Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Wolverton’

Solomon Islands: Part 3

By Rachel Wolverton, Wycliffe USA marketing strategist

(Rachel visited Wycliffe’s work in the Solomon Islands in early July. This blog series gives a glimpse into Bible translation efforts in that part of the world.)

Read Part 1: Not Just a Fly on the Wall
Read Part 2: It’s a Full-Time Job

Girls from the Solomon Islands

As fireworks to celebrate the opening of the Festival of Pacific Arts* rang out on a beautiful evening in the Solomon Islands in early July 2012, many were reminded of a fateful night in 2000 when they heard similar sounds. But on that night, twelve years ago, they weren’t the sounds of celebration. Instead, the sounds of gunfire marked the beginning of what many in the Solomons call “the Tension.”

It began when ethnic conflict developed between some of the indigenous people of two neighboring islands, and the capital city of Honiara became the battlegrounds for the coup. A near civil war broke out.

Wycliffe and its partners had been at work on Bible translation in the Solomons under the name Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group (SITAG). At the time of this conflict, all SITAG staff, along with all other expatriates** in the Solomon Islands, were required to hastily leave the country for safety.

More than seventy languages are spoken in the Solomon Islands

Not knowing if and when expatriates could return to the country, key local leaders who had been working with SITAG on translation work into their own languages, realized something that concerned them. Without the SITAG staff, translation work would come to a screeching halt, meaning that Solomon Islanders speaking many of the more than seventy languages in the country may never have the opportunity to read the Bible in their own language. They did not want to let that happen.

And so out of this great conflict came the Solomon Islands Bible Translation and Literacy Partnership (SIBTLP), an organization of Solomon Islanders working on Bible translation and literacy. This new organization provided support for the islanders that had been working with SITAG on translations, with the hope that over time, capacity would be built so work would always be able to continue regardless of economic or political climate.

SITAG expatriate staff were eventually allowed back into the country, and the two organizations now work side by side to accomplish the task of Bible translation in the Solomons. Joshua Lui Zoti provides leadership to SIBTLP and helps build church partnerships across the islands for the organization while also working on the Bible translation for his mother tongue, Simbo.

Joshua has held a variety of jobs over the years, ranging from a member of Parliament to a police officer. Much like other Solomon Islanders, he has lived through wars, tsunamis, and loss of his home. Now Joshua often has to travel away from his family (and travel in the Solomons is no easy task!) to visit churches across the country. And yet he would say that his job as a Bible translator and leader for SIBTLP is the hardest and most important job he’s held. He, like those who founded SIBTLP almost twelve years ago, believes that Bible translation is worth it all so that his people can clearly understand God’s Word one day.

Rachel and Nick Wolverton with Joshua Lui Zoti, national coordinator for SIBTLP

*The Festival of Pacific Arts was started in 1972 to promote traditional art forms in the region. This year’s festival was held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, making it the biggest tourism event ever to be held in the Solomons. Participants representing twenty-seven countries celebrated unique aspects of their culture during the two-week festival through performing arts, literature, and other exhibits. SIL (Wycliffe’s primary strategic partner) was asked to participate this year for the first time by hosting a “Languages of the Pacific” display and daily linguistic activities. Wycliffe Australia and Wycliffe New Zealand hosted Bible storytelling workshops before and during the event.


** a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of their upbringing

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Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands: Part 1

By Rachel Wolverton, Wycliffe USA marketing strategist

(Rachel visited Wycliffe’s work in the Solomon Islands in early July. This blog series gives a glimpse into Bible translation efforts in that part of the world.)

My whole life I’ve watched friends and family give to charities, churches, and non-profit organizations. I’ve seen them wrestle through decisions of where to give and how much, hoping that their gifts will be a blessing to those on the receiving end. My husband and I have had these same conversations in our home. Sometimes we feel that the best way to bless others is to give quietly, staying under the radar.

But my recent trip to the Solomon Islands taught me differently.

My husband and I accompanied a family who has given generously to Bible translation there. They wanted to learn more about Wycliffe’s work in that part of the world, to put visuals to the people and language groups they are praying for daily, and to give their kids a greater understanding of the world. They would have preferred to simply observe as a fly on the wall and not burden anyone. Perhaps in America, things can work that way.

Not so in the Solomon Islands.

Our group with people from the village of Poro

We were all received with fanfare. The people in the village of Poro that we visited had rarely seen white-skinned faces, and definitely not in groups of eight at a time. We were greeted with a welcome unlike anything I’ve ever seen and were followed by an entourage of people attempting to communicate in broken English (which is more than we were able to do in their language, Gao). There was dancing, songs, gifts, and more.

We’d been told that Solomon Islanders love speeches, and on our last night, Joshua, the national coordinator for SIBTLP (Solomon Islands Bible Translation and Literacy Partnership), made a speech to those of us who were visiting.

He expressed to Nate, the father of the family, sincere words of thanks for giving generously so that people speaking more than seventy languages in the Solomons could read the Bible in their own language. That was the part I was expecting. But then Joshua thanked the family for coming to visit them, for taking the time to get to know people in Poro village. He also thanked them for coming as a family. Solomon Islanders are relational, and they value little else in life as much as they value relationships, especially those of the family. For this family to have given money without visiting would have made little impact. But because the family gave their time and offered friendship to Solomon Islanders, they showed that they cared for them and were committed to Bible translation. The last thing Joshua shared was the most touching: “We view you as partners in this work.”

Village members singing as a part of an evening program

In that, I realized that the fanfare, the entourage, and everything we all would have opted out of if given the chance were the islanders’ way of building relationship with us. It was their way of expressing that they viewed this family as a part of the team, not just unknown faces giving money anonymously to people they know nothing about.

In the United States, we might have felt that a visit of that magnitude was burdensome, but not for these people. It was even more meaningful than any monetary gift could have been.

My opinion of generosity has been rocked. I want to think of ways to give, not only money (which is still very necessary), but also my time in ways I haven’t before, like building relationships. Maybe it’s as simple as actually reading the updates I get about work I’ve supported so I can know how to pray, or writing letters of encouragement to those involved. We often talk about holistic ministry, but in the Solomons, I was taught something new. I was taught lessons about holistic giving.

Waving goodbye

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