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liffe Africa

Words and photo by Heather Pubols

Yonathan Zeamanuel explains to the Guji-Oromo team how to use Proclaimers* in listening group Bible studies. Yonathan and his wife, Tizita Zenebe (sitting to the right of him), are Wycliffe Africa members who are working to promote the use of Scriptures in the minority languages of Ethiopia.

*Faith Comes By Hearing works with language communities to produce dramatized audio Scriptures in local languages. These are played using a device called a Proclaimer. “Listening groups” are small groups that use the proclaimer to study the Bible together.

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By Catherine Rivard

 

“Ready? Go!”

Chad pressed the record button as Menseng, an Ura speaker, glanced once more at his script and began reading. Outside the booth, Chad watched the computer waveform of Mengseng’s voice while a second screen flashed the accompanying crucifixion scenes from the Luke Video. Boas, the Ura voice coach, along with half a dozen others, crowded close.

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with [Jesus] to be executed,” Menseng read from Luke 23 in Ura. “When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him.”

The room was silent. Not a man moved, each choking back tears as they watched a bloodied Jesus hang on a cross and whisper to them in Ura, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Watching Jesus captivated them.

For nearly ten days, the recording team had gathered in Gualim village to dub the audio for the Luke Video series in the Ura language. They’d had just three weeks to create fifteen episodes, a summation of the work, and an audio-only version. And they wondered if they’d be able to complete it all.

But it was soon obvious their worries were unfounded. Actors arrived excited and well-prepared, technicians kept the technical difficulties to a minimum, and the language experts worked with precision. The result was a record-setting pace!

“Is this [speed] normal?” Chad asked, worried. “Are we doing something wrong?”

“No!” the others laughed incredulously. “This is just a miraculously good recording session!”

Energized by their progress, the team spent the extra days refining the material until it was ready to show to the community—much earlier than normal! After the showing, one man approached Chad, wringing his hands enthusiastically. “I’m very happy about this video!” he said. “I’m very pleased with the work that has gone into it, and it is a good film!”

With God’s help and the diligent work of the translation team, the Ura people are now able to hear His truth in their own language!
Click here  if you’re interested in helping others hear the Easter story in their language!

 

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“We listen to it daily. At noon we listen to it. We listen to it before going to sleep. Then we pray. Then we sleep.”—a Kanwasa villager

Your gifts to last year’s Wycliffe gift catalog helped provide audio Bible players for people in Papua New Guinea (PNG), bringing the Scriptures in their language to life!

Highlands Audio - 7 copy

In many language groups living in PNG, information of value is shared orally, and literacy is growing slowly. In the highlands, thirty-nine New Testaments have been published in the local languages but are not accessible to the people. Now six of these New Testaments have been recorded and placed on flash drives as well as small solar-powered audio players. Translated Scripture in numerous other languages has been checked, and recordings have been made of as much as half of the New Testament.

One Kamano speaker in PNG reported how much his children love listening to Bible verses with the audio player. Public school principals in that language group are asking for these devices to give to their teachers to play for class language study and devotion times. Local pastors are also using the units during their sermons instead of reading from the trade language and translating orally.

Many families listen to the players during their evening meal, and keep listening to God’s Word until the batteries go dead for or five hours later. Children are asking if they can “recharge the batteries by putting the players close to the fire” so they can finish listening to one of the Bible stories.

Providing these players makes translated Scripture accessible to thousands of people in the highlands of PNG. Translation has bridged the language barrier, and Scripture in this format is bringing God’s Word to the ears and hearts of the people.

This year’s gift catalog has similar opportunities to transform lives for eternity. Click here to check out the 2013-2014 Gift Catalog: In the Spirit of Giving!

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By Melissa Chesnut

It was a Friday afternoon. Many of the Krachi villagers—men and women, young and old—were gathered around a tape recorder.

To those who know the Krachi people of Ghana, this would be an unusual scene to observe. As peasant farmers, the Krachi people spend most of their days working in the fields. The days they do not go to the fields are rare: Sundays for the Christians, and special or taboo days that happen once a week. On those days, no one is allowed to work in the fields.

But on this occasion, it was neither a Sunday nor a special or taboo day. The Krachi people had left their fields for something more important—listening to God’s Word.

The tape recorder was playing the Gospel of Mark, an audio version that had recently been completed and distributed among the Krachi people. Setting aside the normal schedule of their daily lives, this group of people had gathered to listen to God’s Word in their language.

As the tape played, a familiar voice was heard. One of their own people had read and voiced the recording of Mark! This was not just some stranger speaking their language for the recording—it was one of them!

Moses Danso was one of the elderly men listening to Mark that afternoon. His life—along with many others—was touched through the use of tape recorders to communicate Scripture.

No Longer A Barrier“I have never been to formal school,” he said. “But I can listen to the Word of God in my own language. Illiteracy can no longer be a barrier to my salvation.”

For those who are unable to read or write their language, these audio recordings are perfect. But many Krachi people are now getting the opportunity to learn how to read and write their own language as well.

Before, the Krachi alphabet had not been developed, so there was no written document for the language. Then a team from the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT), a Wycliffe partner organization, helped develop the Krachi alphabet. The team is now providing literacy programs for the Krachi people while they work on the Krachi New Testament translation and additional audio Scripture recordings. So far, they’ve drafted 90 percent of the New Testament, which will soon be checked by translation consultants!

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By Elyse PattenNaro-BotswanaPhoto by Zeke du Plessis

An elderly Khoisan man is delighted to listen to a recording of the New Testament in his own language – Naro. Known widely as the ‘Bushmen’, the Khoisan people’s traditional desert-roaming lifestyle is featured in many movies and they are believed to be not only the original inhabitants of southern Africa but possibly the oldest ethnic group in the world. The Naro New Testament is the very first Scripture to be translated into a Khoisan language and an audio recording was also made for distribution since 95 percent of the Naro people don’t read but prefer oral communication.

View more images from the Naro New Testament Celebration.

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A Mazatec man sets up a recording studio in his home so others can hear.


By Terry Schram
*

Félix Ventura, an educated assistant pastor, joined the translation project late. The Jalapa de Díaz Mazatec New Testament had already been translated, but another step needed attention. His task was to read the translated Scriptures and think about how clearly Jesus and Paul and the others spoke Mazatec.

Doing this, he discovered that the Scriptures had much more impact on him when he pondered them in his own language, and he began to teach others to read Mazatec. He found that people who already knew how to read Spanish could extend their reading skill fairly easily if they followed the printed Mazatec passage while listening to it read very slowly, word by word. He used the book of Jonah for this because it’s fairly short and tells an interesting story. As he worked with older people, he realized that although many would probably never learn to read, they did want to listen to Scripture.

Soon Félix became so impressed with the great value of recorded Scripture that he decided to buy recording equipment and set up a small studio in his home. Now he records Scripture with three distinct purposes in mind. First, he reads the books he is currently revising and then gives those recordings to specific listeners he has incorporated into the revision process. They listen and give him feedback on how clearly it communicates in their language. Second, he reads some materials very slowly, as well as at normal speed, so people who read Spanish but not yet Mazatec can follow along in a printed text and teach themselves to read their mother tongue. Finally, he records published Scripture so those who cannot read can also have access to God’s Word.

Félix joined the translation project late, but it wasn’t too late for him to see a possibility, take initiative, and make the Word more accessible to many.

*Terry and his wife, Judith, serve in Mexico with the Jalapa de Díaz Mazatec translation project. This story was taken from the Fall 2012 issue of Rev . 7, a quarterly publication of our partner JAARS.

Committed to spreading God’s message, Félix Ventura records Scripture for oral learners, Scripture revisers, and new readers.

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By Matt Petersen, Wycliffe USA senior editor

“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” –Psalm 119:143 (NLT)

“I’m very concerned for your safety right now,” said Abdiel, our host and self-assigned bodyguard during our stay in Guatemala. I glanced at Cyndy who was seated beside me, gingerly cradling her video camera against the jarring of the truck.

“Why are you concerned?” she asked.

“You know those guys who came over to greet us a minute ago, right before we left?” Abdiel questioned. “They were drug traffickers. That’s why we needed to leave so quickly.” Apparently traffickers don’t like Americans on their turf, especially ones carrying cameras.

This wasn’t our first dangerous encounter. Just the day before, we’d visited one of many new home churches. Few people in these villages are able to read. Instead churches gather together and listen to Scripture on a digital audio player called a Proclaimer, which is provided by Faith Comes By Hearing, one of Wycliffe’s partners.

Upon entering the tiny, crowded one-room house where this church meets, I could sense tension as several people began talking excitedly. I didn’t know what they were saying, but something was obviously wrong. The group leader spoke for a couple of minutes and soon everyone settled down, but an uncomfortable feeling remained.

It wasn’t until we had safely left the area that Abdiel was able to explain what had happened. He told us some foreigners had recently stirred up trouble in the village by starting mining operations. When the people saw our white skin, they thought we were associated with the miners. Also, although Abdiel wasn’t aware of it in advance, when we arrived someone told him we had entered the hometown of a powerful drug lord.

We faced other challenges in Guatemala as well. There was the threat of thieves, malaria, dengue fever, parasites, dangerous road conditions, spiritual opposition from traditional religions, and more.

In spite of these concerns, God protected us. Yet I know that Christians aren’t immune to suffering and death. What amazed me was the joy I saw in so many of these Christians in spite of difficult circumstances. Time after time they shared joyful stories about God and His Word at work in their lives.

One interviewee told about a pastor who shepherded his church for sixteen years using a Spanish Bible, since the Word wasn’t yet available in the local language. Unfortunately everyone—including the pastor himself—struggled to understand the Scriptures in Spanish. But when the pastor listened to the Proclaimer and finally heard the message of salvation in a language he could understand clearly, he accepted Christ as his personal savior.

Many people we interviewed shared their joy at being released from an oppressive false religion, others from severe alcohol addiction. All were excited about the freedom that God’s Word has brought.

Working with Wycliffe, I’ve traveled to many places and met many people who have been transformed by the Bible in their heart language. Each time I’ve been impressed by the spiritual and physical hardships many Christians face, but even more so the incredible joy and peace they experience because they rely on the Bible for strength and comfort. These testimonies challenge me to treasure the Scriptures more seriously myself. And like the Christians in Guatemala, I’ve found that through His Word, God brings me joy in the trials.

Translated Scripture changes lives. Don’t underestimate the power of a gift in support of Bible translation.

Have you experienced God’s peace and joy in the midst of trials?

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