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intl bible day

Image courtesy of YouVersion.

Tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 23, Christians around the world will set aside time to celebrate the Scriptures.

“We believe that setting aside a day to honor God’s word gives Christians a chance to show solidarity despite differing backgrounds, denominations, and political beliefs,” Elise Inman, spokeswoman for the National Bible Association, told the Christian Post. “International Day of the Bible is truly meant to be a time where Christians set their differences aside and unite to honor the Bible.”

To participate in the International Day of the Bible, you’re encouraged read, listen to, or watch any passage of the Bible at noon local time, either privately or in a group setting.

If you’re looking for inspiration, YouVersion has created an official 10-day reading plan for the event. You can also share your favorite Bible verse on social media with #BibleCelebration, and see what verses others are sharing.

Join millions across the world as we gather to read Scripture together!

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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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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 Lindsay Benton

Lindsay is a recent Liberty University graduate and a former Wycliffe USA summer intern.

Many of us have heard the story of Wycliffe founder William Cameron Townsend—also known as Uncle Cam—who traveled the villages of Guatemala attempting to sell Spanish Bibles in the early 1900s. Uncle Cam soon discovered that many Guatemalans couldn’t understand these Bibles, because their primary language was Cakchiquel, which had never been written down and didn’t have a translation of the Scriptures. This hit home for Uncle Cam. If the Guatemalan people could not understand the Bible in their primary language, then they could not read or hear about the grace of God in sending His son Jesus Christ to save sinners.

God put it on Uncle Cam’s heart to live among the people in Guatemala. He was compelled to learn Cakchiquel in hopes of one day translating the New Testament into it. But the process of learning the language, recording it in written form, and translating the Bible was not a short or easy process. Many words and passages in the English Bible, which Uncle Cam was familiar with, had different meanings in the Cakchiquel culture. This did not stop him from dedicating years of his life to build relationship with the people and encourage their understanding of the Bible. “You have to learn the language accurately,” said Uncle Cam. “You can’t hand a book to these tribes and say, ‘This is God’s Word,’ if it’s full of grammatical errors. You’ve got to do a good scientific job. And that takes years—to learn the language and then translate the New Testament.”

John WycliffeIf people in Guatemala did not have Bibles in a language that spoke to their heart, then how many more people groups worldwide did not have a Bible in their heart language? As a result, Uncle Cam organized Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1943, years after he first arrived in Guatemala in 1917. His mission had transformed from selling Bibles to making them available in every language that needed a translation.

The name “Wycliffe” came from the reformation scholar and Oxford professor John Wycliffe. In the 14th century, Wycliffe rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church by translating the Bible in a language the common person could understand. His actions took courage because, at the time, the people of England could only receive the Bible through the priests or read it in the Greek, Hebrew, and Latin languages. The translation came from Latin because it was the only source available to him. Because he translated the Bible into the common language, John Wycliffe was ridiculed by the church even after his death. Religious leaders dug up his remains and burned them as a result of his devotion to Bible translation. One of Wycliffe’s supporters, John Hus, promoted the idea of common persons reading the Bible in a recognizable language. Huss was threatened by the Roman Catholic Church and later burned at the stake in 1415.

John Wycliffe2Because Wycliffe chose to make the Bible available to everyone, he was known for his English Bible translation across Europe. Like current missionaries who serve overseas, sacrificing time and energy while pouring into the lives of unreached people groups, God used men like John Wycliffe and William Cameron Townsend to affect generation upon generation through the power of God’s Word.

Today, Wycliffe has aided Bible translation projects in over two thousand languages. However, there are over nineteen hundred languages that still need a Bible translation project started. Will you join the team at Wycliffe and fulfill the need for Bible translations around the world by praying, going, or partnering with us financially? Help us reach these Bibleless people groups and spread the Word of God to all the nations.

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 Angela Nelson

Mike and Lisa Bartels are teachers, not translators. But both their day job and their side ministry are helping people get Scripture into their lives.

In Davao, the third largest city in the Philippines, the Bartels teach at Faith Academy’s Mindanao campus. Mike teaches social studies and Lisa teaches English and foreign language classes. Faith Academy was founded as a school for missionary children. Without its staff and teachers, many missionaries from Wycliffe and other agencies would not be able to do their jobs.

“We joined Wycliffe because we were really passionate about Bible translation,” Lisa said. “Even though we’re not translators ourselves, we’ve had a really neat opportunity to reach out to the local community with the local Scriptures.”

Mike and Lisa live just a few blocks away from a poor shanty town—temporary structures built on stilts over a large plain that often floods when the river gets high. Many of the children from those homes play near their house, so the Bartels started inviting them to church. The kids really enjoyed church and started asking about Bible verses, so the Bartels decided to start a Scripture Memory Club.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays for six weeks each semester, the Bartels invite the kids over to their house to recite verses in their own language—Cebuano. Then they are awarded useful prizes for their verses. A short verse might be worth two pencils, while a longer passage could earn them a pair of flip flops. There’s usually a grand prize for memorizing a whole chapter, like a school uniform or a pair of school shoes.

Many parents struggle to afford school uniforms and supplies for their children. And without these things the kids might not be allowed to attend school. So not only are the children learning God’s Word through the process, they are also seeing physical needs met.

At least two hundred children have participated in the club, including children from families who practice another major religion who come with their parents’ blessing because they need the school supplies.

As the Words of God make their way into the hearts of children, “We claim the Lord’s promise that His Scripture won’t return void,” Lisa explains.

Wycliffe needs teachers! Learn more here.

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