Great things in Ga’anda!

We work with a ton of amazing people here in Nigeria.  Translating the Bible isn't the only thing we do, we try to help people learn to engage with it and use it in their daily lives.   One of our teams host Scripture Songwriting workshops to help encourage churches to be using the langauges that God gave them, to praise Him. 

Mr Sunday Timawus, Coordinator of Ga’anda Bible Translation project and Area Coordinator for the surrounding languages, reports on changes that have taken place amongst the Ga’anda people since the Scripture Songwriting workshop that took place in January of 2013:

artspic1`One of the things that attracts people in our area is songs, more than reading the Scripture actually.

`I’ve seen the testimony of the people in our village. Most of the people who don’t come to church say, `Now you are doing something!’ After the workshop we had a lot of revival in our church. Most of the time we see the elderly men and women staying at home since the services were not in the language,  but since the workshop there’s been kind of a breakthrough in our place and language. Now, most of what’s happening is in the language so they can understand it and they have rededicated their lives to God. Now they are saying, `When can we have another workshop?’

Dialect Delights.

I recently received an e-mail granting the new codes to seven dialects that I had requested.  Before you switch off (Yawn, Ali is talking about her boring job again!) or wonder what on earth a dialect is going to do with a code, let me try to explain. 

Let’s start with languages . . .

There are a great many languages in the world, 7,106 at the last count (Ethnologue, 2014).  There are also lots of languages, in different countries (and sometimes even in the same country!) that share the same name despite having nothing else in common.  For example, in Nigeria there are two unrelated languages that go by the name of Ichen.  To save confusion and to ensure that we do not duplicate our effort needlessly we need to be able to identify exactly which language we are talking about without having to go into a great long description of that language e.g. “You know, the Ichen that is spoken in Taraba state and is related to Jukun, not the one related to Izere that is spoken in Plateau State.”  Bit of a mouthful!

So, to avoid all this messing about, each identified language in the world has been given a unique ISO 639-3 code.  Ichen from Taraba State is [ich], whereas the Ichen from Plateau is [cen].  No two languages have the same code.

I have to say that from a scientist’s perspective I find this rather pleasing.  I used to work with small worms, crustaceans and molluscs that each had their own unique scientific names like Calliostoma zizyphinum (a personal favourite) and Crepidula fornicata.  These names could be used among scientists anywhere in the world and everyone would be talking about the same thing, whereas if someone just mentioned the Slipper Limpet, it could mean any one of a dozen different species. 

However, I digress.  Back to languages and their dialects.  So, described languages are quite tidy, they each have their own ISO code, all neat and sorted, right?

Er, not quite.  You see some languages are made up of several dialects, these are closely related but sometimes still not fully comprehensible to a speaker of a different dialect.  In some cases they really are so incomprehensible to each other that separate translations are needed in each dialect.  So we need to go one deeper and be able to give a unique code to some dialects as well, otherwise, once again we could find ourselves reinventing the wheel in a dialect that already has work in it.

So back to the beginning – these dialects are ones where language work is progressing to ensure that the speakers of those dialects have scripture in a form that they can really relate to and understand deeply.  I always think of this in terms of French but maybe if we are thinking dialects then a broad Glaswegian might be more appropriate.  Imagine if you only had the Bible in audio form and the reader spoke in a broad accent using words and figures of speech that only a Glaswegian could comprehend – how well would you grow as a Christian?  Always struggling to really understand what God’s Word really meant, maybe thinking that God didn’t really understand you or care about you because he didn’t even speak your dialect.  For many people in Nigeria they face a similar situation.

These seven new dialect codes represent groups of people who are that bit closer to getting God’s Word in their own, fully understood, dialect.   Six have active projects where speakers of the language are translating the Bible into their language!

Week of prayer for Nigeria

Christian Solidarity Worldwide have declared a week o prayer for Nigeria. 

http://www.csw.org.uk/prayfornigeria - a TON of great resources on here.  

From thier website: 

Prayers to inspire you…

Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi, has asked us to use this special prayer for Nigeria:

Almighty and everlasting God,

We praise and glorify You for the creation of the world.

We thank You for Nigeria and her people; have mercy on all her people, especially the youth, women and children; forgive her sin and cover her shame; deliver and free Nigeria from violence, corruption and evil, deliver her from the sponsors of abduction, destruction and persecutions, bring speedily the days of peace and restoration.

Help Nigerians to build a nation strong, generous and prosperous, we pray in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

Each day I'll post on my twitter and my facebook a theme and a verse for inspiriing those prayers.  

For the next 7 days, please join us in praying for this mighty nation.  

Aramaic? Hebrew? What language DID Jesus speak?

I read an interesting article on the BBC today about which language Jesus spoke.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27587230

Follow me for a minute (remembering I am neither a Biblical scholar nor a linguist!)…..

The evidence suggests he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew and probably understood some Greek.  I live and work in a place where people regularly use 2, 3 or even 4 different languages.  It seems perfectly normal here to do so, yet each person seems to have 1 language that they understand best.  We refer to this language as their mother tongue or heart language.  

The New Testament was written in Ancient Greek so no matter what conclusion is drawn on the language Jesus spoke, it seems that Jesus words were translated when the Bible was first written down.  God seems very pro translation to me!   

I think God's desire to reach out to humanity is demonstrated in Revelation 7:9 "After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands"

Every language represented – it doesn't matter how big or how small that language group is and we have both here in Nigeria, they will be represented!  Brilliant.  

 

A prayer for Nigeria.

For those wondering how to pray for Nigeria – a friend posted this prayer from a friend of his.   I hope it inspires you.  

O God of the Nations, we praise You for your mighty and majestic power. There is no one like You, O God!



You rule over all the earth, and You are Lord of Nigeria. We ask that You demonstrate your awesome strength to all the people of that nation.



Lord, we first pray for every Nigerian girl who has been abducted by the Boko Haram terrorist organization. We ask that you release your angels from heaven to protect and defend them. Comfort their hearts when they are afraid, and give them unusual courage and peace. Do not let the enemy touch them. Surround these girls with songs of deliverance. You are the great defender of the orphan, the widow and anyone who is helpless. Hear their cry and answer them swiftly.

We pray also for the parents of these girls. We ask that they will call on Your name and look to You for help. Calm their fears and encourage their hearts.

We pray for Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, and for all other Nigerian government and military officials involved in looking for these girls. We ask for divine wisdom and guidance in this search mission. Shine Your supernatural light in the darkness, and expose the hidden plans and agendas of the enemy. Reveal the locations used to hide these girls, and don’t allow the terrorists to hide anywhere. If there are any Nigerian government officials who are covertly working to aide the terrorists, we pray You will expose corruption and bring all traitors to justice.

We pray for all American, European and Israeli government officials working in Nigeria to assist this mission. Guide their steps and use them to root out evil.

Finally, we ask you to deliver Nigeria from the dark forces that are bringing terror and death to that nation. In the name of Jesus we bind the spirit of militant Islam. Do not allow these terrorists to prosper. Dry up their funds, confuse their plans and cause them to lose courage. Release Your angels into the camp of the enemy. Just as Saul saw a vision of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus while he was persecuting Christians, stop these evil men in their tracks. Let them fall on their faces in fear of the Living God.

We remember the ancient prayer of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who said: “Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered; against them He will thunder in the heavens, the Lord will judge the ends of the earth” (1 Sam. 2:10). We ask You, O God, to contend with Your enemies, shatter their power and—as the world watches—rescue these girls from their captors.

In the mighty name of Yeshua we pray. Amen.

Bomb explodes in Jos – we are all okay – May 2014

Thank you for your emails and Facebook comments – here is the latest. 

Around 3:00 pm this afternoon there were two bomb explosions in downtown Jos, Nigeria. At this point we do not know the numbers of killed or injured but it seems there may be many. To the best of our knowledge all Wycliffe staff and their families are safe

Please pray for our Wycliffe staff based in Jos that they would make wise decisions in response to this situation. Please pray also for the country of Nigeria which is facing trouble on many fronts at the moment.

We are physically fine, Tim stayed at work for longer than usual to try and get hold of all our staff and make some "what if" plans with the acting director.   This evening as i write, things ae calm, we ahven't heard news of folow up or retaliation.

This morning I posted this on Facebook "With all that is going on – I am once again convinced that nothing will change until people have God's word in a language they can understand."   I'm not comfortable right now, but I am convinced that I am involved in the ministry and in the location that God wants.  

Keep praying

For Nigeria and its leaders and residents. 
For Jos and its residents.
For all our staff and partners involved in Bible Translation minisitries. 

Prayer Update – 7th May 2014

 

Greetings from an increasingly green Jos.

The rains have really settled in now, the dust is dying down and the grass is shooting up. 

1-P1010241We also have a new compound wall sprouting.  Due to the construction of a new junction just outside our place we are losing the corner of our compound. Work is moving fast to build the new wall before the old one has to come down.

So, an update on the car situation.  Tony (our mechanic who was driving the car) is doing well (see our last update if you are not sure what I am on about!).  He is out of hospital following several surgeries and continuing to recuperate at home.  Although he is healing well physically he is still struggling emotionally.  Please pray for him that he would know God’s peace, joy and protection.

We are hoping to get a “second new” car in the next week or so, not a very straightforward process here.  Someone should haves gone to Benin to look at the imports of second hand cars from Europe and America and hopefully find one that will suit us. He however, was in hospital with suspected appendcitus over the weekend. Please pray for his speedy recovery and pray with us that he will be able to find something reliable and not too expensive!

These past two weeks have been thick with visitors and meetings.  Tim’s Dad was with us here for just over a week.  He was on a work trip but he stayed with us and so we were able to see a bit of him at least.  It was great to be able to show him a bit of our lives here.

We have also had visitors from Africa Area including the guy who co-ordinates quite a few of the work areas that I am involved in.  It meant that I spent a fair bit of the week in meetings but resulted in my having a better understanding of some of the trickier parts of my job (mainly Intellectual Property and Copyright!).  The bloke who was doing the job that Tim has now taken on (Director of Operations) was also in town so Tim has been very busy meeting with him.  All in all, it has been a busy couple of weeks and we are looking forward to settling back into a bit of normality!  Dan has been especially tired over the last few days and really struggling to get ready for school in the mornings.  Please pray that he will have the energy he needs.

Praise

Tony is healing well physically

Good times with Tim’s Dad

Prayer

Tony will heal emotionally

God will provide the right car for us

Dan will have strength and energy

Prayer Update – 19th March 2014

Greetings from a slightly less desiccated Jos!
 
We have had our first rains for many months.  The kids were running around outside in excitement, and if I’m honest so was I!  There is an amazing smell that comes with the first rains and then a freshness in the air.  The banana plants no longer look exhausted and dusty but bright green and thriving.  It will probably still be quite a while before we get really regular rainfall but rainy season is definitely on its way.
 
This past weekend, extending on into Tuesday, we had our annual Nigeria Group Spiritual Retreat.  Tim was busy with organising it once again, planning it to a T and making sure that everything ran smoothly while we were there.  It was a great time for our whole Group to be together, strengthening relationships with each other and with our LORD.  Our theme was God of the Impossible. One of the talks that particularly challenged me was looking at the passage in Daniel with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  The speaker pointed out that although they knew that God had the ability to save them from the furnace they also accepted that he might choose not to and that with that knowledge they were still willing to serve Him.  It encouraged me to remember that even if situations do not work out the way that we think is “right”, we can still glorify God by our attitudes and our continued trust in his good plans.
 
Tim is currently being energised by new responsibilities.  He has been asked to step up and and take over some of the responsibilities from a colleague who along with his family have decided to remain in the USA and take an assignment there.  A big loss to us – but the opening of a new door.  Tim is now the Operations Directors for Nigeria Group, currently covering IT and finance, but eventually also facilities.  Pray for wisdom and clarity as he jumps in to learn the ropes and get to know the team.  Also be praying for some good solutions to the 6 positions that are either open or soon to be open on the teams.
 
Thank you so much for your faithful support and prayers.  Without you, we could not be serving God here!
 
We would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to pray for us . . .
 
Praise
A great Spiritual Retreat, a time to set aside our work and focus purely on growing together in God
The first rains have come!
 
Prayer
Rejuvenation for Tim as he recovers from the intensity of his work at Retreat
Wisdom and selflessness for Tim as he takes on his new role
For Dan who in the last 24 hours is unwell and not keeping much water down. (he is doing okay now) but Ali may have picked it up!

Prayer Update – 20th Feb 2014

Hello from Jos!

Tim got back safely from Nairobi and we are settling back into the usual term-time routine of work and school.

The large junction right outside our compound is still under construction and changing daily. Of course in the UK we would not be allowed anywhere near it but here people wander through, right under the noses of the diggers. In fact, the last couple of weeks I have been walking Daniel and our neighbours’ kids to school, and we also walk through the construction site, but we do try to steer clear of the diggers! Our route through has to change on an almost daily basis as the work progresses and new areas get dug up. Our road now terminates in a trench so our first challenge in the morning is to clamber down into the trench and then to weave our way along.

1-IMG_0082We were a bit concerned about our water supply when they first dug this trench (right through where we believed our city water pipes to be) and it turned out we were right to be. One morning we arrived at the trench to discover that it was now a river. The city water supply is only switched on intermittently and that morning it had been switched on and the pipes that had been broken during the digging were spewing water everywhere. When you are in the middle of dry season and there has been no rain for 3 months that feels pretty criminal! As a result of the broken pipes we have had to order a tanker of water to refill our compound tanks, we are praying they will fix the pipes soon! I am guessing this may be hard to imagine with the massive over-abundance of water many of you are experiencing at the moment. We are praying for you!

Over the last few weeks there has been an increase in the number of robberies in Jos. We don’t feel in danger but please pray for wisdom and protection for us.

If you can spare a few minutes, please pray for us . . .

Praise
Tim was able to contribute well at the meetings in Nairobi and really benefited from the experience
Dan is doing better, feeling less exhausted by the end of the day

Prayer 
Protection and peace for all of us
That our water situation will not be a source of stress

From imagination to creation.

There are a whole lot of languages in Nigeria – 512 or thereabouts – and only a handful of those have Bibles. Some have New Testaments and there is plenty of work in progress.

Every now and again, there is a real sense of excitement in our office at the prospect of a dedication. From the moment someone imagined translating the scripture into that language, to the moment a person opens up that book for the first time… In between those moments, there are years and years of work, thousands of combined man-hours by people often on multiple continents. They’ve all been part of the process to get that New Testament or Bible printed.

I was lucky enough to attend one such celebration last year and Wycliffe USA has just written a brilliant piece on the last part of the process.

Peter,* a member of the Fulani translation team in Nigeria, couldn’t understand why Heidi Rosendall wanted him and the other team members to sign her copy of the new Fulani New Testament. After all, they aren’t famous.

But to Heidi, those signatures are more precious than any celebrity’s. They represent the literal blood, sweat, and tears that Peter and others have sacrificed so that the Fulani could have God’s Word in their own language.

As a typesetter living in Jos, Nigeria, Heidi works with local translation teams from several language groups, putting their finished translations into printable formats—or, as she puts it, “making Bibles beautiful.”   (read the rest here)

Heidi’s office is about 4 doors down from mine. There is a constant stream of people going there, trying to get past the final hurdle, each with amazing stories of overcoming obstacles and confusion in order to see lives changed through the translated Word of God.

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