Posts Tagged ‘missions’

Bill and Vonette

The work and ministry of Cru is completely entwined with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Most people are aware of our partnership with the JESUS Film Project, but most may not be aware of how instrumental Bill Bright was in our move from southern California to Orlando, Florida. We’re not only partners but also neighbors with our colleagues “across the pond” from us.

Our partnership is built around a commitment to God’s Word. Vonette Bright, along with her husband, Bill, was committed to reaching the world for Jesus Christ. Their efforts fueled an incredible missions movement. To honor our mutual commitment to the role God’s Word plays in reaching the world for Christ, Wycliffe, with Bright Impact Awardsupport from Vonette, created the Bill Bright Scripture Impact Award recognizing those who have followed in their steps with a lifelong dedication to proclaiming the Good News about Jesus contained in Scripture.

At a Christmas reception my wife, Dallas, and I recently attended, Vonette — knowing she would be in heaven soon — said, “When you hear I’m there, you can cheer!” We’re cheering today as Vonette was reunited with Bill and welcomed to heaven by Christ himself.

Vonette once said that the way she liked to start each day, just before she opened her eyes, was to say, ‘Lord, this is your day, and I want you to live it through me. Take away any anxiety, and take away any apprehension. Let me express your thoughts. Let me be your mouthpiece.’ It’s giving him control today.”

This is exactly how Vonette lived her life. She was God’s mouthpiece, exemplifying moral and spiritual values, and ministering to women all Vonetteover the world. She was a mom, a grandmother and a wife, and she had the talent and life experience to speak directly to the hearts of women today.

One part of Vonette’s legacy I’m most grateful for, is that she and Bill valued God’s Word above all else. “It is this book that tells us how to relate to God; it tells us how to relate to each other; it tells us how to relate to family,” Vonette once said. “This book tells us so much of the truth we should be applying every day and with such excitement. So many people look at biblical truth as being binding and legalistic and unhappy, but if you want to know real liberty, just apply the Word of God to your life.”

Thanking God today for Vonette’s lifetime of faithfulness, and the legacy she leaves,

Bob Creson
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA

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“It is a surprise to me to hear someone reading the Word of God in Lubwisi,” said Kijanjaalo Christopher, a 72-year-old Babwisi man from Uganda. His community speaks Lubwisi as their heart language, though their Bibles don’t reflect that. “This was impossible for us to have the Word of God written in Lubwisi because, in terms of finance, we are not qualified because we are poor.”

Many Babwisi people have a real thirst for the Bible. Without Lubwisi Scripture, the church has struggled to develop strong leaders who can teach effectively. Pastor Bakasoma Michael said, “There is no way the Babwisi community will understand the Savior when they do not have the Lubwisi Bible, which they can understand. As pastors, we struggled to understand the words of the Bibles that are not in our language.”


In recent years, God has answered the prayers of Kijanjaalo Christopher, Pastor Bakasoma Michael and countless other Babwisi people by providing four educated, dedicated Babwisi men to translate their Scriptures. Since 2006, the Babwisi have partnered with Wycliffe and the Seed Company in Bible translation. Today they’ve completed the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, which will be dedicated in June 2015.

But the Babwisi need help getting the Bibles printed. Wycliffe is working with the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce to print and deliver 5,000 Bibles to the Babwisi this summer, and you can help us. A donation of just $8.50 — less than the cost of eating one meal out — provides a Bible. Visit Bibles for Babwisi to learn how you can get involved today.

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Last week staff of InterVarsity Campus Ministry and other national ministry leaders honored Dr. Sam Barkat, Wycliffe’s chief organizational development officer, for his role and legacy in making Intervarsity a successful multiethnic ministry. The ceremony was part of InterVarsity’s Multiethnic Staff Conference (MESC15.)

Sam Barkat1

Dr. Sam Barkat spoke during a time honoring his legacy and contributions to Intervarsity’s multiethnic ministry. He also called several staff members of various ethnicities on stage to address them.

Sam was appointed InterVarsity’s first vice president of its Multiethnic Ministries department in 1986. He served under former InterVarsity President Steve Hayner, who passed away in January and who was also honored at the conference. Together Steve and Sam paved the way for InterVarsity to become a multiethnic ministry.

Sam held the first Multiethnic Staff Conference in March of 1992, in which staff met each morning for worship and teaching, and then split into ethnic-specific groups to work on issues facing their particular communities. Many of the people who currently lead InterVarsity and its ethnic ministries are beneficiaries of Sam’s leadership, encouragement and mentoring.

Sam Barkat2The ceremony included a dinner in which leadership from Wycliffe and InterVarsity blessed Sam with prayer and testimonies. Speakers included Wycliffe USA President/CEO Bob Creson, Wycliffe USA Chief Operations Officer Russ Hersman and InterVarsity President/CEO Alec Hill.

InterVarsity holds its Multiethnic Staff Conference every three years, gathering campus staff and national leaders from ethnically diverse communities to engage the biblical vision for multiethnic missions on college campuses. This year the conference focused on reconciliation as being core to the gospel. Click here to learn more about Sam.

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By Bill Gardner with Richard Gretsky

Many people think that Bible translation has been a recent phenomenon that really only started in the last 150 years or so. But the reality of Bible translation’s history might surprise you.

Bible Translation Through the Ages - John Wycliffe

Bible translation actually began even before Jesus was born! Around 200 B.C. many Jews were living in Egypt where they no longer fluently spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, but instead spoke Greek as their mother tongue. (Egypt had been conquered by Alexander the Great.) Since the Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew with a few sections in Aramaic, they decided to translate it into Greek, beginning with the Torah (the five books of Moses). This Greek Old Testament became known as the Septuagint, and was used widely among Jews and then among Christians. In fact many of the quotes in the New Testament are from the Greek Old Testament.

At first the early Christian church used the Greek Old and New Testaments. But after a couple centuries, people decided they needed the Bible in their own languages, so the whole Bible was eventually translated into some of the most widely spoken languages in the world (i.e. Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, etc).1 But as those languages changed over time (e.g., Latin became various Romance languages like French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish), their translations became archaic, “holy” translations, which most people no longer understood at all.

After another 1,000 years a second major wave of Bible translation happened, around the time of the Reformation. While John Wycliffe had earlier translated the Bible from Latin into English, William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale translated the Bible into early modern English from Greek and Hebrew. Around that time, Martin Luther did the same for German and others did so for Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.2 With the invention of the printing press in the early 1400s, people could more easily access, read and understand the Bible. It led to transformation in individuals, communities and societies all across Europe.

The third major wave of Bible translation began about 200 years ago. During the 19th century, God’s Word was translated into almost 500 languages all across the world.1 The 20th century saw the birth of Wycliffe Bible Translators and other Bible translation organizations, and significantly saw more than 1,000 new Bible translations. And the pace of Bible translation has continued to increase during the 21st century.

Bible Translation through the Ages - Africa

Today, we have the honor and privilege to participate in a movement that God has been orchestrating for centuries. By serving, praying, and fiscally supporting the work of Bible translation, we truly make a difference.

Let’s all work together so that soon all people groups can hear God speak to them in their own language.
[1] Silzer, Peter. “An Overview of Bible Translation Through History.” Lecture, Biola University, La Mirada, 2005.

2 Scriptures of the World: A Compilation of the 1,946 Languages in Which at Least One Book of the Bible Has Been Published since the Bible Was First Printed by Johann Gutenberg. London: United Bible Societies, 1990. 41.

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By Melissa Paredes

“I want you in full-time ministry,” God told him.

This calling came out of the blue for Steve. After all, he was enjoying his life and work as a band and choir teacher near Spokane, Washington. He and his family had a great community of friends, and they even saw themselves staying in Spokane long-term. But it seemed God had other plans for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen recalling the day he heard God’s voice, Steve admits he was hoping for more details from God. After all, he didn’t feel qualified spiritually, and his particular gifts didn’t seem to fit the mold of full-time ministry. Steve thought about possibly going to Bible college to further his education, but that wasn’t something he really wanted to do — he’d already received an education and loved what he did! He was confused by God’s call and didn’t know what it meant for him and his family.

A year later, Steve happened to meet a Wycliffe recruiter who told him about the remaining need for Bible translation in almost 2,000 languages. But Steve still didn’t see where he fit. “There’s no way I could be a Bible translator!” Steve shared. And isn’t that what he would have to do if he worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators?

But then Steve learned something exciting — something that seemed to answer that haunting question of where his gifts fit in ministry. The recruiter told him that Wycliffe needs teachers, particularly for missionary kids. Even music teachers!

This news struck a chord with Steve. He had a set of gifts and qualifications that could be used right away, and in full-time ministry!

So in 2006, Steve and his family moved to Papua New Guinea where he now teaches at Ukarumpa International School. And through teaching, Steve’s making a difference in the lives of his students, their families and even those who are still waiting for the Bible in their own language.

Steve Blake 1

“I’m helping God’s Word reach new places, new hearts,” Steve shared. “It’s cool to hear parents say, ‘We wouldn’t be missionaries here if it wasn’t for the school.’ These parents are able to focus on translation, literacy and other work because they know their children are being given a solid education.”

And it’s true. When people like Steve use the gifts God has given them for his glory, they’re contributing to the work of Bible translation. Every role is important in this work — even teaching music to missionary kids. It’s just a matter of faithfully answering God’s call when you hear his voice.

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By Hannah Weiand

Where in the World - Pair (Elyse Patten)

A key thing to note is that Wycliffe USA is just one of many organizations working in partnership around the world to make Bible translation happen. Many of these organization are part of the Wycliffe Global Alliance, which includes more than 45 Wycliffe member organizations and more than 60 partner organizations serving in more than 93 countries. For perspective, there are only 197 countries in the entire world, so together we’re working in nearly half of them! You can see the list of organizations within the Wycliffe Global Alliance here.

One interesting feature of the Alliance’s website is a tool that lists the languages of the world, by country, and whether or not they have any Scripture. Although it doesn’t specifically tell you where personnel are working, it can give you a broader scope of the work that is both being done and still needs to be done. So if you have a specific country in mind, and want to know if Bible translation is being done there, this tool can help.

This post is part of our Wycliffe 101 series. Click here to read the previous post, or here to start at the beginning.

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By Hannah Weiand

In a recent conversation with a stranger, I mentioned that I was starting a writing internship with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Suddenly his eyes lit up and he shot up straight in his chair. He said, “Wow! What, do you speak, like, Hebrew or something?!” I couldn’t help but laugh as I told him that, no, I wasn’t a translator; no, I don’t know 15 languages; and no, I don’t speak Hebrew.

Peter Knapp's desk at Pacific Islands University, Guam.

While many incredibly gifted people at Wycliffe Bible Translators do serve as translators overseas, there is so much more to Bible translation than, well, translation. When some people find out that we work for Wycliffe, they often ask, “So, how many languages do you speak?”, and think that in order to work for Wycliffe, you have to be a linguist or a translator, but that’s not the case.  Some people come to work for Wycliffe after growing up with missionaries for parents, so they speak two or three languages. Others, as mentioned before, have experience in linguistics and have many languages in their repertoire. And then there are people like me, who are passionate about Bible translation and all that God is doing through it, but due to various circumstances, speak only one language. Here’s why:

Wycliffe needs more than just translators!

There is so much that goes into Bible translation, and we need people like you to help make it happen! Wycliffe needs translators, but it also needs teachers, writers, artists, marketing analysts, accountants, administrators, IT specialists, and the list goes on.  There are needs to be filled in many categories and in positions all over the world!

You might also be surprised to learn that Wycliffe is more than a translation agency. Yes, our vision is to see the Bible translated so that people all over the world can understand it in their own language, but Wycliffe’s heart isn’t just to translate text. We reach out through literacy programs, health programs, audio and video translations, and more to make an impact on the community. Everyone on the Wycliffe team may share a vision for Bible translation, but not necessarily share an in-depth knowledge and understanding of linguistics.

Ann Kuy (Philippines) interviews Patience Kasuwa Bwoi from Nigeria

So whether you are interested in translating the Bible or supporting Bible translation through other skills, we need you! In the end, each position with Wycliffe helps make Bible translation happen, and if you speak 1, 2, or even 20 languages, you can make a difference in reaching this goal!

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