Archive for November, 2011

2011 Gift Catalog

Want an alternative to midnight sales, door busters, and gifts-with-purchase this Black Friday? How about sleeping in and giving a gift that keeps on giving?

Visit Wycliffe’s Gift Catalog for eighteen gifts you can give in honor or memory of someone special, while helping to provide God’s Word for others who have never heard it in a language they can clearly understand. The online catalog allows you to send a card to that person or their family, letting them know you’ve given with them in mind.

Thank you for prayerfully considering a gift to share the light of Jesus this Christmas.

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Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Saturday Dedication was very successful. No words can describe the event. As early as seven o’clock the entire DOOR group was at the celebration site, doing final touches. A team of women were already present at the site, cooking Tanzanian delicacies, symbolizing an important occasion was to take place that day. With the able leadership of Joseph, the Tanzania Team leader, we managed to have everything in place, by 10.00am.

At around 11.00am, we officially begun. What started as a slow event with only about 70 Deaf quickly gathered momentum, and soon there was no space for anyone in the hall. Over 300 Deaf attended the event. Many had to sit outside and follow the proceedings from a television set that had been put outside the room. Deaf songs, drama and signed speeches colored the event. Every one praised the teams’ tireless efforts during the last three years.

Then it was time to unveil the Bible. Jojo Ninan, DOOR Vice-President(Africa/Asia) alongside the translation team and Bishop Charles of Presbyterian Churches of Tanzania cut the ribbon. The room was filled with joy, and numerous hands were shaking in the air- the characteristic Deaf way of applauding. Some jumped for joy, others stood on benches to catch a glimpse of the Bible. They were justified- this was the first ever Tanzania sign language Bible portions.

One story was chosen and shown on a projector screen. All eyes were glued to the screen. The Deaf really wanted to see story after story. Later, when it was time to eat, many continued watching the stories. At one point, electricity went off, the generator lacked fuel but the Deaf still wanted to see more stories. We rushed, got more fuel and the stories continued running. It was not taken kindly if you obstructed the view!

The national television station TBC was present and showed a clip of the Dedication on TV for two days. Many Deaf institutions, organizations and churches were represented. There were also about 11 hearing people in total who attended. One hearing parent who has a Deaf child, after watching the full story of God calling Abraham told Jojo “This is the first time I have understood this story well. This Bible is better than the Kiswahili One.”

The Deaf showered praise on the DVD Bible. Some Deaf school children said that the signing in it was very clear! One Deaf woman was so overwhelmed with joy, on seeing the DVD Bible, she said she was wordless but very happy that such great work had been done by the Deaf. Every single Deaf present was very proud of a Bible in their heart language.

And many continue to tell the translation team how much a blessing the DVD Bible has been to them over the last two days. Join us in praising the Lord for his doing!


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In Which Language?

20111116-161255.jpgIn a minority language group where people are not well acquainted with Jesus, a woman was hired to translate one of the gospels. Although she was fluent in Russian (the language from which she was translating), she discovered that the words in her own language were “so beautiful—brighter, more touching, deeper than Russian.” No matter how often she read the book, it still spoke to her: “I start crying when I read about Jesus being lonely and praying during the night before His crucifixion. When I read those words in my language I can’t stop crying. The words are so alive, they pierce my soul.” When she read it to others, they also wept.

In another language group in the area, a mother tongue translator needed to find out if a new translation of Mark’s Gospel communicated clearly, so she read it to a group of teachers. Because she was concentrating very hard, she did not look up until she heard a noise that sounded like laughter. Was something wrong with the text? Did her listeners think it inappropriate to read in the local language when they were all educated in Russian?

Then she realized that it was not laughter but crying! She looked up to see a school principal with his head bowed and a pool of tears on the desk in front of him. The story in Mark 12 about the poor widow giving her offering had touched him deeply. When he heard it in his own language, he realized that Jesus’ words carried a challenge—it is not enough just to hear the words; we must live accordingly.

If these people speak and teach in the language of wider communication, why do they still respond in this way to their mother tongue? A translator in West Asia put it this way: “We can understand the Bible with our mind in the national language, but it’s the mother tongue that plants the Word in our hearts.” After giving 18 years of his life to translating the New Testament into his own language, this man turned his attention to the Old Testament. Now the full Bible is being typeset by a partner organization and is expected to be dedicated in 2012.

I’m sure you can sense the tension here. Some—maybe most—of the people in these language groups are proficient in a language of wider communication. But the translation in that language doesn’t always resonate at the deepest level of their beings—the place where hurts are healed, decisions are made, and lives are changed. And for some in the community, it may not resonate at all.

How do we tell which groups need their own Scripture translation? How do we know when we should invest the tremendous amount of resources it takes to translate, publish and distribute a translation? How do we avoid investing in translations for people that are truly multilingual to the point that they would not benefit from another translation? These are important questions as we seek to complete Vision 2025.

Surveys give us guidance, as do anecdotal stories like the ones I’ve shared. The urgency and commitment expressed by mother tongue speakers is another important indicator, and there are others.

I want to invite you to pray with me that God’s direction will be clear in every situation. Pray that God would give discernment as leaders, survey teams, and translators determine which language truly speaks to the hearts of each group of people.

Scripture tells us, “…the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT)

That’s the central issue, isn’t it? What will it take to make sure that any specific group—and eventually all the groups—can interact with God’s Word in the language and form that is as sharp and powerful as God intended it to be?

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Photo by Kimberly Brotzler

By Elyse Patten

Did you know that almost every weekend over the last year or so language communities in Papua New Guinea have been celebrating the translation of God’s word into their language? Rain or shine, all across the country, each weekend another community celebrates the opportunity to hold the completed New Testament scriptures in their hands for the first time. And not just to hold it, but to understand it. To understand God’s message of love, grace, salvation, and a life lived to the full. Sheltered from the pouring rain, dancers from the Molima language community in the Milne Bay area make music in celebration. Joel, one of the translation team coordinators and a native speaker of Molima, speaks from his own experience the day before this image was taken – “I look forward to this dedication. It is going to bring change actually – when people have the word of God in their heart language. Change of mindset and attitudes, and the way they approach their spiritual life will also change. When they read the word, it will be very clear to them… and the most important thing is what the Word of God is going to do in their own lives. Many people are looking forward to having the Word of God in our own language. We are so excited.”

Editor’s Note: Brad and Elyse Patten edit the Monsoon Messenger blog.

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2012 Wycliffe Calendar

Do you remember the first time you read God’s Word?

The Wycliffe 2012 calendar includes a dozen vivid images of people experiencing Scripture in their own language, many of them for the first time.

Some of these people have waited their whole lives to hear God’s Word in a language they can clearly understand.

Others are blessed to receive the Bible in their own language at an early age.

Each is embracing Scripture in every sense of the word. And they’re sharing it with others, planting seeds of transformation in their communities.

This Christmas, give friends and family members the Wycliffe 2012 calendar—a visual reminder of the most important gift they’ll ever receive.

Order your copies today.

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Toli, a middle-aged man of the Pinai-Hagahai language group in Papua New Guinea, received his first printed copy of the Gospel of Mark a few years ago. He cried.

They weren’t tears of joy, but of sorrow and frustration, as Toli is one of a thousand Pinai-Hagahai language speakers who can’t read. It would take a great deal of time before he and his fellow villagers could be taught to read the Bible’s message in the language they understand best.

He prayed for a solution.

“I got a MegaVoice http://Bible one-and-a-half years ago,” Toli said. “Now the message is clear.”

Toli received the audio Bible along with a printed version so he can read along and understand the Bible more easily. This also helps people like Toli become literate more quickly. Toli is just one example of the millions of men and women around the world whose lives have been changed by access to audio Bibles in their own languages.

“I listen to it daily,” Toli said. “Now I’m like a man who knows how to read. Now I’m like a pastor. The whole New Testament must be recorded.”

The MegaVoice audio Bible is a solar powered, digital, handheld audio player that allows translators to record up to 160 hours of spoken Scripture—enough for the entire Bible—reaching the estimated four billion people who can’t read the Scriptures for themselves. About the size of a cassette player, the audio Bible is much more durable than a cassette or CD and doesn’t require batteries, allowing non-readers to hear and share the Gospel for years to come.

Because of their remote location, the Pinai-Hagahai have a history of lawlessness and crime. Just months after Wycliffe personnel arrived in the 1990s, the workers’ village house was looted and destroyed, villagers were robbed, beaten, raped, wounded, and the whole village was abandoned and burned down.

In May of 2008, the MegaVoice audio Bible was finally introduced to the Pinai-Hagahai people and change began to come. Wycliffe personnel were able to provide the four Gospels and the book of Acts in both audio and written forms.

The lessons and biblical truths the Pinai-Hagahai speakers learned led them to change their behavior toward each other. This year, many said that hearing the Bible in the language they understood clearly has enriched their relationships and brought transformation and opportunity in their lives.

Sabu is a middle-aged man who knows multiple dialects, but feels the most connection to the Word of God when it is spoken in his heart language.

“I listen to the Gospels in my language all the time,” Sabu said. “It speaks to my heart. I used to be a man who gets angry quickly. I feel this has changed now. I want to thank all the people who have given money for this, and I want to thank God.”

Kandama, an elderly man in the village, never understood the Scriptures’ meaning when it was preached in other languages. It wasn’t until he heard the Word of God preached through the audio Bible that he decided to make a change.

“I heard that we should not slander or judge others,” Kandama said. “I saw my guilt. I stopped doing that. I also wanted to remove the splinter from the eyes of others, but I myself had a log in my eyes. I saw my guilt. I stopped doing that.”

Usibia waited a long time for a MegaVoice player of her own. Now that she finally has one, she keeps it wrapped in six protective Women using MegaVoice playerscoverings and removes it only to listen to the messages she cherishes.

“I used to borrow one from one of my relatives so often that he got angry and got one for me one-and-a-half years ago,” Usibia said. “I remember the stories of how Mary gave birth to Jesus, how he got baptized, how he healed the woman who had been sick for twelve years, and the story of Paul.”

Now you can help create the same powerful change for the seven million Nigerian Fulani people, one of the largest unreached people groups in Africa. You can give the tangible gift of God’s spoken Word by providing for the purchase of audio Bibles and by funding the recording and distribution of Scriptures on cassette and video—particularly the Genesis video, the Acts video, and the “JESUS” film.

Check out the Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Gift Catalog at www.wycliffecatalog.org for more information.

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