Archive for March, 2011

By Angela Nelson

Wycliffe celebrated twenty-eight newly translated Scriptures today at the Orlando headquarters. These Bibles came from all over the world—places like Peru, Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

The celebration included special music from Latin Grammy Nominee Lucia Parker, performances from the First Baptist Orlando Rejoice Dancers, and a parade of brightly dressed people carrying flags and Bibles. One lady carried a Bible on behalf of her father, who had been praying for that people group since 1982.

There was lots of rejoicing and thanking God for these translated Scriptures, but the celebration today was nothing compared to the prior celebrations that each of these language groups had when they received God’s Word for the first time. A video showed the depth of emotion the people from one Indonesian language expressed when their new Bible arrived by plane for the first time. A pastor passionately thanked God for getting to see God’s Word in his lifetime—just as Simeon was promised that he would see the Christ child before he died.

Please join us in praying for each of these language groups that have recently received God’s Word—that the Scripture would change lives and bring freedom to these communities.

If you would like to sign up to pray for a people group that still needs a Bible in their own language, please visit Wycliffe.org/bppp.

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Born in Nairobi, Mary was the eldest of 5 children.  She started her education at the Kenya High School in 1967.  The family moved to Scotland when she was 15, where she continued her studies in Aberdeen and then at St Andrews University, graduating in 1977 with an MA hons in English/French.

Mary Gardner on her way back from Jericho

She then worked for 2 years with CMS teaching in Kenya, returning to spend a season at Lee Abbey Community in 1980.  From 1981, she continued teaching in Orkney as an itinerant French teacher, travelling between schools by plane and boat.  In 1986 she commenced further training at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, joining Wycliffe Bible Translators in August 1988 stating at the time, ‘The Bible has always been important to me and played a large part in my own conversion.  I am convinced of the value of the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators and that other aspects of mission such as evangelism and church planting are greatly strengthened by having the Scriptures in the language people know best.’

Embarking upon specialised linguistics training with Wycliffe’s European Training Programme, her preparations for life overseas accelerated.  After a valedictory service at St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Stromness in January 1990, she headed off to Cameroon for her orientation course, and then arrived in Togo in April 1990, the country that was to become her home for the next 20 years.

She was involved in a language called Ifè, developing the orthography (writing systems), working on a dictionary, holding literacy classes, and preparing materials including graded reading primers and maths books.  Bible translation began in 1994 leading to the Scriptures in print and on cassette, and the production of the Jesus film.  She became the leader of translation team, and trained national translators, working in a mixed team of expatriates and nationals.

At one point, whilst checking part of the translation of Romans, the group she was working with came upon ‘Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another…’ (Romans 13:8).  She relates, ‘The small Bible study group was struck forcibly by this verse.  Debt is a way of life in Africa.  Almost everybody owes money to someone, whether for goods bought on credit.  The Christian teaching that debts should be repaid as soon as possible was what challenged this little group as they read God’s word in their own language.  It was so applicable to their own experience, and reading it in Ifè gave it a new impact and a new determination to put it into practice.’

By 2000 the Ifè/French dictionary had been published; Mary was one of the two editors, and 17 October 2009 was the cause of great celebration as the Ifè New Testament was dedicated, nearly 30 years after the project first began.

She was training as a translation consultant, which requires a good grasp of Biblical studies, in order to help with Old Testament translation.  Thus she travelled to The Home For Bible Translators in Jerusalem in early 2011.  Those who studied with her can testify to her keen interest in hillwalking, and her appreciation of wild flowers. Halvor Ronning, (Director) says, “Mary was really enjoying the camaraderie and fellowship she had found in Jerusalem. She told us that until she got here she did not realise how alone and isolated she had been living for years in a remote village in Togo, the only European for miles around.”

Eddie Arthur, Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, said: “I cannot tell you how highly regarded she was. She was an extremely gutsy person, highly intelligent, with huge drive and the ability to stick with the project for 20 years in far from comfortable conditions. It must have been incredibly isolating at times. But she was completely dedicated to her work, and to the Ifè people.”

Mary had shared in one of her newletters, ‘When a person hears clearly what God is saying, it changes lives.  And so we persevere in translating the Bible into Ifè, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book.  We continue to teach people to read in their own language.  We hold courses for church leaders to help them use the Ifè Scriptures in the life of the church.  Why?  Because we long to see changed lives that glorify God.’

Mary’s own life was one that was changed by the Scriptures and which glorified God.  Tragically killed in a terrorist explosion in Jerusalem on 23 March 2011 aged 55, she is survived by her parents and siblings.

Editor’s Note: Reprinted from the Wycliffe UK Blog

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Lucia Parker Concert - March 31, 2011

When: Thursday, March 31 – 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Where: Wycliffe Discovery Center, 11221 John Wycliffe Blvd, Orlando, FL

Lucia Parker’s love and passion for Christ have made her one of the best-loved new Worship Artists in Christian Music; already receiving many international awards, Latin Grammy and Dove Award nominations. Her duet collaborations with Darlene Zschech, Ron Kenoly, and Ken Reynolds have topped the Radio Charts and are receiving outstanding reviews. Through her television appearances on CBN, Daystar Television, Atlanta Live, Gospel Music Channel and more plus her Live Concerts, God has taken Lucia’s music and ministry around the globe with no signs of stopping!

Lucia is fluent in both English and Spanish, bringing a rich multi-cultural style to her music. She was born and raised in El Salvador, the youngest daughter of a pastoral family. Her childhood took place during a civil war in the late 1980’s, as Lucia recalls: “I learned to worship through it all…literally sometimes we had to drive through gun shots and bombs just to get to church! My parents were Senior Pastors in a church that was one hour away from San Salvador, where we lived; and once we got to church we would just worship and thank God for his goodness and protection.” (excerpt from LuciaParker.com)

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Overflying Okbap, 6700 ft. Photo by Clive Gray

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Francisco Pihali, Pastor and translator, at the moment, Nampula otherwise in Balama

Franciso Pihali, project coordinator for the Meeto translation project.
(photo by Søren Kjeldgaard)

by Francisco Pihali

I am Francisco Amimo Pihali. I was born in Cabo Delgado Province in a small village called Mahari, in northern Mozambique. My father was a leader at the local center of worship. Later my older brother took over my father’s duties. All of my extended family members were followers of the majority religion in my area except me.

“On a good path”

I moved away from my village to study in a large nearby city, and that is where I accepted Jesus. I was invited by one of my schoolmates, who was a follower of Jesus, to attend a church service one Sunday. He had come back from a Christian event in a town a few hours away and was talking about divine healing and peace with God. I was curious to know what he was talking about.

When I went to the service, the message touched me. I still remember a man named Pessute who preached and spoke about Moses and the water coming out of the rock. I gave my life to Jesus that day.

The path defined

In my village, teachers and students speak Portuguese, but the majority of people speak Makhuwa-Meetto. I soon discovered that I liked to translate and interpret from Portuguese to Meetto when someone preached. I would even volunteer to translate at the services.

In 1995, a couple from South Africa, who were hunters, needed a cook. Since I knew how to cook, I became employed by that family. I stayed as their cook for three months. They were not believers and I was not comfortable there, so I asked if I could return home.

In the meantime, my brothers in the church in my home area heard that some people were coming to work on Bible translation. These church brothers wrote to me and asked if I could come and help them. I spoke to my employers, who said they could not take me back to [my home area]. I decided to walk the 300 kilometers home.

On the day I arrived, I met John and Susan Iseminger. The brothers introduced me as the one who could translate anything from Portuguese to Makhuwa-Meetto. John said he didn’t need a translator at the moment; he needed a cook! I was hired as that cook and worked for John for three years.

At the end of the third year, I went to a Bible school in Tete for three years. After graduating from the Bible college, I became a member of the translation team, and I am now the project coordinator.


When I translate, I read the Scriptures and let God speak to my heart first.  That process of preparing to translate is a time of devotion for me, and lets God work in my life.

I recently read from the book of Ephesians that Jesus is the cornerstone. I discovered that Jesus is actually the cornerstone of my life.  I was with my colleague in school, and we were both emotionally moved by that truth. My trust and faith in Jesus grew dramatically in response to that Scripture. I have never forgotten that verse.

What have I discovered in the translation process? I have discovered that it’s not just translation, but life devotion.

Editor’s Note: This story was compiled by Craig Combs, a communications consultant with the Wycliffe Global Alliance.  The story was originally written for the Wycliffe News Network.

Read a story about the Meetto translation project.

Learn more about the Meetto

Learn more about how you can give towards the training of Mozambican translators like Francisco. 

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Three students and a professor from Corban University in Salem, Oregon, have partnered with a Wycliffe USA partner organization in Kenya to accelerate the pace of Bible translation.

Bible Translation and Literacy (BTL), headquartered in Nairobi, has worked in Bible translation and literacy for nearly thirty years. BTL uses software managed by Wycliffe to handle its personnel records, but this software works best on a high-bandwidth Internet connection—something often difficult to find in a country not known for reliable high-speed Internet access.

BTL asked Wycliffe for help—and that’s where the group of Corban students came in. Led by computer science professor Eric Straw, they traveled to Kenya to help design databases and user interfaces, helping the human-resources staff at BTL to do their job serving translators and support workers in the field.

Eric writes, “The project was ideal for a group of three seniors. My students—John Shaw, Joel Martini, and Neil Mayfield—did an amazing job. These students have been working on this project since the beginning of Fall term, even though the official course runs only during this Spring semester. They have shown extreme commitment and enthusiasm for their work. BTL was pleased and excited about the capabilities of the software. We came home with updates, changes, and improvements, which these students will continue to work on throughout this semester. We also came home with two new modules to code for the human-resources software. These modules will be held over for students in next year’s Senior Project course.”

Praise God for filling this critical need in Kenya! Interested in how you can take part in Bible translation? Check out wycliffe.org for ways to serve, including short-term opportunities such as internships. Interested in IT specific ways to serve? Check out missiontec.com.

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