Archive for January, 2016

Trauma Healing

When you check the news these days, you probably notice a lot of heavy words like war, bombing, shooting, rape, disaster, AIDS, slaves and terrorism, to name a few. People all over the world are suffering.

As Christians, we know God wants to heal people’s hurts. But how can we help them find that healing when the hurt runs so deep? And how can we find it ourselves?

“Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help” was written to help people just like these. Using stories, key Scripture passages and core mental health principles, the book guides group leaders and participants through the difficult stages of healing from deep traumas.

The book is often used in places like the Central African Republic, where many are dealing with the effects of war and violence. But it’s also changing lives on city streets right here in the U.S.

To learn more about the book or purchase a copy of it yourself, visit our online shop at shop.wycliffe.org.

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Free VBS Program With Kate and Mack!


It’s only January, but summer will be here before you know it. If you’re looking for a vacation Bible school program that not only teaches kids about God but also more about the world, we’ve got just the thing!

“Summer Around the World” is a five-day program where kids get to travel the world with Kate — a Wycliffe missionary kid — and her best friend, Mack. Each day focuses on one of the five regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. Kids will learn about languages and cultures, meet characters from different countries, play international games, make unique crafts, and so much more.

Most importantly, they’ll learn how much God loves his children, no matter what language they speak.

Sign up for this free downloadable program today.

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Ways You Can Pray for the World

Four young men kneel in prayer as part of a youth drama at church about the importance of prayer

Four young men kneel in prayer as part of a church youth drama about the importance of prayer


We live in a big world. But today, more than any other time in history, we are able to know what’s happening in every corner of the world by turning on a television or clicking a button on the computer. And as we do, we’re able to pray specifically and intentionally for those areas.

This month we asked several missionaries to share prayer requests for the parts of the world where they work. Join us in praying for these three countries and one region this month: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, the United States and Asia.


Name: Jon Hampshire
Years with Wycliffe: 27
Current role: Communications coordinator for SIL Eastern Congo Group

We asked Jon how we could best pray for the Congo right now. Here’s what he said:

  • Pray that churches in Congo would continue to have a renewed and increased interest in having God’s Word available in the heart languages of the people. In order to help make this happen, these churches are taking greater initiative and ownership in the Bible translation task. Pray that Congolese church leaders would have wisdom and guidance from the Lord regarding what their roles should be in the work.
  • Pray for Congolese Christians who are helping others to deal with the trauma that has affected them so deeply. This advancement in Bible translation is set against the backdrop of security concerns that have lingered for more than 20 years in Congo.Many people have been traumatized by war, assault, death and destruction.
  • Pray that the recently completed translations (several New Testaments and one complete Bible) will be quickly published, dedicated and distributed into the hands of the speakers. Pray that God’s Word will transform hearts and communities in Congo.

Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Name: Joe Armfield, Sr.
Years with Wycliffe: 11
Current role: Staff resource associate

We asked Joe how we could best pray for PNG right now. Here’s what he said:

  • Pray that missionaries working in Ukarumpa will continue to have a positive impact with nationals who live in the villages nearby.
  • There has been an extreme drought condition for the past several months, and many nationals lost food because their gardens dried up. Pray that the rainy season will quickly help alleviate this situation.
  • Pray that God will bring more workers to PNG. Ukarumpa has a big need for finance workers, teachers, computer specialists and, of course, translators and literacy workers.
  • This past year, the 200th translation in PNG was completed and celebrated! However, there are approximately 200 other languages with no active translations in process. Pray that these languages would be reached for God’s glory.


United States

Name: Aileen Agoncillo
Years with Wycliffe: Almost 14
Current role(s): Associate director of church partnerships; Asia liaison for Wycliffe News Network for Wycliffe Global Alliance

We asked Aileen how we could best pray for the U.S. right now. Here’s what she said:

  • Pray for the ability to effectively facilitate partnerships with churches throughout the United States as they seek to meaningfully engage with people groups that need Scripture in their own languages.
  • Psalm 96:3 says, “Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does” (NLT). Pray for the teams of people who help communicate the work of Bible translation to others. Pray that God will be glorified and churches will want to get involved when they hear how Bible translation is impacting people’s lives.



Name: Melinda Lyons
Years with Wycliffe: 34
Current role: Prayer coordinator for SIL Asia and the Pacific

We asked Melinda how we could best pray for Asia right now. Here’s what she said:

  • Pray for visa access for those wanting to work in various countries across Asia. Several countries are tightening visa restrictions for foreigners, especially ones involved in anything religious, and some countries are experiencing political uncertainties that make them want to limit foreigners in the country. Pray for openness to live and work where the needs are great.
  • Pray for spiritual encouragement for the people working in locations that are very remote and where there are few Christians for fellowship. In some locations there are no known believers, while in others there are only a handful. Pray that God will provide the necessary spiritual refreshment for each individual.

Did you enjoy this article? To get more, sign up to become a part of our prayer team! Every two weeks we’ll supply you with specific prayer requests for projects, people groups, countries and more.

Photo credit: Heather Pubols

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DSCN1710“The urgency to give the Bible to the people is high. We are committed to make sure we aren’t making the remaining people groups wait too long,” says Wycliffe Togo Director, Antonin Azoti. “In order to make it happen, we can’t do it the same way we did 30 years ago. These days it’s quite unthinkable that we would carry out Bible translation without the proper technology. But a lack of equipment is holding us back.”

Wycliffe Togo staff shares available computers, taking shifts to do their work online. This leads to delayed communication and a slowed workflow. Antonin’s goal is to provide the head of each department — Accounting, IT, Communications and Human Resources — with a computer and have 2-3 additional machines for department staff and volunteers to share.

Because budgets are tight, the organization relies on volunteer workers, but the lack of technology also makes it difficult to recruit volunteers. Antonin explains, “The minimum that we can provide volunteers who are willing to give of their time, is a computer to use when they are serving Wycliffe. In our country tablets and computers are not yet widespread. You can’t count on the person to have their own.”

IMG_0485On a visit to Wycliffe USA headquarters in November, Antonin received a stock of refurbished laptops and tablets from the IT department — including several donated through Wycliffe’s “Donate Your Stuff” program. When packing up the devices for his flight home, Antonin shared, “Thank you! To take these back is a great encouragement to the team! We’ve been praying for a time when not having enough equipment won’t be a challenge anymore. These donations contributed to bringing about such a time.”

Please consider donating your unused electronics to Wycliffe. We can turn them into financial support for Bible translation, and in some cases we can send the items to translation projects with technology needs. To learn more, visit Wycliffe.org/donateyourstuff or call 1-800-992-5433.

UPDATE: We are deeply saddened to learn that Antonin’s wife, Adakouvi Grace, passed away on Jan. 15 while traveling to Benin. Please join us in prayer for Antonin and their two children during this immensely difficult time.

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We recently shared part one and part two of this series. If you missed those articles, we encourage you to take a moment and catch up before reading facts #6 and 7 in our series! 

students learning Hebrew

students learning Hebrew

  1. Nonverbal signals mean different things in different languages.

Figuring out how another language uses nonverbal communication can be tricky. And it’s easy to confuse or even offend someone from another language and culture with nonverbal signals we take for granted.

For example, in some parts of Asia a smile isn’t just a friendly welcome — it can also be a sign of pain, embarrassment, anger, sadness and other emotions. And in some southeast European countries, the head movements we use for “yes” (up and down) and “no” (side to side) mean just the opposite! Puts a whole new spin on that smiling, head-bobbing toy sitting on your desk or dashboard, doesn’t it?

Counting with the fingers is another interesting nonverbal way of communicating, and one you might think is universal. But it’s not! In the U.S. we use our fingers to count up to 10, but in the Kewa language of Papua New Guinea, they have a system that goes much higher. They start with their fingers, then use different parts of the arm and finally parts of the face.

  1. We say things differently in each language.

One of the tricky things about translation is that not everything we say is supposed to be taken literally. For example, if you tell your friend “I was just pulling your leg,” you don’t mean you were attacking her! That’s just how we say that we deceived someone to make a joke. We call this sort of non-literal saying an “idiom,” and it can make translation difficult for countries that don’t use these twists of phrase.

Metaphors and symbols are another translation challenge, because not every culture uses them the same way. One word in the Bible that doesn’t always translate well word-for-word is “heart,” because it often does not mean the organ in your body that pumps blood. In English, as in many other languages, we talk about the heart as if it’s the center of the thoughts and emotions. But people who speak the Awa language in Papua New Guinea think of the liver as the center of a person’s being. And people who speak the Rawa language think of the stomach as their center. So for Awa or Rawa people to understand this verse correctly, translators need to carefully consider the cultural context and make sure that the wording communicates accurately.

As you can see, there are all sorts of interesting language facts to be discovered. And as much as we’d love to go on, we promised ourselves we wouldn’t get all nerdy on you!

But if you enjoyed these fun language facts and would like to learn more, you might want to check out Wycliffe’s five-day translation and linguistics course called TOTAL It Up!, held around the country. It’s interactive, fun and a great way to learn more about missions and Bible translation. Check it out by visiting our events page.

Photo credit: Marc Ewell


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Coping With Transition


Mandy Pehrson, a former missionary kid who is now the mother of five missionary kids of her own, wrote this insightful blog a couple years back. With a family that is constantly transitioning between a remote village near the coast of Papua New Guinea, a missionary community in the Eastern Highlands, and the United States, Mandy and her family have learned a lot about coping with the ups and downs of transition.

Whether you’re looking for encouragement while struggling with your own transition challenges, or just wanting to better understand the struggles missionaries face, we highly recommend the Pehrson’s blog at https://livingletters.wordpress.com. And be sure to check out The Pehrsons in Papua New Guinea video featuring the Pehrson family!


Although transition happened very differently for me as a child (compared to how my kids experience it now) we share a lot of commonalities … the adjustment to living in different places is just one of them.

I experienced transition every time I left my parents and went to live at boarding school. Home and school were completely different environments for me. During the school year, I lived at an institution where all the students were expected to follow a similar set of rules and schedules, and yet I felt fairly independent most of the time, responsible for myself. I learned very quickly at a young age to fend for my own physical and emotional “stuff,” like buying my own toiletries, etc. In most of the dorms I lived in, there were 20 or more students looked after by one set of dorm parents. The number of roommates I had varied — usually it was two, but one year we had all of the 8th grade girls in one room together!

At home I either shared with my little sister, or I had a room to myself. My parents had expectations for us girls, but were able to give us individual attention — something I lacked at school except for a few trusted adult mentors and class sponsors. I had a lot of freedom at home as far as schedule, because I was always on holiday there. But I wasn’t used to my parents telling me what to do. I remember the huge suitcases my dad would pack for us girls, full of clothes and possessions that we needed (or wanted) for the school term. Often our field director would comment about the Hobbs girls’ huge suitcases under his breath. For me, having my favorite things with me was comforting when faced with a big transition. Even now, I like to have my comfort objects with me when I travel!

Similar to my experience with transition, my kids have two homes — one in the village and one in Ukarumpa (although every three to four years, there is the big transition of going back to Wheaton, Illinois, as well). Transition for the kids involves external things: packing, planning for weeks in advance, and storing things for our return, as it did with me. Just like my parents let me take things with me to school, our kids take a backpack with the things they will want with them for the village stay. Josiah takes nearly all of his possessions to the hostel as well. Our kids also have the internal adjustment of saying goodbye to loved ones in both places. Since relationships are highly valuable to them, leaving is painful, particularly if they know when they get back from the village that a close friend might be gone for good.

On top of the emotional adjustment, they have to transition mentally to a completely different way of life in the two places. For instance, in the village, our kids are home schooled, while in Ukarumpa they go to school with their third-culture-kid friends. It’s a huge adjustment! They are also together all the time, which means that sibling rivalry (or the opposite — learning to get along well!) happens a lot.

We have a lot of conversations about transition and how it affects each one of us. Sometimes transition makes relationships difficult, but we try to have grace for each other when we know we’re going through it. For the smallest ones, we expect a lot of tears and tantrums during the first week. The older ones might pull into themselves a bit before they are ready to go outside and play with their neighbors.

For really good books about transition, I would highly recommend “The Way of Transition” and “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges.

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A man reads the latest news on a churches Missionary bulletin board.

A man reads the latest news on a churches Missionary bulletin board.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” — Hebrews 11:24 (NLT)

If you know a missionary serving in another country, chances are you’ve wondered exactly how you can encourage them or connect with them when they’re miles — maybe even oceans — away from you.

Well, wonder no more because we’ve come up with a few creative and practical ways you can! There are even some fun things that you can do to make them feel blessed and encouraged all year round.

  • Send Christmas and birthday cards.

There are times throughout the year when a missionary might begin to feel a bit homesick. If they’re serving away from their friends and family during Christmas, a birthday or an anniversary, this may be especially true.

Take note of your missionary’s birthday and send them a card! Even if it’s not possible to send a physical card, e-cards are a great way to let your missionary know you are thinking about them and care about them. If your missionary has children or a spouse, send cards to them on their birthdays too!

And when Christmas rolls around and you’re preparing to mail out your annual family Christmas cards or letters to loved ones, consider addressing an extra one and sending it to your missionary.

  • Write an email, text or a physical letter to let your missionary know you are thinking about them.

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make a huge difference. Dropping your missionary a quick email, text, handwritten card or letter could be the very source of encouragement they need during a particularly challenging day or week.

A creative way to do this? Consider drafting sealed “themed” letters to send to your missionary with instructions on the front of the envelope for when to open. For instance, you might write a letter to them containing encouraging Bible verses sealed in an envelope that says: “Open when you are feeling discouraged.” Or you might write a letter of praise and rejoicing in an envelope that reads: “Open when you are celebrating a victory from God.”

These little notes of encouragement, celebration and wisdom will help your missionary feel like you are walking right alongside them in their journey, even if you’re thousands of miles apart.

  • Send care packages.

Before you mail any packages or items to your missionary, it’s always a good idea to check with them first. If you can mail care packages to your missionary and their family, do! It’s helpful to ask your missionary what items they need or miss from home that are difficult to find where they’re serving.

Sometimes missionaries will request things you might not expect — like boxed macaroni and cheese or chocolate peanut butter cups. Or they might need sweaters, socks or other apparel depending on the area of the world where they live. Come up with creative and fun tokens or mementos to send along in the package. Invite your family, friends or a group at church to help you make and deliver care packages as well.

  • Ask them for prayer requests, and tell them your prayer needs too!

Asking your missionary how you can best pray for them is a perfect way to encourage them. It’s likely that your missionary has specific prayer requests regarding their work and the community they are living in. Whenever you pray for your missionary, be sure to let them know. This is a huge source of encouragement for them, especially if they are encountering physical or spiritual obstacles in their work.

Don’t be afraid to share your own prayer requests with your missionary as well. One of the best ways to care for your missionary is to allow them to become a part of your own personal and spiritual journey. Asking them to lift up your needs or the needs of those around you in prayer is a great way to strengthen your relationship together as part of the body of Christ.

Finally, celebrate praises together. When God works through answers to prayer, reach out to your missionary and rejoice!

  • Video chat with them, if possible.

Your missionary might live in areas where this isn’t possible or where Internet connection is scarce, but if it is possible, consider setting aside time to video call with them. This will allow you to build a personal relationship with them — you can actually see one another face-to-face, instead of swapping emails!

This could even be a cool way for your missionary to show you more of the area where they’re serving or introduce you to members of the community. And it would be a great way for them to see the friendly faces of those praying for them. Using technology is a great way to grow your relationship with your missionary in a fun, creative way.

Above all, be sure to enjoy cultivating your relationship with your missionary! You might just find that God will work in amazing ways in both of your lives through this partnership.

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