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Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

Will the Job Be Done - Translators (Elyse Patten)

If you’ve been following Wycliffe’s work for a while now, you’re probably familiar with our mission to see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025. As that date rapidly approaches, some people have asked, “Once you reach that goal, will your work be done?” Definitely not!

You see, our ultimate goal is for everyone on earth to have access to God’s Word in the languages they understand best. That means we’ll have to finish every Bible translation we start. And even after every translation is complete, many will need to be revised. Because of the way languages change over time, Bible translation will continue to be a need until the day Christ returns!

So while starting a Bible translation for every language that needs one by 2025 is a critical goal, it’s definitely not the end goal.

This post is part of our Wycliffe 101 series. Click here to read the previous post, or here to start at the beginning.

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By Bill Gardner with Richard Gretsky

Many people think that Bible translation has been a recent phenomenon that really only started in the last 150 years or so. But the reality of Bible translation’s history might surprise you.

Bible Translation Through the Ages - John Wycliffe

Bible translation actually began even before Jesus was born! Around 200 B.C. many Jews were living in Egypt where they no longer fluently spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, but instead spoke Greek as their mother tongue. (Egypt had been conquered by Alexander the Great.) Since the Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew with a few sections in Aramaic, they decided to translate it into Greek, beginning with the Torah (the five books of Moses). This Greek Old Testament became known as the Septuagint, and was used widely among Jews and then among Christians. In fact many of the quotes in the New Testament are from the Greek Old Testament.

At first the early Christian church used the Greek Old and New Testaments. But after a couple centuries, people decided they needed the Bible in their own languages, so the whole Bible was eventually translated into some of the most widely spoken languages in the world (i.e. Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, etc).1 But as those languages changed over time (e.g., Latin became various Romance languages like French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish), their translations became archaic, “holy” translations, which most people no longer understood at all.

After another 1,000 years a second major wave of Bible translation happened, around the time of the Reformation. While John Wycliffe had earlier translated the Bible from Latin into English, William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale translated the Bible into early modern English from Greek and Hebrew. Around that time, Martin Luther did the same for German and others did so for Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.2 With the invention of the printing press in the early 1400s, people could more easily access, read and understand the Bible. It led to transformation in individuals, communities and societies all across Europe.

The third major wave of Bible translation began about 200 years ago. During the 19th century, God’s Word was translated into almost 500 languages all across the world.1 The 20th century saw the birth of Wycliffe Bible Translators and other Bible translation organizations, and significantly saw more than 1,000 new Bible translations. And the pace of Bible translation has continued to increase during the 21st century.

Bible Translation through the Ages - Africa

Today, we have the honor and privilege to participate in a movement that God has been orchestrating for centuries. By serving, praying, and fiscally supporting the work of Bible translation, we truly make a difference.

Let’s all work together so that soon all people groups can hear God speak to them in their own language.
[1] Silzer, Peter. “An Overview of Bible Translation Through History.” Lecture, Biola University, La Mirada, 2005.

2 Scriptures of the World: A Compilation of the 1,946 Languages in Which at Least One Book of the Bible Has Been Published since the Bible Was First Printed by Johann Gutenberg. London: United Bible Societies, 1990. 41.

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By Hannah Weiand

Where in the World - Pair (Elyse Patten)

A key thing to note is that Wycliffe USA is just one of many organizations working in partnership around the world to make Bible translation happen. Many of these organization are part of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, which includes more than 45 Wycliffe member organizations and more than 60 partner organizations serving in more than 93 countries. For perspective, there are only 197 countries in the entire world, so together we’re working in nearly half of them! You can see the list of organizations within the Wycliffe Global Alliance here.

One interesting feature of the Alliance’s website is a tool that lists the languages of the world, by country, and whether or not they have any Scripture. Although it doesn’t specifically tell you where personnel are working, it can give you a broader scope of the work that is both being done and still needs to be done. So if you have a specific country in mind, and want to know if Bible translation is being done there, this tool can help.

This post is part of our Wycliffe 101 series. Click here to read the previous post, or here to start at the beginning.

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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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By Melissa Paredes

Many of us in the Western world forget that literacy is a privilege — one that many people across the world don’t experience. Learning to read and write is a skill that opens doors to countless education and career opportunities, as well as direct access to the Word of God. Yet many have never even had the opportunity to learn how to write their own name.

That’s why literacy classes are so crucial, and are one way that Wycliffe desires to bring hope to communities. Without this foundation, written Scriptures won’t be able to touch the hearts and lives of those receiving God’s Word in their language for the first time.

In a community in Bangladesh, an adult literacy class is opening new opportunities as students learn to read and write in Bangla, the national language of the country.

Prior to attending the literacy course, many of the adults had never had the opportunity to hold a pencil or a book. Now they are not only holding pencils, but also learning to write! And they are learning how to read books so that they can continue to expand their knowledge.

Hope Through Written Words

Photo by Zeke du Plessis

Many had also never learned to write their name, so they had to use their fingerprint as their signature on legal documents. Now, they’re able to sign documents with confidence.

Around 25 people, from the ages of 20 to 50, are participating in the literacy program, which lasts for eight months.

Everyone has a different reason for joining the group. For some it’s the chance to finish their childhood education; for others it’s the first classroom opportunity they’ve had in their life. One woman shared, “Now I can count out the amount, pay bills and take change from the shopkeeper.”

Whatever their past educational background, this is a great opportunity for them to sit in a class and learn these valuable new skills.

Many work hard throughout the day before coming to class in the evening. It’s a big commitment, but they want to keep learning. They tell their instructors, “We want to learn more, not stop here. Please don’t leave us.” Despite the challenges, their interest has helped them continue, and all are making progress.

As the adults learn how to read better, they’re able to delve into deeper topics relevant to their community. The books they read also help them learn interesting stories to tell their children, and now parents are growing more confident in helping their children with reading and writing assignments from school.

As these adults learn valuable literacy skills, attitudes are changing. More and more people are seizing the opportunity to take literacy classes, and access to these classes is helping these adults take further steps in developing their communities, and even their country.

Literacy offers a chance to change a life, bring hope, and open the door to a new world of opportunities. But most importantly, it gives people the opportunity to learn how to read the Scriptures— the greatest gift that anyone could ever receive. There is hope found through written words, and this community is experiencing that firsthand.

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By Richard Gretsky

When Ken and Joyce Prettol returned to America after four decades of working with Wycliffe Bible Translators on three different continents, a number of cultural differences stood out to them. None may have been quite as stark as the difference between how Americans and Indians view food.

Value of Eating - Food Tray

“Indians have such a high level of awareness of their food,” Joyce recalled. Like many people, they enjoy the taste of their food, but more than anything, the Prettols noticed a gratefulness and constant vigilance among their Indian colleagues to think of those without much food.

“Our Christian Indian colleagues always pray for people who don’t have any food. Coming back to America, we see that we’ve lost that sensitivity to people who don’t have food,” Joyce stated.

“In the US, we’ve become quite calloused,” Ken added. “In India, many Christians see the massive amount of people who don’t have food and are empathetic towards them. They pray for them regularly and help them when they can. Maybe that’s why they enjoy their food so much, because they realize that people around them often go hungry.”

Regardless of where they live—whether it be America, Asia, or elsewhere—the Prettols have learned from their Indian colleagues to be truly thankful for what they have, whether it’s material possessions, cultural history, or the very food they eat.

“You may not have a lot of food,” the Prettols say, “but what we’ve learned is that it’s a matter of being grateful for what you have and feeling compassion for those around you.”

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By Melissa Paredes

Have you ever wondered if what you’re doing with your life is making an impact? If what you’ve chosen as a career will last longer than just a couple years, giving you the chance to make a mark on the world? We all have a desire to leave a legacy, to make a difference in this world. And sometimes we get a glimpse of that impact.

A Legacy 25 Years in the Making3That’s how it was for Dave Schutt, a teacher at Faith Academy in Manila, Philippines. On January 10, 2014, students, alumni and faculty put together a surprise event to commemorate the 25 years that Dave dedicated to countless students. And what a surprise it was!

In the months leading up to the event, Faith Academy faculty had created a hidden Facebook group, requesting that former colleagues, alumni and current students share something about Dave — a favorite memory, an old picture or a thank-you expressing how their life has been directly impacted by his commitment to teaching.

Dave’s legacy at Faith Academy goes all the way back to 1989, when he and his wife, Tammy, moved to the Philippines. That August he began teaching, and he has continued to do so ever since then. A Legacy 25 Years in the MakingHe’s taught multiple classes throughout the years, depending on what has been needed — Algebra I and II, pre-Calculus, AP Calculus, physical education and weights. He’s also coached wrestling, boys’ volleyball, track and field, boys’ soccer and girls’ basketball.

I myself was privileged to have Dave as a teacher for several classes throughout high school. In fact, he’s probably the only reason my algebra classes were bearable! Somehow he made math fun, and I could see that he genuinely cared for us — both as a class and as individuals.

That genuine care was clearly noted by many students and faculty throughout the years, as the overwhelming response to Dave’s 25 year celebration attested. The impact he’s had on so many people was evident by the countless comments and pictures that were shared.

A Legacy 25 Years in the Making2But what’s kept him teaching for so many years? “God has been faithful,” Dave shared. “And Faith [Academy] is such a great school for us and our kids!”

“I have no regrets!” Dave said about his tenure at the school. “It’s a great ministry and Wycliffe and SIL have also been a great support to me as I teach and support their children.”

Teaching is a wonderful way to touch many lives — perhaps countless more than we could ever even begin to imagine. And for Dave Schutt, it’s been a legacy 25 years in the making.

Learn more about how you can touch lives and make an impact by serving with Wycliffe through teaching.

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