Archive for July, 2012

How hard can it be to get Scripture from one language to another?
The answer might surprise you.

Translating for Understanding from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

Watch as fictional characters Christy and Kaiya work through a difficult Bible translation challenge. When cultural perspective changes the meaning of Scripture, the team has to work harder to make sure the translation communicates the true message of spiritual freedom God intended.

Check out the Road to Transformation for information about the translation process.

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Photo by Alan Hood

North America’s two hundred thousand Amish people will soon have the Old Testament in their Pennsylvania Dutch mother tongue, to add to the New Testament, published in 1994. Hank Hershberger,* a native speaker of Pennsylvania Dutch and long-time member of Wycliffe Bible Translators, has completed the translation of the Old Testament, with help from four other speakers of the German dialect. He expects ten thousand copies of the newly translated Scriptures will be printed by the end of the year.

If the response to the New Testament—seventeen thousand copies have been sold—is any indication, the Old Testament should also be well accepted by many Amish.

“My wife Ruth and I have received many letters telling how they appreciate the New Testament,” says eighty-eight-year-old Hank. “When the New Testament was so well received, with requests for the Old Testament too, we felt we had to do the Old Testament as well.”

As one Amish lady using the New Testament wrote in a letter to Hank, “I have read it clear through and am so excited about it. I have found my native language… It adds new meaning—which thrills my soul. At times I weep at such great clarity in simple everyday language. It speaks to my heart.”

Hank says there is a movement among the Old Order Amish away from “works righteousness,” and the Pennsylvania Dutch New Testament may have influenced this. “It is being used mostly by individuals or in family devotions,” he adds.

Amish churches have traditionally used Luther’s Gothic Script High German Bible, even though most Amish don’t understand it well. But some ministers are beginning to read from the Pennsylvania Dutch New Testaments. And with the whole Bible soon available, Hank hopes that even more Amish ministers will begin using their mother-tongue Scriptures in church.

This story originally appeared in Wycliffe Canada’s Word Alive magazine. Read the rest of this issue at http://www.wycliffe.ca/wycliffe/resources/wa_mag.jsp?mid=27

*Hank and Ruth previously spent twenty-five years in Australia where they completed a New Testament for the Gugu-Yalanji Aboriginal people.

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A Fijan performs an energetic warrior dance during the opening night for the Eleventh Festival of Pacific Arts

Photo by Elyse Patten, Wycliffe photojournalist

The Eleventh Festival of Pacific Arts recently concluded in the Solomon Islands. Held once every four years, this two-week-long celebration brought together many cultural groups from all over the Pacific. Wycliffe and its partner organizations participated through ethno-arts and Bible storytelling workshops.

Elyse describes the experience as she captures images of the diverse and colorful dances representing each region:

“The light is fading, but the energy is just increasing, and my heart is swelling as the mind-blowing displays of culture, art, pride and intense energy are directed right at me. And they aren’t stopping.”

Read more from Elyse and see more of her photos from the opening ceremony of the Eleventh Festival of Pacific Arts.



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A day of teambuilding at the beginning of the summer

This summer marks the fourth year of Wycliffe’s Orlando Summer Internship. We’re honored that these students gave up their summers to serve Bible translation from our home offices. Read more from their own words:

Greetings from the 2012 Wycliffe Bible Translators Orlando Summer Internship! On June 3, the five of us arrived in Orlando with a common goal—to accelerate the process of Bible translation and grow in as many ways as possible. Already we’ve been stretched professionally, spiritually, emotionally, and academically.

Each day we spend eight hours honing our professional skills as we work behind the scenes to further Bible translation around the world. We are growing as we translate the skills we’ve learned at school into a professional atmosphere.

On Tuesday nights we have Bible study. This, along with our Thursday reflection nights (an extended period set aside for spending time alone with God) has been an incredible time to grow in our walk with God.

Each Tuesday and Thursday morning we spend two hours in classes designed to help us grow in leadership (Tuesdays) and faith and culture (Thursdays). Through our leadership classes we’ve learned a lot about how our unique set of strengths and our communication styles can be used most effectively as a group. Faith and culture class has helped us better understand our own culture and beliefs as well as learning to interact with other people’s cultures and beliefs.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve here at Wycliffe and contribute to Bible translation efforts around the world!

—Erin, Jordan, Stella, Josiah, and Stephanie

ERIN HEIZELMAN: Graphic Design Intern

Tabor College

Majoring in graphic design with a minor in painting

JORDAN BAKER: Staff Resource Center Intern

Currently at Georgia Gwinnett College
Planning to transfer to Georgia State University to major in linguistics

STELLA SEOIN CHOI: Marketing Intern

University of Connecticut

Majoring in marketing

JOSIAH WALKER: Human Resources Intern

Letourneau University

Majoring in international business with a minor in business administration

STEPHANIE WILLIS: Photography Intern

John Brown University

Majoring in graphic design and photography with a minor in Spanish

Orlando isn’t the only place Wycliffe has interns! This year we have five linguistic interns at the SIL office in Texas, four with the Choctaw translation team in Mississippi, and three at the JAARS center in North Carolina. Visit www.wycliffe.org/shortterm to learn more about participating in our US-based internships  or our overseas Discovery Trips.

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Sleeping Coconuts: Official Book Trailer from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

In Sleeping Coconuts, Wycliffe translators John and Bonnie Nystrom share their story of tragedy, teamwork, transformation, and the incredible way that God used a tsunami to change the face of Bible translation in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

You won’t want to miss out on the action-packed story of God’s provision in the midst of massive tragedy and destruction!

Check out www.sleepingcoconuts.com for features like photos and video from the Nystroms’ time in PNG, access to their blog, an excerpt from the book, and more! There you can also order your copy of Sleeping Coconuts and invite the Nystroms to speak at your church or upcoming event.

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Edited by Mary Tindall

Victor Opungu worked on the Mekeo Bible translation with the Papua New Guinea Bible Translation Association, a Wycliffe partner organization.

One day in Veifa’a, my home village, I saw an elderly woman walking toward me.

“When are you going to finish the book that you said you would?” she asked me. “I want to read what God is saying.” She was referring to the Old Testament.

“It’s taking a long time,” I said. “We need people to help.”

This long journey began back in 1994 when God’s Word first spoke to my heart at the age of 24. Back then I spent hours alongside other translators at a wooden table, carefully rendering the book of Acts into the Mekeo language.

In Acts 19, I read about people burning their sorcery books as a result of seeing God’s power when Paul preached. A similar event happened while we were translating Acts. A man in my village came to believe in the Lord, so he burned his books and paraphernalia, but evil spirits from the books went into his son-in-law, and he began speaking nonsense.

When a missionary and one of my co-translators prayed for this young man, God answered, and he immediately gained his senses. That’s when I knew this God must be powerful. A short time later, I accepted Christ. I tell people today that when I translated the Word of God, it translated me.

We had finished the New Testament translation in 1998, and it had caused a spiritual breakthrough. People were studying the Bible together in their homes, and God was healing bodies and minds on a regular basis. Yet I knew the New Testament was only the beginning. I had read 2 Timothy 3:16, which says that all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true. I knew that included the Old Testament. For the next four years, I poured myself into translating the Old Testament into Mekeo.

I believe that when my people have the Old Testament, it will transform their lives as they learn more about who God is, how sin came into the world, and why we have a need for Jesus. When they read about King Saul, who disobeyed God and lost his throne, they will understand that God commands obedience. They will know Jesus in a deeper way, too.

Bible translation is not an easy task, but I cling to the vision God gave me: to see my people read Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. I long for the day when I can walk up to the old woman in the village and place a complete Bible in her hands.


Please join us in praying for the Mekeo language group and the translation team still working faithfully to provide them with the complete Bible in the language that speaks to their heart.



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Translators don’t just help their community better understand God’s Word. They often gain a deeper understanding as well. Watch to learn how the translation process can benefit local translators!

Want to learn more about the power of Bible translation? Click here to experience the Road to Transformation—an interactive site that helps explain the rewards and challenges of the translation process.


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