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Posts Tagged ‘missionaries’

By Richard Gretsky

Simply Faithful - Farefare PrimerSome people think of missionaries as super-human—leaping the entire breadth of the Atlantic Ocean in one bound, leading entire countries to Jesus, all while dodging flights of arrows. But that’s not what they are. Most are pretty normal, actually; except that they’ve committed to roll up their sleeves, travel far from home, and serve however they can.

Such is the case with Bob and Nancy Schaefer.

They were both raised on dairy farms in the Ozarks, but didn’t meet until college. Then, in the summer of 1969, they got married and joined Wycliffe.

Assigned to Ghana in 1971—the same year their son Paul was born—they moved to the Farefare village of Zuarungu in April 1972. Later, they welcomed two more children into their family—one in 1974 and one in 1977.

Bob and Nancy acclimated quickly to a life of translation in the village, as the diligence necessary for it closely mirrored the “farmers’ hours” they experienced growing up in Missouri and Arkansas.

For forty-two years, the Schaefers passionately worked with local Ghanaian translators to provide Bibles for multiple people groups.Simply Faithful - Bob and Buli

Their down-to-earth, diligent effort translating Scripture has paid great dividends for the local people: in 1986, the Schaefers and their local team finished the Farefare New Testament, followed by the Buli New Testatment in 1996, the Birifor New Testament in 2006, and the full Farefare Bible in 2008. They expect to finish the full Buli Bible in 2015.

To this day, they still live there (as does their son, who works with a neighboring people group) helping to translate the Scriptures. Since 1983, their job has slowly shifted from strictly translation to primarily serving as consultants for local translators—something they speak fondly of.

“You have to be prepared not to seek position for yourself, but rather to help others be in the position to do the work of Bible translation,” Bob said.

“In most of our work, more or less, we are offering shoulders to stand on,” Nancy added. “[And] the thing that stands out to me is absolutely how much you can learn from the people that you work with.”

Simply Faithful - Zindo ClassWith the help of those people, these selfless farmers-turned-translators have enabled many more people to access God’s Word in their own language. So when talking about missionaries’ success, this couple may not be super-human, but they’ve played a major role in leading people to Jesus, and that’s super enough for them.

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By Bob Creson, Wycliffe USA President/CEO

The hot desert day was over and a small group of Borana people—nomadic cattle herders in Kenya—sat down under the stars to share news and stories. As SIL workers Jim and Dorothea Lander joined them, an elder began to speak.

“Long, long ago,” he said, “the Borana people had a Book of God. We called it our Boogi Waqa and everyone had a copy. We read it often to learn how to please God. But as the years passed, our books began to wear out until eventually only one remained—the prized possession of an old, old grandfather.

“Those were years of drought, and our people relentlessly battled for survival. Day after day the old man and his family took their cattle out on long searches for grass and water. One day they left behind a cow too weak to keep up with them. Nosing around for food while no one watched, she came upon the last Boogi Waqa…and devoured it! When the old man came home that night, he found only a few pieces of leather binding scattered on the ground. Great sadness filled the camp.

Guyo - Borana elder

“That night the old man slept fitfully and dreamt that an angel appeared to him. The angel promised that after many years God would send their book back to them. ‘Watch for a strange man from a faraway country,’ said the angel. ‘When he comes, treat him well, for he will bring back your Boogi Waqa.’

“Many years later, the first missionaries came into Borana land. Some of you remember them. They tried to learn our language, and one of them actually wrote a book he said came from God, but we could not read it.” The elder paused, and then with a long sigh, he concluded: “Now, my children, we still wait for the Boogi Waqa.”

Jim and Dorothea were still learning the Borana language, but they understood enough to marvel at the story. A few weeks later, they entertained some Borana men in their home. After dinner and several cups of sweet, creamy tea, a man named Galgalo picked up the Lander children’s English Picture Bible. Galgalo could read it because he’d served in the Kenyan Air Force. He read the story of the Tower of Babel in English, and then told the Borana men what it said in their own language.

Together they looked at the pictures in the Bible and exclaimed, “Look, these men dress just like we do, with flowing clothes and turbans! They pack their camels like we do! And this desert looks just like ours!”

Galgalo turned to Jim and asked, “Is this a Borana book? Is it…could it be…the Boogi Waqa?”

“Yes,” said Jim. “This is the Boogi Waqa.”

Silently the men stared at Jim and Dorothea. Slowly they turned their gaze back to the book. Long into the night they explored the book, examining the pictures and listening to Galgalo read. Eventually they came to a picture of the Israelites sacrificing a lamb, as God had instructed them to do in the Old Testament.

The men told Jim, “Our fathers taught us that the Boogi Waqa told how to sacrifice a lamb, so that God would forgive our sins. And sure enough here it is in this Boogi Waqa! We still do our animal sacrifices, but some of the missionaries say we should stop. Why is that?”

His heart pounding, Jim took the Bible and turned to the tenth chapter of Hebrews. With Galgalo’s help, he explained that God sent his Son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. They no longer needed to sacrifice lambs each year because now they could find forgiveness of sin and eternal life by putting their trust in Jesus, who died for their sins once for all!

Health concerns later sent the Landers back home, but a Borana man, David Diida, drew on their linguistic research to spearhead a revision of the Bible and a very successful literacy program. Many groups of believers can now read their own Book of God all across Northern Kenya.

Dorothea says, “I believe God placed the Boogi Waqa story in Borana history and preserved it in their oral culture so that many years after the original book disappeared, men would seek after God and find in Him eternal life by reading their new Boogi Waqa.”

God left His footprint in the desert sands of Northern Kenya, and He’s left it in many other cultures around the world. Missionaries often think they are “taking God to the people” they are called to serve. But the truth is, He has already been there, preparing the way.

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By Melissa Paredes

Sometimes we have the impression that all missionaries live in huts in faraway villages, where there’s no electricity or plumbing, and the closest mall is days away. But that’s not always the case. Often missionaries live in cities and work in places that may not be that different from where you work here in the United States.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary God 1Nate and Ivy Cheeseman are two ordinary people who love God and want to use their lives in service to Him. They just happen to live and work in Thailand.

Nate goes to an office at Payap University, a large international school in Chiang Mai. There he works with a language survey team that is researching how many translations are still needed in Mainland Southeast Asia. Even today, new languages are still being discovered, including ones that need translation.

There are a few people, like Nate, doing research at the university office, while others are there earning their masters in linguistics. People from all over the world attend Payap University, a school known for its excellence and educational training.

While Nate works with the survey team, Ivy works to develop relationships with her Thai neighbors. One of the biggest blessings they’ve noticed is how their two young daughters seem to open doors for relationships with people they meet. Ivy shared that Thai people love children—and often it is the simple conversations about the girls that allow Ivy to form the beginnings of a relationship.

“We’re trying to love on people and serve,” Ivy shared, “but we’re doing the same things there that people are doing here. We’re just ordinary people there, just living and trying to do what Christ asks.”

Nate shared, “We really see our ministry as two-phased: one is in the office and the other is in the community.”

They’re both working to improve their Thai language skills, a huge mountain to overcome in communicating with their neighbors. And while it’s a struggle, God is helping them. They’re also seeking new opportunities to connect with the people around them.

“I hate to see people say, ‘I could never do that,’” said Ivy. “You don’t have to be some crazy, amazing person to do this!”

You just have to be willing to let God use you, however He desires.

???????????????????????????????While we might be ordinary people, we have an extraordinary God. And because of that, we can step forward in faith and trust that He will guide us according to His glorious purpose for each of our lives—however that looks and wherever it leads.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can partner with the work of Bible translation, visit www.wycliffe.org today.

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Yunu hung his head in his hands. When was help going to come? His beloved wife had recently died, leaving him utterly grief-stricken. He struggled to stay strong for his children, but life looked bleak.

Matters only got worse when lightning struck, destroying his solar-power system and computer. Even if he had money, he could not replace the equipment that was critical for his role as the Rawa literacy coordinator in Tauta, a mountain village of Papua New Guinea that lacks electricity, roads, and stores.

Word of Yunu’s troubles reached Don and Norma Toland, Wycliffe missionaries who had lived in Papua New Guinea for thirty years and served in Tauta during that time.

Hope for the Rawa

Don and Norma Toland with the first printed Rawa New Testament. Photo by Dave Smith.

While living among the Rawa people in Tauta, Don and Norma developed a writing system that allowed them to translate the New Testament into Rawa, and eventually also adapedt the translation into Karo, a language related to Rawa. They also developed a school curriculum, taught literacy classes, trained teachers, and produced books. During a one-year return visit in 2007, Don and Norma translated a government book on HIV/AIDS prevention into Rawa, and recorded the translated Scriptures onto solar-powered audio Bibles

When Don heard about Yunu’s losses and hardships, he prayed. His friend was deeply discouraged. Don knew that the Rawa children’s studies would be hampered without new reading material. So Don made the trip, halfway around the world, in September 2012 to help. When Yunu saw his friend, he wept a long time and thanked God for his return.

With the help of others, Don installed equipment that included new solar panels, a computer, and a printer. Yunu was greatly encouraged by this kind and unexpected assistance. The new equipment would help him continue to make a difference in the lives of many Rawa people.

Having Scripture in the Rawa language has brought evident changes in the community. Don says, “People are having a spiritual life change. They no longer live in fear of evil spirits. The church and schools have been revitalized. Families often read Scripture and pray together. Their Bibles and song books are well-worn from use.”

Don is quick to point out that it wasn’t his family alone that made the difference through the translated Scripture and literacy materials provided for the Rawa people. “When God leads one to serve Him, He may also lead many others, from all over the world, to use their backgrounds and talents. It’s like a concert—a symphony of service! God prepares each person, gets them into position, and orchestrates their lives to serve.”

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Earlier this year, Ivan and Jesse Dishman attended Wycliffe’s new missionary training and told the story of how they decided to serve God in Papua New Guinea. We enjoyed hearing it so much that we wanted to share it:

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Wishing you a Spirit-filled Christmas full of joy from Bob and Dallas Creson, and all of us at Wycliffe Bible Translators!

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By Hannah at Wycliffe UK

“If you are ever inclined to pray for a missionary, do it at once, wherever you are.”

This quote is from Mary Slessor, a Scottish missionary to Nigeria about 100 years ago. Slessor’s quote wasn’t an isolated one: requests for prayer have been on the mouths of Christian workers overseas through the centuries, especially where those individuals faced loneliness, spiritual attack, illness, frustration, and all the other extremes of the missionary life.

But what if you aren’t sure what to pray? Sometimes, prayers for missionaries can be little more than a ‘God, please bless that worker.’ Is God able to bless the worker? Of course! But a prayer like that doesn’t really reflect an informed desire to see the worker bear fruit for God’s kingdom.

If you are in this situation— moved and wanting to pray for a missionary but not sure how to start— we have just the thing for you. Praying for Missionaries is a booklet to equip you for prayer, by taking you step-by-step through the Lord’s Prayer. For each petition, you’ll find thoughts about how that prayer can be shaped with a mission worker in mind.

The booklet is written by Eddie Arthur, the UK director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, so the advice comes from a missionary responsible for other missionaries. You can download the booklet as a PDF from our [Wycliffe UK] website. (If you’d rather have it for Kindle, have a look at Eddie’s blog for the link.)

Samuel Zwemer, who worked in Bahrain and Egypt at the start of the 20th century, said that, ‘The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.’ You can be part of that God-made history, by joining with mission work through prayer.

Find out about more ways to pray with Wycliffe.

This post was originally featured on the Wycliffe UK blog.

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