Archive for May, 2014


Oral Tradition--Featured Photo

                                                    Photo: Ari Vitikainen

                                            Words: Elyse Patten

A monk naps while tourists mill around the grounds of a temple in Kathmandu, Nepal. An ancient and beautiful nation, Nepal’s low literacy rate is really a testament to their strong oral tradition. Although 59% of Nepalis claim to be literate, the vast majority of Nepalis and other South Asians prefer to communicate orally whether they can read or not. It is recognised that up to three quarters of the world’s population learn important life lessons orally by observation, participation and conversation. Even many ‘westerners’ prefer radio, movies, short videos and conversation to reading reports. A Wycliffe Bible storytelling team works with a language group in South Asia helping the local churches share the gospel by translating, checking and recording Bible stories that can be easily re-told. An innovative approach to Bible translation, Pemba, a South Asian Bible story specialist, comments, “I think story is the best tool for evangelism and for the gospel. People like to listen in their own mother tongue.”


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By Melissa Paredes

Translators often start with the Gospel of Luke. They then use the translated text to help create a script for the “JESUS” film in the local language.

It was time to record the audio track for the “JESUS” film into the Libaka* language, but the team was worried. Would they be able to find mother tongue speakers to voice the parts for the recording?

Working in a language group of approximately 35,000 speakers, it might seem like there would be plenty of people who could help. But that wasn’t the case.

The team faced a series of difficulties.

First, there are only a few Libaka believers, but they speak another dialect.

Second, the project had been displaced for security reasons, so the team didn’t know many Libaka speakers. Among those they did know, several had already voiced that they were not willing to participate because it went against the predominant religion in the area. They also feared that other Libaka speakers would identify their voice on the recording. This could lead to ridicule and possibly prove dangerous to them.

On top of all this, there is very little written in the Libaka language, so finding speakers who could read fluently would be a problem.

It seemed like the team was working against all odds. Would they be able to record the “JESUS” film in Libaka?

Thankfully, God moved in a very tangible way. Initially there were only two people willing to be voice actors. Then another two decided to help, and they suggested several more. Finally the team had fourteen speakers, and even had to turn down a couple of people because they wouldn’t be able to use them all.

The recording went better than they had expected. There was only minimal sickness, and no bickering or quarreling over money issues or text. Instead there was an atmosphere of joy and encouragement to push each other to the best of their abilities! Even on a day where they went hours without electricity, the team was able to record more than they normally did by working with batteries and flashlights for 2 ½ hours in the morning and 2 ½ hours again in the evening after the electricity came back on. The person in charge of the recording commented that the actor who voiced Jesus made fewer mistakes and was more expressive and enthusiastic than anyone he had ever worked with.

The team also saw God’s favor in how quickly the project was financially supported. Just a few weeks before the project was supposed to start, the team asked for funding. Within a month they received almost the exact amount they had asked for, and later on received even more to make additional copies!

The recording of the “JESUS” film in Libaka has since been completed and edited, and the team is now distributing the final product. Their prayer is that the Holy Spirit would cause the Libaka people to unnamedrespond positively to the message of the Gospel and that people would accept the message as true. Join with them in praying that this tool—watching God’s Word come to life on film and listening to it in their own language—would stir up an interest in the hearts of the Libaka people.

As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:31, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (NLT). Jesus is reaching out to the Libaka community; they only have to accept.

*A pseudonym

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Editor’s note: This infographic was updated Nov. 18, 2014.

It’s the start of our summer blog series, and we’re excited for what the next few weeks will bring as we learn more about Asia. But to get you started, check out this awesome infographic about some interesting facts you might have not known before! Click to enlarge:


Don’t forget that we’ll be spending the next three weeks on Asia. Check out our social media and follow our RSS feed to learn more!

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By Katie Kuykendall

DaltonDalton Lott is an entrepreneur with a fundamental philosophy: run your business with integrity, and always do what’s best for the customer. As a member of the Wycliffe President’s Council, he strives to apply that same perspective to his service.

“There’s no higher calling than doing something for the good Lord,” Dalton said. “I just want to try to be a little blessing.”

A true Texan from the town of Duncanville, Dalton combined his sales skills and experience with strong doses of humility, hospitality, and hard work to create Club Marketing Services—a full-service sales and marketing company that assists manufacturers who want to work with Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

Club Marketing Services has become the industry expert at selling to those retail chains. Ask Dalton how he did it, and the founder and CEO will say with a laugh, “I’m just a poor boy trying to make a way doing different things.”

He’ll also say he owes it all to God’s provision.

“I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest comprehension,” Dalton said. By the time he was forty years old, he had become a millionaire. But to whom much is given, much is expected, Dalton added.

In less than a year, a series of events caused him to lose it all, and he had to start over. Dalton saw it as an opportunity to reprioritize.

“I had to readdress a lot of things and make changes,” he said. “You spend a lot of time speaking to the good Lord during those times.”

Now Dalton says he tithes on his business in addition to tithing personally. Hard times came and went again, and he committed to tithing more during the rough patches.

As the owner of several other businesses, he’s also found other ways to steward his resources. Dalton always volunteers his jet terminal, Jet Center of Dallas, to Wycliffe and partner organization JAARS as a place to host events and meetings.

He’s also been on several trips into the field with Wycliffe, and makes it a point to support individual Wycliffe missionaries.

“I’m a big believer that you can’t out-give God,” Dalton said. “The more I’ve been able to help and give, the more blessings I’ve received in return.”

Do you have unique resources you could steward creatively? Click here to check out all the ways you can give to Bible translation.


Editor’s Note: As a reminder, next week we begin our summer blog series that focuses on each area of the world where we work. We’ll spend three weeks on each area—for a total of fifteen weeks—sharing infographics, photos, stories, and more. Check out our social media and follow our RSS feed to learn more about each area of the world we work in, starting next week with Asia!

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This summer, via social media, we’ll be highlighting each area of the world where Wycliffe works: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, and Pacific. We want you to know more about what’s going on in each of these areas where Bible translation is happening. So, starting May 26th, we’ll take three weeks to talk about each area. We’ll share photos, stories, people-group specific information, resources, ways to get involved, and more.

We hope the information will be a great resource for parents, teachers, students, and anyone else who is interested to learn more about Bible translation worldwide. Be on the lookout May 26th through June 15th, when we’ll begin by focusing on Asia!

We’ll see you then.

If you’d like to immediately get our updates via e-mail, simply sign up here (on the sidebar to the right). You can also follow our blog through your RSS reader.

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By Richard Gretsky

Technically Valuable - GroupOnce he’d graduated from college and gotten married, the most logical thing for Tim Stirtz to do was to put his education degree right to work. Feeling called to missions, he and his wife, Toni, moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where Tim began teaching. He soon found, however, that there was one major problem with this plan.

“(Although) I liked it,” Tim said, “I didn’t really connect with the kids as well as I thought I needed to.”

They gave it two years, but ultimately decided they would look for a position that was a better fit for Tim. They moved back to the United States, unaware of what would be next. Eventually, the church that had been partnering with them financially decided to send them to Amman, Jordan, to learn Arabic and get to know that culture, in preparation for future service. While there, they continued to wonder what their missionary role would look like.

“We were considering how the Lord could use us overseas, and we met some Wycliffe colleagues who were (also) learning Arabic,” Tim recalled. “They told us about the work going on with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Sudan.”Technically Valuable - Teaching 2

The Stirtzes listened as their new friends told them about Sudanese believers who needed help translating the Bible into their languages. But despite Tim and Toni’s strong interest in that work, Tim didn’t think he had what it took to be involved in Bible translation.

“I (had) always thought, until then, that translators had to be really smart people, and I never thought of myself in that group,” Tim said. “(But) we were doing well in the language school, and (we) decided to give it a shot.”

So the couple attended linguistics school with SIL* in Dallas, Texas, for two years. Then, with newfound enthusiasm, they took an assignment in Sudan, Northeast Africa.

Now, after twelve years working in Sudan and South Sudan (the world’s newest formally recognized country), Tim has made a big impact. He currently serves as linguistics coordinator for the South Sudan Branch, running grammar training workshops for various language development teams preparing for Scripture translation. All the while, Toni diligently assists with administrative paperwork and cares for their two boys, Jonathan (14) and Joshua (11).Technically Valuable - Teaching 1

All told, Tim’s technical precision and teaching acumen has assisted more than a dozen language projects within the last year (including ‘Beli, Mundari, Lopit, and Cara**), and he has big dreams for the people of those languages.

“I would like to see them writing and reading well in their languages so they have a good foundation for Scripture when it’s ready; so that they will be able to easily understand it when they get it—and may then be changed by it.”

Tim’s hard work has certainly benefitted his Sudanese friends, but he’s also learned much from them.

“I’ve really enjoyed the time in Sudan and South Sudan. … I’ve learned a lot about the commitment of the Sudanese and their strong faith in God despite their circumstances,” Tim said. Then he added, “Yeah, it’s probably been a big part of the reason I’ve remained committed to the Lord—following their example.”

For Tim, the time has been second to none, and all he had to do was step out to trust Christ and pursue something that was on his heart, regardless of whether he felt capable of doing it, or even knew it was on the horizon.Technically Valuable - Sunset

“I would definitely encourage anyone who’s interested in language development to give it a shot. It’s not so much about intelligence as it is about hard work and a faithful spirit—devotion to the work, to the people, to the Lord.”


*One of Wycliffe’s primary partners





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By Melissa Chesnut

Juan* has lived a difficult life. As a child, he grew up in a home where his mother would vent her anger and frustration by hitting him, and his father was bound to alcohol. His parents separated when he was very young, and his mother left him in a neighboring community with his grandparents. After that, Juan never heard from his mother again.

Juan’s life didn’t get any easier over the years. “At six years of age … I became a practicing atheist,” Juan said.  With nothing and no one to believe in, he began to act out towards his grandparents and was drawn to alcohol himself. By thirty-two, Juan was an alcoholic.

“I was losing my family, my friends, their trust, my community work, everything, because I had begun stealing things,” Juan said.

But God had other plans for Juan.

The Scriptures had been recorded in Chipaya, Juan’s language. Faith Comes By Hearing, a partner organization of Wycliffe, and the Bible Society had brought devices called Proclaimers that would play the recorded Scripture. Juan knew of them, but chose to give them no importance. After all, he didn’t believe that God existed. Sometimes, though, he would pass the door of the church on his evening walk around the city and stand by the door of a church, listening to the recording for a while before going on his way.The Repentant Atheist

After several months of occasional listening, one night Juan heard something that really caught his attention. Afterwards, he went to talk to the pastor about it, sharing, “I heard some words that seemed so straightforward that it seemed like they were being spoken directly to me.”

The pastor told Juan that the verse played that night was 1 John 3:8. He showed him the verse in the Chipaya New Testament. It read, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

Those words made an impact on Juan’s heart.

“I could not understand how God could speak to me so directly,” Juan reflected, “and how He could change my life that was so full of problems. I have to say that every time this device was turned on and sound came out, and when it proclaimed the Word, my body shook. Because of this, the next time I stopped by there, the pastor invited me to repent.”

So that day, Juan—an atheist for most of his life—believed in God.

“I didn’t know at the time what was happening,” Juan said, “but I remember being prostrate and crying like a child receiving God’s love in my life.”

Now Juan encourages other people to listen to this device. “…I have told the people they have to listen to this device because God is speaking to us in our language and He is speaking clearly so that we will understand Him,” Juan said.  Juan, a professed atheist, confessed that there was a God after he understood, and now he hopes that others too will surrender their lives to God and receive His love themselves.

*A pseudonym

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