest in missions film work. He will soon release a documentary about his time in Papua New Guinea.

Alan Marsala on location in Papua New Guinea

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By Elizabeth Wilson

Elizabeth Wilson

The sky was heavy with monsoon rains ready to let loose on the brown earth below as my teammate and I walked out of the South Asian airport. Our large suitcases were hoisted to the top of what would have been considered a broken down van in any westernized country.  We climbed onto the almost miniature van seats inside, which were covered with a thin, moldy, red-colored fabric.  This was it.  Here I was, in South Asia, beginning my first assignment with One-Story, through Wycliffe Bible Translators, also known as the hardest, and yet most enjoyable two years of my life.

One warm Summer day, about a year before arriving in South Asia, my mom and I were sitting on my back porch, in Delaware, USA.  We were reading through some storying information.  My mom read, “The majority of the world’s unreached people groups are made up of oral-preference learners, who often have no written language of their own.  In order to share with them, OneStory works with mother-tongue speakers to develop and record worldview-sensitive, chronological Bible “story sets” for each specific group (www.onestory.org).”  After we talked for a while, I remember my mom saying, “This just makes sense.”

Soon after that, I joined the One-Story adventure, and for the first two years, I lived in a mountainous region in South Asia, among 2.3 million Kahani* people.  My teammate and I worked with a variety local people to put God’s Word into 29 culturally relevant, Biblically accurate, spoken stories that could be easily understood and correctly retold by those who had never heard the stories before.

In order to reach this outcome, every story underwent intense checking.  One day, I played an oral recording of the story of Jesus calling the disciples to a village that had not heard the story before.  The story said, “Then Jesus said, ‘as you have been catching fish, from now on you will catch men.’”  One villager asked, “Why would Jesus want his followers to kill people?”  In the Kahani language, the expression used to “catch” fish, implies killing, and is never used with people!  After much discussion, a term close to “collect/gather” was used in place of “catch,” and various Kahani people agreed this was the correct word to use.

This example and others like it illustrate that every word in a story is crucial to appropriately understand the story.  In addition to checking terms, every story is also checked to see how well people can remember and retell the story so that it can be passed on easily.

‘Storying,’ is not a new idea.  Mathew 13:32 says, “Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds.”  In a similar way, One-Story aims at providing a culturally acceptable framework by which people can more easily grasp the truths of scripture, and then transfer those truths to others, using the form of an oral story.

It has been an honor and privilege to watch God’s story unfold into the lives of my Kahani friends, as well as other language communities, most of them, hearing these stories the first time.


Editor’s note: Guest Blogger Elizabeth Wilson is a storying consultant with Wycliffe Bible Translators and currently resides in Orlando, Fla.

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Take two minutes and fly with Clive Gray, a missionary pilot in Papua, to visit the Bauzi language group. Climb aboard.

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We celebrate with the team and ask you to pray with us for this project.

The Katavi Cluster Project has officially begun! As agreed earlier in the week and earlier that day, Sunday night Rev. Mwita, Jeremy and I went to the meeting room to see how the room looked and if we might need to rearrange some chairs or something. Nothing had been set up yet – floors not swept, the tables hadn’t been transported yet, just a few plastic chairs here and there. The evangelist who was working with us on the arrangements smiled broadly and assured us that everything was under con … Read More

via louiseintz's blog

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Wycliffe USA’s iPhone app was recently nominated for The Mission Exchange‘s annual award for excellence, innovation and partnership, which will be awarded at the North America Leadership Conference in Charlotte in September. Wycliffe was nominated for awards in two out of three categories and received the honorable mention for:

1. Innovation: The Wycliffe Bible Translators USA iPhone app to recruit missionaries

2. Partnership: The End-to-End Initiative seeks to substantially accelerate the establishment of churches through collaboration between Wycliffe USA, the Seed Company, Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI), Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH), and the American Bible Society (ABS).

If you’d like to view a video blog (vlog) produced by The Mission Exchange announcing the Innovation Award, please visit their website here. The message relating to Wycliffe begins at 9:50 and ends at 14:40.

We are humbled to be nominated for this award in our efforts to reach the least, the last and the lost for His glory.

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Wycliffe USA has partnered with Family Life Radio in a cell phone drive to bring literacy to the Lasod people of Asia. The drive will be broadcast nationally at each of their stations. For more information please visit here.

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The Schuh Family

By Sarah Schuh

All I could think to myself was, “Are we crazy? How in the world did we get ourselves into this continuous cycle of saying goodbye? Do people actually choose this lifestyle? Did WE actually choose this?”

As we pulled away from my parents’ house in Ohio on Monday I was simply overcome with grief at having to say goodbye to them yet again. More accurately, the reality of having to tell my kids once again that it might be a looong time before they see “Grandpa and Vovó” was getting to be just downright annoying.

I chose to be the one sitting in the drivers’ seat for this, the first leg of our trip. As we had been packing up and stalling our goodbyes for as long as possible I had this growing feeling that I wasn’t going to deal with this portion of our trip well. You know how you kind of get that feeling of a storm brewing up ahead? Yeah, this was it. You’d think I would want to simply be the passenger at this point, but no, I wanted to sit in silence and beg God to remind me once again. It wasn’t a particularly high point for me. I know Trevor feared for the safety of our vehicle as he asked me several times if I wanted him to drive. Sobbing and driving aren’t two things that should normally go together. However, the kids would need water or a snack or a book, and in selfishness I simply wanted to sit and think. I needed to sit and think.

Perhaps it all started with this clip that I watched about a month and a half back (take the time to watch it…it’s only a couple minutes). Here is a young family (whom we know) who started out with Wycliffe, served stateside for a couple years, and now serves in Nigeria full-time. Now I have usually been pretty good with goodbyes and with the idea of wanting to go wherever the Lord wants me to go, but when I heard Christie say in the video clip that her parents would not have the privilege of being there for their son’s first birthday or so many of his other milestones, for some reason something inside me started to come unglued.

And then over the last week I once again watched the movie “The End of the Spear” and then decided to read the entire book, written by Steve Saint–the son of the pilot who flew himself and five other missionaries into Waodani (‘Auca’) territory for the sake of the Gospel. The five men were speared to death, but that wasn’t the end of the story. I’m sure you’re familiar with this portion of history (if you’re not, find the book here), so I won’t go on about this except to say that I could not help but meditate on the fact that the decisions these guys made (obviously) affected the course of life for the entire rest of their families.

What I simply couldn’t shake was the realization that our decision to follow God wherever He leads us not only affects me and us, but that our extended family (parents, grandparents, cousins, etc.) are by default forced into a situation where they have to give over to God their desire to be a part of the daily lives of their grandchildren (in a face-to-face, go-over-to-Grandpa’s-house-whenever-you-want-to sort of way). Now my parents have never once tried to steer us away from following what we felt God was asking us to do, but I can’t help but think that they have to continually give over that desire of their hearts to the Lord. And I am pretty sure that it is anything but easy.

It’s so natural to think about how all the major life changes of “being missionaries” affects our little family. It’s normal and necessary to think about all those things I suppose. Where will the kids go to school, who will their friends be, will life be ‘normal’ enough for them to thrive in? But I think the greater sacrifice is oftentimes made by those family members who silently cheer us on and support us, their loved ones, to follow God wherever and whenever He leads for the sake of His gospel. Who give to the Lord their desire, and even ‘right’ to be in the daily lives of our kids.

Even in writing this, I am reminded that we aren’t even overseas yet! The Lord knows what will happen in the years to come, whether or not He will allow us to serve Him on the other side of the world or not. But I think that perhaps God is allowing me to work through some of these issues even now as we move in the direction of going to those who don’t have His written Word yet.

God reminded me that He sent His own Son to go to a place far away from Him so that others could be saved. Lord, help us all to find our strength and our purpose in You alone. No other foundation will remain stable enough for us to pursue that which You’ve called us to. May we go for the sake of the gospel alone.

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