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Posts Tagged ‘throwback thursday’

PNG Elizabeth

 

Over thirty years ago, these Papua New Guineans performed a traditional sing-sing dance for Queen Elizabeth of England. A sing-sing is a meeting of local people groups who dress up, paint themselves, and dance to honor the distinct heritage of each community.

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Missionary Pilot Nate Gordon has had the chance to fly all sorts of people, cargo, and even animals around the mountains of Papua, Indonesia. Recently he wrote about a small passenger he transported eight years ago:

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Eight years ago I flew a man named Melky from our base on the coast across the high mountain ranges into the small village of Langda. Graying at the temples, this grandfatherly guy clutched a newborn baby boy to his chest. An unwanted child.

As pilots in Papua, we’re often privileged to enter into the critical scenes of the dramas happening around us. The vast majority of time, after playing our cameos, we exit stage left, move on to another play, and don’t get to see how the original story turns out. Occasionally there’s an exception. village of Langda. Graying at the temples, this grandfatherly guy clutched a newborn baby boy to his chest. An unwanted child.
A few months ago I was back in Langda. The fog was rolling in fast and I needed to unload my cargo and get out of there as quickly as practical. Two passengers wanted to come out to town with me, one of them a familiar face.

“I want you to meet someone,” Melky says to me.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI’m a bit hesitant, glancing nervously at the wall of fog to the south as Melky disappears into the crowd at the edge of the airstrip. Moments later Melky reemerges with a little boy in tow.

“Do you remember?” he said. “In August 2005 you flew us in here. My wife and I have been raising him ever since.”

These are the people I choose as my heroes. Anonymous, little people, doing much harder things than I, sacrificing so much more … doing it cheerfully and taking the time to thank others who have played bit parts (supporting roles) in their dramas.

 

This story was originally posted on Nate’s blog, where he writes about the day-to-day work of a pilot supporting Bible translation: http://offthepath.wanderprone.com

Eight Years Later 3

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By Melissa Chesnut

Each year, National Hispanic Heritage month (September 15–October 15) honors the histories and cultures of Hispanic nations and remembers the anniversaries of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. This four-part “Throwback Thursday” series will focus on different aspects of Wycliffe’s work among Hispanic countries and language communities.

Read Part 1: A Man with a Vision or Part 2: One Person at a Time

Starting a mission organization with the goal of translating the Bible worldwide is a daunting task. During the early years, Wycliffe founder Cam Townsend encountered many people who weren’t confident that the mission would succeed. The odds stacked against it just seemed too high!

But God is much bigger than any of these odds, and in the face of every obstacle, He has proved faithful.

When foreign missionaries weren’t allowed in to Mexico in the 1930s, God opened an unexpected door. Although Cam and others were not allowed to enter the country officially as Bible translators, the government did recognize a need for assistance in studying the rural education system. To Cam, the solution was obvious. “We will enter Mexico as linguists rather than as missionaries,” he decided.

Cam shakes hands with men he knew as boys when he lived and worked in Mexico.

Cam shakes hands with men he knew as boys when he lived and worked in Mexico.

Although it wasn’t their official job in Mexico, Cam’s colleagues were still able to help with Bible translation. But when Cam got a request from an official to send translators to the Lacandons, a tribe of only two hundred people, he was faced with a dilemma. He knew that tribes with large populations needed the Scripture, but did tribes of two hundred merit the lifework of an educated linguist?

As Cam pondered the question, he was reminded of Jesus’ parable about the shepherd who sought the one lost sheep. Yes, he decided, even the small tribes needed the Bible in a language they could understand. But where would he get the volunteers?

At that time, there were forty-four workers under Cam’s leadership. He decided to ask, “Will each of you be responsible before the Lord for one new recruit for Bible translation? … I’m sure He would give us six extra for good measure.” Sure enough, by the end of that year, Cam had fifty new volunteers for Bible translation—plus one more for good measure!

When finances were limited, God sent other believers who gifted the money to Cam and the work of Bible translation. From simple needs like the monthly $5 to rent a vacant farmhouse for the beginning of Camp Wycliffe to $10,000 to build a clinic and dwelling places in Peru, God always came through.

LL-EdnaLegters_WCT

L.L. and Edna Legters pose with friend and Wycliffe founder, Cam Townsend.

The journey was never easy. Gaining access to countries where missionaries weren’t allowed was difficult and trying. Finding volunteers who were willing to dedicate their lives to linguistics and translation sometimes seemed overwhelming and impossible. Supplying funds for the projects in various countries seemed unfeasible. But each time, God opened another door.

Though the odds stacked against them seemed high, God is more powerful than any obstacle. As L.L. Legters, one of Cam’s friends and a fellow pioneer of Bible translation, would sing:

Faith, mighty faith the promise sees,
And looks to God alone.
Laughs at impossibilities
And shouts, “It shall be done!”

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By Melissa Chesnut

Each year, National Hispanic Heritage month (September 15–October 15) honors the histories and cultures of Hispanic nations and remembers the anniversaries of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. This four-part “Throwback Thursday” series will focus on different aspects of Wycliffe’s work among Hispanic countries and language communities.

Read Part 1: A Man with a Vision

The Gospel has a way of changing people in amazing ways, and sometimes it starts in places you wouldn’t expect!

During his early travels, Cam Townsend met a man named Silverio Lopez. Silverio was one of the few Cakchiquel Indians who could understand and read a little Spanish. When he was working in Guatemala City, he bought a Spanish Bible. But it was filled with so many words and phrases he didn’t know that he couldn’t understand it! Frustrated, he put the book away and forgot all about it.

Soon Silverio had to return to his village home because one of his children died and another was very sick. Desperate to help his child, Silverio visited the village shaman. The shaman blamed the sickness on the spirits of dead ancestors, and told Silverio to buy candles and put them before an image in the Antigua church. Silverio followed the shaman’s orders, but was soon in heavy debt.

One day Silverio found a scrap of paper on the road. He picked it up and read, “My Father’s house should be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” When he got home, he looked up the verse in the Bible. Convicted by what the Bible said, Silverio decided to stop paying the shaman and to quit taking candles to the church. Instead, he went to the doctor and bought medicine that soon cured his daughter’s stomach. Then he went to the Antigua church and talked to the Guatemalan pastor, who told him how to believe in Jesus.

320_CAK_ManReadingBible_3Silverio surrendered his life to Christ and soon became an evangelist to his own people! Just six months after accepting Jesus, Silverio had already led forty Cakchiquel Indians to Christ.  His life was so drastically changed that he couldn’t help but share his newfound love with everyone he met, and his passion continued to spread.

Silverio wasn’t the only person Cam met whose life was changed in a big way. One day Cam met a shoemaker who had once been a drunkard, but who had abandoned the bottle for Jesus. “Before I was a believer, I was thrown in jail sixty-three times for drunkenness,” he told Cam. “Now I’ve been behind bars three times for preaching the Gospel.”

Cam also met a Cakchiquel Indian man who had gone to the president of Guatemala to complain about Cam’s work among his people. When the president met the man, he asked the man if he could read. The man said yes, so the president handed him a copy of the Cakchiquel New Testament that Cam had given him.

After reading a few lines, the man looked up in amazement. “This is wonderful! God speaks our language! Where can I get a copy of this book?”

The president told him, “From the people you were complaining about.”

The man returned home, bought the Bible in his own language, and became a believer. Someone later told Cam, “Now he goes everywhere, telling people that the president evangelized him.”

People like Cam, Silverio, the shoemaker, and even the president of Guatemala didn’t let the change stop with them. They didn’t keep their passion and excitement to themselves, but rather shared with the people in their lives about Jesus. Because they took bold steps of faith, they were able to touch the lives of many people.

Change can start with just one person!

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By Melissa Chesnut

Each year, National Hispanic Heritage month (September 15–October 15) honors the histories and cultures of Hispanic nations and remembers the anniversaries of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. This four-part “Throwback Thursday” series will focus on different aspects of Wycliffe’s work among Hispanic countries and language communities.

It all began in 1917.

William Cameron Townsend (known by friends as “Cam”) was a passionate twenty-one year old, fueled by a vision to obey Jesus’ command to take the Gospel to the nations.

“The greater need is where the greatest darkness is,” Cam said. “Our orders are to forget self and to give our lives in service for the Master.” While many of his friends and peers were fighting in World War I, Cam decided to fight a spiritual battle—a battle for lost souls. He packed his bags, said goodbye to his family, and moved to Guatemala to sell Bibles to farmers and villagers along the sparsely populated trails of Central America.

young cam

When Cam stepped off the boat, his youthful enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel was high, but he soon realized that most of the people he was meeting didn’t understand the Bible in Spanish!

Cam faced a dilemma. If they didn’t understand, how was he reaching people for Jesus? Frustrated and disappointed, Cam began to wonder if he’d failed. But God had others plans in mind.

As he continued to travel around Guatemala, Cam soon learned about the Cakchiquel Indians. People of Spanish heritage often thought of them as inferior and uneducated members of society, but Cam disagreed. Instead, he was impressed when he met the Cakchiquel man who first brought the Gospel to his own language group and led forty people to Christ—all without a Bible in his own language! After sharing a short testimony in Spanish, Cam decided to put behind his first failure and help reach these people with the Gospel. So he abandoned his attempts to sell Spanish Bibles to non-Spanish speakers and began serving as a missionary to the Cakchiquel Indians by helping start a school to teach them how to read and write.

Still, Cam didn’t have any Scriptures in Cakchiquel. When he’d brought Spanish Bibles to men who only spoke Cakchiquel, they’d asked him something that really made him think—why didn’t God  speak their language? Was he only the God of English and Spanish speakers?

Deep down, Cam thought everyone—man, woman, and child alike—should be able to read God’s Word in the language of their heart. So although it would end up taking almost ten years of his life, he decided to learn the complex Cakchiquel language, create an alphabet, and translate the New Testament.

When he was done, the Cakchiquel Indians finally had God’s Word, but thousands of other languages still needed it. So in 1934 Cam started “Camp Wycliffe,” a linguistic training program named after John Wycliffe, the first translator of the entire Bible into English. Less than ten years later, the humble training camp had grown into two affiliate organizations known as Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International).

Cam served for over sixty years in Latin America, witnessing the work spread across the continent and reaching language communities in Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, and more. SIL International established an SIL Americas branch, focusing on reaching people with the translated Word of God in the language they understand best. Cam’s work in translating the Bible for the Cakchiquel Indians was just the start!

Almost one hundred years later, Cam’s legacy lives on. Today there are over 1,500 translation projects currently in progress, with 518 language groups having the entire Bible and 1,275 having the New Testament in the language they understand best.  And it all began in 1917 when a man’s eyes were opened to a people who were vastly overlooked and desperately needed to know that God spoke their language too.

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