Archive for July, 2013

By Katie KuykendallFamata-and-son

In a small village in southern Senegal, a young woman sits in the shade of a large tree with her son in her lap, watching a man read a small paperback book. It’s printed in their language, Manjak. A smile comes across the man’s face as he slowly sounds out the words in his language for the first time.

The woman, named Famata, listens quietly. She learned to read Manjak for the first time not too long ago, and it has changed her life.

In Senegal, school is taught in the official national language of French. But most people in Senegal don’t speak French as their first language. So kids are being asked to come to school and learn in a language that they do not speak at home. And they’re being taught by teachers who in many cases haven’t mastered the French language themselves.

Understandably, Famata struggled with education from the start—so much so that it took a serious toll on her self-esteem from a young age. Before long she felt like she was hopeless, that school was pointless, and she’d rather give up.

“I had difficulty reading and writing, and I told my mom I was going to leave school,” she said.

Then, at fourteen years old, Famata became pregnant. With her spirits already low, money running lower, and a baby on the way, she dropped out of school.

Unfortunately her story is not uncommon in Senegal and other developing countries, where girls typically aren’t expected to excel in school. They’re taught that their place is in the home, not the classroom. And since schooling is costly and money is always tight, most families believe it’s more worthwhile to invest in educating their brothers and male peers.

Famata didn’t have high hopes for her future. But that started to change when Wycliffe began funding a Manjak literacy program* in her village. Through the program, all the men and women in the community were invited to learn to read and write in their own language.

Suddenly Famata had the opportunity to try class again—this time for free and in the language she knows and loves. She thrived in Manjak literacy, impressing her teacher and her peers alike.

“She spent all her time reading,” said her Manjak teacher, Abdoulaye Ndiaye. “She didn’t find it difficult [to learn Manjak] because she loved what she was doing.”

Often when Famata read out loud in class, her peers thought she was a teacher because her skill level was so much higher. Though she once walked away from her own education, in the Manjak class she helped other students succeed at reading so they wouldn’t make the same choice.

“She encouraged people in class…who were sometimes absent,” Abdoulaye said. “She said ‘Don’t be discouraged!’ She was a great support.”


The changes in Famata’s outlook and self-confidence are evident to everyone, including Famata.

“They [the instructors] have given me knowledge [and skills] by teaching me to read and write in Manjak,” she said. “I am taking hold of that with both hands.”

She had the courage to return to French school where she’s ranked near the top of her class, thanks to the confidence and skills she gained in the Manjak literacy class.

Soon Famata will be writing text for the literacy project. She aspires to be a teacher, and she’s going to start by teaching her own son.

“Since I know how to write Manjak, I’ll teach my child to read and write Manjak,” Famata said. “Pray for my child, that he would have good health and that he would be able to enjoy the richness of his language.”

Today, as she sits under the shade of a tree with her son watching a man read his language for the first time, she can see firsthand how Manjak literacy is growing. And she can know that one day she’ll be helping others in her community gain the ability to read in Manjak too.

*The Manjak literacy program is coordinated by SIL International, Wycliffe’s primary strategic partner. Wycliffe funds projects like this because we want to see God’s Word accessible to all people in the language of their heart, and literacy is foundational to understanding translated Scripture. The Seed Company, another ministry partner, is currently funding the New Testament translation for Famata’s language group.

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USA (MNN) ― Two bikers recently tackled a daunting challenge for a cause.

Mason Gravley and Paul Austin, native Floridians, entered a cross-continent race from Canada to New Mexico called The Great Divide Mountain Bike Race.

With this race, the two raised funds for a translation project in the Himalayas of Southeast Asia with Wycliffe Bible Translators. This translation project has been ongoing for 15 years, but was slowed because of social unrest. The people group is marginalized by society, and they need the Bible in their heart language to grasp the hope of Christ.

Austin and Gravley started the race on June 14 and covered 2,745 miles. The pair carried a recorder for journaling, a phone for safety, and a Bible for studying. Other than that, it was just the basics of food, water, and equipment….

Read the rest of this article at its original source: Mission Network News

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Cross the Divide Finish (1)

Twenty-five days, twelve hours, and twenty minutes later, Mason Gravley and Paul Austin finished their trek from Canada to the Mexico border. They underwent the cross-continental ride to raise awareness for Bible translation and as an opportunity to fund-raise for a translation project in Southeast Asia. Congratulations Mason and Paul!

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family_Commitment blog postIn my last blog post I wrote about a recent trip into an isolated mountain area of South Asia.

It was tough travel using multiple vehicles, including a bit of walking.

When we finally reached our destination we were told that there were villages beyond us reachable only by foot—a full day of walking.

My wife Dallas and I lunched with a very gracious host family on a meal of “tapioca” (a potato-like tuber) served with delicious local sauces mixed with meat and vegetables, quenching our thirst with hot tea made from cardamom.

The story of this particular family unfolds over the two-plus-hour visit.  The head of the family, a pastor, has just died suddenly at the age of fifty-three.  When he died he was traveling from village to village spreading the Good News about Jesus.  His son, who was with us at the lunch prepared by his mother, was already working with one of the translation teams in this translation cluster project (the two teams are working in tandem hoping to complete the New Testament in just four years).

Having moved to town to be more involved in the translation process, this young man—just twenty-four years old—moved home when his father died to support his mother and grandmother.

Six weeks after losing his father, he resumed his translation duties.  Remaining in the village, he started making the long trek into town each day—two hours one way to get to the translation site. Often his day starts before the sun comes up, and the sun has already set when he returns home.  He’s committed to the translation of Scriptures because he’s seen the power of the Word of God (see the post on Reconciliation).

Plans are to complete the entire New Testament in just four years and, in addition to providing Scripture in audio format, to encourage literacy in their community.  Dallas and I had the opportunity to hear two of the translators read from the Gospel of Mark. Listening to them read fluently, with inflection and expression, we could tell that this was the language they loved and understood. This was the language in which God could best speak to their hearts.

Revelations 7:9-10 says that some from every nation, tribe, people, and language will stand in front of the throne and worship the Lamb.  We are witnessing a foreshadowing of that great day as we work alongside speakers of more than two thousand languages in the greatest acceleration of Bible translation ever witnessed—an unprecedented moment in Church history.


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Photo by Kristin Crawford

By Rachel Wolverton, marketing strategist for Wycliffe USA

Education has always been highly valued in my family.

My grandparents went to college, my mother has her bachelor’s degree in education, my father received his postgraduate degree in dentistry, and both of my older sisters graduated from college with honors. The legacy of education in my family caused me to desire it for myself; I wanted to follow in their footsteps, though I’m not sure I would have been allowed to quit even if I had tried.

When the time came for me to enter kindergarten, middle school, high school and even college, there was never a question of “if” but only a question of “where.” I can recall sometimes being frustrated that doing well in school was so expected that I often wouldn’t even hear so much as a “good job” when I’d aced a test or passed a class with flying colors.

My marketing degree helped me find a job as a marketing strategist with Wycliffe Bible Translators nearly six years ago. Working in marketing led me to further my education even more, and I just finished my master’s degree!

But my story would be altogether foreign for many of the girls and women I met on a recent trip to Senegal with a team from Wycliffe. Historically, females were told that their place was in the home, and were not allowed to go to school. Even now, as times change and Senegalese girls more commonly attend school, they may be sixteen and just finishing primary school because of family responsibilities, having children, or other interruptions.

To these individuals, education isn’t necessarily viewed as a stepping stone to the “next big thing.” It is the big thing, and yet still a seemingly insurmountable goal to so many. Every step in furthering their education has the potential to be the last if family or other duties need to come first, or if the money runs out. Classes are taught predominantly in French, which isn’t most kids’ first language, making it difficult to learn. If they are the first to be educated in their family, there isn’t any help coming from home. It’s an uphill battle.

But Wycliffe is changing that by offering literacy classes* that teach children and adults to read and write their first language—the language they know best. For the children in the French school system, the literacy classes in their own language are augmenting their ability to learn in French.


Photo by Katie Kuykendall

Many adults, like a woman I met named Tida N’diayé, would never have the opportunity to attend school if these classes weren’t offered. Tida didn’t know how to read and write her own language until she was thirty-five, but learned because of the Wycliffe-funded literacy class. Now she’s able to communicate better and even sells produce at a local market because of her increased literacy skills. Tida may start a legacy of education in her own family as she teaches these skills to her children.

Meeting these people and hearing their stories caused me to wonder if I’d have been willing to fight for my education. What if my family hadn’t set a precedent of education and then supported me in my quest to learn? What would I have done if someone told me that my place wasn’t in school, or if I’d been required to learn in a language that wasn’t my own? It makes my frustration at not receiving a pat on the back for a job well done seem trivial.

I’m humbled and challenged by the resolve of the children and women we interacted with. Now more than ever, I believe that education shouldn’t have to be an uphill battle for them, and I’m proud to be a part of an organization that shares that belief and is doing something about it.

*The literacy project is being coordinated by SIL International, Wycliffe’s primary strategic partner. Wycliffe funds projects like this because we want to see God’s Word accessible to all people in the language of their heart, and literacy is foundational to understanding translated Scripture. The Seed Company, another ministry partner, is currently funding the New Testament translation for Tida’s people group.

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By Katie Kuykendall

You may never meet a man as passionate about God’s Word as Joseph Silva.

“Every day, I’m in the Word of God. That’s my top priority,” he said. “I’m so enthralled with God’s Word that when it’s time for me to go to bed at night, I get upset. I don’t want to sleep. I don’t want to stop!”

Joseph settled into Central Florida with his late wife Deloris twenty-eight years ago. He previously served in the US Navy and earned a living in roles such as high school guidance counselor, English teacher, and pastor. But it was after this move to Central Florida that Joseph felt the Lord put a very specific call on his life.

“I heard the Lord say to me, ‘I don’t want you to work. I want you to allow me to supply your finances,’” Joseph said. “I immediately stopped working, and God has so blessed that.”

an old Russian Orthodox BibleInstead, Joseph spent his time studying Scripture and sharing it with others through a very successful prison ministry. The Silvas also spent thirteen years traveling and teaching Scripture in churches around the country.

“We moved out of a brand new house into a ninety-square-foot travel trailer,” Joseph said, remembering the years fondly. “I’m so glad I obeyed the Spirit.” Joseph doesn’t travel anymore, but sends his sermons to churches around the country for free and is starting a Bible class at his church.

Since Joseph quit working, he lets the Holy Spirit be his financial advisor. And although Joseph hasn’t worked a traditional job in twenty-eight years, God has provided him with a steady income including enough excess to steward his resources for the kingdom.

Joseph currently has Charitable Gift Annuities (CGAs)—forty of them—with the Wycliffe Foundation. Through his CGAs, he transfers his gifts to the Foundation and receives a fixed income for life in return. At the end of Joseph’s life, the remaining balance will benefit Wycliffe’s work.

“I want God’s Word to get to people, to be translated for other people who don’t have the great privilege that I have and you have,” he said as tears welled in his eyes. “I love God’s Word so much. There’s nothing more important to me in all the world.”

Joseph has enjoyed his experience with the Foundation. When it comes to communication and service, “[On a scale] from one to ten, they’re a fifteen!” he said. And because he recognizes that all his resources are a gift from God, Joseph is thrilled to give them back to Him by supporting Bible translation.

“God will never be a debtor to anybody. So when I walked away [from working], guess what God has done? He’s replaced it more than that,” he said. “All the glory and praise belongs to God. He has been so good to me.”

Joseph currently lives in Wildwood, Florida. He has two grown children—a son serving as a missionary in the Philippines and a daughter who is a manager in a retail store.

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With each gust of wind, the translation team of Daasanach speakers braced themselves against the side of the boat. They were miles from shore on Kenya’s Lake Turkana, one of the world’s largest saltwater lakes, and none of them could swim.

It was a risk they were willing to take to translate the Daasanach New Testament. They were heading to Kitale, where the Bible translation consultant lived. In that distant city, more than two hundred miles from their homes, the team could get the help they needed to translate God’s Word into their heart language.

KenyaStuff 109After the team landed safely on the far shore, they climbed into a four-wheel drive vehicle and began a treacherous, three-day journey over land to Kitale. The presence of hostile groups forced the team to travel off-road over the rugged, rocky terrain under the cover of darkness.  After several months of work in Kitale, they returned home over the same difficult route.

The team made this dangerous journey many times over several years because they were wholly committed to seeing God’s Word come to their people. Each time they traveled, they left families and businesses behind for months at a time.  And yet the team pressed on until they finished translating the New Testament.

Bible translation teams like this one rely on God’s provision to overcome many daunting challenges. Your prayers and financial support are vital to every Bible translation project, especially during the last stages of translation when teams often encounter intense spiritual warfare.

But after the translation is finished, there is another critical step to complete—the New Testament must be printed! Right now, the Daasanach New Testament is ready to go to press, along with two others in the Philippines. You can help print Scripture and provide the Word of God in a language that speaks to people’s hearts. Learn more at http://www.wycliffe.org/PrintScripture

Daasanach 144

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