Posts Tagged ‘first’

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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“It is as if we Tun woke up when our language project started,” said Kallah NDoh, who works with the Tun language team in the African nation of Chad. “Our joy was great. But then we faced financial problems; the work could not move forward and we lost hope.”

The Tun people are a small language group with fewer than five thousand people. As one of the least, the last, and the lost people groups, they did not have God’s Word in their language. They did not even have an alphabet to write it in.

But God had not forgotten the Tun. He put them on the hearts of Samuel Mbaihoguemel and his wife, Claudine, who are Bible translators with ATALTRAB,* Wycliffe’s translation and literacy partner in Chad. They moved into the area to learn the language and develop its written form, so that the Scriptures—and its message of hope in Christ—could be translated into Tounia, the mother tongue of the Tun people.

“Today, by the grace of God, the project is moving ahead again, and we bless the Lord for that,” says Samuel. “We see a change of behavior in the lives of those learning to read the Scripture in Tounia.”

The work of the language team is a great encouragement to Tun Christians, who now recognize that God cares for them and has plans for their future. As Kallah puts it, “Although we are a small people group, God has his eye behind us.”

Now the Tun people will have a chance to read the Word of a loving God who speaks their language. Nothing is more important than getting the Good News of Jesus Christ to people in the language and form that speaks deep into their hearts, so that they can come to know Him and grow in Him.

There’s still time to take advantage of this summer’s special matching gift opportunity. When you give to our First Words to Final Printing campaign, your gifts will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to committed Wycliffe partners who have offered to match gifts up to $175,000.

Your gift will have twice the impact to support accelerated Bible translation and offer more people the life-changing message of God’s Word in a language they understand.

Go to www.wycliffefirstwords.com to learn how!

*Association Tchadienne de L’Alphabétisation, de la Linguistique, et de la Traduction de la Bible

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By Katie Kuykendall

Kéraba Wallou, a young boy in the Sototo village of Senegal, stood humiliated in front of his classmates.

He’d been playing a game with his friends in the schoolyard when a boy asked him if his father had returned yet from a recent trip. Kéraba responded without thinking.

“A bándi tákal,” he said in his language, Manjak. Yes, he came back yesterday.

Kéraba had committed a grave mistake by speaking his first language during school hours.

Laughing, the other boy ran off to tell the teacher what Kéraba had done. Kéraba was then forced to wear a symbol of shame—a bull skull and horns—while the other students laughed and teased him. He’d have to keep it on until the end of the day, or until another child spoke in their own language.


Photo by Katie Kuykendall

If you had to wear the bull bones, chances are at the end of the day you’d be further harassed while students threw stones at you.

Historically throughout Senegal, the classroom has been no place for minority languages. Children are taught in the official national language of French, and are expected to speak, understand, read, and write it—or be punished.

Even today there are stories about teachers and schools still employing these humiliation tactics, but many other schools are embracing multilingual education, allowing students to be taught in their first language as well as the national language. Arfang Goudiaby, head teacher of one such primary school, said he pushed for Manjak literacy classes to be in his school because he saw the positive impact it had.

“When the children would come in contact with these [Manjak] texts, the smile on their faces, the change in their behavior… frankly they were struck by the book. The book wasn’t something foreign to them,” he said. “The children began to get more confident. The fact that they had the book, they could read the book, and they could understand what the book said…gives you greater self-confidence. The book becomes your friend.”

Because of literacy classes in their language, Manjak speaking students are learning new skills, gaining more confidence, and improving their ability to learn French and other subjects, Arfang said. They don’t have to be ashamed of their language, like Kéraba was once made to be. Instead they can be proud to read and write in Manjak because it’s helping them succeed in other aspects of life.

Now an adult, Kéraba is a project supervisor for the Wycliffe funded Manjak literacy program* in southern Senegal. He has taken the class himself, and taught the class for several years before becoming supervisor. He’s also proud to be teaching his four kids to read and write Manjak.

“There has been an important impact on my children,” Kéraba said. “Even today their teacher says to me, ‘Really your children don’t have any problems at school,’ and I’m really pleased to hear that.”

“Some people thought being a Manjak teacher is a waste of time. Then they realized that it’s important because learning Manjak literacy is part of their development,” he said. “Reading and writing—there’s nothing more important than that.”


Photo by Rachel Wolverton

*The literacy project is being coordinated by SIL International, Wycliffe’s primary strategic partner. Wycliffe funds projects like this because we want to see God’s Word accessible to all people in the language of their heart, and literacy is foundational to understanding translated Scripture. The Seed Company, another ministry partner, is currently translating the New Testament for the Manjak people.

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This summer you can take advantage of a special matching gift opportunity. When you give to our First Words to Final Printing campaign, your gifts up to $175,000 will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to committed Wycliffe partners who want to help bring God’s Word to the Bibleless!

Listen to Russ Hersman, Wycliffe USA’s COO, tell about the opportunity in this video:

Go to www.wycliffefirstwords.com to learn more!

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Every year Wycliffe’s summer matching challenge—First Words to Final Printing—brings in valuable resources to help advance Bible translation for language groups around the world. For these communities, having Scripture in their own language is monumental. Without it, they are unable to find the spiritual truths that can transform their lives.

Recently in a community in Southeast Asia, a mother-tongue translator named Sharon* got to witness transformation in the life of her friend Rose* when she started sharing with her the series of Bible stories that her team had crafted. Sharon would play a recording of a story several times, and then ask Rose questions to see if she understood the meaning. With each story, Rose grew more and more interested. Then, after hearing about Jesus’ birth, His baptism, and John the Baptist’s call to repentance, Rose began to reflect on her own life and need for forgiveness from past wrongs. She abruptly asked, “Could I become a Christian now?”

Sharon was caught off guard a bit. She really hadn’t expected Rose to consider a response of faith until she had finished sharing the whole set of stories with her. Excited, she quickly got her thoughts together, and then began to explain more in-depth what it meant to be a Christian. Sharon invited Rose to church, and in the following weeks, as Rose heard about Jesus’ ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection, her faith in Christ grew deeper.

The work going on in Rose’s language group is just one of several projects needing funds through the First Words to Final Printing matching challenge. And this summer is a great time to give because every gift (up to $175,000) will be matched by generous donors who are excited to participate in bringing God’s Word to people who don’t have it in their language!

Go to www.wycliffefirstwords.com to give towards:

  • Specific training opportunities and resources for translation programs in Papua New Guinea, Southeast Asia, and Sudan.
  • Moving translation forward for projects in Kenya, Burkina Faso, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Printing costs of four New Testaments.

*Names are pseudonyms

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