Posts Tagged ‘faith’

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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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 Melissa Chesnut

Each year, National Hispanic Heritage month (September 15–October 15) honors the histories and cultures of Hispanic nations and remembers the anniversaries of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. This four-part “Throwback Thursday” series will focus on different aspects of Wycliffe’s work among Hispanic countries and language communities.

Read Part 1: A Man with a Vision or Part 2: One Person at a Time

Starting a mission organization with the goal of translating the Bible worldwide is a daunting task. During the early years, Wycliffe founder Cam Townsend encountered many people who weren’t confident that the mission would succeed. The odds stacked against it just seemed too high!

But God is much bigger than any of these odds, and in the face of every obstacle, He has proved faithful.

When foreign missionaries weren’t allowed in to Mexico in the 1930s, God opened an unexpected door. Although Cam and others were not allowed to enter the country officially as Bible translators, the government did recognize a need for assistance in studying the rural education system. To Cam, the solution was obvious. “We will enter Mexico as linguists rather than as missionaries,” he decided.

Cam shakes hands with men he knew as boys when he lived and worked in Mexico.

Cam shakes hands with men he knew as boys when he lived and worked in Mexico.

Although it wasn’t their official job in Mexico, Cam’s colleagues were still able to help with Bible translation. But when Cam got a request from an official to send translators to the Lacandons, a tribe of only two hundred people, he was faced with a dilemma. He knew that tribes with large populations needed the Scripture, but did tribes of two hundred merit the lifework of an educated linguist?

As Cam pondered the question, he was reminded of Jesus’ parable about the shepherd who sought the one lost sheep. Yes, he decided, even the small tribes needed the Bible in a language they could understand. But where would he get the volunteers?

At that time, there were forty-four workers under Cam’s leadership. He decided to ask, “Will each of you be responsible before the Lord for one new recruit for Bible translation? … I’m sure He would give us six extra for good measure.” Sure enough, by the end of that year, Cam had fifty new volunteers for Bible translation—plus one more for good measure!

When finances were limited, God sent other believers who gifted the money to Cam and the work of Bible translation. From simple needs like the monthly $5 to rent a vacant farmhouse for the beginning of Camp Wycliffe to $10,000 to build a clinic and dwelling places in Peru, God always came through.


L.L. and Edna Legters pose with friend and Wycliffe founder, Cam Townsend.

The journey was never easy. Gaining access to countries where missionaries weren’t allowed was difficult and trying. Finding volunteers who were willing to dedicate their lives to linguistics and translation sometimes seemed overwhelming and impossible. Supplying funds for the projects in various countries seemed unfeasible. But each time, God opened another door.

Though the odds stacked against them seemed high, God is more powerful than any obstacle. As L.L. Legters, one of Cam’s friends and a fellow pioneer of Bible translation, would sing:

Faith, mighty faith the promise sees,
And looks to God alone.
Laughs at impossibilities
And shouts, “It shall be done!”

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CNN Editor’s Note: John and Bonnie Nystrom are the authors of “Sleeping Coconuts,” the true story of how a devastating tsunami changed the face of Bible translation in Papua New Guinea.

By John Nystrom and Bonnie Nystrom, Special to CNN

(CNN) – As images of the Superstorm Sandy’s devastation have filled our TV screen and computer monitor these last three weeks, our thoughts have often been of friends in Arop, a tiny fishing village in Papua New Guinea.

When it became clear that Hurricane Sandy would hit the Northeast United States hard, our thoughts went back to our friends in Arop, a tiny coastal community that faced an unimaginable tragedy of its own.

In July 1998, earthquakes off the Pacific island’s shore sent three 30-foot waves roaring toward the coast. Most of Arop’s huts were built on stilts, but they never stood a chance against such a force of nature. The tsunami destroyed everything and claimed the lives of more than a third of the 2,400 people who called Arop home.

Whenever a natural disaster makes the news, we think of them.

Before the tsunami we had worked among the Arops for 10 years as linguists with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Our mission was to translate the Bible into their language, which previously had no written form.

Because we lived and worked in a community that overcame such inconceivable tragedy, people often ask us how Christians “keep the faith” in the wake of tragedy.

Unfortunately, we usually wait until after disaster strikes to determine how we will respond.

It is very difficult to think clearly about God, or anything else, when your world has been turned upside down.

But if we understand who God is and why evil and suffering exist, we can experience God as the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles,” as the apostle Paul calls him in 2 Corinthians. He says that God comforts us “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

For us the question is not, “Where is God in this tragedy?,” but “How will we respond to it, how will we experience God’s comfort in it, and how can we share that comfort with others?”

Read the rest of this post on the CNN Belief Blog.

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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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