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Archive for January, 2012

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Children are a gift from the Lord ;
they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3 NLT)

The visit to Cameroon has personal meaning for Dallas and me. Léonard Bolioki, the main translator for the Yambetta New Testament, and his wife, Marie, have been personal friends since 1987 when we arrived in Cameroon. We’re thrilled that soon the Yambetta community will have the Scripture resources they need in a language and form they relate to best to find salvation in Christ and freedom from traditional religion.

The Yambetta language continues to be used in homes and the Scriptures are having a meaningful impact in churches, including those of children like those pictured above. On a quick trip around the village, when asked to sing, these kids were quick to oblige and happy to sing us severaL songs in Yambetta.

Support for the translation program comes from various sources. Pictured below at on the right is a cleric who for 25 years has promoted the use of mother tongue Scripture in Yambetta.

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Dallas and I met this same cleric 25 years ago. He officiated at the funeral of the Bolioki’s son, Tonton, who was tragically killed one evening in a horrible accident when he was only 10 years old. As we sat talking in their home last Tuesday evening, we revisited our memories of Tonton’s life. Marie said, “There isn’t one day that goes by that I do not think of Tonton!”

She and Léo know the importance of Scripture in the lives of children. Although their own daughters are no longer at home, they have two nephews living with them. Just before we went to bed, Léo brought out the Bible and read a passage asking each of us to reflect and pray about the application in our lives. “What difference should the Words of God make make in our actions and behaviors?” he asked. A good question for all of us!

The day our team from Wycliffe USA was there, Léo and his translation team read to us in Yambetta the story from John 11–the death and resurrection of Lazarus. As they mourned together the loss her her brother Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” (John 11:25, 26 NLT)

A message of hope for this and future generations for the Yambetta community. It’s a message of hope for all you hear and believe.

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Yesterday, along with Cameroonian friends, church leaders and SIL colleagues, representatives of the Seed Company, and Wycliffe Associates USA, our team from Wycliffe USA celebrated a milestone as the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL) marked 25 years of service to the peoples of Cameroon.

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It was a milestone that represented more than just a ‘birthday’ celebration. This picture shows the first African, a Kenyan, Mundara Muturi (left), who is the Wycliffe Global Alliance Africa Area Director. He is honoring the outgoing General Director of CABTAL, Dr. Michel Kenmogne (right), and newly appointed General Director, Efi Tembon (center). Never before has a picture like this represented so much: the intentional efforts on the part of many to build the capacity of Africans to take leadership role in Bible translation across the continent.

For Dallas and me, along with our whole team, it was an emotional time. While we in no way take credit for any of this, we know that God used us, along with the support from Wycliffe USA, in small ways to contribute to this historic day in Cameroon.

Having the opportunity to say a few words to a large group gathered last night in a celebration and appreciation of partners, including local language communities, church leaders, SIL Cameroon, and Wycliffe USA, who helped contribute to the 25 years CABTAL was celebrating, I related the story of my friend, Peter Yuh.

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Pictured (right) at the dedication of the KOM New Testament, I related the story of Peter coming to my office in Yaoundé in 1989. Peter, who at the time was employed by the government of Cameroon as a teacher, was being asked to return to his home area in the Northwest Province of Cameroon to facilitate the translation of the New Testament into his mother-tongue, KOM. It was a difficult decision for him because his family had sacrificed financially to send him to get a university degree; he was the graduate in his family and was, along with his salary from the government, helping to support other family members. Peter was being asked to step into an uncertain future.

My question to the group last night was, “What if Peter had said ‘no’ to this call?” Of course, these matters are in God’s hands, but Peter said ‘yes’ to the call of God in his life.

Fast forward to present day. The New Testament is complete, the Jesus Film is done, an audio recording of the New Testament has been done by Faith Comes by Hearing – there are active listening groups engaged with the Scriptures.

Peter has, since the dedication of the New Testament in 2005, gone to graduate school at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) and completed his PhD in Bible translation. Peter is now a Bible translation consult for other translators working on New Testaments and whole Bibles.

God used Peter’s availability to build His Kingdom in the KOM community. One of the speakers yesterday reminded us that every language community in Cameroon will be in Heaven…it is God’s promise.

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9, 10 NLT)

Peter is humble, he does not want credit, but God used him, along with many others who supported the KOM translation, to ensure worship for Himself from the KOM community. In addition, Peter is representative of the capacity that CABTAL has developed and continues to develop.

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Our team visited three translation projects in two days: Nugunu, Yambetta and Tunen. All represent in one way or another one of the main reasons Bible translation is accelerating: strategies involving Cameroonians more deeply in the translation process, and the use of new technologies.

We started out in the town of Ombessa just north of the capital, Yaoundé, where we visited with the Nugunu translation team. This project supported by SIL Cameroon is nearing completion. Taking advantage of satellite technology installed by Wycliffe Associates USA, they are able (as are the next two projects) to transfer data that includes translated Scriptures that are checked remotely for accuracy and returned to them for updating on their computers.

Our next stop, Yambetta, has personal meaning for Dallas and me. Léonard and Marie Bolioki have been working on this project for many years, and we have loved and supported them as much as we could since we first arrived in Cameroon in 1987. They lost their ten-year-old son, Tonton, during our first year here. A very sad event that bonded us together for life.

Acting at the project coordinator, Léo has organized very well his team of translators. Here is a picture I took of him helping them with the meaning of a passage as they search for Biblical accurate and culturally relevant ways to express meaning in Yambetta.

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The Yambetta translation team is working in conjunction with SIL Cameroon and The Seed Company. Founded by Wycliffe USA, the Seed Company has pioneered creative and flexible ways of involving national colleagues who are taking leadership of Bible translation projects in their mother tongue thereby accelerating the pace of translation.

Our next stop was Tunen were we saw a demonstration of the challenges of maintaining Bible accuracy while search for culturally relevant ways to express meaning. The group enacted a short story of a pastor who is preaching in French using a translator who was translating simultaneously as the pastor spoke. The translator was choosing very ‘literal’ terms in Tunen to express what the pastor is trying to say. Not only did the skit produce humorous responses from the listening group, but it also created erroneous interpretation of Biblical truths!

The Tunen team is using a computer program, Our Word, to make adaptions from a neighboring language, Noomande, that already has the New Testament. Using a source text, this program enables translation teams to produce very accurate first-draft-translations from already existing New Testaments.

Tomorrow afternoon we will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of CABTAL. We’re looking forward to hearing more about how God is advancing Bible translation and literacy in the languages of Cameroon.

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Our team is enjoying the opportunity of hearing and seeing how our Cameroonian friends and colleagues are working in partnership and in many ways taking the lead in Bible translation in Cameroon. Yesterday Charlene Israel (CBN), Kristie Frieze, Tim Born and I had the chance to visit with Efi Tembon the director of the work for CABTAL. Hearing him say that they work in partnership with SIL Cameroon, but primarily with local communities, building the basis for sustainable Bible translation and Scripture engagement enthused us all. Efi played a very short video clip from Ngemboon, a project completed by CABTAL, where Faith Comes By Hearing had done an audio recording of the New Testament. Great testimonies of how God is impacting the community through the power of his Word.

Today we are off to Yambetta and a visit with Marie and Léonard Bolioki. Léo and Marie are long-time friends and colleagues who are completing the New Testament in their mother tongue. The Finish Line says they are within two to three years of completion.

Here is an early photo of our combined families that is dated in the late 80’s.

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Proclaiming God’s Word

“These machines are God’s answer to getting the Word out.”

Ginny Bradley (holding a Proclaimer) Senior Translation Consultant and Scripture Use Coordinator, SIL Cameroon

Wonderful partnership with Faith Comes By Hearing.

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Cameroon Training Center

Waking up this morning at SIL’s Cameroon Training Center. SIL has been committed to language development, including Bible translation and multi-lingual education, in Cameroon for over 40 years. Earliest training dates back to 1976 and 1977 when a series of courses were launched helping attendees develop their own languages.

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There are over 260 languages in Cameroon representing a rich tapestry of language and culture.

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New Testament Dedications in Cameroon

One of the best experiences we had during our time in Cameroon were Scripture dedications. Here with Carol Stanley Thorne and Ellen Jackson at the dedication of the Tikar New Testament.

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The Tikar New Testament is also available in audio format from our partner organization, Faith Comes By Hearing.

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