Archive for July, 2011

Simon’s wife and daughter were raped by militia

This is the second in a series of stories from Wycliffe’s Freedom Campaign to raise money for Bible translation projects around the world. Here’s how God’s Word freed Simon from anger and guilt.

A few years ago, war swept across the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the ten-year conflict, millions were displaced from their villages as militias looted, raped, and carried out ethnic cleansing.

Simon was attending a Bible translation workshop when his village was attacked. It took him two weeks to locate his family and he began to fear the worst. Then one day, as he was walking along the road, he saw them coming in his direction.

As they met, his family immediately began sobbing uncontrollably. Simon could not understand whether they were happy to see him or were mourning the state of affairs they found themselves in. It took hours for him to calm his wife and daughters, and when he did, he was shocked at what they told him.

His wife and oldest daughter had been raped by the militia.

Finding Forgiveness

The guilt and anger Simon felt caused the worst pain he had ever experienced. How would he be able to forgive his enemies and himself?

He talked with numerous pastors and church leaders and prayed continually for God to work in the situation. Finally God led Simon and his family to attend a trauma-healing seminar—a Scripture-based program in their own language, designed to help victims of violence find spiritual and emotional healing.

“As we were going through the trauma-healing materials with the pastors, I remembered a verse I had translated in the book of Mark. It said that if I want to receive forgiveness from God, I must also forgive those who have hurt me. So now my wife and I pray for the soldiers because I have already forgiven them.”

Simon’s story attests to the power of God’s Word to free people from anger and bitterness. Grateful for God’s healing touch, today Simon is helping to translate Scripture so others like him can experience that same freedom.

Learn more about Wycliffe’s Freedom Campaign.

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Pugong was terrified of evil spirits

This is the first in a series of stories from Wycliffe’s Freedom Campaign to raise money for Bible translation projects around the world. Here’s how God’s Word freed Pugong from fear.

Pugong lived in bondage to evil spirits for most of his life. “I’m going to accept Christ,” he had said for many years, “but not yet. I’m still afraid of what the spirits will do to me.”

At one time Pugong had been a leading shamanistic priest, believing in the spirits’ power to bring success or failure, health or sickness, life or death to his community. He worked hard to appease them, faithfully performing sacrifices and rituals.

The Burning Lamp

Over the years, friends and family encouraged Pugong to accept Christ and abandon the opposing traditions. They quoted John 3:16 and many other Scripture verses in his own language—Ifugao. Anne West, a Wycliffe translator who was working on a Bible in Pugong’s language, was one of those friends. She knew the dangers of spirit worship. When Pugong came home late at night after performing his priestly duties, which often involved drinking large quantities of alcohol, he would see Anne’s lamp still burning and felt that she was always waiting to see that he was safe.

Pugong also listened to Gospel recordings in Ifugao, beginning with cardboard record-players operated by hand using a pencil. Later it was hand-cranked players, then battery-operated cassette players.

Anne encouraged Pugong to accept Christ, assuring him that God was more powerful than the spirits. But despite the fact that his nine children and many of his neighbors became believers, Pugong continued to wait, wondering what the spirits would do. 

The Big Decision

After many years with no ill effects from the spirits, Pugong could no longer deny the spiritual freedom God’s Word was bringing to his friends and family. He finally faced his fear.

“I’m ready to accept Christ,” he said one day, when a church group came to his home.

“Oh, wait until a pastor comes!” someone said.

“No, I don’t need a pastor,” Pugong replied. “I can pray now.”

Pugong did pray. And he insisted on being baptized, although it meant squatting low in a drum of water. Then he did something the spirits really hated—he burned his altar, rice god, and other religious paraphernalia. At his request, Pugong’s fellow priests were present. “I truly have become a follower of Christ,” he told them, “and you must do the same.”

Power over Spirits

This milestone brings new energy to Central Ifugao translators who are working to complete a translation of the Old Testament for their community.

One of those translators is Pugong’s son-in-law, a local pastor who looks forward to the day when every Ifugao-speaking village experiences Christ’s power over the spirits, just as Pugong did.

Learn more about Wycliffe’s Freedom Campaign.

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Scripture’s Power to Bring Freedom

“If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible. There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.” —Desmond Tutu

Tragically, about 340 million people still don’t have God’s Word in a language they can clearly understand.

This week Wycliffe Bible Translators is launching a web-based Freedom Campaign to raise money for Bible translation projects around the world! In the next few weeks, you’ll meet people who’ve suffered from fear, oppression, addiction, abuse, and anger.

Marcelina had been exploited all her life…

Simon’s wife and daughter were raped by militia…

Pugong was terrified the evil spirits would kill him…

Mukasa John drank too much and beat his wife Saliima mercilessly…

Stay tuned for their stories and find out how each one found freedom through Scripture in their own language!

Visit our Freedom Campaign website

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A weekly prayer meeting on the SIL Juba Centre. Photo by Jim Clarke.

By Janet Persson

It’s a few days after the new nation of South Sudan celebrated its independence on 9th July 2011.  The staff on SIL’s Juba centre – Juba is now the capitol of the new country – have gathered for their weekly prayer meeting.  Each person in turn gives some items for prayer and one theme dominates – the new nation.

“Praise the Lord for the new country of South Sudan.”

“I thank God that the celebration of the declaration of South Sudan as a full republic went well.”

“Praise God for a peaceful independence day!”

“Pray for wisdom for the new government of South Sudan.”

“May God bless the new nation!”

Everybody is very conscious that something of huge importance has happened.  The Southern Sudanese are full of pride in having their own country at last after so many years of struggle and war.  The translation staff, being Christians, are also fully aware that the new nation needs God’s help in order to succeed.  They recognize that their government needs wisdom.  Their destinies are now in their own hands, not in those of a far-away government made up of people from a different ethnic, cultural and religious background.

But what difference does this make to Bible translation and literacy?  One significant factor is that the government of South Sudan is made up mainly of people who identify themselves as Christian.  There will be no more religious persecution, as there was at times in the past.  Christians will be free to practise and pass on their faith and to translate the Bible.  It should be easier for Christian organisations to get visas for expatriate workers.

Another difference is that a fundamental policy of the new state is that all the ethnic groups are of equal status and all children should have the opportunity to be educated for the first three years of primary school in their mother tongue.  Of course, this can’t happen in big towns where ethnic groups are mixed, so children there will learn in English.  But the large rural population, which is normally disadvantaged, will have the benefit of using their own languages, and it is widely recognized these days that learning to read in one’s mother tongue leads to fewer dropouts from school and therefore increases the number of literate people.  Already SIL staff have had an impact in the schools of South Sudan through a partnership with the Ministry of Education.  They are also making a difference to adults as literacy workers are trained to run literacy programs for rural communities.  None of this could happen during the years of war in southern Sudan.

So may God bless the nation of South Sudan and may he give strength and perseverance to all those who want to spread his kingdom there.

Editor’s Note: SIL-Sudan is a primary implementation partner.

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Here is a clip from Little Rock’s Fox 16.

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By Missy Damon
Missy Damon and her husband, Jon, are supporting the work of Bible translation in Papua New Guinea through aviation maintenance. This story first appeared on their blog.

Usi, a mother of two, came to help me with household chores on Friday mornings, but she did not speak or understand much English. I needed to practice my Pidgin, and she needed cash to buy soap and kerosene, so the arrangement worked out well.

I knew God had brought Usi into my life, but I was a bit nervous. It was always a struggle to communicate more than the basic, “How are you? How is your family? Can you please help me hang up the laundry?” I wanted to show Usi that she was important to me, and not just for the work she did.

Usi (left) and Missy are pictured with their children.

In Papua New Guinea, it is customary for house help to drink tea or coffee at ten o’clock every morning. So after praying about it, I decided to use that time to try talking with Usi about topics like her home and garden.

After a couple of weeks, my limited vocabulary was exhausted, and I could tell Usi was bored and uncomfortable. In desperation, I prayed for help in reaching out to Usi with Christ’s love.

Later that week I talked with Ruth, our neighbor’s house help. Ruth spoke a little English and told me she had recently learned to read the Pidgin Bible. That gave me an idea, and I asked Ruth if she would come for tea the following Friday and help me read a story from the Gospels.

The next week, after Ruth, Usi, and I finished our tea and snack, I brought out my Pidgin New Testament and read the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Ruth followed along, correcting my pronunciation, and Usi listened attentively.

The following week I read the parable of the four soils. Only this time, after I was finished reading, Usi started talking to Ruth in Pidgin. I realized they were discussing the parable.

The next week I read about the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet, and again Usi repeated the whole story back to Ruth and me in her own words.

By the fourth week, I was curious what Usi was doing.

“Usi, would you like to read the parable this time?” I asked.

Usi shook her head no and said, “I can’t read, and my husband won’t allow me and my children to go to church. The only time I get to hear God’s Word is when you read from it on Friday mornings. Since my children can’t be here to listen, I’m repeating the stories so I can go back and tell them. They like for me to tell them stories about Jesus when they go to bed.”

I was blown away! God had taken my feeble attempt to share His love with Usi and turned it into something much bigger than I could have imagined.

You can help unlock God’s Word for unreached people groups in Papua New Guinea. One way to do this is partnering with Jon and Missy’s ministry through prayer and/or financial support. Learn more by clicking here.

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We’re in the second month of our three month From First Words to Final Printing campaign. So far, God has worked through your prayers and gifts to raise almost $200,000 towards the $315,000 matching gift offered by several friends of the ministry.

Would you consider helping us reach our goal by sharing the campaign with your friends, family and church? There are several ways you can share:

Telling others why you got involved in Bible translation is a great way to support Wycliffe. Thank you for your partnership!

Highlight on Scripture Printing Projects
After years of hard work, three New Testaments are ready for print. We are so close to crossing the finish line! With your help, we can print these Bibles and get them into the hands of those who are eagerly waiting to receive them. Learn more:

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