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Archive for November, 2013

By Melissa Chesnut

Many people find that today—Thanksgiving—isn’t enough time to sit down and think about the countless ways that God has blessed us. So rather than just setting aside a single day to say thanks, they have turned the whole month of November into a deliberate season of thanking God daily for what He has provided, both big and small. This is a great reminder to think about all the ways God has blessed us, especially before we jump into December and focus on the blessing of Christ Jesus.

Not to miss out, Wycliffe wants to dedicate today to praise God for the numerous ways He has blessed us over the past year. So without further ado…

Wycliffe is thankful for:

  • The faithfulness of a mighty God who continues to empower and equip His people in Bible translation around the world.
  • The exciting news that there are now at least 4.9 billion people who have a Bible available in their first language, and that the number of languages likely needing Bible translation has dropped to 1,919! (For more information about these statistics, visit www.wycliffe.net.)
  • The twenty-nine completed Scriptures that were dedicated this year; praise God that twenty-nine communities now have God’s Word in the language they understand best!
  • The increase in online giving, which has grown from $36,000 in 2008 to $146,000 in 2013. What a blessing!
  • God’s faithfulness in providing financially for our staff around the world.
  • The partnership with Liberty University and the opportunity to participate in their fall missions conference, where our president and CEO, Bob Creson, was able to speak and share about Bible translation to the student body.
  • Our Village Shop is now online in an updated, easy-to-use format. Check it out!
  • Our ninety-nine new staff members who have gone through their orientation training this year.
  • The 18,466 total prayer partners who have signed up and committed to pray for a Bibleless people group. If you’re not one of those 18,466, consider signing up today and joining with us in praying for the Bibleless people around the world!
  • You. Through your prayers, financial support, or participation in the work of Wycliffe, you are helping to make a difference in bringing God’s Word to those still waiting. Thank you for walking this journey with us.
Some of the 29 completed Scriptures that were dedicated this year.

Some of the 29 completed Scriptures that were dedicated this year.

This is only a small glimpse into the many things that Wycliffe is thankful for this year. Take some time today with your family to sit down and think about what you are thanking God for—He deserves all honor, glory, and praise!

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By Melissa Chesnut

December is right around the corner, and with it comes a flurry of activities. Gifts, parties, decorations, Christmas sales, and so much more fill up our schedules. Who doesn’t love the special foods, Christmas movie marathons, family traditions, and cheer that come with this time of year?

Christmas Countdown1While all of these can be good things, they fight for our attention, keeping us busy and distracted. Before we know it, Christmas day is upon us and soon all these activities will be over until next year. It can be easy to get caught up in everything and forget the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of Jesus Christ.

That’s why we’d like to tell you about a new children’s curriculum, designed to help you count down the days while focusing on what Christmas is really about! Designed to act as an advent countdown, “The Word Became Human” keeps Jesus as the focus of the season by providing Scripture readings from the book of Luke. Your children will also be able to hear Bible translation stories from around the world, pray for these people, and make crafts for each day.

But this curriculum isn’t just for families at home—teachers and Sunday school teachers can use it too! Three curriculum options have been provided, created specifically to meet your needs. So whether you countdown every day, every school day, or every Sunday, you can help children learn more about the true meaning of Christmas.

December 1 is almost here, so sign up today and begin preparing for a countdown your children have been waiting to start for the last few months—the countdown to Christmas!

Christmas Countdown2

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Spirit of GivingDear Friend,

Laying aside her Portuguese Bible and closing her eyes, the Cape Verdean woman listened as her pastor read the story of Jesus’ birth in her heart language, Kabuverdianu.

“For the first time in my life, I felt washed by the Word. I thought I knew the Christmas story by heart, but I must confess that today I feel like I’ve heard it for the very first time.”

Your gift, God’s Word, translated into the heart language, touches hearts and changes lives. Each of the gifts in this year’s Christmas catalog provides someone with greater opportunity to engage with the Word of God in their own language.

I encourage you to take this opportunity to honor a friend or family member with a gift that will truly make a difference for today and for eternity.

Please select your gifts from the 2014 Gift Catalog today. When you place your order, be sure to request cards to let family and friends know if you have given in their honor, or in memory of a loved one.

Thank you for helping people hear the Good News of John 3:16: God loved them so much that He gave His Only Son that they might truly live!

Visit www.wycliffe.org/giftcatalog to begin your Christmas giving today! And please help us spread the word about this opportunity to give Christmas gifts that will transform lives for eternity.

Look for the hashtag #spiritofgiving on social media sites to see how others are getting into the spirit of the season.

 

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Park Church Celebrates 100 Years

On Sunday November 17, 2013, Park Church, located in Charlotte North Carolina, celebrated one hundred years of ministry.

Park Church is led by Wycliffe USA Board member Bishop Claude Alexander.

In an article in the Charlotte Observer, Bishop Alexander credited, “A living, authentic faith in God,” as the reason the church has endured. “It’s the thread,” Bishop Alexander said, “that held us together through dislocation, relocation, depression, segregation, and recession.”

Bishop Alexander is quoted as saying that he prays for a global focus for Park Church that will become part of the church’s story in its second one hundred years. “If we are faithful to what we believe God is calling us to be,” he said, “then we cannot imagine what God will do generations later.”

Wycliffe USA celebrates with Bishop Alexander and the members of Park Church this remarkable accomplishment and ministry.

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Bougainville ChalkboardWhen a Teapu man named Johnson heard the Gospel of Mark in his language for the first time, he said, “This is the first time I have heard a sermon in my own language. Everything was so clear to me and I am very happy. I don’t understand why preachers don’t preach in the heart language.”

Then, when village members were checking the book of Titus in the Teapu language, an elder from the United Church burst out saying, “Wow! It would be very good if all the church leaders were here checking this translation! We would be evaluating ourselves, not just the translation. We leaders might think that we are righteous men in the eyes of the people, but in the eyes of God, it may not be so!”

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Joe’s story

Written by Ben Pehrson. Edited by Matt Petersen.

As team leader for the Aitape West Translation Team in northern Papua New Guinea (PNG), Ben Pehrson works with translators from multiple languages to help each of them complete Bible translations for their communities. Here’s a story he wrote about a former translator named Joe.

In PNG terms, Joe was a “big man”—an important leader. Although his home was a remote coastal village where people live in a simple way, much as they have for centuries, Joe was highly educated. This is probably why he was elected several years ago to be the local-level government leader for his village even though he wasJoe_Anaput still relatively young.

One day while he was at a translation workshop, Joe heard that several men had burnt down his house with all his books, translation papers, and records from his time as a village government member. We didn’t know if he would be able to control his anger and stop himself from seeking revenge for this offense. Reciprocity is deeply ingrained in almost every aspect of Papua New Guinean cultures, and revenge can be a strong pull in relationships.

Joe didn’t mention many details about what was lost in the fire, but he did say that the house burned down with “ol spun samting” inside. By saying it that way in Tok Pisin (the trade language of PNG), Joe only mentioned spoons, but it’s an appropriate way to refer to all kinds of different things that you might normally find in a house.

Before I heard about the fire at Joe’s house, I had been thinking about the matching silverware that we had in our village house. Our house in Ukarumpa (the mission center in the highlands of PNG) is supplied with mismatched silverware, and this is one of my silly pet peeves: If my place at the table gets set with unmatched silverware, I usually try to exchange a fork or spoon so that I have a set that matches.

So I was thinking about our set in the village house and wanting to take it with me when I flew out of the village. But I was going back and forth on the decision. I often feel an inner struggle between my own cultural background—which places a strong value on material things and personal ownership—and the subsistence lifestyle of PNG and local values of hospitality and group ownership.

When Joe mentioned the loss of his spoons, it suddenly seemed clear to me. Friends had been sending e-mails with words of encouragement and verses of Scripture for Joe, but I was glad that I also had something material that I could share with Joe. I wanted him to receive some peace about the silverware, but I especially wanted him to know that God knew about his situation.

I also wondered if I could somehow share how God had been working in me and the struggle with materialism that is in my blood from my own culture. Then perhaps Joe might be more willing to listen to God and control his desire for revenge that is so strong in his blood from his culture. But I wasn’t sure if I could talk like that in the midst of Joe’s anger without offending him even more.

I prayed, and I meditated on God’s Word. And in that moment, the Lord gave me an overwhelming peace that I didn’t need to worry about what I would say. He would make it clear to me when I was with Joe. I had recently been checking our translations of Luke, and these words rang in my ears: “Don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said” (Luke 12:11b–12, NLT).

So I had Joe come to my house, and he sat and listened as I told him all about my silverware and how I wanted to give it to him. I explained how God knew his trouble and was close to him, and was preparing me to offer the silverware before I even knew that Joe had a need. But I didn’t say anything about culture and those things that just seem to be in our blood.

Joe sat quietly as I talked, and when I finished, he said, “Ben, I must tell you honestly. My spoons are okay. I didn’t actually lose anything like that. It’s mainly my books and papers that can’t be replaced.”

At first I felt shocked and embarrassed. Here I had told this long story about how God was at work, and now it would seem that it was all for nothing since Joe hadn’t actually lost his spoons in the fire. I felt like an idiot.

Then I realized that this was my cue to talk about our cultures and those things that are more difficult to follow God about since they are so inherent in us as a part of the normal culture that we have learned.

So I replied to Joe that the spoons were not the point. The point was that God knew Joe’s situation and wanted to work in his life. I never mentioned revenge or Joe’s culture, but I simply talked about my culture and how it was more difficult for me to come to a point of being willing to offer my silverware because it is so normal within my culture to claim my rights to the things that I own.

When I got done, Joe said, “Ben, I’ve heard what you’ve said and I caught your meaning clearly. In my culture, we must take revenge [because if people go unpunished it could happen again]. But I have heard you, and I will think about it and pray about it. If God tells me not to take revenge, I will not take revenge. But if He tells me to take revenge, I will take revenge and I will win. I have a gun, and I will use it if I have to.”

I could not take that conversation any further, but I put my hand on Joe’s and I prayed that he would truly seek God’s will and that God’s Word would make it clear to Joe what he should do.

On the last day of the workshop, I led a devotional for all the translators. I focused on James 1:5 that talks about God giving wisdom to those who need it and ask for it. And I also talked about how God’s voice to us today will not contradict what He has made clear in Scripture.

At the end of the translation workshop, Joe was the most outspoken translator about our need to remain committed to the task of Bible translation as our highest priority. He left the translation workshop with a changed heart and a commitment to seek God and follow Him. And he went back to his village determined not to seek revenge upon the men who had burned down his house.

Before this time, Joe had been experiencing signs of a serious illness. Although he continued to work on the translation, the symptoms grew worse and worse until he finally passed away about a year later.

During that year, Joe’s resolve remained strong; he never did take revenge, even though his enemies later threatened to destroy his garden—his family’s primary source of food.

Although Joe left behind few earthly possessions, his commitment to translating the Bible into his language and his decision to obey God’s Word at all costs leave a legacy with his family, his community, and his translation colleagues that no fire can ever destroy


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Clement’s story

By Matt Petersen

“My dream or goal is to help spread the translation work to other regions that don’t have the Word of God yet.” —Clement Tonini

ClementClement Tonini speaks the Bauni-Pou language of Papua New Guinea. He and another man from his village have been hard at work on a translation of the Bible in their language since 2001. Their two-person translation team is part of a larger group called the Aitape West Translation Project—a collection of several related languages that are doing Bible translation side by side. By working as a team, the translators who already have several years of experience are helping other language groups get translation started much sooner than if they had to wait for more help from outside the country.

Clement feels blessed to have this opportunity to help get the Bible in his own language, but it’s not always easy for him or his family—especially his wife, Delan. When he’s away at the translation workshops, she has to harvest all of the food for the family and take care of the children alone, and that’s especially difficult if one of them gets sick. Still, she’s willing to do it all because she wants the Bible translated into all of these languages too.

Working on the Bible translation has changed Clement a lot, helping him to know God better and to become more like Jesus. In the past, if there was a dispute in the village or some other kind of problem, he was quick to curse and fight, but now when things like that happen, he tries to be a peacemaker and help solve problems instead of stirring up more trouble.

Clement can’t wait for the day when they can finally finish the Bauni-Pou New Testament so everyone can experience the Bible and let it change them too. As the team has finished drafts of different books of the Bible, Clement’s been able to read them during church services, and people have been excited about being able to finally understand.

It’s that sort of reaction that fuels Clement’s desire to see Bible translations started in other neighboring languages besides those already involved with the Aitape West Translation Project. He wants to help spread the work to other regions of the country so everyone can have the Bible in their language.

Editor’s note: Clement’s story is the fourth in a five-part series focusing on national colleagues working in the Aitape West Translation Project in Papua New Guinea. Click here to learn more.


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