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Archive for December, 2010


by Angela Nelson

Imagine yourself as a peanut farmer. You live in a remote village far away from any towns. You have heard about the big city over the mountains, but you have never been there because it would take three to four days hiking over rough and high terrain to get there.
Your neighbor is also a peanut farmer. In fact, this describes almost everyone in your village.
You can’t very well sell your peanuts to your neighbors when they also grow peanuts themselves.
And so, you and your village struggle to survive, with very little to eat, besides peanuts, and very few supplies. You are among the poorest of the poor in a remote village in Southeast Asia.
Now imagine a missionary pilot flies to your village regularly and picks up your peanuts for you. He loads them on his plane and takes them to the market in town, and then he brings supplies back for you with the money from the sales.
He is able to get five to six times what you are able to sell it for in the village.
Your world is changed.
Now you can buy things that weren’t available to you before—rice, machetes, cooking pots, building supplies, noodles, medicine, and more…. This inspires you to grow even more peanuts because you are able to see fruit from your hard labor. You are still among the world’s poor, but your lifestyle has seen a significant change.
***
Missionary pilot Paul Westlund enjoys the opportunity to provide this service to many villages in a remote area of Southeast Asia. He’s able to communicate with the villages through radio in order to let them know when he’s coming, and they can contact him if there’s a medical emergency, so that he can help them get medical care.
Recently in one of the villages, a child died of diphtheria. The villagers suspected one women of using black magic to kill the child. They hassled her until she confessed, and then they killed her.
Animistic beliefs like these are common in these areas, which is why Scripture is important for people to hear in their own language and why Wycliffe is working to translate God’s Word for these and other minority groups around the world.
As a result of the woman who was killed, some people decided to establish a church in that area. They gave Paul several loads of pigs to transport in the plane. The pigs were sold in the market, and they asked Paul to bring building supplies for the church.
***
Simple things like transportation into town are not so simple in many places of the world. The addition of this one element—a plane to transport goods back and forth—is improving the lives of these people. Thank God for the men and women who are supporting this work both here and around the world.

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What a joy and a privilege to be involved in bringing God’s translated Word to those who don’t yet have it! As you meditate on the significance of the birth of Jesus, remember those for whom Jesus remains a foreigner because they’ve never heard the good news in the language they understand best. Your partnership in the work of Bible translation brings them closer to the God who loves them, providing access to the hope and salvation offered in God’s Word. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

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Bonifacio Paulo, Pastor, Consultant in training, administrator in NampulaPhoto by Søren Kjeldgaard

Story compiled by Craig Combs

My name is Bonifácio Paulo. Sometimes I don’t know where things started in my process of becoming a Christian. I guess it began when my aunt married an influential leader in the Catholic Church. He came to me and said that the priest wanted some young people who would be willing to go to the seminary. At that time I never went to church. I started going to regular meetings and I began to understand what Christianity was. I still didn’t know what salvation meant.

I joined the Church of the Nazarene in 1992, through the influence of my brother. When the pastor of that Nazarene local church learned I was from the Catholic Church and seminary, he began to talk to me about salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Soon he began to sense that God might have special plans for my life, so he encouraged me to go to the Nazarene seminary in Maputo, [the capital of Mozambique]. There, the process of my salvation took direction. I don’t remember a day that I can point to and say, this is the day I gave my life to Jesus. What I do know is that my salvation is a miracle.

While I was studying in Maputo, the seminary asked John Iseminger of SIL International to teach a course about the principles of Bible translation. That’s when my interest in Bible translation started. I remember thinking, “If I cannot understand Portuguese very well, even though I read and speak it, how much more for those who are not educated? They use the Portuguese Bible and Portuguese songs, but how much do they understand?” That’s what motivated me to get started in translation.

God speaks to our hearts. Most of the time, I can read and understand the Portuguese Bible. I can read and understand the English Bible and even a little of the Greek Bible. But the way I understand it is somehow only on a superficial level.  I can take [a] passage, read it, and find no change. I can even laugh! The terms do not get deep into my heart because they can’t. But I can read the same terms in Makhuwa, [my mother tongue], and it’s like I’m naked before God. That’s what God says to me. That’s the impact the Makhuwa Bible made in my life. I am where I am spiritually because of the Makhuwa Bible. When I read, I clearly hear God speaking to my heart.  It goes deep.

At the end of my time in Maputo, I received a scholarship for theological studies in Swaziland, but I told John Iseminger, [the director of SIL Mozambique], he should keep in mind my interest in Bible translation. While I was in Swaziland, I translated spiritual songs from Portuguese to Makhuwa and produced a book of songs we use in our church.

John kept my interest in mind. He came to me in 2007 and said, “I know what you are doing, what you are interested in and what you want to achieve. Would you like to work with us?” I said, “Oh yes!” By that time I had signed a contract with the Ministry of Education, and I was teaching full time. At the end of 2007, I canceled my contract and joined SIL.

For the first two years at SIL, I worked among the translation reviewers as part of the exegetical personnel. I would go with the translation groups, sit with them and serve as the exegetical adviser.  Now I am being trained as a translation consultant. I spend time with the consultants to see how the work is done.

DSC_0088Bonifacio with his wife, Busi, and their children at their home in Nampula, Mozambique. Photo by Craig Combs

In Africa, when you get into someone’s home and they give you a chair, you don’t say, no. You sit down. You don’t say, I came here only for this and this. If I’m to work with SIL and Wycliffe, not just through a one or two-year contract, why not be a member? I feel 100 percent comfortable to work in Bible translation. I want to join Wycliffe, to work with them and give as much as I can, knowing that I am at home. It is the best fit for my calling.

Bonifacio and his wife, Busi, are in the process of joining Wycliffe Africa.

Here’s a way that you can participate in supporting those being trained in Mozambique.

Editor’s note: Craig Combs is a communications consultant with Wycliffe International Communications. This story was originally written for the Wycliffe News Network.

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At this historic juncture for the people of Sudan, the World Evangelical Alliance is asking Christians to observe a global day of prayer on December 5th, 2010.

The people of Sudan have experienced terrible loss of life and suffering in the last half century as a result of prolonged civil war and unrest.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended that war but now peace is threatened again as Southerners prepare to vote in a decisive referendum on January 9th, 2011.

Whether the people decide to separate or remain united, the nation will be changed forever.

WEA Secretary General Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe has been in conversation with senior church leaders in Sudan. They said the number one thing the global church could do to help was: “pray, pray, pray”.

In response to this request from the Church of Sudan, the WEA is asking all churches and Christians to join hands with brothers and sisters in Sudan through corporate and individual prayers.

We are asking people to pray:

  • For peaceful and fair referendum on January 9th
  • That the results of the vote will be accepted by the Sudanese government and the international community
  • That the religious liberty of all people will be respected and safeguarded
  • The rebuilding of infrastructure and social services post referendum.

This report was provided by the World Evangelical Alliance. The WEA is made up of 128 national evangelical alliances located in 7 regions and 104 associate member organizations and global networks. The WEA is the world¹s largest association of evangelical Christians serving a constituency of 420 million people. The WEA is a voice to governments, media, and other faith communities and holds consultative status at the United Nations.

View the original report.

Learn more

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