14 Jun

Scripture in use encourages people.

Bibles on the way to people.Sometimes I wonder about how much use the Bible get once they are translated.  I don't think it is enough to simply have them available i do believe we need to be advocating for their use from a very early stage of a project.  It is always encouraging when we hear that people ARE using them, the story below was written by a colleague of mine – VERY encouraging! 

 

Last weekend, our church's mission committee had an outreach to their daughter church in the Afizere village of Rizek. On the Sat, we said we would be giving out several Izere NTs (some in print – usually sold for N200/£0.80 each), some on CD (N160 /£0.60) and some on 1Gb micro SD-cards for use in handsets or laptops (N500/£2.00 incl. a micro SD card adaptor), all of which were easy to get hold of at short notice. (We would have given out copies of the Jesus film on VCD too (N200 /£0.80) if I had been able to get hold of more copies from the Great Commission HQ). We showed the Jesus film in Izere on the Sat evening, which went down very well. They even watched most of it twice, since the first disc we tried got stuck towards the end, and we had no way of fast forwarding the second copy!

Then on the Sun, after the morning service, we gave out the printed NTs and asked them to try and follow the text as we played the audio version over the church's PA system. Even though most, if not all, of these people had never tried to read Izere before, all but one managed to follow the printed versions perfectly as the text was played. Afterwards they each received their own NT on CD or micro SD-card (their choice) together with the printed version, so that they could continue reading and listening at home.

This is one of the few times I can remember that I have seen young people in Nigeria actually queuing up to get MT materials in their language. Most of them wanted the micro SD-card, but we didn't have enough to go round. However, outside the church I noticed that a small group of them had already started Bluetooth-ing it to each other. Whether they were interested in it just for 'status' or 'cool-ness value' among their friends, I don't know, but I'm hoping they will actually listen to it from time to time!

It makes me think that an audio copy of the NT should be given out or sold with every printed copy – certainly in cultures which are primarily oral. Otherwise, I fear that most NTs stay will tucked away on a shelf gathering dust somewhere. Of course, this is no replacement for literacy classes, but it certainly gets people off to a great start, and for very little cost in terms of time and money. It would be great if they decided to have half and hour's MT reading/listening group like this before every Sunday service. It might even help the pastor learn some of the language, as he isn't a MT Izere speaker himself.

Our mission committee hadn't thought of using materials in the MT before on their outreaches – they had always used either Hausa or English – but after seeing the impact it made in this church, they didn't need any more convincing that this was the best approach.

 

09 Mar

The Risk of Sovereignty

There has been plenty of Nigeria in the news of late and some of the incidents have provoked me to really, frankly… Well, how can I put it? I feel like I’ve had a kick up my complacent backside about why I am here, doing what I do.

Recently I was involved in some conversations that led to some friends looking at moving out here to join our ministry. BRILLIANT! Then I saw this post on facebook. At first, it made me giggle. 

loves her son, last night's take was "so there are no earthquakes, tsunamis or tornadoes in Nigeria" (me – not that I am aware), "so we just have to be careful about diseases and getting shot, that's good"…

It reminded me that everywhere has it’s up and downs. So I replied, twice.

 HAHAHAHA brill. no tornados or tsunamis — not liable to earthquakes.. all good!

 actually getting shot isn't too high a risk either!

Sometimes it just appears like a high risk, because that is all the information we are reading about. Someone else posted a comment in the same conversation

Malaria, mugging, kidnapping, rape and killings of white people are very high, in my stats, so why would you put ur lifes at risk?

My jovial thought about a 7 year old’s mind at work was brought to a resounding sudden halt. I decided that I could give an answer to that, but firstly was it my place to answer?

Then I remembered that of course it was. I am in said country that is being questioned. Maybe I could share my experience and help out.  So after a couple of drafts (yes maybe I should have got someone to proof read it for me!) this is how I responded.

GREAT question! I’m not sure the reality of where we are living is accurately reflected in the news and by other sources – Malaria is a problem everywhere, but mugging and kidnappings, rape and killing of Ex-pats is none- existent in Jos. Yes such things have happen elsewhere in the country and there is a risk attached to living and working here.   Personally for us, God hasn't called us to a safe life.  He has called us to minister in this country of HUGE need.  We believe our lives belong to God and when we pray, 'God let your will be done' we are re-asserting his sovereignty over our lives.  If harm came to us  yes it would devastate some people it would probably affect our ministry here (maybe for the better) – BUT that doesn't change God's status of sovereign. And besides we'd be in Glory with him ūüôā  We live with the risk because the people here causing the trouble are exactly the ones who need to know God for themselves, i also appreciate that everyone has different levels of acceptable risk, living out here isn't for everyone and that is okay, because God can use you where you are!  People are in need everywhere.  Hope that TINY insight helps – if not, sorry for wasting your time reading this comment.

As I pondered it even further I realise more and more that my life is not my own and maybe it has taken getting my butt out to risky Nigeria for me to truly give it up.

I’m an aspie (Asperger's). It means there is a control freak in me and it rears its head worse when I am tired or hungry or under stress. But I survive because I maintain control – and so to give up that control is a REALLY super hard, super scary and super tiring. If I give up the control it only works if I completely trust the person I am giving it up to. Gaining that trust is hard. Re-gaining after it has been broken is even harder.

I have learnt that God is trust worthy. His sovereignty isn’t something I can really test, though. God can’t earn that status – it is simple fact of life. God is sovereign.

I got some more info from the original poster and I started pondering some more and eventually replied in a message.

I don’t know what it is like trying to relate to family who aren’t Christian, I can only imagine how ridiculously difficult it must be. I wasn’t trying to stir the water, just give an honest answer to her question. God’s sovereignty is a concept that non-believe (actually many believes for that matter) don’t’ grasp. It is a work his is doing in me at the moment! To live is Christ, but to die is gain – that hard to walk balance between effectiveness and risk.

Since coming to Nigeria I have become more and more aware of 2 things.
1 – The cost of missions goes FAR beyond my comfort level. It is also a cost/potential cost to other people. I have lived far too long ignorant of the cost my decision to be involved in mission is to other people.
2 – I cannot live any longer ashamed of the gospel, not my part in getting it to people who don’t have it. A great verse that has really come out fresh of late 1 Cor 1:18 “The cross is foolishness for those who don’t believe”. They are never going to understand why we do what we do where we do it. They are going to consider it foolishness. That is tough – on them and the result I guess is that they are tough on us.
But damn it, 300 languages without a single word of scripture, I have to do all I can in the time I have here – who knows how long that may be!

 

Right now I am re-ignited about why we are here doing what we do. I’ve been complacent about it. Maybe our lifestyle is too easy-going that I’m not being kept on my knees. But I have never been more convinced than I am now of the need for God’s word to be available – in a language that people can understand.

The only way to build trust is to get to know someone. The way to get to know God is in his word. If people can’t understand his word, they’ll never get to know him any better. How will they ever trust him and rely on him and be prepared to lay their lives down for him?   

Our family is here living with those risks – the instability, the crappy power and everything else – to help make that a reality for the millions of Nigerians in the 300+ languages that don’t currently have any scripture. 

26 Sep

Trip to Ghana in 05

I was¬†checking¬†out some old files on the hard drive¬†and¬†stumbled across this piece I wrote after my Trip to Ghana with a team in 2005. ¬†It’s funny, 7 years later reading about the struggles, it all seems so familiar! ¬†This was also the summer we won the¬†Olympics¬†and¬†there were bombings on the underground system in London, both of which happened while in Ghana.

 

1WYnet Co-ordinator

2 Trainee leaders

4 Student missionaries

1 Team

1 God

1 Word

 

 

 

3 Days of training

1 12 Seater minibus

#84 British Airways to Accra

1 15 seater minibus

1 Team

1 God

1 Word

 

 

 

6 Days in sanko where

4 Projects are run 2-gether in all things

¬Ĺ the normal time required 2 get those projects done.

1 Team visiting

1 team working

1 God

1 Word

 

 

 

2 Taxis 90 minutes late

2 Trotros 2 changes to make

280 minutes on the road1 large mountain to climb.

2500 ft up

1 guesthouse

1 new project to get started

1 Divine Munumkum

10 days

8 villages to visit

1 Team

1 God

1Word

 

 

 

 

0 Curtains

0 Flushing Loos

0 Taps

0 fridge

0 aircon units

0 TV

0 radio

0 babies to tickle

0 reception on my phone.

1 dead paramount chief

1 case of malaria

3 days of treatment

0 malaria

4 dodgy stomachs 2 many mouth ulcers

500 litres of water drunk

0 enthusiasm

1Word

1 God

almost 1 team

 

 

8 Villages visited

1 message from divine

‚ÄúThis is your project not mine, I want to help you get your language written down and eventually translate the scriptures‚ÄĚ

7 white people causing a stir

1 message from Divine

‚ÄúThese friends have come from the uk to help you with your project.¬† To Pray, To visit and maybe help in others ways that none of us understand yet‚ÄĚ

8 Enthusiastic Villages

7 enthusiastic white people

1 very enthusiastic divine

1 humongous send off

1 paramount chief stand in for the send off

1 New project started

1 team

1 God

1 Word

27, 000 people a set closer to getting that word in a language that speaks to their heart.

 

 

 

31 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – friends

If you read my post about family, this is very much along those lines.¬† When you are in youth ministry, there ¬†is a wonderful period of time when all the people you were working with across the years are growing up, graduating university, getting married and having kids.¬† I saw a wonderful exchange between two of my former youth, now both good friends. 1 has multiple kids the other is expecting number 1.¬† There discussing the best way for person 1 to send a bunch of needed baby stuff to person 2.¬† It was wonderful to see such relationships have far outlasted the ministry. Another guy being congratulated by a dozen folks from our days together as he graduates from the London school of theology.¬† There are even a bunch that ¬†have taken it upon themselves to support us in our continuing ministry.¬† So whats the cost I hear you say? Well as of now I have missed a few weddings and multiple new children and know of 3 weddings and no doubt more in the next few weeks and months to come.¬† It is hugely disappointing not to be able to celebrate with these folks as they start a new phase of life. Skype, email, and Facebook really are no substitute at all.¬† True to say that it is all in God’s hands, and he understands our feelings about being unable to go.¬† There is no higher price paid¬†than Jesus dying on the cross for us.

24 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – electricity

I know I know, we all take it for granted in the UK –¬† my friends from America are finding it amusing how much social media has had to say about the power cuts in the us in June.¬† Reality is, when you move to a third world country – even a city the electricity supply is problematic. Any thing we have plugged into a Nepa* outlet must have a voltage stabilizer plugged in first.¬† The stabilizer must be big enough to cope with the demand placed on it and there is no guarantee that if there is a spike in the supply, that the thing or what ever¬†is plugged¬†into it will survive.¬† We knew about the power situation, it wasn’t a surprise, but I guess I am minding it is one difference between short term trips where you are pretty much prepared to cope with almost anything and living long term.¬† Long term you have to put more things in place to cope.¬†¬† 2 weeks after arriving, we stumbled upon a house and moved in and bought the contents.¬† It save. A lot of running around and figuring out, part of that package was a battery back up system with two 12v deep cell batteries and chargers and inverters.¬† We never really heard of such systems let alone though about having one.¬† It was such a blessing, a bunch of lights attached (yes some rooms had 2 lights, 1 Nepa and 1 battery whose switch was in a cupboard down our corridor), and the ability to charge laptops and plug the fridge in was brilliant.¬† but they are only good if there is charge it he batteries.¬† We had them hooked up to charge from Nepa, so it was fine if you got a few hours of Nepa each day but 2/3 days without and the batteries aren’t any good to you.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† We are lucky not to have lost any food out of our fridge or freezer yet, but a few months in we did decide to invest in a generator that wasn’t something we had previously considered needing.¬† Both these things have proved invaluable to us, but the up front investment, cost of running, upkeep and maintenance are a whole lot of grief.¬† It does mean I got wise when we moved house and engineered our battery system. Through our fuse board to power 1 light in each room, through the normal light switch, which means we don’t have to run down a corridor to trilogy’s on, and we don’t always have 1 bulb that is not in use :). We haven’t yet invested in solar charging system, nor a wind turbine like our¬†neighbors¬†(thought it’s brake keeps¬†getting¬†stuck on ūüôĀ ¬†)but there is still time for those additions.¬† Our projects however often don’t have power unless we buy a generator (small investment huge running costs now) or a solar system (large investment but as long as it works, zero running costs).

I’m not sure if it really counts as a cost, but the hassle involved here does take its toll and so I think that is a cost we pay.¬† I hope the real cost of losing a piece of equipment or an appliance is one that we will never have to face.

 

*Nepa is our power supplier it has such a bad reputation that a few years ago it changed it name to PHCN the Power Holding Company Nigeria.  However, everyone still refers to them as Nepa.  Among the numerous explanations of. The acronym is my favourite Never Ever Power Always.

10 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – safety and security

I have bumped this post forward a few weeks because of a¬†conversation¬†I had on Friday.¬† While we were preparing to come to Nigeria, we received 1 retraction probably more than any other.¬† I’ll admit that after a while it was an irritation, but for the people asking the question, it was the obvious question and although I had answered it what felt like a hundred times, for them, it was the first chance to ask.

The question: WHY on earth would you go to Nigeria, people get kidnapped there and they blow stuff up all the time.  Let alone the corruption why would you want to go there?

Our answer: 2 reasons, all those thing you think are reasons not to go there, are exactly the reason we need to go there.  The answer to the unrest, the thing people strive for is peace.  The Bible is referred to as the gospel of peace, those violent people need a bible in a langue and a form they can understand. The people who are involved in corruption need some higher moral understanding, they are only going to get that form a Bible they too need it in a language and a form they can use and understand. The second reason is that we believe god has called us to go.  He knows the state of the country and the risks involved, but he also has the freedom to do what he will with us, because we gave our lives to him.

Nigeria is in the news more than I would probably like it to be for all the wrong reasons.¬† Most recently arsenal have cancelled their trip here siting the inability to agree on conditions for the team.¬† If I was the coach, I wouldn’t want to bring my team to a major sporting even where there is a risk of being blown up.¬† No joke, it is a real risk.¬† While police stations and embassies and media headquarters have been targeted in the Capitol, I would want to bring my team here either. Jos where we live has plenty of tensions. Parts of town we don’t go to, and a security force who check every car and sometimes every person on the way into church on a Sunday morning.¬† In fact the past couple of morning we haven’t been to a local church because of threats that have been made on the city.¬† Why do we stay? Because the same reason still exist as when we¬†were deciding to come here 2 years ago, noting has changed except our understanding of how desperate this country is and how needy this country is to see a change.

There are things here that aren’t safe to do.¬† The conversation that prompted the change of timetable for this port was information that some our of colleagues in the country for a workshop were on the road travelling to said workshop when they were held up at gunpoint and robbed.¬† I’m not too included to go to that area at the best of times but it is the first such incident that I am aware of since we arrived, that involves missionaries.

We have a gate gaurd on our compound, you can’t get in unless someone inside opens up the gate.¬† It is normal practice here, and all the bar wire too.¬† We have a gate on the front of our house that we padlock up every night.¬† Im not too keen driving around at not, but to be honest the main roads have traffic and planets of police and army out at the moment that popping up the road for dinner isn’t too bad.¬† But when bombs go off in town on Christmas morning or on other Sunday mornings and gun shots can be heard on the road out side your compound, every back fire and every car tire blowing out (we live near the main road) for a while is questionable.¬† We have got use to the cars now and it doesn’t take more than a second to realise it is a car, but interesting that we hear probably 50 cars a week, yet for a while our assumption was that it is the worse case scenario of a bomb.

It doesn’t always feel safe.¬†¬† It isn’t always secure, but we do have plenty of things in place to make sure of both, but it is a cost we pay to be missionaries out here. ¬† Most of the time we do actually feel fine about living here, i guess we ave adjusted to the norm of road blocks¬†and¬†threats. ¬†We¬†don’t’ feel personally under any threat but still, every time things happen, I am more convinced that these people need God and a Bible in a language and form they can understand.

04 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – Family

This is the first in what I hope will be a series but who knows where it will go. I expect some may be more theological and others a bit more about everyday life, not that very day life isn’t about theology or the other way around, but I am not writing a PHD theological thesis, just a few observations about being a missionary.
So onto family. We have been in Nigeria for nearly a year, we have missed birthdays, Christmas, Easter, anniversaries, cousins, siblings and more. We have been blessed by a visit from my in-laws. But
every now and again, you wonder just exactly what Jesus meant when he said “follow me”. No matter what he calls you to do, there is going to be a cost involved. As a missionary leaving and working away from my passport country, we experience all sorts of cost, both financial and personal. Right now, we are feeling the cost of being away from family. The early disciples we called to drop everything, in some cases, abandon their family, their family’s expectations and even some family responsibilities in order to follow him. For us, we miss family especial at times we would normally be hanging out with family. Things I am sure are a lot easier than the old days, with email, Skype and cell phones you can be in touch fairly instantly. It was an SMS txt message from Ali’s mum saying that her mum, Ali’s nana had died on Saturday afternoon. She was 96 and a strong Christian women now in glory loving Jesus. But Ali is feeling the loss, while we are trying to figure out about her going to the UK to be with the much missed family for a time. People didn’t fly home in the old days, often because they didn’t receive news so readily, but if we do have the option should we take it. Much prayer needed as we feel this ‘cost’ right now

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