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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Word’

A teacher teaches a class of children how to read and write.

Did you know that September 8 is International Literacy Day? It’s a day set aside to not only celebrate and rediscover the joys of reading, but to also raise awareness about the literacy struggles that people face all around the world.

Imagine not being able to read. What would your life be like? Whether you consider yourself an avid reader or not, we read every single day. Text messages, emails, billboards, menus, articles, blogs, news stories … even what our friends post on social media! Reading is integral to our lives, yet millions of people around the world haven’t had the opportunity to learn this important skill.

You can help change that.

And it all begins with something as simple as collecting your loose pocket change.

Join Kate and Mack on their latest adventure through their “Pocket Change Challenge.” It’s an easy way to teach your kids about giving while promoting a need that we can help tangibly meet. No matter how old you are — whether you’re five years old and just learning to read or 75 years old with years of reading behind us — you can play a part! We especially want to encourage young kids to get excited about reading. How amazing would it be that they can make a difference by helping kids, just like them, learn how to read?

Because when people learn how to read, they’re given the ability to read the most important book of all — God’s Word in their heart language.

Join us in celebrating International Literacy Day! If you love to read or simply know the benefits of this life-changing skill, consider doing something to help someone else learn how to read, too.

Photo by Zeke du Plessis

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In an otherwise quiet corner of Guinea-Bissau’s noisy capital, a camera operator counts to four on his fingers and the signer starts again. Aside from one person, the whole team is deaf* and they are quietly making history: God’s Word—in this instance, the story of the disciples’ miraculous catch of fish—is being translated into Guinea-Bissau Sign Language.

Gloria brought this vision all the way from her homeland, Brazil. There she learned Brazilian Sign Language after many frustrating encounters trying to reach the Deaf. She asked the Evangelical Church of Guinea-Bissau for a place to run a sign language project and they appropriately gave her this building, originally designated for ministry to the Deaf and blind.

“I’m the only foreign person in the whole country who is interested in this work,” she explains. “This is the first translation work in sign language.”

Breaking Through the Silence

Government census statistics indicate that there are only 1,700 deaf people in Guinea-Bissau’s population of 1.6 million. But Gloria says that figure is much, much higher in reality. Disease, armed conflict, and genetics all contribute to deafness in Guinea-Bissau.

Like the Deaf in many regions of the world, those in Guinea-Bissau are often mistreated and ignored by society at large, their communities, and even their families. Because many deaf Guineans are isolated from one another, their sign language is not well-developed, and their vocabulary is limited.

Gloria says Guinea-Bissau Sign Language needs to be thoroughly analyzed by a linguist. But until that happens, she is pressing ahead with the early stages of a Bible story translation as a means to begin gathering signs and giving the Deaf a glimpse of God’s love.

*To emphasize that Deaf cultures are distinct from hearing cultures, people often write “Deaf” when referring to a linguistic-cultural group, and “deaf” for the audiological condition of people. This approach is used in this article, reprinted in a condensed form from an article in Word Alive, a publication of Wycliffe Canada.

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Food Aid

By Konlan Kpeebi

Konlan works for the Ghana Institute of Literacy, Linguistics and Bible Translation (GILLBT) as translation coordinator and as the Konni language Bible translation project manager.

 

I was at the Koma area recently to distribute some grain to the blind and the elderly as well as to some of our literacy facilitators.  The Koma people live in abject and chronic poverty because of their living environment. There was serious flooding in northern Ghana, which brought in its wake, wanton destruction of farms and the loss of lives.

This further exacerbated the plight of the Koma people who are already vulnerable because of their location in Ghana. The Koma people live mainly in the northern sector of Ghana. Their villages are in an area sometimes called “overseas” by their neighbours, because each of the major paths leading to the area cross rivers which are impassable by vehicles in the rainy season. As a result of their isolation, food aid hardly gets to them.

After learning this, I was motivated by Christian love and reminded that our Lord and Master Jesus Christ fed the multitude that followed him when they were hungry. But above all, I was challenged by what author Dewi Hughes said about Christian ministry in the book, God of the Poor: A Biblical Vision of God’s Present Rule:

“Our response to poverty is a crucial test of our faith. It is impossible to really know Jesus and be indifferent to the plight of the poor.”

We have, therefore, been praying that the Lord would meet their needs, and He answered our prayers through someone who gave us funds to help some of the flood victims. With those funds, we were able to buy some maize for them. We were able to serve 36 blind people, as well as some elderly people and some of our literacy facilitators. In all, we were able to serve about 50 families.

Food Aid - Konlan Kpeebi

After the distribution, they were full of praise and appreciation, and this was what some of them had to say:

“We are very happy for the gifts today, and I think we are a privileged generation. Most of our parents who were blind died in suffering. This year would have been a difficult year for us because, if those who can see did not get food, it would have been worst for us, the blind. So, we are very grateful. May God bless the one who has sent this gift.”

Another used a Koma proverb to express his appreciation. “The fingernails also help in fighting. Anything done out of love lasts. This food will feed my family and me for over one month. May God richly bless the one who has given us this wonderful gift.”

When Jesus was on earth, He proclaimed the gospel, healed the sick, and fed the hungry. The demonstration of the gospel was not simply through preaching, but through service. Providing food aid opened the door to connecting these people with the Word.

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Meet Elvis

Photo by Zeke du Plessis

“If we are to understand the Word of God, God needs to translate himself into our language, so that his words can speak deeply to each person,” reflects Elvis. “It’s the translation of the Word of God into my language that is at the base of my own faith.”

When this photo was taken, Elvis was serving as the language program manager for ACATBA (Central African Association for Bible Translation and Literacy in English). His pastor, Georges, says of Elvis: “Elvis is a man of God. His work in translating the Scripture means that all people in CAR can make good use of the word of God.”

According to Wycliffe Global Alliance, there are 83 languages spoken in the Central African Republic, and 54 of those have no Scripture at all. But because of people like Elvis who are dedicated to the work of Bible translation, this number will continue to decrease as the number of languages who have the Scriptures increase.

Elvis is dedicated to bringing God’s Word to the Gbeya speakers in Bossangoa, Central African Republic. You can help fund Bible translation in Central African Republic here.

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“We would like to find the [Dâw] tribe. Where are these [Dâw]?” missionary Valtier Martins said when he first arrived in the Amazonas town of São Gabriel, Brazil.

He was answered with a laugh.

“Ok, the first person you find there in the street, fallen down, drunk—that’s a [Dâw],” was the reply.

Valtier finally located the Dâw and began living among them, teaching God’s Word. Several of them were wary of the foreigner. They had long been exploited by the plantation owners they worked for, and they assumed the missionary would do the same.

But this outsider was different. He and nearly a dozen others taught them God’s Word over the course of many years.

“Everything began getting better little by little because we were listening to the Word of God,” deacon Célio Dâw said. “And God kept giving us more and more strength.”

Click here to watch a video in which Célio and three other Dâw men tell their stories of how God spoke to them, drawing them out of despair and drunkenness to spiritual leadership. Today, the Dâw have grown from sixty to one hundred and twenty people who are respected in their community.

Hope

 

 

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We often underestimate the power of prayer to change the world around us. But as the examples in this video show, our prayers can help change people’s lives in significant ways. And just by praying, you can help people get a Bible translation in their language.

Visit wycliffe.org/prayer to learn how you can start impacting lives through prayer today!

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By Melissa Paredes

The Advocating ChiefJohn Sethy is a husband, a father, and the chief of his small village of Nivenue on the island of Epi in Vanuatu. Those responsibilities all keep him busy, but recently he took on a whole new responsibility—becoming the advocate for the Bible translation in his own heart language of Lewo.

It took several years for John to reach this point of helping his people receive God’s Word in the language they understand best. In 2010, members of the Vanuatu Building for Tomorrow group (VBT) and the SIL* team came to John’s home village to hold a literacy workshop and record some of the Lewo New Testament. They came in response to a request from Kapiapo, one of the village’s church elders and long-time lead translator for the Lewo project. Kapiapo wanted his people to become more aware of the translation work in their language—work that had been ongoing for the last twenty years.

While in the area, the team members attended a Sunday church service. During the service, John stood up and read fluently from 1 John in the Lewo language. Everyone was impressed with John’s abilities, his humble attitude, his cleverness, and his passion for God’s Word.

Three years passed. VBT and SIL planned to host a workshop that would help equip people across Vanuatu to read, understand, and teach the Scripture. As they thought of potential participants, John was one of the first people who came to mind.

John would be difficult to get in touch with, because his village is in a hollow, and contacting him by mobile phone would be a challenge. But the team decided to try, so they called another man from John’s village to see if he could help them get in touch with John.

Amazingly, John was standing right next to the man when the team called. He accepted their offer with excitement.The Advocating Chief 3

With great enthusiasm, John attended the workshop and absorbed as much as he could during his time there. He was particularly enthralled by the study of God’s Word through learning more about the historical and cultural context of the Scriptures, and ways to deepen his understanding of it. With this approach, he’d be able to help learn about the true meaning of the Scriptures and could then help teach his people about what the Bible was saying.

John returned to his village, excited to test out his new skills with members of his community. People really enjoyed the new insight he could provide. John shared, “I started [using my knowledge] with my family and that was good. But I am a chief, and I see that these skills in working through problems directly apply to my work. … I can help people to analyze the problems now as I ask them questions. It makes my job much easier!”

Since the first workshop, John has attended several more. He’s also taken over the Lewo translation project with another man. Elder Kapiapo chose John as his replacement on the project team when he learned that he had liver cancer. He passed away in 2013—the same year the team first asked John to attend their workshops. But John has faithfully taken up the torch in Kapiapo’s place, helping to bring the Scriptures to the Lewo people.

John is continuing to learn more about God’s Word and how it can impact both his life and the lives of people in his village. “I see that people are mixing belief and traditional thinking, but I have seen through this course that everything depends on belief in Christ,” John said.

???????????????????????????????It’s that belief that is helping him deepen his knowledge of God’s Word. The Lewo New Testament is still waiting to be published, so pray that it would be printed quickly and distributed among the people. John isn’t just the chief of his village; he’s also working to teach and explain the truths found in Scripture, and to help his people learn how to really use it for themselves.

*One of Wycliffe’s primary partners

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