Archive for February, 2013

A Chuwabu leader in Mozambique sought out publishers of a grammar booklet his son had given him. “Who was it that made this book, which mentions things we use in Chuwabu?” the leader asked the translator. “I will pay you any price! I didn’t know that in this small book one can find such interesting things.”

The translators were elated. They’d hoped the booklet in Chuwabu would draw interest in their translation of mother-tongue Scripture. Now this important leader of a religion generally antagonistic toward Christianity was intrigued.

“Please inform us about any material you produce in Chuwabu,” the leader continued. “We want to study that God in our own language!”

Translators eagerly agreed. Mark’s Gospel and Genesis are in process.

Girl selling peanuts on the bridge over the Zambezi River in Tete

Photo courtesy of The Seed Company Field Sources

This is one of many stories published in the February 2013 issue of SeedLinks, a quarterly publication of our partner The Seed Company. View the whole issue by going to www.seedlinks.org and clicking on the “View the online edition” link.


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By Elyse Patten
Photo by Marc Ewell

Playful young girls in the town of Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) happily greet a visitor to their school. The people of CAR have been through tense times over these last two months of political unrest. Despite a peace plan signed in early January our Bible translation colleagues have recently had two of their offices looted and vandalized and have at times needed to hide for safety. Please pray for the safety of the staff of Wycliffe’s partner, ACATBA, who leads the country’s translation and literacy work, as they respond to this crisis and for the rebuilding that will follow. Our colleagues, like Elvis and Francis, have worked during unrest before. Please pray for the work of Bible translation and literacy to move forward despite these challenges.

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By Angela Nelson

Mary Seeger* has lived a full life. She raised three children with her late husband Bob,* cultivated award-winning pecan trees, got to travel overseas a few times, and even went sky-diving on her eightieth birthday.

“For someone who grew up so poor, it just blows my mind that the Lord has let me do all these things,” Mary said.

Today Mary lives on a farm in Texas with her daughter, Sue*—the one who originally introduced her to Wycliffe and Bible translation.

In the late eighties, Sue had learned about Wycliffe and decided to move to Waxhaw, North Carolina, to work with Wycliffe’s partner organization, JAARS. When Mary and Bob went to visit her there, they were very impressed with everything they saw and even spent a month volunteering at the new homes for retired missionaries, washing windows and wielding the pick, shovel, and rake.

Through Sue, they met many other missionaries working with Wycliffe, and they began supporting several of them financially.

“We’ve always been more interested in missions than we have been in church buildings,” Mary explained.

To this day, Mary still supports those missionaries. And in order to ensure that they continue to get support for a period once she passes away, she decided to donate one of her valuable possessions—a diamond.


The diamond was a present from Bob. He had given it to her for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and had it placed in the setting of her great-grandmother’s wedding ring.

Mary had worn it proudly for almost thirty years, but recently she kept it in her safe more than she wor

e it, for fear that she would lose it during her farm chores.

“Well, if you have something that you can’t wear and can’t enjoy and you’re afraid you’re going to lose it, you might as well give it back to the Lord,” she explained. “And since [Bob’s] passed away, he won’t mind.”

So Mary contacted people from the Wycliffe Foundation who took care of the details of selling the diamond. Half of the money went “where needed most” at Wycliffe. And when Mary passes away, the other half will continue to be distributed to the missionaries she currently supports through a Missionary Support Plan with the Wycliffe Foundation, for as long as the money lasts.

“If it lies in the safe, nobody’s going to hear the Good News,” Mary said. “And maybe the Lord’s going to use it to bring someone to Christ.”

Perhaps you have property, stock, savings, or a valuable asset like Mary did. Would you consider using some or all of those assets to help people hear God’s Word in their own language? If you have questions, the Wycliffe Foundation is happy to help. Contact them at www.wycliffefoundation.org or 877-493-3600.

*A pseudonym

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Earlier this month I attended several events in Washington, D.C., including the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) where I was encouraged by a theme of humility expressed on the part of our elected officials as they came together focusing on prayer for America. More than that, however, was the impression I sensed at the important role God’s Word plays in shaping our everyday lives.

In his address at the NPB, President Obama mentioned how, just days earlier while taking the oath of office, he’d placed his hand on the Bibles of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln. Both of these men experienced more joy, pain, and uncertainty in a very short period of time than most of us experience in a lifetime. In his address over breakfast, the President made reference to both of these men who placed their confidence in God and His Word. God’s Word, through multiple generations of American history, has been an anchor for men and women as they deal with trying issues in difficult times.

One of the events I attended was sponsored by the American Bible Society (ABS). Approaching its 200th anniversary, ABS is a champion of Scripture engagement in America. ABS president-elect, Doug Birdsall, addressed the group reflecting on the final interview he did with the ABS board just a few weeks before in New York City. On his way to the interview he stopped at the New York Public Library, which had just undergone a multimillion dollar renovation. Glancing at the murals, Doug said he saw the Bible everywhere—Moses and the 10 CommandmentsGutenberg printing the Word of God, and The Medieval Scribe, which shows a monk in the Middle Ages copying a manuscript of the Bible. Doug said he was inspired by these murals elevating the Word of God in a public institution like the New York City Public Library. He went on to express his hope/dream/prayer that this generation would be the most engaged generation in American history with the Bible.

National Prayer blog post pic_021913The key note speaker at the ABS event was Stephen Carter, a well-known and respected  professor of law at Yale.  His impressive résumé includes clerking for US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Speaking to the group on the import role of faith in the public square, he made it clear that people of faith should not be afraid to be involved in shaping events in our country. He, too, elevated the role of God’s Word in shaping our lives—the Word shapes or lives which informs our behaviors and actions. As he spoke, I glanced down at the table where a small placard quoted George Washington as saying, “It is impossible to rightly govern…without God and the Bible.” We are better people; ours is a better country because of God’s Word.

Stephen Carter concluded with the thought that, “Great societies think about the future—they think more of their children and grandchildren than they do about themselves.” While I suspect he was referring to some of the huge challenges of our day and the need to address these for the benefit of future generations, my mind went immediately to the legacy of God’s Word for our children and grandchildren. We should never take for granted that we live in a country where we have the freedom to read God’s Word, worship as we want, and express our beliefs openly without fear of retribution. In addition, most of us have God’s Word in a language we read, write, and relate to best—for most of us that would be English.

These freedoms, including having the Scriptures in our mother tongue, are not universally shared with people in other parts of the world. Whether it’s here in America or in a remote village in South East Asia, it’s an injustice for people NOT to have access to God’s Word so that their thoughts and worldview can be shaped by the One who loves them very much. The legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren is shaped by our right understanding of God’s Word and what we do with that understanding. Giving others this opportunity is not unique only to Wycliffe, nor is it exclusively American. But it is a legacy we enjoy in America and Wycliffe. It’s the opportunity to be involved in something much larger than ourselves—the communication of God’s eternal truths through His eternal Word.

Bob Creson
President and CEO
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA

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By Angela Nelson

Jannah1Jannah Welcome’s love for Scripture stirred her curiosity about the history of the Bible. As she searched the Internet for information, she came across Wycliffe Bible Translators, an organization dedicated to seeing the Bible translated for people who don’t have it in a language they can understand clearly.

As Jannah read about Wycliffe’s ministry around the world, she noticed that their US office was located in her hometown—Orlando, Florida. She told her husband Shawn that she wished she could work at a place like that—where her work would make a difference for God’s kingdom.

A few weeks later, as her husband Shawn was running a weekly community poetry night called Di-verse Word, he happened to overhear a young woman talking about Wycliffe. Shawn introduced himself and told her about his wife’s interest in the organization.

The woman invited Jannah to the office for a tour and, “By the end of the tour, I was literally just crying,” Jannah explained. She knew it was where God wanted her.

Today, Jannah works in Wycliffe’s Discovery Center, an awarding-winning exhibit where people can learn about Bible translation and how they can get involved in bringing God’s Word to people who don’t have it. She leads tours and takes care of purchases and online orders that come through Wycliffe’s Village Shop. She is also part of a response team that answers e-mails and phone calls about Wycliffe’s ministry.

Shawn Welcome

Shawn has also gotten involved. Because of his talent in performance poetry, Wycliffe commissioned him to write and perform poetry at several fundraising events and Scripture celebrations. In his poem entitled “Shades of Gray,” he parallels his experience teaching English to high school students who speak other languages with Wycliffe’s mission to make God’s Word accessible to language groups all over the world.

Ranked fourteenth in the nation at the 2007 National Poetry Slam, Shawn loves to write poetry that can “bring light in a dark decadent world, thirsty for hope and hungry for change,” and Jannah can attest to the impact she’s seen it make in people’s lives.

As Jannah looks back at the last two years at Wycliffe, she’s glad to be where she is. “When the days get rough—whether it’s something  that’s personal that I’m dealing with or something that’s work related—I can look at the bigger picture, and say, ‘I’m here. It’s for the greater cause. Someone’s going to get the Word of God and their life is going to be impacted in a way that’s going to shift everything for them.’”

This article was originally written for the Women’s Missionary Magazine, a publication of the Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Shades of Gray

By Shawn Welcome

ESOL……..English for Speakers of Other Languages.

It’s the classroom in public schools you might qualify for if you have an accent…..for a smoother transition into the fluent majority.

 Besides the poetry, I’m a tutor at Wekiva High School….Which is like the mall cop of teachers! Badge, no gun…No license to run anything but, I pace myself anyway.

Within my first few days as a tutor, Alain says to me, “Do you speak creole? You look like Wyclef.” I say, “no.” He says, “Sooo you’re just like regular Black, huh.” Sadly, I say, “yeah :-)” Funny……but since then I wanted to swallow every Rosetta Stone my stomach could hold cuz I really wanna help them. They… they still got flavor yall. America’s melting pot keeps its seasoning in ESOL classes.

And if students are somehow “dumb” because they struggle with English…….then Ludwig Van Beethoven is a blibbering idiot. Place dunce hats on Mother Theresa and Ghandi. Does this make sense to you? A million questions interrupt conversations with myself like Mr. Baseball? Why is it called the “World Series” when you never leave home base? Newsflash…the WORLD is more than New York and L.A….., Florida and Chicago.

 Will we ever see clearly across the Prime Meridian? Transcend oceans and embrace diversity when she cries at our doorstep abandoned with no blankets.

 What happens, when you mix Spanish, French, Creole, Vietnamese, and Russian speaking students in a classroom….two bilingual teachers….and give assignments in English? HOW do you assess them? I’m not mad, just, never seen this shade of gray before.

 And then there’s Wycliffe. A Christian based organization founded by college student Cameron Townsend whose mission, is making God Word available in a language and form that people understand best…..specifically indigenous people.

 The Berik Tribe in Papua New Guinea regard the gallbladder as significant as we see the heart. So John 3:16’s “For God so loved the world” in their translation starts off like, “For the world sat well in God’s gallbladder.” Enlightenment by any means necessary. Send them out. Live with natives. Learn the language. Then translate the Bible.

 It’s a mission impossible process easier said than done….spear to neck…sweat bullets…death and salvation are in love! Almost….inseparable!

 Many have died for, in essence, becoming ESOL students….in places like Papua New Guinea…..

 But crossing the life threatening line of linguistics is worth the reward!

Les langues diferentes sont belles!

Y no me importan lo que piensan los demas!

 Heaven! Heaven is and will always be multicultural!

 It’s gonna look like the most beautiful pack of m&m’s I’ve ever seen! From ESOL classes East to West…. to indigenous encounters with Wycliffe…..we become connected with shades of gray! Shades of gray is all we’ll see when these concrete walls of fear collapse.

And out of the ashes rises increasing humility……….to listen.


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Patricia with translators Crepin & Leonard (1)

Patricia Wilkendorf speaking to Mbam cluster translators

The mother-tongue translators for the Mbam cluster* of languages in Cameroon, West Africa, had gathered to say farewell to their SIL translation consultant, Patricia Wilkendorf, who was leaving for an extended time in the U.S.

When it was her turn to speak, she began to tell them the story in their common language, French. You’ll remember that God prompted translator Lee Bramlett to ponder the Hdi word for love. Lee realized that he’d heard the Hdi people use two forms of the word—‘dvi’ and ‘dva’—but he’d never heard ‘dvu,’ which language patterns suggested should be possible.Patricia had given a lot of thought to how she might encourage the translators to keep translating clearly and accurately, using all the resources of their language, while she was gone. She decided to tell them the story about the Hdi people and how God helped them recognize their word for unconditional love (see “God so ‘dvu’-d the world…“).

Patricia told her audience that Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?”  “Yes,” they said.  She explained that ‘dvi’ meant that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.

She sensed that her listeners were tracking with her. They didn’t have a grammar construction like that, but they knew what it meant to stop loving a wife.

She went on: Lee asked the Hdi men, “Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes,” the Hdi men said. ‘Dva’ love depended on the wife’s actions, Patricia explained. The wife would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.

There were murmurs of agreement as Patricia’s friends acknowledged that, yes, they understood the meaning of ‘dva’. In their culture, too, wives were often treated like servants, receiving love as long as they were useful and faithful.

Then Patricia repeated Lee’s next question:  “Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?” To the Hdi men, she said, that would mean, “Could you love her even if she never got you water, never made you meals? Even if she committed adultery, could you love her then?”

The Mbam men’s response was immediate.  They laughed—exactly as the Hdi translators had done.  It was clear that, like the Hdi men, they were thinking, “Of course not. That would never happen!”

Quietly she quoted Lee’s next words: “Could God ‘dvu’ people?”

Silence. Total silence. And then, one by one, these men who were responsible for conveying God’s truths to their communities began to click their tongues, signaling their recognition of a surprising new truth.  God loved them unconditionally. The idea was as new to them as it had been to the Hdi translators. God loved them not because of what they did or how they loved Him, but because it was in His divine nature to love them. He would never stop, whether or not they loved Him, whether or not they served Him, whether or not they were faithful to Him.

When she thought they were ready to move on, Patricia quoted Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, ‘dvu’ your wives, just as Christ ‘dvu’-d the church…”

Again silence reigned—silence longer and deeper than before. She could almost see the thoughts swirling around in their heads. Were they really to love their wives that way? Unconditionally? No matter what the wives did or didn’t do? Impossible. Unheard of. And yet, if the God of the Bible told them to…if He had set the example in Christ….

Patricia was caught a bit off guard. She’d meant to encourage her Mbam colleagues to seek out the very best ways to represent Scriptural truths in their mother tongues, and they had grasped her intention. But she hadn’t predicted the extent to which they’d begin to engage with the Scripture and catch a vision for a whole new way of relating to their wives.

These men had discovered one of the defining elements of Christianity:  God expects his followers to respect and honor women; men are to love their wives and to care for widows and orphans. That’s not a given in most societies, but it’s a distinguishing characteristic of communities that have been transformed by God’s Word.

Translated and understood, God’s Word has incredible power to change lives and communities. It transforms the way people relate to God and the way they relate to others—including women. It gives them a whole new world view.

* Mbam is the name of a cluster of languages. The languages represented at the meeting were: NomaandeNuasueNugunuNulibieNumaalaTukiTunen andYambetta. The list does not include all the languages in the cluster.

Adapted from a letter titled, Husbands, Love Your Wives, published to staff of Wycliffe USA on 17 January 2013.

Bob Creson is President and CEO of Wycliffe USA.

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Photo from Gates Foundation

With calm eyes and composure a beautiful teenage girl from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) grills corn and waits for customers.

Click here if you’d like to learn ways to pray for Côte d’Ivoire.

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