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Archive for October, 2014

Kate & Mack are here3We’re so excited to share with you that as of this week, Wycliffe’s newest publication, “Around the World with Kate and Mack: A Look at Languages from A to Z” is available for purchase at shop.wycliffe.org. It’s definitely something you’ll want to add to your children’s bookshelves as they learn about the beauty of God’s creation and the diversity of his people!

Kate & Mack are here2In this book you and your family will be able to travel with Kate and Mack as they visit kids from all over the globe. You’ll meet Anna, Felipe, Kitella, Moses, Isabelle and others, learning more about their languages, cultures and a variety of fun facts that are unique to their countries. You’ll also learn about geography, maps and so much more!

And because we don’t want you to miss out on meeting Kate and Mack, we’re giving you a couple of sneak peeks from the book itself. But the fun doesn’t have to end with just the book. You can download interactive lessons and activities for your kids by visiting wycliffe.org/a-z right now! And don’t forget to sign up so we can notify you Kate & Mack are herewhen new activities are available.

In these activities your kids will help solve mazes, decode secret messages, learn what their name might be if they lived in Ghana (hint: people are often named after the day of the week they were born on!), and more. So what are you waiting for? Come travel with Kate and Mack today!

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By Bob Creson

When most of us think of Panama, we think of the Canal. Built 100 years ago at an enormous financial cost and with many lives lost, it remains one of the amazing wonders of Central America. The canal saves each ship that uses it almost 8,000 miles of sailing around the tip of South America. Almost there locks‘Widening’ of the canal is underway to accommodate post-Panamax ships that are more and more dominating the shipping industry. These ships are of such enormous size and capacity that the existing canal and locks cannot accommodate them.

While most of us don’t think about the minority people groups in Panama, they exist. The Kuna are one of those people groups. The Kuna people number around 165,000 and their homeland is the San Blas Islands — coral atolls that hug the eastern section of Panama’s Caribbean Coast. In addition, there are several Kuna villages in the jungle areas of Panama’s interior. In recent years many Kuna have moved to Panama City to take advantage of work and educational opportunities.

The translation of the Kuna Scriptures began almost 40 years ago. A Kuna pastor, Lino Smith, asked for help to provide a New Testament for his people. Kuna co-translatorsWorking alongside Pastor Lino, Keith and Wilma Forster began work amongst the Kuna. After the publication of the New Testament in 1995, the spiritual walk of believers significantly deepened. But the Kuna church wanted more! They wanted the whole Bible! So work on the Old Testament began.

The Kuna Bible — the 531st complete Bible (Old and New Testament) in the entire world — was dedicated in late September of 2014 in three locations. My wife, Dallas, and I attended the largest celebration held at Comunidad Apostólica Hosanna Church in Panama City. Celebrating with us were SIL Executive Director Freddy Boswell and his wife, Bekah, as well as several colleagues from Wycliffe USA.

It was an awe-inspiring moment when the Bible was brought into the auditorium. The ceremony, designed by Kuna Old Testament translators, reflected the way God’s people brought him offerings in the Old Testament. First came a man wearing a Jewish rabbi’s scarf and blowing on a shofar (a Jewish ram’s horn trumpet).   Then came four Celebratingteenage boys carrying an elaborate box supported by poles balanced on their shoulders. In the box was the new Bible, which the Kuna were offering to God as a gift, asking him to use it for his glory. The pastor leading the event proclaimed, “The Word of the Lord has arrived in Kuna!” With thunderous applause, the audience of 3,200 welcomed the Bible!

At a dinner following the celebration, Keith, Wilma and Bob Gunn (Wycliffe USA member and pastor) gave glory to God for the completion of the Scriptures and reminded those in attendance that they were ALL Bible translators! All contributed to the Kuna Bible and this celebration! The Scriptures would not have been completed without the prayer, financial and administrative support from the whole team.

The following morning, Sunday, we attended a much smaller worship event held at Crossroads Bible Church, where Bob is associate pastor and his son Steve is pastor. Bob led the morning service honoring Keith and Wilma and four Kuna translators who did the heavy lifting on the translation of the Old Testament. Crossroads is proud, yet humble, to have had the privilege of Choir with pianosupporting the Kuna translation project for 40 years. Outlining the history of the translation program, Bob mentioned that Keith and Wilma – as well as some in the congregation – were tempted on occasion to quit…but they didn’t. They persevered, and the Bible was completed.

Over the years, Crossroads has invested heavily in Bible translation for a number of people groups. As a reminder to the congregation, the church keeps copies of all the Scriptures they’ve helped produce in a glass-covered wooden cabinet. At the conclusion of the Sunday service, in unison, the four Kuna translators got up from their seats on the front row, went to the stand at the front of the church where the Kuna Bible rested, picked it up, carried it over to the cabinet, opened the glass cover, took out the Kuna New Testament that had lain there for 18 years, and replaced it with the just-completed whole Bible.

Many of us were in tears by this point. We recognized that we were witnessing something that had never existed before — the Word of God, the full counsel of God, available to the Kuna church. The work of translation is done; it is now in the hands of the Kuna church and the Holy Spirit of God…a good place to be.

Today there are about 30 Kuna churches on the San Blas Islands, 18 churches in and around Panama City, and several more churches scattered throughout Panama’s jungle mainland. God will be faithful to his Word — He always is. It is now firmly planted in the Kuna community and will accomplish all He wants it to accomplish.

You, too, are a vital part of the Bible translation ministry — a part of the greatest acceleration of the pace of Bible translation starts ever witnessed. Thank you for your efforts! Your persistent investments are building God’s kingdom here on earth.

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By Catherine Rivard and Richard Gretsky

Early in life, Kristina lost two of her three children during childbirth. The emotional pain devastated her, but she was also very physically wounded. In the attempts to save the children and repair her ravaged body, Kristina underwent four agonizing surgeries. The trauma from these events lingered in her life for many years.

Later on, she was introduced to Christianity. And though the hurts from her life persisted, after a time, she placed her faith in Christ and began to follow Him.

Soon after that, she and twenty-nine other participants from seven languages were given the opportunity to attend an Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop in Wewak, Papua New Guinea.

The courses at the workshop—divided into four modules that took place throughout the year—were designed to teach Papua New Guineans how to memorize and retell Scripture in a way that’s familiar in their culture where storytelling is an art.

After the first module, Kristina returned home and shared the Bible stories she had learned, but her husband was extremely unsupportive. He wouldn’t let her share the stories publically or attend the next training session. Kristina was disappointed, but instead of becoming angry, she humbly submitted to her husband and began praying that the Lord would transform his heart. Over time, God did soften her husband and, this past April, he allowed Kristina to attend the next phase of training.

In this phase, the participants listened to a recording of the Bible stories in the local trade language and then were recorded saying it back in their own. Kristina gently closed her eyes as the recorder played. As she listened to the story of Moses and the burning bush, she softly repeated what she heard into a second recorder—this time in her mother tongue.

Comforted by Story - Kristina and Friends

Kristina (left) and colleagues take part in an oral Bible storytelling session.

But Kristina was not just repeating those stories; she was uplifted by them.

“Listening to these stories about the Israelites has really encouraged me,” she said. “They were in difficult times, but God was bigger than that and rescued them. I know He’ll bring me through my Red Sea as well.”

Retelling Biblical stories has provided great comfort to Kristina, who now knows that God was with her during the loss of her children, her rough childbirths, and even during the period she had to wait for her husband’s blessing to attend the training.
That is why Kristina is dedicated to teaching Scripture, because she knows that hearing Bible stories can help change other people’s lives—no matter how deep their hurt.

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tongan-boy

Photo and words by Elyse Patten

A young Tongan boy wins a staring contest with the camera lens. Renowned for their hospitality, loyalty and fierce determination, Tongans are preparing to assist the ministry of Bible translation throughout the Pacific. The Bible Translation Organisation (BTO) of Tonga is focused on recruiting and training Tongans. It became the first independent sending organisation in the Pacific Islands to join the Wycliffe Global Alliance with the signing of an MOU on 14 August 2013. The chairman of the board, Uiliami Fukofuka says, “I was thrilled when I signed for my country to be part of this worldwide alliance! It gives me great comfort that we are working together with over 100 other national bodies. We know that we have a small contribution to make, but it is important in the Kingdom of God. Therefore it gives us much encouragement to continue.” Read more. Please pray for the young and growing BTO Tonga.

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When Luke Elliott graduated high school, he didn’t know what he wanted to study in college, but he had a strong interest in missions. So after talking with his pastor, he decided to spend a year working with Wycliffe missionaries in Papua New Guinea, learning more about overseas missions and discovering his own strengths and interests.

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By Bill Gardner with Richard Gretsky

DCF 1.0While my wife and I were serving with Wycliffe in Africa, I was asked to teach linguistics to university students, first in Mozambique (in Portuguese) and then in Kenya (in English). I hadn’t originally set out to be a teacher—I actually studied electrical engineering in college—but it has gone so well that my wife and I have been invited to teach full-time at one of Wycliffe’s training programs in North America. We are really looking forward to it!

Why do we love teaching linguistics? What motivates us? It’s the people. When you are training you often have three different groups of people, and each type is uniquely valuable. The first group is those who really struggle learning the concepts. With them, we’re happy to simply help them move forward. Excelling - Lori TeachingThe second group is those who learn what we teach and apply it, confidently able to do the work themselves. Both of those are fine, but it’s the third group that really encourages and speaks to us. They are the people we train who really run with the information; they’re the ones who learn the material and immediately start looking for pastors and other people to teach.

Again, all people are valuable, but it’s those moments when everything clicks for someone and they catch a passion for what they’ve just learned—that’s truly what we live for!

My goal as a linguistics teacher is to be like a master craftsman, apprenticing others to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need to be successful and effective out in the field. And my hope is that some of those journeymen will in turn go on to train others. That’s what the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to do: “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NLT).

It has been so rewarding to see Africans we have trained go on to become Bible translators and translation and Scripture engagement consultants—putting into practice what they have learned and also passing it on to others. That’s one of the most important things that keeps us motivated in teaching students and helping pass on the vision for bringing God’s Word to everyone who still needs it.

And we’re happy to fulfill that role.

Excelling - Gardner Group Pic

For over 30 years, William and his wife, Lori, have worked as linguists with Wycliffe. During that time, they’ve lived in the Philippines, Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Kenya, and will soon be heading to Canada to teach at the Canada Institute of Linguistics. To find out more, read about how Bill has applied his skills in “Engineering Translation.”

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On Saturday, Sept. 27 Bob Creson presented Bobby Gruenewald with the 2014 Scripture Impact Award at LifeChurch.tv’s Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, campus. Bobby is a pastor and innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv, where he explores new ideas and searches for practical ways to leverage them for the global church. In that capacity, he founded and oversees YouVersion, a smartphone app that provides free access to more than 1,000 versions of Scripture in more than 700 languages. Since it was launched in 2008, YouVersion has been downloaded more than 153 million times.

Bobby received the award in recognition of his contributions to Scripture engagement and to bring an end to Bible illiteracy.

“As Wycliffe USA advances rapidly toward our goal of seeing a Bible translation project in progress in every language still needing one by 2025, we’re increasingly mindful of the importance of finding innovative ways to expand access to and opportunities to engage with those translations,” Creson said. “Bobby Gruenewald and his team at LifeChurch.tv have revolutionized the way people all around the world access Scripture in the language they know and understand best. We’re honored to recognize their contributions to the global church with the 2014 Scripture Impact Award, and we look forward to continuing to work with Bobby and his team.”

IMG_6523Wycliffe USA created the Scripture Impact Award in 2003 to honor the late Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International (now Cru in the U.S.), in celebration of his love for the Lord and the Scriptures. The award commends men and women who have a passion for the Bible and demonstrate a personal commitment of mind, will, resources and influence to see that God’s Word reaches, engages and changes people.

“Bobby has a unique passion and vision for using technology as a tool for missions and for building Christ-centered relationships,” said Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. “His gifts and his commitment to using them for God’s glory are a blessing not only to LifeChurch.tv but to the global church.”

In celebration of the Scripture Impact Award to Gruenewald and YouVersion’s partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators, LifeChurch.tv wrote a devotional for YouVersion called “The Impact of Scripture.” LifeChurch.tv and Wycliffe translated the devotional into five additional languages – Spanish, Chinese Traditional & Simplified, Korean and Brazilian Portuguese some of the most popular languages in the Bible app.

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