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Archive for October, 2013

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The holidays can very easily become a hectic or burdensome time. All too often we lose sight of the miracles God is working around us every day. During the months of November and December, our hope is to engage people in a positive conversation on Twitter and Facebook, celebrating acts of kindness, generosity, and the true spirit of the season happening around them. We hope it will help you recognize and create these moments with your networks of friends, family, coworkers, etc.

Use your social media networks to share about ways you are giving, showing acts of kindness, and spreading the Spirit of the season. Your posts can also be about ways other people have shown the spirit of giving to you, or about acts of kindness you’ve witnessed in any capacity. Include the hashtag #SpiritofGiving in your post so others can follow along and be inspired!

Here’s an example our sweet friend Linda shared:
“Needing a new pair of dress shoes, I bought a pair that I liked and that fit well. A short time later I was going to wear them to church, but they felt too small. A missionary returning from overseas stopped by the headquarters office and, (being asked), shared her needs, one being dress shoes. Mine fit her perfectly, and she said they were just what she would have chosen if she had gone shopping herself.” #SpiritofGiving

We look forward to hearing (and sharing) about all the ways God is working in you, through you, and through others around you this season as you get into the Spirit of giving!

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By Melissa Chesnut

The main shopping street in Flensburg, Germany, was beautifully decorated during the Christmas season, lined with food and drink stalls and booths to buy gifts or trinkets. A woman named Edith was wandering down the street when she came across a barbecue stand.

In big writing above the stand, a banner read: “Gypsy Food.” A young man was grilling meat with an older man nearby, so Edith approached him.

“Are you Gypsies?” she asked.*

“Yes,” he replied. “We are Gypsies.”

Edith was excited about this chance meeting. “What group are you from?” she asked, referring to their ancestral background. “Roma or Sinti?”

“Both,” the young man responded in perfect German.

Edith wanted to learn more. “Where do you live? Do you speak in Romani to each other?” she asked.

The young man and his uncle shared that they use Sinti Romani to communicate between themselves and their family members, but they speak German while serving their wares in the marketplace.

This news thrilled Edith. She excitedly informed the men that she had a Sinti Romani New Testament! Both men were very surprised. They did not know that a New Testament even existed in their language.

Edith promised to bring them two New Testaments the next day. The young man begged for a copy to give to his father as well.

“You cannot imagine how they rejoiced and thanked me!” Edith shared. “That was something I had never seen before—and wasn’t expecting!”

A Great Miracle

True to her promise, Edith returned to the barbecue stand. “The next day I came with the precious books,” she said.

The man, his uncle, and the family received the New Testaments with great delight and thanksgiving.

“This is a great miracle,” they kept saying. The uncle read aloud from the book in his heart language for the very first time. The other Gypsies stood there, listening intently. After hearing God’s Word in Sinti Romani, everyone wanted a copy of the New Testament for themselves!

Edith was overjoyed to be able to share the Sinti Romani New Testament with the family. “I hope I will…convey something of the joy, excitement, and gratitude of these Gypsies,” Edith said. “I hope that very many receive the Word of God in their own language.

“They have waited long enough.”

 

*The Romani people (also called Roma or Gypsies), who trace their roots back to the Indian subcontinent, are scattered all throughout Europe and other parts of the world. In 2010, a New Testament was published in Sinti Romani, one of many Romani languages. The Sinti, like most Romani people, have long faced widespread public prejudices and official discrimination.

Edith’s experience was published as a letter in the magazine, Evangelischer Ausländerdienst

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“We listen to it daily. At noon we listen to it. We listen to it before going to sleep. Then we pray. Then we sleep.”—a Kanwasa villager

Your gifts to last year’s Wycliffe gift catalog helped provide audio Bible players for people in Papua New Guinea (PNG), bringing the Scriptures in their language to life!

Highlands Audio - 7 copy

In many language groups living in PNG, information of value is shared orally, and literacy is growing slowly. In the highlands, thirty-nine New Testaments have been published in the local languages but are not accessible to the people. Now six of these New Testaments have been recorded and placed on flash drives as well as small solar-powered audio players. Translated Scripture in numerous other languages has been checked, and recordings have been made of as much as half of the New Testament.

One Kamano speaker in PNG reported how much his children love listening to Bible verses with the audio player. Public school principals in that language group are asking for these devices to give to their teachers to play for class language study and devotion times. Local pastors are also using the units during their sermons instead of reading from the trade language and translating orally.

Many families listen to the players during their evening meal, and keep listening to God’s Word until the batteries go dead for or five hours later. Children are asking if they can “recharge the batteries by putting the players close to the fire” so they can finish listening to one of the Bible stories.

Providing these players makes translated Scripture accessible to thousands of people in the highlands of PNG. Translation has bridged the language barrier, and Scripture in this format is bringing God’s Word to the ears and hearts of the people.

This year’s gift catalog has similar opportunities to transform lives for eternity. Click here to check out the 2013-2014 Gift Catalog: In the Spirit of Giving!

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By Richard Gretsky

John 3:16 is one of the most popular verses in the world for Christians, echoing God’s grace, exhibited through His Son Jesus, and leading to eternal life with Him in Heaven.

But for people coming from a Buddhist background, the potency of this beloved verse is significantly muted.

Timothy,* a Bible translation worker based in Southeast Asia stated: “In Western societies, we’re so fearful of death that we cling to the hope of eternal life described in John 3:16, which gives hope that life will ultimately not end.”

But for Buddhists, Timothy explained, it’s something quite different.A Festival in Vientiane

“Buddhists believe that we are all trapped in a cycle of reincarnation—one life after another, each full of suffering. Thus, Buddhists feel like they already have eternal life, and their big goal is to escape the eternal life and all the suffering that goes along with it.”

Because of that, a verse that has meant so much to so many people is a potentially dreadful proposition to people coming from a Buddhist worldview. This, of course, doesn’t mean that John 3:16 shouldn’t be translated for Buddhists. They, like all of us, need to understand that eternal life is good and that life can exist without suffering. But it does highlight that we should know which verses speak the best to people of different cultures.

With that in mind, there is another verse, also in the book of John, which does speak deeply to Buddhists.

John 14:6 reads, “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me’” (NLT).

The Buddha promoted a balance between seeking all pleasure and avoiding all pleasures. If this were achieved, a person could attain Nirvana, removing them from the cycle of reincarnation and removing the pain of their life. But there are no guarantees and the number of people that Buddhists believe have attained Nirvana is astonishingly small.

A row of buddhist Statues.Timothy interpreted the correlation like this: “The Buddha said, ‘There is a middle way’ … but he couldn’t get you there. Buddhism is all about your own efforts. But Jesus has told us that we can cling to Him, and He becomes our hope to escape from the suffering, and at the same time, to find life.”

Though all hope ultimately comes from Jesus, sometimes hope looks different depending on your worldview. And understanding the cultural contexts of others is a major step, not just in translating the Bible, or friendship, but also translating hope into their language.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

A Nepali woman outside a shops selling small buddhas

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PNG Elizabeth

 

Over thirty years ago, these Papua New Guineans performed a traditional sing-sing dance for Queen Elizabeth of England. A sing-sing is a meeting of local people groups who dress up, paint themselves, and dance to honor the distinct heritage of each community.

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By Heather Pubols*

Born for Translation

Some people are born for translation. Well, at least in this case, that is actually sort of true. Betty (pictured back left) leads the team translating the Bible into the Nukuoru language. Her mother was the first one in her family to be involved in translation. She helped the team translating the New Testament into Nukuoru.

Betty shared with us that when she was young she sensed that God wanted her to work in translation like her mother had done. After years of education including Bible college and coursework to learn biblical and modern Hebrew in Israel, Betty continued the translation work for which her mother had been involved. Now, Betty and her team hope to complete the Old Testament so that the whole Bible in Nukuoro can be finished by the end of the year.

The team works from the Micronesian island of Pohnpei were many from the community have settled. Their home island is a boat-ride away from Pohnpei and is still inhabited by a few hundred Nukuoran people.

* Heather is the Director of the Wycliffe News Network. This story first appeared at: http://www.thepubols.com/2013/05/31/born-for-translation/ The photo of the Nukuoran Bible translation team was taken by Elyse Patten.

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pohnpei-4

Photo and words by Elyse Patten

A storm approached on the long ride back to the harbor, but the crew of the small motorized canoe couldn’t have been more relaxed. It was just another day in Pohnpei.

As one of the wettest places in the world, the tiny island in Micronesia is home to those who happily swim, fish, harvest and carry out business despite rain and more rain. While its 607 islands are barely visible on a map, the vast archipelago of the Federated States of Micronesia spans more than one million square miles of the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines and west of Hawaii. On Pohnpei, there are four separate Bible translation teams busily at work. Two Polynesian teams, Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro, are nearly finished their complete Bible after years of dedicated teamwork. Meanwhile, two Micronesian language communities, the Pingalapese and Mwoakilloa, heard about the completion of the two finished projects and they are now enthusiastically beginning their own projects.

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