Greetings from a downpour expectant Jos,
The rains have sort of started, we had a great soaking and the ground is starting to sprout grass and there are tiny seedlings everywhere. However we have not had any more rain now for 2 weeks. We have had several days with rumbles of thunder like a hungry belly expecting rain but no actual precipitation. Please pray that they start properly soon or people’s crops that have germinated may die.
Tim and I may miss the next rain in fact as we are both travelling this coming week, although in slightly different directions. I (Ali) am going to Germany for some Ethnologue training (see link for more info on what the Ethnologue is). I will leave on Monday and be back in Jos by Saturday evening, probably highly exhausted. Tim is going to the UK on Tuesday, primarily for the Elim Missions Conference. We are Elim missionaries seconded to Wycliffe/SIL and have really appreciated all the support we have received from the Elim Missions team so decided that it was a high priority for us to make sure that at least one of us made it to the conference. He will be in the UK for less than 2 weeks so he is unlikely to get to see many people. We plan to have a couple of months in the UK next summer (June-July 2018) and hope to see as many of you as possible then!You may wonder what Dan will be up to in the meantime. He is still in school so he will be staying here with our new upstairs neighbours, the Barnhoorns. We visited them in Canada last summer and now they have returned to Nigeria and recently moved into the upstairs flat. They have 4 kids and Dan often gets described as the 5th Barnhoorn. 🙂 Due to some rather unfortunate and unexpected timing, Dan will have several exams during this coming week while we are both away, please pray that he will get the rest and space that he needs in the midst of it.
For me the last month has been intense with the pressure of getting all the materials ready for the Partnership Development training for our new staff. It has been exciting seeing the finished products arriving however. We now have beautiful brochures for most of our different teams from Linguistics, Literacy and Translation to Ethno Arts, Scripture Engagement and Support Services. Each of our new staff has their own prayer cards for distribution to supporters, there are SIL logo-ed folders and envelopes, not to mention the actual training materials! Still a way to go but finally starting to be able to see that the end might soon be in sight – or is that putting it too strongly?! I am looking forward to getting back to my “normal” job but this has been quite an adventure and definitely outside my comfort zone at times.
Tim is in that crazy phase of the year when he has to deal with budgets for the next financial year as well as all the quarterly reports on how the last lot of money was spent and what impact that team has had. Budgets are always a challenge, especially for those team leaders that are really busy and don’t have the brain power (or, to be honest, inclination) to deal with the numbers and planning involved. It often feels like it would just be so much easier if we didn’t have to worry about all this, if the money needed to do the important work was just there when it was needed and didn’t have to be explained about afterwards. However, planning and accountability are very important to ensure that God’s resources are being used in the best way possible. There is also the factor that those countries that much of the funding comes from have laws that require clear accounting to prove that the money is not being used to fund terrorism. Not something we want to fall foul of!
Please do take some time to pray for us if you can manage it, it makes such a difference! We need your prayers!
— Opportunities for training and being encouraged
— Great neighbours who are willing to make Dan (at least temporarily) part of their family
— Energy and focus and balance and patience and grace and all those other things that we so desperately need in this busy season!
— Safe travels and worthwhile meetings
— Protection and peace for Dan while we are away
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
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!
On the 24th May there was a great celebration on an island in the far south of Nigeria where the Obolo Bible was being dedicated! This was the result of over 30 years of hard work by a dedicated team of Obolo translators and committed support from the local churches and supporting agencies.
To read more about it head over to http://www.elimmissions.co.uk/
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!
I read an interesting article on the BBC today about which language Jesus spoke.
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.
I went on an EPIC road trip the other week: 850 total miles! About 24 of those were spent driving/waiting for the road block boys to let us go through. We managed to visit a couple of folks in Niger state, north western Nigeria, who are are helping to run projects in that neck of the woods.
While I was in one of those locations I met a man who made my heart jump for joy. He loves his language. He wants others to love his language. He understands the Bible best in his language and wants to help others do the same.
I shot a wee video of him sharing what he is up to. He has some amazing testimonies to share!
Adapted from a blog post by Wycliffe UK on October 14th
Nigeria is a huge country: it has the largest population of any country in Africa and faces challenges that include ethnic rivalry, religious persecution, a crumbling infrastructure and, in the north, the desert is expanding. Nigeria also has at least 300 languages that need Bible translation.
When faced with such an enormous task, it can be hard to know where to find the people and resources to meet the needs. One way is through Nigerians themselves becoming missionaries to Nigeria, and being supported by Nigerian churches:
At at upcoming event, you can see yours truly share a little bit about how this has made a difference to the Bible translation ministry in Nigeria 🙂
On 9th November at venues around the country Wycliffe UK will be holding Frontline Prayer Live, a dynamic and fast-paced prayer event. They will be having a special focus on Nigeria during the day and you can make a difference by joining us and praying. If you are too far from any of the official venues or not free on 9th November, why not hold an event yourself? Wycliffe can provide all the necessary prayer materials and you could be part of the team bringing the Word of God to Nigerians in their heart languages.
Greetings from Jos!
We had a great Staff Conference last week, a really good time where the whole of Nigeria Group gets together. We prayed, we sang, we listened to reports from our partner organisations, we talked about our strategy and reminded ourselves of why we are doing what we are doing!
One of the people who shared was a student at a local theological college – the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. There is a Linguistics and Translation Department in the college and a number of our staff are involved with teaching there. This might seem a bit removed from the coalface as it were, but the student’s testimony really brought it home to me how vital it is. It is hugely inefficient for an expatriate to come to Nigeria, learn a Nigerian language from scratch and then start to translate the Bible into that language. Far more efficient and sustainable to train a speaker of that language in Bible translation techniques and support them to do the translation. This is also more likely to produce a natural sounding translation that the speakers of the language will relate well to. It was encouraging to hear first-hand from someone who is learning complex linguistic concepts and applying them to help improve the quality of the translation of scripture in his language, ultimately increasing the understanding of God’s Word amongst his people!
Tim did a great job with the logistics and helped the meetings to run smoothly with good sound. My presentation went well and I got a few more people enthused about sharing and protecting their valuable work.
Dan has been a bit variable recently. He has struggled with a couple of occasions at school when he has been blamed by other students for things he did not do. He finds this very hard to deal with calmly and tends to get very upset. He also has days when he finds it very hard to concentrate on his homework and everything he has to do feels like an impossible task. On the other hand, most days he is cheerful and gets his homework done (fairly) quickly and without complaint. We really need wisdom to know how best to help him and encourage him when he is having a bad day.
STOP PRESS: Between writing and going to press, Tim has engaged with an opportunity to visit a few projects and attend a dedication this weekend. The details are still being worked on, but Tim and our colleague Jono plan to leave on Thursday and return on Monday. There will be a lot of driving between them so please pray for good preparations, and safety as they travel.
- Encouraging Staff Conference
- God is raising up gifted Nigerian Bible Translators
- More students to sign up for the Bible Translation degree program
- That Daniel would look to the Lord for his strength
A couple weeks ago the England football manager declared that he only needed 100 words of English to effectively communicate with his team. He was of course only responding to abuse form people saying that he isnt’ taking his job seriously if he hasn’t’ bothered to grasp our language. That of course is the latest reason England fans are using for what has frankly been a SHOCKING period of English football.
It did get my brain thinking about the desperate need for people to be communicated to, in the language that speaks to them. Otherwise meaning gets lost. no way around such a limited vocab, will not allow Fabio to communicate with his team. Likewise the Bible, it needs to be in the language of peoples hearts or they are simply not going to understand it.
A colleague of mine has written a great blog post looking at the Bible in 100 words. this post form Pete.