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Archive for December, 2014

By Melissa Paredes

The Bigger Picture

Prayer is one of the most significant ways you can help people get the Bible in their heart language. You may not clearly see the answers to your prayers, but some people do. Bob and Betsy Eagar are among them.

In November 1982, Bob and Betsy were living in Atlanta with their two school-age children, Melanie and Rob. That’s when they first heard about Wycliffe’s Bibleless People Prayer Project (BPPP), a program that helps people pray for specific language groups that need Bible translation.

“I thought it would be really important for our family to pray for one of those Bibleless people groups,” Betsy shared, “[that] somebody would go to them and translate the Bible for them.”

They were assigned to pray for the Iyaru (name changed for sensitivity), a language community in Southeast Asia. The family started praying that the Iyaru people would one day receive the Bible in their heart language.

Years passed. Melanie and Rob grew up and left home for college. Then one day Bob and Betsy learned that Wycliffe was sending a husband-and-wife team to the Iyaru people to start a translation project! Their names were Craig and Sarah Marshall, and they were working to raise financial support so they, along with their four children, could move to Southeast Asia.

Excited to see their prayers being answered, Bob and Betsy decided to support the Marshalls financially. They also began receiving Craig and Sarah’s updates and prayer letters, following the events of their lives and their work among the Iyaru people. This continued for many years. Then Bob and Betsy had the opportunity to meet the Marshall family face-to-face.

“They happened to be in this part of the United States,” Betsy shared. “They came and spent the night with us. And it was wonderful to get to meet them, these people that we had been supporting and praying for all these years! We were thrilled about that.”

The Marshalls were equally excited about meeting Bob and Betsy. “They welcomed us, and, with tears in their eyes, told us how much they appreciated us and our efforts out among the Iyaru,” Sarah shared. “They told us they felt so blessed being a part of our team, and we felt exactly the same way about them!”

Although this was the first time the Eagars and the Marshalls met in person, it wasn’t their first conversation.

“Once, about 10 years before we met them, [Betsy] called us soon after we landed in California and helped debrief us and give wise input,” Sarah shared. “We had just gone through several emergency situations that required our getting evacuated out [of the country], and she wanted to be sure we were okay and to help us process what we’d been through as a family. As a trained counselor she understood that we’d seen and experienced some crazy, unsettling times, and reached out to us even though we’d never met. Talk about being a supportive team member! We knew we had to meet these special folks even though we didn’t know others in the [south].”

It was a joyous occasion for both families to finally meet in person on that day in Georgia, but that’s not the end of the story for the Eagars, the Marshalls and the Iyaru people.

When Bob retired in the early 2000s, he began volunteering in the “JESUS” film department at Cru, in Orlando. Almost 10 years later — in the beginning of 2014 — he learned that Iyaru was on a list of languages needing a translation of the “JESUS” film. Bob excitedly shared the news with Betsy, Melanie and Rob. As soon as they heard, they decided as a family that they wanted to help fund that project too.

“To me, [this] is a cool thing that has happened in our lives,” Betsy shared, “that we have been a part of what God is doing, from praying for that people group to now being able to help the “JESUS” film be translated for them.”

Now in their 70s, Bob and Betsy still pray for and support work among the Iyaru. Their story began over 30 years ago, and only recently have they learned how all these pieces of the bigger picture came together. But after so many years of faithful dedication, the Eagar family is seeing just that, and it’s a beautiful thing.

To learn how you can partner with Wycliffe in prayer, visit wycliffe.org/prayer.

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Discovering Bible Translation

By Hannah Weiand with Matt Petersen

Hannah Weiand is a tour guide at Wycliffe’s Discovery Center in Orlando, Florida. She also recently completed an internship with Wycliffe USA’s Marketing department. This is her story.

Discovering Bible Translation

As a tour guide at the Wycliffe Discovery Center in Orlando, Florida, it was my responsibility to introduce guests to Wycliffe. But first I had to learn all about it myself.

So I took the tour, read every panel, pushed every button and watched every video. I even held translated Bibles in my hands and thought about how it wasn’t that long ago when the people who speak those languages didn’t have God’s Word!

My eyes were opened as the tour guide shared their passion for Wycliffe’s work, and I quickly found out they weren’t alone.

“I love being able to tell people about everything that Wycliffe is doing … ” said Tori Harmon, another guide. “It’s neat to see them discover all the opportunities within Wycliffe and how they can get involved.”

Natalie Anderson said, “I try to spiritually prepare myself before each tour and pray that each guest will receive whatever God wants them to hear. … We always say that we end up with the guests that God intended for us to have that day.”

One day, Gary Peterson led a tour for a man and his wife who had a special connection with the Discovery Center. It turns out that the man had been part of the construction team that built the center. Four weeks before he’d started the job, his first wife had died, leaving him feeling hopeless and suicidal. But as he helped build the center, he started reading the panels that he was installing and God spoke to his heart. He turned his life around and committed it to Christ.

Kathy Zoetewey, who manages the Discovery Center, added how she sees a long-lasting impact in the daily activities of the center. “I love when I am giving a tour and I get to the last section where I invite people to sign up to pray for the Bibleless People’s Prayer Project.  I share how I have a people group I pray for. … I don’t know if I will ever meet them on this side of eternity, but I know that they will get the Bible and we will be together in eternity.  I actually get a little choked up to share that, but it is true.  We are doing something eternal in our everyday jobs.”

One of the unique factors about the Discovery Center is that guests come from all over the world. We even have team members who give tours in Korean or in Spanish.

Natalie had a guest on one of her Spanish tours who speaks the Miskito language of Nicaragua and Honduras. He asked Natalie if the Bible had been translated into his language. A quick search showed that there was, in fact, a translation for the Miskito language. “I gave him all the information and he was very excited!” Natalie said. “When I told him he could pull it up on his phone and read it on YouVersion, he had the biggest smile on his face!”

Not only do guests come from all over the world, but also from all walks of life. I soon learned that we reach out to children as well. Annette Amdahl, who works as a children’s program coordinator, pulled me aside one day and asked me to help with one of the programs.

“I like to watch their eyes light up … when we talk about life being like eating a banana with the peel on it (bitter, crunchy and disgusting) until we open the Scriptures in our language and get the sweet fruit from it,” Annette said. “It impacts me because I can be an advocate every day for Bible translation.”

Gary Peterson is especially excited about reaching younger visitors.

“I’ve had groups come in at times and they’re looking at you like, ‘I dare you to make me like this,’” Gary joked. One time he had a student on his tour who was clearly upset about having to be there.  After the program, Gary was able to talk with the young man for over an hour, and the following year, the young man’s teacher received this email:

“Do you remember the hard time I gave you last year about coming out to do that stuff for Wycliffe? … I want to apologize again for my attitude. … I just wanted you to know I’m down here in Guatemala on a Discovery trip and I think God wants me to be a Bible translator.”

As he recounted this story, tears welled up in Gary’s eyes, and with a deep breath, he said, “Whoa! I didn’t even touch the ground going home that day!”

Whether it’s through tours, children’s programs or even simple conversations with our guests, it’s clear to see that God is using the Discovery Center to inspire. So why don’t you stop on by and take a tour yourself? You might be surprised by all you learn!

The Discovery Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Arrange a tour today.

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Join us in looking back over the past year and looking forward to all God has in store for the future of Bible translation. Please enjoy this Christmas greeting from Bob and Dallas Creson, on behalf of Wycliffe personnel around the world and the people we serve alongside. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

 

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Shipwrecked for Bible Translation

The following is translated from the testimony of Nimbrot Makaruku, an Indonesian man from the Maluku Islands. 

Shipwrecked for Bible Translation

I was born in a Christian family and automatically I thought I was a Christian. I went to Sunday school and learned a lot. I knew who Jesus was, how He was born, all the names of His disciples, and the history of the Israeli people from the Old Testament.

But that’s all.

I didn’t know how I could truly become a Christian. I remember that if someone in the family became sick, we went to a shaman (a medicine man) and it continued until I became a college student. I entered Pattimura University and majored in education to become a teacher.

I started trusting Jesus more after I experienced a shipwreck. I was in the boat from Seram island to Ambon, but because of the strong waves, the boat was tipped and broken into pieces. I couldn’t swim, but a piece of wood which was about three meters long came to me, so I grabbed it. I floated with that piece of wood for about thirteen hours, and I reached the fisherman’s floating hut in the bay, but it was another five hours when the rescue came. I felt that it must be God who sent a piece of wood and saved me. I was amazed because such a holy God loves me very much and saved me, who was so sinful. I regretted all that I have sinned in the past, confessed my sins to Him, and gave my life to Him.

When I finished college, my parents and all of my brothers and sisters wanted me to become a teacher. But at that time I started working on the Alune Bible translation. My family told me that there was no hope for the future if I would continue working in the translation team, and that if I become a teacher, it has a guaranteed future.

I prayed, “Lord, which do you want me to do, become a teacher or a Bible translator?”

After I prayed, I read the Bible. The verse that strengthened me was Hebrew 13:8, which says that Jesus Christ is good in the same way all the time, yesterday, today, and forever. To me it meant that the Lord who saved my life from the disaster of the shipwreck will always help me in all the needs or any hardship in my life. Since then I have been involved in Bible translation, and God has been very true to what He has promised me.

The Alune New Testament was finished and celebrated in 2012. Nimbrot is now working on the Alune Old Testament, as well as getting further training to be a consultant for other language projects.

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The Coming of the Word

By Krista Besselman

 

The ancient little village had not yet seen or heard

The baby born among them, the living, breathing Word.

The prophecy of Micah was known—at least by some—

In Bethlehem of Judah the Promised One would come.

 

This unknown little baby, so fragile and so small—

The long-awaited Savior, the Word of God to all.

He came to earth so humble and all but hid from sight,

But we who know and love him still celebrate that night.

 

Now in another village the far side of the earth

Another group is hearing the story of his birth.

A story more important than any they have heard—

The God who speaks their language has given them his Word.

 

They never understood it in language used before,

But now it speaks so clearly! “We love it!” “Tell us more!”

So with their full attention, the Word is read aloud,

And faith is mixed with hearing among the joyful crowd.

 

But in another village somewhere between those two,

They read a foreign Bible that’s still not getting through.

They want to understand it but only can in part

Because they’re still not hearing the language of their heart.

 

In city, town and village we’re challenged with the call

To be a part of bringing the Word of Life to all.

Through prayers, gifts and service, we take the Living Word

To ev’ry heart and language … till all the world has heard.

 

Krista

Krista Besselman is an accountant, a missionary and a poet. She serves in Papua New Guinea, helping track the resources used for Bible translation.

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By Melissa Paredes

One night Glenda had a dream.

She saw her son and nephew carrying a large box into her house. As they drew near, Glenda noticed that they were crying with joy. Glenda didn’t know what the box contained and was confused about why they were crying. She didn’t understand what the dream meant.

The next day she found out the meaning of her dream.

A ship arrived in Pelonk, a village in the Maskelyne Islands in Vanuatu where Glenda lives. Just as Glenda had dreamt, men carried the boxes ashore and tears streamed down people’s faces as they watched the men bring the cargo off the ship. Inside the boxes were copies of the New Testament in their own Maskelynes language.

A Dream Come True

As more boxes were unloaded from the ships, people covered them with flowers and laid hands on them in welcome, as if greeting an honored guest. They joyously received God’s Word in their language — something their ancestors had anticipated doing since missionaries first came to these islands in 1897. Now, over 100 years later, the people are finally able to read the Scriptures in their own heart language.

A Dream Come True3On Sunday, April 6, 2014, the New Testament dedication festivities began. For the next several days, people from all three Maskelynes villages gathered in the afternoon in Pelonk to enjoy music and drama. Then on April 9, the official day of the dedication, more people came from other islands and even other countries to celebrate with them.

Young people performed reenactments of the first missionaries’ arrival in their village, and skits about different Bible verses. The people’s pride in seeing their language published was evident as they read portions of translated Scripture. Later in the day chiefs from each clan made sure that everyone received a copy of the New Testament to take home and read for themselves. Participants could also purchase audio New Testaments.

A Dream Come True2

A very memorable part of the dedication was the unveiling of a memorial stone. The people wanted to commemorate the significance of the day in a special way and leave a visual reminder of the value of what they were celebrating. Just as Israel took stones from the Jordan River and placed them on the bank to remember God’s saving power for future generations, the Maskelyne people marked the dedication of the Maskelynes New Testament with a large stone.

Now people across the Maskelyne Islands — just like Glenda — are able to hold God’s Word in their hands and understand it with their hearts, pointing to the memorial stone as a reminder to the generations to come of that significant day when their dreams finally came true.

A Dream Come True4

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By Alison Compton Ngallaba

Alison first went to Tanzania with Wycliffe in 2006, serving as a linguist and literacy advisor. In 2012 she married Solomon Ngallaba, a Tanzanian. The Ngallaba’s are currently on furlough in the United States.

It was December 2003 when I received a letter from Wycliffe Bible Translators accepting me as a missionary. As I reflect back on my calling into the ministry of Bible translation, I realize the Scripture God used to call me is just as relevant now as it was then.

My journey to missions started in 2002 when I was working at Johnson University. I developed a thirst for learning more about the Bible. Even though I had a Bible degree from Johnson, I was excited about the Word in a new way and was thirsty for more. So I signed up to take Greek on my lunch break. One day a Bible translator spoke to our Greek class advocating for Bibleless people. I was shocked! I thought everyone had a Bible. (I grew up here in the “Bible Belt,” after all.)

I kept thinking about the Bibleless people. I couldn’t get them out of my mind. The Word meant so much to me! What would it be like to be without the Bible? But I didn’t think I could possibly go.

This same semester, I attended Bible Study Fellowship on Monday nights. We were studying the Gospel of John. One verse captured my heart and convicted me, leading me into missions: In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, two of John’s disciples saw Jesus pass by. They followed Him. Jesus knew He was being followed; He turned around and asked them, “What do you want?” They wanted to know where He was staying. Jesus’ reply is what got me: “Come, and you will see.”

Over the next nine or ten months, I thought of those Bibleless people. And I was filled with a long list of doubts and fears. “God, I don’t speak any language except English.” He replied, “Come, and you will see.” “God, I’ve never lived anywhere but Tennessee! Can I really move overseas?” God replied, “Come, and you will see.” “God, what if I get sick?” “Come, and you will see.” “What if I miss my family?” “Come, and you will see.” “What if something bad happens?” “Come, and you will see.”

This continued until I finally said, “Yes, Lord, I will come!” I’ve never regretted that decision even for one day.

Now here I am, a decade later. I still find myself filled with doubts and fears. “God, what will it be like to live in the United States for a year? I haven’t lived here for that long since 2005!” “Come, and you will see.” “God, what will it be like being a mom and raising our daughter overseas?” “Come, and you will see.” “How will we live in America on an African budget?” “Come, and you will see.”

Just as it took me some months to say, “Yes, Lord, I’ll come!” I find myself in that process again. I am slowly uncurling my anxiously clenched hands and letting God fill them. He is faithful and His Words are true.

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