I (Tim)love popping out of the city to visit language communities that we are somehow working with. A couple months ago the Duya community dedicate the Jesus film in Duya. I wasn’t able to go to the dedication but I have heard stories! When I was in the village a few weeks ago a man came to greet us.
Yakubu is a middle-aged bachelor who lives in the village of Ramindop. When he was young, he attended church, but along the way he became disillusioned when he felt that the pastor was abusing his position for personal gain. Although he had been married, his wife died a long time ago and he has since lived alone. Since that time he has developed a reputation as a drunkard and was always involved with the traditional religion.
One day in September, he heard news about the Duya Jesus Film. When someone in the village purchased a copy, and they were watching it in their home, he decided to see what it was all about. Yakubu was struck by the fact that he heard Jesus speaking Duya, and was so impacted that he announced that he would start coming to church again and would get rid of his associations with the traditional religion.
Greetings from a warming Jos,
The rains are dying down and the temperature is rising. This is one of my favourite times of year because the all-invasive damp is starting to retreat and yet everything is still lush and green. Dan and I spent some time at our local (outdoor) swimming pool on Saturday and the temperature was just perfect!
Tim has made it safely back from Niger State where he was visiting several projects. The roads were terrible and the drive long and arduous but they stayed safe and apart from a small incident with a ditch, the car survived well! We don’t take safe travel for granted here, we heard of two people just last week who were killed in accidents on the road. After his trip, Tim took a week off work and spent some of it in Abuja (where he had to drop off the visitors that travelled with him to Niger State). He had fun being able to actually go to the cinema and just have some time with no responsibilities. He is now back at work and deep into Financial Year End sorting out.
Dan got his progress report from school and has done really well in all his subjects, including an A in his difficult Algebra class. He is still discovering how his role as a Class Officer works, they have run a Bake Sale at school and are now planning a Pancake breakfast for the community. I keep finding myself looking at him and wondering when he got all tall and lanky, he has very nearly overtaken me in height but I think I am still just about holding my own! Dan is struggling a bit with managing his time wisely in the evenings. He is getting a fair bit of homework and I am trying to leave him to do it when he chooses, with minimal reminders. Dan however, would much rather be reading a book!
I have been working on gathering up to date information from all our partners in Nigeria about the translation projects that they are involved with so that we can all get a better picture of who is doing what. There is one group of eight languages (Azelle, Bogghom, Chakfem, Pyam, Boi, Ywom, Montol and Sanga), all from Plateau State (where we live) that have just completed Luke’s gospel in their languages. None of these languages had even been written down before they started and now they will be able to read or listen to the story of Jesus in their language! As most of the language speakers will be unable to read it, at least at first, the gospel will be published both as a physical book and as an audio recording. Pray that this small portion of God’s Word will awaken a thirst for more.
Thank you for praying for us and for God’s work here in Nigeria!
- Safe travel for Tim and the team to and from Niger State
- Tim able to take some time off
- Dan thriving at school
- Luke’s gospel ready to publish in 8 more languages!
- Real rejuvenation for Tim
- The 8 language communities receiving God’s Word in their language for the first time would be deeply impacted by it
- Dan able to have more self-control in how he manages his time
Dear lovely people,
Greetings from thundery Jos. The rainy season is taking out its fury on us at approaching the end of its reign (or maybe rain?). We are having plenty of thunder storms with strong winds and incredibly loud cracks of thunder. Parts of the country are suffering with serious flooding and more loss of life than has been seen in the floods in Texas but also considerably less coverage in the news. Being on a high plateau, we have not had issues with flooding however.
Sometimes it can feel like we are all working so hard but the progress in getting accessible Bibles to those who need them is so slow. Other times it feels like there is a feast of Bibles arriving. Over the last two weeks, newly published New Testaments in three Nigerian languages landed on my desk. Now obviously my desk doesn’t need them but what this really means is that containers full of New Testaments have arrived in Jos and they are now on their way to the three language communities that need them. Please pray for the Kuteb, the Hyam and the Mwaghavul as they celebrate the arrival of their scriptures. Pray for lives to be impacted and more people to be brought into the amazing kingdom of God through His word in their language.
Tim is heading over to Niger State this weekend. It is 5 hours drive to Abuja on Saturday and He will meet the visitors off the plane and then head north on a 10 hour drive with them to the areas where the languages are spoken. Tim and the visitors will be working on implementing a new way of planning, funding and implementing five Bible translation projects that we work with in that area. The roads they will be travelling on are apparently not all in a good condition and it is likely to be a tiring journey. Please pray that they will make it safely and with energy to spare for the discussions ahead. Tim will then take a week off to recuperate after the intensity of the last few months.
I (Ali) have recovered most of my equilibrium following missing taking my thyroxine for 5 days last month. I had a couple of days of feeling pretty much wiped out and unable to leave the house but I feel mostly back to normal now. I will get a blood test done in a couple of weeks’ time to see how it is looking.
Dan has been elected as a class officer for the coming year. This is the first year that his class has had these positions and he was not sure whether to run for election (oh yes, that is what they call it!) or not. In the end he picked the position that sounded like the least responsibility, Store Assistant Manager. Not entirely clear on what that will entail but he was thrilled, and rather surprised, to win.
Thank you once again for your support of God’s work here in Nigeria, please continue to pray for us!
- More people getting access to God’s word to them in their language
- Quick recovery from missed meds for Ali
- Dan being encouraged by being chosen as a class officer.
- Safe travel for Tim and the visitors up into Niger State
- Successful meetings and discussions so that the projects there can move forward.
- Those suffering with the flooding in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
This post and it’s pictures originally appeared at https://bobcreson.com On July 11th 2017.
By guest blogger Steve Pence, Translation Administrator in Mbeya, Tanzania
As we began our trip through the high country of Mbeya Region in southwestern Tanzania, my motorcycle taxi driver looked at me skeptically with the face of a mischievous teenager. In my meager Swahili I told him that I was an old man and very afraid. He laughed and accelerated as I gripped the frame behind my back, willing myself to stay on. I soon realized he was a very skilled driver, fast but surprisingly smooth over the increasingly rough road. At mud holes, he put his boots on the ground and steadied the bike, walking it through. On especially rough downhill stretches we danced along, almost in slow motion.
Ahead of me on the road were my colleagues, Waya and Lawi, each on another motorcycle taxi. They are translating portions of the Bible into their own local language, Safwa. Today I would witness the testing of a draft of Matthew in a Safwa community.
Reaching our destination, we stood under the eaves of a building, trying to escape a steady drizzle. The motorcycle drivers huddled with us. Waya and Lawi took advantage of the opportunity, pulling out their trial texts of the Gospel of Matthew. The texts were printed in a large font and double spaced, with lots of room to write. Peppered across each page were words and phrases highlighted in pink, each of which needed to be investigated to make sure it communicated clearly and accurately.
With almost no introduction, just a few words saying that they were translating the Scriptures, Waya and Lawi began reading the Safwa words aloud. It was as if electricity shot through the air. One moment men quietly waited out a storm on a day that had turned gray and wet and sleepy. The next moment, eyes popped and hands waved as everyone tried to talk at once.
Lawi and Waya both started writing, scratching through words, drawing arrows into margins and making notes. A word they had used for “axe” was unknown here. It was used in another Safwa town at the bottom of the hill, but not up here on the mountain. And up here people don’t use the same word for killing another person as they do for killing a plant or a cow. Here they use a special word for each. Still, nearly everyone nodded in amazement, saying “Yes, this is real Safwa!”
As more people gathered, we were invited down the street and into a room. It was, as Waya called it, “a simple hotel.” We sat on a bench while others sat on empty buckets. The dirt floor was wet. A fire smouldered in the corner beside a collection of big thermos bottles, probably containing tea or hot milk. A single bare bulb dangled unlit from a rafter.
The animated conversation over God’s Word continued without a pause. One teenager excitedly told us he was born again. Another confessed, “I’m not born again. I don’t even go to church now.” But all were glued to the Safwa Scriptures being read and discussed.
In another town that afternoon, Waya approached a roadside checkers game and quickly drew keen interest from the crowd. In this area, isolated on rough mountain roads, few people have yet heard of the Safwa Bible translation project. Waya’s crowd was even amazed that their language could be written at all. So Waya explained the Safwa alphabet as people took seats on culverts scattered about. A donkey joined them, enjoying the tall grass. Waya gave examples of Safwa words that could not be written in Swahili, the national language taught in schools, but could be written in the new Safwa alphabet. People nodded and grinned. A second printout of Safwa Scriptures was passed around.
When it was time to go, one young man stood and said, “Safwa! This is good! I understand it very well. I have been made happy.”
All across the highlands of southwest Tanzania, an area the size of Austria, scenes like these are being replayed as drafted Scripture portions are painstakingly checked in village after village. Eventually, more than three million people speaking thirteen languages will have God’s Word. Each of you has a part in this. Thank you!
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
On 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:
Improvement in my ankle
Opportunity to improve our Hausa
God’s Word getting out there through mobile phones!
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