23 Apr

The month when the mangoes ripen

I first met my Friend Samuel over in Togo back in ’98 when i was part of a short term team visiting his town adn language project. In Jan 2015 I have the privilege of heading back to Togo to attend the dedication of the Ntcham Bible. Samuel wrote this following in a recent newsletter:

The month of April in the Bassar language is called ‘the month when the mangoes ripen’. There are mangoes everywhere in the villages and on the farms. It is like manna from heaven for many people, because for the next three months food will be in short supply. Many families will face food shortages until August, when beans will be harvested. This is because they still believe that their deceased relatives need lavish funerals in order to be accepted in the after-life. They will have used up most of their sorghum and millet harvest celebrating these funerals with their extended families. We thank God that Christianity, and especially reading the Bible in the Bassar language, is opening the eyes of many people to the truth about God, and they are abandoning such practices.

It is great to see the Bassar community transformed but God’s word!

The Ntcham Bible is avalibe in multiple forms online.
http://worldbibles.org/language_detail/eng/bud/Ntcham

As a podcast in Itunes 🙂

http://globalrecordings.net/en/language/2256

02 Apr

Impact of Audio Scriptures

After the Dukawa New Testament was completed in early 2016, a recording of the New Testament
and some Old Testament portions was made by the SIL Nigeria Vernacular Media Team. The
Dukawa team continues to get positive outcomes from the 390 Dukawa Audiobibles distributed to
the Dukawa churches. When the team first started distributing Audiobibles, they thought it would
help believers grow in Christ. Surprisingly, many church members realized, after hearing the Scriptures
in their mother tongue, that they did not know what it meant to believe and depend on
Christ.

Grain store in Dukawa land

Grain store in Dukawa land

So far, over 3,800 people have accepted the Lord as a result of listening to the Dukawa
Audiobible. More surprising has been the response of village pastors who have humbly admitted
they did not understand the trade language Hausa Bible. Pastor Amos went so far as to say that
some of what he had been teaching was wrong because he misunderstood the Hausa Bible.
After listening to the Audiobible, one Dukawa man said,

“When I first heard the Audiobible, I felt as
if I was dreaming, but when I heard it 2-3 times, I realized I was not dreaming. Now I can
understand … I am going to be … a Christian.”

Praise God for His work in using His Word in the
Dukawa language to draw more Dukawa people to Himself in truth and understanding!

29 Mar

Robinson Ministry update – 17th March 2017

Greetings from a toasty Jos,

The temperatures are climbing and the humidity is rising. The rains are on their way but probably a month or so away still.
We had a great Spiritual Retreat with the rest of SIL Nigeria last week. Everyone around the office looked rather tired on Monday morning! I usually find that by the end of Retreat I feel spiritually and emotionally refreshed but physically tired. There are always so many people that I want to sit and chat with or there are board and card games going on that I want to play or fun activities planned, so that I find it hard to make it to bed at anything even close to my normal bedtime. To be fair, my normal bed time is about 8.30pm!

James Poole, Tom Crabtree and Julie Rowbory

We had James Poole, the Wycliffe UK Director, come to be our speaker for Retreat. He did a brilliant job of speaking on Romans chapters 5-8 with the overall theme of “Dead to sin and alive to God through Christ.” He gave such a clear, deep gospel message that was really challenging. One of the pictures he elaborated on that has really stayed with me was of sin as a slave driver and us as his slaves. The only way to end that relationship was for us to die. Once the slave has died, the slave driver can yell and crack his whip all he wants but the relationship is ended. We are in that position now if we have accepted Christ – our old selves died with him on the cross and so we no longer have to obey the yells and whip cracks of sin. What a fabulous reality!

There are exciting developments in SIL Nigeria. We have just taken on 13 new members of Nigerian Missionary Staff, all of whom will be raising their own financial and prayer support over the next 6 months or so. They started their orientation last Wednesday and will start their training on support raising on Monday. I am responsible for all the materials they will use during their training and support raising so it has been a hectic month or so and will likely continue hectic for probably another month at least. A lot of the materials have to be created from scratch or at least updated before they can be printed so it is a long process! However, it is so exciting to see more people taking that huge step of faith that God will provide through his people!

Praise

  • Encouraging and enjoyable Spiritual Retreat
  • New missionaries joining the SIL Nigeria family
  • Prayer

  • That we will allow the lessons from Retreat to soak into our lives and make us more like Christ
  • For a deepening trust in God for our new staff
  • 24 Feb

    Robinson Ministry Update 24th Feb 2017

    Greetings from a bright and chilly Jos,

    Well, when I say chilly, it is not really getting much below 18C, but relative to the usual temperatures here it feels quite fresh!

    It feels like we are in quite a time of change at the moment.
    We have Helen Fisher, a new member of staff fresh from the UK, staying with us while she gets acclimatised to life here. It is interesting to see our world through her eyes and remember our own discoveries when we first arrived.

    SIL Nigeria has a new HR director, Janice Barnhoorn, and so Tim has stepped back to being only responsible for Finance Office, Facilities team, Project Funding and the Computer department – still plenty to keep him busy!

    Our upstairs neighbours, the Sweetings, who first arrived in Nigeria only 3 weeks after we did, are leaving to move back to the US. We took our introductory Hausa language class together and have been firm friends ever since so it really feels like the end of an era to have them leaving.

    On the up side, the Barnhoorns are planning to move in upstairs which will give Dan some more age appropriate company (they have four kids, Dan’s age and younger). This is such a massive blessing to us all and we are so grateful to God that he not only takes away but also gives.

    This week there have been about 20 people being interviewed for various different positions at SIL Nigeria. The successful candidates will be joining us as new Nigerian Missionary Staff, seeking to raise the financial and prayer support that they need from the Nigerian church. They will need buckets of faith and perseverance so please pray that those interviewing them will have the wisdom of God and not just see them with human eyes.

    Through all this change we remain confident that God is our rock, our foundation, our fortress and that if we are rooted into him none of our external circumstances can steal our joy and peace. I type this being well aware that I often allow those “external circumstances” to do just that! Pray for us that we will all remain rooted and established in God!

    Lots of prayer requests today, we really need your prayers now as always.
    Prayer

  • For peace and joy for the Sweetings as they transition back to the US as their permanent base.
  • For wisdom for the interviewers as they decide who to invite to join our SIL Nigeria team.
  • For our organisational partners here that they would have faith in God their provider.
  • For peace and joy for Helen as she gets used to living and working in a culture that she is not familiar with.
  • That we will remain fully reliant and dependant on God for our peace and joy.
  • Praise

  • God has brought and is continuing to bring new people to join SIL Nigeria!
  • The enjoyment of getting to know Helen and helping her to make sense of life here.
  • The plans for the Barnhoorns to move in upstairs and the blessing that it will be to all of us.
  • God is over all and through all and in all and DOES NOT CHANGE!
  • 29 Jan

    Robinson Ministry update 28th Jan 2017

    Greetings from dusty Jos!
    The Harmattan winds have swept in from the Sahara and we are experiencing the joys of being able to write messages in the dust on the table within hours of wiping it.

    We had a great Christmas with our two Mums. After a few challenges with the issuing of the visas, especially for Tim’s Mum, the travel here went fairly smoothly. On the road between Abuja and Jos they did hit a bit of trouble and their driver had to find another route but they finally arrived in Jos just after midday, tired but happy to be here. It was lovely to be able to introduce them to friends here and have them join in with our Christmas activities. They travelled back to the UK on New Year’s Day and left us with a house that suddenly seemed much more empty and quiet.

    The quiet did not last too long as our good friends the Barnhoorns arrived back from their Canadian furlough on the 2nd of January. This is the family with four kids that we stayed with last summer in Canada. It is great to have them back as we all enjoy hanging out with them. School resumed for Daniel a couple of weeks ago and he was delighted to find that Stephen Barnhoorn is in all the same classes as him!

    We are pretty busy at the moment at the office. SIL Nigeria had an auditor in for a couple of weeks to perform an Internal Control Review. As Tim is responsible for most of the areas that are covered by the review he had to do a fair bit of work with him. Tim also had to drive to Abuja (5 hours give or take) the weekend before last to meet with one of our staff who is passing through Abuja on his way north, but the bonus was that he was able to pick up the auditor from the airport and bring him to Jos. This gave them a great chance to get to know each other a bit before the real work started!

    I have taken on a new short-term role (on top of my normal job) that will run from now until late June or so. A bit of background first . . . we already have a number of Nigerian Missionary Staff (i.e. Nigerians raising financial support from donors, rather than receiving a salary, just like us!) working for SIL Nigeria. We are planning the next set of training for a new group of Nigerian Missionary Staff to join the organisation. I have been asked to fulfil the role of Resource Assistant for this training. This basically means getting all the materials printed, making sure that rooms are set up appropriately, providing administrative support during the training itself, and no doubt several other things that will become clearer as we go along! I am glad to be involved in supporting the training as I strongly believe that the Nigerian Missionary Staff model is vital, however it is going to be a stretch on top of my normal job.

    Thank you for all that you do to support our work here in Nigeria! If you can, please do take 5 minutes or so to pray for these things:

    Praise

    Great Christmas with the Mums
    Barnhoorns return
    Safe travel for Tim to and from Abuja

    Prayer
    Internal Control Review outcomes will be helpful and result in improved processes
    Wisdom and energy to balance the demands of my job at the office and Tim’s and Daniel’s needs at home.
    For Tim as he attends the Sharpening your interpersonal skills workshop next week.

    14 Dec

    Robinson Ministry update – 14th Dec 2016

    Almost Christmas Greetings,
    I pray that in the approach to Christmas Day you are able to experience the joy and peace that is so present in the biblical account of Christmas and that the stress and chaos of the modern Christmas is not overwhelming that. One thing I love about being in Nigeria at this time of year is the lack of emphasis on buying presents for everyone and having all the right trimmings. I find it far easier to relax and remember why we are celebrating here than I ever did in England!

    Tim and I both survived the Hausa course and I actually think we both (mostly) enjoyed the experience. One of the ladies on the course was recording each session and then listening to it again at home later. She said one of the things that it highlighted to her was just how much laughter there was during class. It was very stretching, especially for Tim who had a heavy workload for those weeks on top of the course. The monolingual style of teaching was kind of like a long series of overlapping guessing games – what are they saying now? Given the other words that they have used and the actions that they are doing, what must that word mean? But, as advertised, hugely effective, at least for those of us who enjoy guessing games! One of the interesting things that we did was read and act out Bible stories in Hausa – by taking a story that we were all already familiar with, we had a head start on working out what the words meant.
    Now that the course has finished our challenge is to keep putting into practice what we have learnt and to try to keep learning!

    Dan has exams coming up at the end of this week, Thursday, Friday and Monday of next week. Please pray that he will prepare well and be able to focus during the exams. Thankfully he does not dread exams but he has a heavy cold at the moment and is not quite himself.
    In fact we have all been a bit up and down health wise for the last few weeks. I have had a couple of stomach bugs that knocked me out for several days each time and Dan has generously shared his cold with me. My sprained ankle is improving but I still have to walk slowly and can’t walk very far.

    We are looking forward to having a visit from Tim’s mum and my mum over the Christmas period. It will be the first time that Tim’s mum has visited us here so we are trying to think of all the things she might enjoy doing and seeing. Trying to think up things to do has rather reminded me that Jos is not exactly a tourist destination! However we will all enjoy having time together and giving them a taste of our life here.

    If you have time, please take a few minutes to pray for us.

    Praise
    Enjoying our Christmas preparations
    Successful Hausa course

    Prayer
    That we would all have good health, especially while the Mums are here.
    That Dan’s exams would go well
    That Tim and I would be inspired to continue to use the Hausa we have learnt and to add to it.

    10 Nov

    Robinson Ministry Update – 10th November 2016

    Greetings from a slightly chillier Jos,
    Okay, so can’t really complain, it is still about 23 degrees C inside the house and warmer outside. The dry harmattan winds have definitely turned our way, sending us a delicate covering of dust for all our furnishings and dropping the humidity to 20%.

    Dan is back at school after his October break. He is coming home with Christmas songs to practice ready for the Christmas concert. Kind of fun (if a little early) to hear jingle bells ringing through the house from his glockenspiel (which I am assured is the only correct name for it, it is definitely NOT a xylophone because it is made of metal).

    I had to spend a week of enforced rest at home after spraining my ankle. I can now walk on it and have returned to the office but it is still quite painful at times so having to be careful.

    Tim and I are starting a Hausa course on Monday that will run every weekday morning for three weeks. It is going to be a monolingual course, taught purely in Hausa with no English. We have been warned that we are not to take notes but simply to listen. I won’t lie, I am feeling a little nervous about it and feeling like if I can’t see the word written down, how will I remember it? However, we are assured that it is a highly successful technique and I hope to just throw myself into it and have fun. Tim is feeling a little more uncertain about it as I am sure you can imagine if you know him well.

    1-learning-to-read-while-listening-to-scriptureOn a rather different topic, mobile phones have revolutionised so much in Africa. I am sat in my living room writing this and I can hear the sound of the New Testament being read in Izere from the kitchen. Our househelp recently bought a new phone and I was able to get her an SD card for it with the Izere Audio New Testament on it. She can now interact with the scriptures in her language despite the fact that she can’t read it. I love hearing her murmurs of understanding and agreement as she listens to it!

    Thank you for being part of the team that God has called to this work! If you can, please take some time to pray for the following:

    Praise
    Improvement in my ankle
    Opportunity to improve our Hausa
    God’s Word getting out there through mobile phones!

    Prayer
    My ankle will continue to heal and I will not try and do too much too quickly!
    We can make the most of the Hausa course
    That more people would have the opportunity to hear God’s word in their language

    31 Oct

    Robinson Ministry update – 31st October 2016

    Greetings from a beautifully warm and sunny Jos,
    I am swiftly coming to the conclusion that Jos is at its most pleasant in October. The rain has stopped but there is still plenty of greenery around. The skies are clear blue but the sun is not too hot. The air is drying so no more mould or mango worms but the dust of harmattan has not yet kicked in. Perfect!

    We had our annual staff conference a couple of weeks ago. All SIL Nigeria staff in the country gathered in Jos to worship together, discuss strategy, hear what others are up to, etc.
    One highlight was hearing stories of how God was impacting Nigeria through the different domains. The linguistics domain shared how the careful analysis of sentence structure (discourse analysis) in one language had enabled the translators to spot and correct hundreds of errors in the draft translation of Luke’s gospel. This included a passage (Luke 14) where the draft translation had the Pharisees (rather than Jesus) healing a man. Very important to know who is doing what to whom in the scriptures!
    We also had a seminar on recognising and having grace for our different cultural back grounds. Our staff are made up of Nigerians (from many different parts of Nigeria), Americans, Brits, Dutch, Canadians, Irish as well as people who have lived all over the world and absorbed many different cultures. This diversity is wonderful but can also be a big challenge to understanding one another and working well together!
    mail-attachmentWe also had some fun together, with a seven legged race! Which Dan (who was on break from school) and my team won, despite our apparent disorder in the picture!
    One final special highlight for me was having an Irish member of staff, whose husband was leading worship on the final day, explain to us some of the deeper significance behind the words in the song “Be thou my vision” which was originally written in Irish. I have always loved that song and her explanation enabled us all to sing it with more passion because of our deeper understanding. This also reminded me of how much more important it is that people understand the scriptures deeply if they are going to respond to God whole-heartedly, which is just not possible in a language they don’t know deeply.

    dan-costumeDan had his annual middle school party last weekend and had fun putting together a costume to go as the Hero of his choice – King Peter of Narnia. He won the prize for best book character costume. Having an artist living next door definitely helped, many thanks Michael Harrar!

    And finally . . .
    I managed to sprain my ankle quite badly on Saturday evening on some uneven ground in the dark. At the moment I am subjecting it to a strict RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) regime and praying that I will be able to bear weight on it soon.

    Thank you as always for your prayers and support!

    Praise
    Encouraging staff conference
    Fun times for Dan

    Prayer
    Healing for my ankle

    10 Oct

    Robinson Ministry update – 10th October 2016

    Hello from Jos!
    The rains have more or less stopped and opinion is divided as to whether we will have any more rain this year. This is always the time of year when all my plants in pots die because I forget that they need watering again now!

    Thank you for praying for the workshop that was held a few weeks ago. It was a success! The workshop trainers and attendees joined us for office devotions each morning and on the last day we spent some time singing songs from each of their languages. It was such a special time, each person teaching the rest of us a worship song in their language. They also shared about how much the workshop had encouraged them. One lady in particular only joined the workshop at the last minute because no one else was available and before she came she was not convinced that it was going to be worth wasting her time on. She praised God that she had come anyway and said how much of a blessing it had been to her and how determined she was to go back to her language community and put all she had learned into practice.

    A couple of weeks ago Tim had an opportunity to preach at the Hillcrest chapel that we attend. Saturday morning he got a text from the pastor saying that he was not feeling well and asking Tim if he would be able to stand in. Tim, always up for a challenge, said yes. Lots of people commented afterwards that they really appreciated what he had to say. I still maintain that he does not so much preach as chat at people. The kids definitely appreciated his style and so did many of the adults, at least all the ones who came up to us afterwards. 😉

    October the first marked the start of the new financial year and as a result our finance department is busy closing up last year’s books as well as making sure that this new year’s books are in order. Tim has a number of overseeing roles to play in this so please pray for him and the rest of the team that they will have strength and wisdom and attention to detail.

    Thank you for reading and praying and supporting!

    Praise
    Successful workshop

    Prayer
    That the workshop participants will be able to apply what they have learnt
    Successful transition from one financial year to the next

    18 Sep

    Robinson Ministry Update – 17th Sept 2016

    Greetings from our dark house. We had a lightning strike on Sunday afternoon that took out part of our battery back-up system. As a result, unless the city power is on, which is only the case maybe for a third of the time, or we are running our generator, we have no lights. Not usually too much of an issue but cooking by candlelight is pretty interesting. Did I just add paprika or cinnamon to the chilli?
    Finding a replacement for the bit that blew up is proving rather tricky, please pray that God will provide what we need.

    Tim had a busy week last week with the Africa-wide Finance guru, Claire Hollis, in town for a visit. Lots to think about and some changes to implement in the finance system as a result. It is always so helpful to have people come and visit, both for us to benefit from their expertise and also for them to see what the situation is really like here.

    The office is going to be turned upside down next week with a large workshop going on involving 7 people flying in from all around the world – USA, Philippines, Tanzania, Cameroon, Chad, Thailand as well as lots of our staff and several people from partner organisations here in Nigeria.
    The aim of the workshop is to train people to train members of language communities to work with their community to decide how they want their language to be used in the future. Do they mind if their language dies out? Do they want it to be used by their children and grandchildren? Do they want it to be written? Do they want audio recordings in their language? And so on. The desire is to empower language communities to make these decisions for themselves, rather than having an outsider telling them what they need.

    On a more domestic note, we have found a supplier of fresh milk! We get a delivery to a friend’s house once a week. The milk does have to be pasteurised, still working on getting that technique refined. Well worth it though as it tastes delicious and creamy and is a lovely break from milk powder!

    Thank you for all the ways that you support us!

    Praise
    Good visit from Africa Finance Co-ordinator Claire Hollis
    Real milk!!

    Prayer
    Replacement for the lightning damaged parts of our battery system
    A successful workshop next week and safe travel for the participants.

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