Archive for March, 2012

man working on computerMany Bibleless people groups are oral societies, processing life lessons through music, drama, and story, rather than the analytical, literate methods that many western cultures use. Wycliffe works with OneStory—a global partnership with Campus Crusade for Christ, Pioneers International, Trans World Radio, and Youth With A Mission.

OneStory trains mother-tongue speakers to learn and share stories from God’s Word within their community. They learn twenty-five to fifty stories from key Scripture passages that focus on God’s plan of redemption, from Creation to the promise of Christ’s return. High quality audio recordings and back translations* of the stories are archived to ensure accuracy over time.

In South Asia, mother-tongue storytellers work regularly with nonbelievers to test story comprehension and if they’ve maintained their accuracy after being retold. This creates an opportunity for non-believers to interact intimately with the Good News in a non-confrontational way. One mother-tongue storyteller named six people who believed in Christ as a result of the stories they tested.

Another storyteller reported that during the testing, one non-believer said, “Really, I am a sinner. Jesus, forgive me.” After the testing was done, he added, “This is a very good story, and I believe on Jesus.” This sort of reaction is a natural response to people hearing a story about Jesus forgiving someone and then the hearer applying that story to their own life.people talking


We are grateful for the gracious donors to Wycliffe’s Worldwide Project Fund who make projects like this one possible.

*Back translation is the process of translating something that has already been translated into a foreign language back to the original language.


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Without the Church, mission work would not be possible. Wycliffe Global Alliance just produced a video about a small church from Slovakia who sent a member of their congregation to work as a language surveyor in Thailand.

Listen to Pastor Juraj and other church members talk about their community effort to support and send Eva so that others can hear God’s Word in a language and form they can clearly understand.



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It’s Beautiful

By Matt Petersen

Grisel Flores is a member of the Salvadoran Sign Language community.

“When I was younger I attended church,” signs Grisel. “But when I had my daughter, I quit going. Then I started having troubles with my husband and he left me. I started going to the church and telling them about my problems, but the priest would say, ‘Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.’ I’d go home and I’d be frustrated and I’d cry.

“Then I started talking to Toni.”

Toni is an American missionary serving the Deaf in El Salvador.

“I didn’t understand the Bible,” says Grisell, “but I’d ask Toni.

“Toni had this activity where she asked everybody to write down whatever sins you have from your past, and she collected them all and put them in a glass. At first I didn’t get it. Then she explained. All our sins were in that cup and that’s the cup Jesus didn’t want to drink. It’s what He did to pay for my sins!

“To know Jesus, it’s beautiful!” Grisel signs, lighting up. “It’s wonderful to learn about the Bible and apply it to my life, but the other Deaf, they don’t know Him. I want to teach them about Jesus!”

Grisel was fortunate to know a missionary who spoke her language. Most Deaf don’t have that.

“A lot of Deaf didn’t go to school,” Toni explains. “So they can’t read. And those who were lucky enough to go to school probably only went through sixth grade. Most parents can’t afford it. And those who did go to school—you have to realize it’s their second language.”

So what’s it like for a Deaf person trying to learn the Bible in Spanish?

“When the interpreters just do word for word, I don’t understand it clearly,” communicates Grisel. “You have to have the movements. For example, if I’m talking about a woman and a man, I have to set it up.” She demonstrates, bringing her two index fingers together with a bouncing movement, like puppets.

“I have to have two people, and then I understand it. But if you just say man and woman talking, I don’t get it.”

“Many Deaf in El Salvador go to church and they have their Bibles,” Toni says. “But they don’t know how to read, and they don’t really understand the interpreter. They’re not getting to know Jesus.

“I think the hearing mentality, both here in El Salvador and in the United States, is, ‘We have an interpreter.’”

But that’s not enough, says Toni.

“I know everyone is saying Latin America is evangelized, but the Deaf in Latin America are not evangelized. We have a whole group of Deaf we’re not reaching because they don’t understand.”


Estimates suggest there are as many as four hundred signed languages worldwide. Millions of Deaf have never experienced God’s Word in a language and form they can clearly understand.

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Celebrating Luke Completion for Five Languages

When you’re almost finished building a canoe, it’s time to get out the fine tools to complete the details. The Aitape people of Papua New Guinea rely on canoes to get from place to place, so they understand the role of fine tools.

Like canoe-building, Bible translation requires careful attention to detail. Translation teams working in the Aitape cluster—a group of five similar languages—recently showed how seriously they take that responsibility.

The teams were almost finished with the translation of the Gospel of Luke. Now they needed to get out their fine tools and refine the spelling, fix the punctuation, correct formatting errors, add footnotes, and write captions for the nineteen illustrations in the book.

The teams had planned to meet for a four-week workshop to complete this work. But as the translators arrived for the workshop, obstacles loomed large. They lacked reliable Internet access, and the dorms had septic problems. The translators had to choose whether to go home until conditions were better, or stay and finish Luke. Staying meant sharing one toilet among sixteen men.

Despite the challenges, all of the translators chose to stay. They persevered through the final stages—and at the end of the workshop, all left with copies of their completed translations of Luke.

Some returned the next day to get more copies made, because fellow villagers eager to read God’s Word had claimed every copy. They needed more copies to hand out and one to keep for themselves so they could make corrections as they received feedback from readers.

The next step was a workshop to typeset the Gospel of Luke. At the end of May, translators from each language—Sissano, Arop, Malol, Gooiniri, and Pou—did a “walkabout,” visiting various villages to celebrate the arrival of the first portion of God’s Word and to encourage local churches and individuals to use them.

 In the Malol villages, the people welcomed the team with dancing and singing. The translators read Luke chapter fifteen aloud in each village. Sixteen copies of Luke were sold.

 The Sissano translators reported that people bought all forty-eight copies, as well as all of the Luke-based reading primers, and had ordered three hundred more copies! The Sissano, Malol, and Arop communities had all been devastated by a tsunami in 1998, so this milestone was especially meaningful!

Praise God that there is such a thirst for Scripture, and pray that He will accomplish His purposes in the hearts of those who hear and read His Word.

To read more stories from Frontlines, or to sign up to receive our Frontlines publication via email, please click here: http://www.wycliffe.org/frontlines.aspx

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Cynthia SwindollBy Katie Adams

Cynthia Swindoll, long-time Bible translation advocate, recently became the newest member of the Wycliffe President’s Council—a non-governing group of business and community leaders invited to advise the president and Wycliffe’s leadership on matters of fundraising, public relations, marketing, and prayer.

Cynthia and her husband, Chuck, live in Frisco, Texas, where Chuck founded and serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church. Cynthia is president and chief executive officer of Insight for Living Ministries which they founded in 1979. Insight for Living Ministries broadcasts Chuck’s sermons all over the world, currently reaching over 208 nations. They have four children—all of whom work in various ministries—and ten grandchildren.

Wycliffe presented the Bill Bright Scripture Impact Award to the Swindolls in 2007 for their global outreach. Chuck’s sermons are broadcast in English and are currently translated into five major languages with three more in the works for this next year.  Through www.insight.org, Insight for Living Ministries offers its worldwide listeners and friends instant, round-the-clock, convenient access to a wide variety of biblical media resources available only through the web.   

“Chuck and I are completely dedicated and focused on teaching the Word of God,” Cynthia said.

That goal has carried over into every aspect of their lives, including Cynthia’s involvement on the National Religious Broadcasters board of directors since 1990, and now her role as a member of the Wycliffe President’s Council.

The Swindolls developed an interest in Wycliffe’s Bible translation efforts in the early 80s, when they realized Wycliffe was reaching people without written languages—people their ministries could not reach.

As a new member of the Wycliffe President’s Council, Cynthia is motivated by the thought of countless people around the world who are dying without a written language, much less the Word of God in their hands or pastors to teach them.

“That’s why I love it that Wycliffe is now so focused on accomplishing this objective by 2025,” she said. “We’ll do everything we can through Insight for Living Ministries to encourage those missionaries.”

“We are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” Cynthia said. “Matthew 28:18–20 represents our marching orders; it is what we live by. Whatever role God gives us should be our passion and where we direct our energies every single day.”

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One Young Couple Shares Their Story

Last month twenty-nine people were at Wycliffe USA headquarters in Orlando for our two-week Equip program. Here, new Wycliffe personnel learned how to build a team of prayer and financial partners as they prepare for their job assignment with Wycliffe. Here’s a fun story told by one new Wycliffe couple about how God brought them to this point in their lives:

Brian: We’re Brian and Marie, and our journey at Wycliffe began in the way we met—which for me was partly a bet.

holding hands

photo by Jon Shuler

Marie: And for me it came from being in graduate school in tiny small-town South Dakota, in an English department where there are no men. [Chuckle] I was with one of my friends one day, and we decided to join a dating service.

B: And I had a friend who had joined these online dating services, and I always made fun of him. I made him this bet that if I hadn’t been on a date in a year and a half or so after college, I’ll join.

And so I ended up joining.

[Bashful grin]

M: One of the things that’s interesting about this online dating site is that you get to rate what’s really important to you. And one of the things I rated as an eight or higher—so very important to me—was Vision 2025.

(Vision 2025 is Wycliffe’s commitment to see a Bible translation program in process in every language still needing one by the year 2025.)

B: I saw that and said, “Hey, here’s a girl who’s interested in missions. She’s a slam dunk.”

M: So, long story short, we wound up getting married. He was working as an engineer, and I worked as an English teacher.

B: We’d kind of put the whole missions thing on the back burner, so we decided, “Ok, we like our jobs, but this isn’t what we wanted to do long term.” So we went to a one-day Explore Wycliffe event, and it was after that that I was really sold on the vision of Wycliffe.

M: We were really excited, but he was worried that as an engineer it wouldn’t be a good fit for him. So we decided to go to Dallas and attend a TOTAL It Up! course, which is a one-week introduction to translation and linguistics. It was crazy—every man we sat down with that week said, “I was an engineer, too,” and so we said, “Ok God, we’re hearing your voice. We want to follow you in this.”

B: At the same time we had student loan debt, and we felt like we needed to take another step of faith and try to do this as quickly as we could and make other changes necessary. So we moved across town to the dumpiest and cheapest apartment we could find.

M: It was truly terrible, and it was an especially hot summer.

B: We cut out shopping and we started couponing on food, and even dumpster dived in the recycling bin to get coupons.

M: With the grocery store’s permission.

B: Yeah, that’s key.

M: We paid off more debt in those seven months than we earned! I don’t know what happened, but it was clear that God was on our side, so we’ve been calling it “God math.”

B: So then we applied for Wycliffe and started the process of choosing where we wanted to go.

M: Places started e-mailing us, saying, “We need translators.” It felt like going to the orphanage, and there are hundreds of children who need a home, and you can only choose one. And that was a really painful thing, but at the same time we really felt like God was leading us to Asia.

B: We chose Asia partly because of the number of people there without the Bible and also because we had connections to it previously in our life and we really had a heart for it already.

M: And so, last summer we quit our jobs and moved to Dallas to attend GIAL. We did the certificate last fall in linguistics. And now we’re headed to work on partnership development. We hope to be in Asia learning the trade language by June!

Brian and Marie have just started building their partnership team. You can help send them to Asia through a one-time donation or by joining their team. E-mail them at brianandmarietoasia@gmail.com


God uses many ways to lead us to the places He has for our lives. If you are interesting in checking out Wycliffe, visit us at www.wycliffe.org


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laptop computerIn a little village in Southeast Asia, where there is neither electricity nor phone service, translator Mandowen sat down each day at a laptop computer. A dozen people clustered closely around him, listening as he read a Bible passage in their Yawa language. The volunteer reviewers enthusiastically discussed it, looking for ways to improve awkward or unclear sentences. When they were satisfied, Mandowen revised it on his computer. Then, using specially-designed software, he logged onto the Internet and synchronized his draft.  

 Halfway around the world in Arlington, Texas, Wycliffe translator Linda Jones got up each morning and read Mandowen’s latest draft. She checked to make sure the meaning hadn’t been altered and sent back suggestions for the next round of discussion. They repeated these interchanges countless times as they made final revisions to the Yawa New Testament.

 Working together in this way became possible in 2009 when a new geostationary satellite began circling the equator. It had only been in service two weeks when IT specialists from Wycliffe’s Seed Company took a computer and a small satellite device to the village, showed Mandowen how to connect to the satellite, and taught him how to use the software. 

Mandowen and Linda were used to working long-distance because Linda’s husband, Larry, served in Bible translation leadership and wasn’t free to live in the village. For seventeen years, they sent Scripture drafts back and forth by mail and in hand-carried packets; Linda and Larry made trips to the village; Mandowen made trips out of the village. But when it was time for the final revisions, they felt totally stymied. To finish well, they needed increased interaction with the Yawa people, and they did not know how to get it.

Then the satellite went into orbit, and God used it to bring the Yawa reviewers into the process. Finally, in June 2011, the Yawa people celebrated the arrival of the New Testament in their own language.  Within a month every copy was sold, and people were demanding more. A second printing will be needed.

With new technology like Mandowen’s satellite device and new translation strategies, we are witnessing the greatest acceleration of the pace of Bible translation that the world has ever seen. In 2011, we dedicated over forty completed Bible projects—more than any other year!

As translation projects approach completion, they often experience significant setbacks. The Finish Line  is a yearly publication listing each of the projects within a few years of completion. Will you pray for one of these groups and keep praying until they have God’s Word in the language that best speaks to their hearts? Your prayers will make an eternal difference.

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