28 Oct

Robinson Ministry Update – 27th October 2017

Greetings from Jos!

Well, it has been an interesting month what with a combination of an SIL Nigeria Church Leaders’ Open Day, a couple of trips to the Koro area for Tim, Financial Year End processes, illness, Strategy meetings and a 10 day visit from 7 overseas visitors including one staying in our house with us.  Not to mention Nigerian Independence Day and Dan’s mid-semester break.

Now that I look back I wonder how we fitted it all in!

A few highlights:

Around 150 Church Leaders came to the SIL Nigeria Open Day!  This means that the message of the potential for life transformation through the Bible in people’s heart language is getting out there into the Nigerian church.

Tim Visited 4 langue projects with a fellow SIL Colleague and spent time looking at how the projects are working and how we can adjust some things to work better.   They talked about 5 topics in each place:  Ownership, Partnership, Relationship, Stewardship and Impact. (more pictures) These visits coincided with the dedication of several books in the Nyankpa language. (more pictures) 

A team of 7 people came to visit us and assess and advise on better ways to get the right man-power that is desperately needed in Nigeria to tackle the huge number of remaining translation needs that we have. One of the team, Noel Harrison, a friend of Tim’s family, stayed with us. It was great to get to know him much better and to have the privilege to introduce him to a bit of Nigeria. It was in fact his first time in Africa although he is very well travelled in other parts of the world.  

Tim also got to take the visiting team to visit 2 language projects in the Koro area.  (more pictures) It is always exciting when you can connect those who work in vital administrative roles with the people they are ultimately serving. Sometimes their roles seem very removed from the “cutting edge” but without them there could be no “cutting edge”.

A couple of challenges:

I was down with some sort of stomach virus for about a week, Dan has had a 24 hour vomiting bug and Tim also had a period of being under the weather (sidenote – where on earth does that saying originate from?!).

Financial Year End has been on going with a lot of changes having to be made at the last minute to the set up of the budgets for the new financial year. This has meant Tim pulling several late nighters.

Praise

  • Please thank God for all the things he has enabled us to do this month!
  • For solutions to the not terribly smooth parts of Year End!

Prayer

  • That all things we have been involved with will bear good fruit and ultimately result in more Nigerians with lives changed as a result of better access to God’s transforming word.
  • That we would remain physically and spiritually healthy as we continue to serve. 
15 Oct

It Pierces the Heart

Joyful reactions by villagers to hearing Jeremiah and Habakkuk in their language for the first time in a Christian-minority language group.

In March 2017 about two dozen believers from a language group where Christians are a tiny minority came together to review the translation of Jeremiah and Habakkuk: that is, to do a read-through, make comments and give advice on the draft. It was their first time to encounter this material in their own language, rather than in Hausa, the trade language. Habakkuk is a short three-chapter book; Jeremiah clocks in at 52 chapters. The reviewers were spellbound by Jeremiah.

“It pierces the heart.”

“I feel like I’ve never read this book before.”

“That’s because we’ve never heard it in our language before,”said a retired evangelist soberly.

“You never get tired of hearing it,” said an old white-bearded elder, a wide grin spreading across his face.

“All those years I spent in Bible school,” said a pastor meditatively,

“and yet it’s as if I’ve never read this!”

Later, as everyone was sitting around chatting in the evening, one man commented,
“This book we’ve read puts me in awe of God.”
On the last day, one young man said, “When I’ve read the Bible in Hausa, I’ve never
enjoyed it so much as I have these days reading it in my own language. Now that I’ve
had this experience, I’m really going to pray for the translation team as they
continue this important work.”

Having Scripture in our own language is something many take for granted, and it’s
hard to realize how gripping mother-tongue Scriptures is for someone who has only
ever encountered the Word through the dark glasses of a second language. If you
have the Bible in your own language, thank God for it and pray for those language
groups in Nigeria who are still waiting, that soon they too would have the truth of
the Gospel in a language that pierces their hearts.

Adapted by: Beverly Harrar
Original Author: Rachelle Wenger

18 Aug

Robinson Ministry Update – 18th August 2017

Dear lovely people,

I pray that your summer is going well with good family times.  Our summer has come to an end with Dan returning to school and the weather taking a turn for the chillier (only 22oC in the house this morning 😉 ).

Dan is really pleased with his classes and teachers this year and is heading into his last year in middle school with a pretty positive attitude!  One of the (sort of) new classes he has is his maths class.  Obviously he has been taking maths all through his time at school but at the end of last year his class took an aptitude test on algebra and as he passed the test he is now in a very small set of 8 students starting algebra early.  It will effectively put them a year ahead in maths and give them the opportunity to explore maths at a higher level later on. We are delighted with this because he has always enjoyed maths.

I am getting back into the work routine now that Dan is back at school and enjoying having more time to get my teeth into my work and really start to make some good progress again. I have someone (Helen Fisher – who stayed with us when she first came to Nigeria) who is going to start working with me one day a week to try and get through some of the archiving backlog. We will be working on materials like books teaching people how to read and write Nigerian minority languages that were produced years ago but only exist as a few hard copies now.  We will be making digital versions of them that can be archived and web published so that they can reach more speakers of those languages and ensure that future generations will still have access to them.

Tim has gratefully handed the Director responsibility back over to Tom Crabtree and is now working on getting him back up to speed on events that occurred while he was out of the country.

Our finance team (that Tim oversees) are approaching the yearly challenge of Year End which means making sure that everything is fully in order and winding up the accounts ready for the new financial year in September.  There are a lot of changes happening in the area of finances in the new year so please pray for good understanding and clear communication as they work through those. Without good, well managed finance systems SIL’s work of helping communities to get access to God’s Word in a language they really understand can not go forward!

Thank you so much for all that you do to keep us healthy and able to function here, you are a vital part of this work! If you can, please take a few minutes to pray for us:

Praise

  • Restful break for Dan and I over the summer
  • Tim has some time off booked for September
  • Good start back into term for Dan and work for me

Prayer

  • Good hand over from Tim to Tom
  • Energy and strength for Ali (I forgot to take my thyroxine for 5 days in a row a couple of weeks ago!)
27 Apr

Robinson Ministry Update – 27th April 2017

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!

Robinsons, Barnhoorns and Crabtrees

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!

Praise
— Opportunities for training and being encouraged
— Great neighbours who are willing to make Dan (at least temporarily) part of their family

Prayer

— 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

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!

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.

02 Jan

2015 in Nigerian Numbers (and other Bible books).

Bible Translation is all about resourcing the local church with scripture that people in their community can truly understand, engage with and be transformed by. We can’t count converts or restorations, but we do hear story after story of lives changed. We know that the more people who have access to translated scripture; the more lives are changed by it. In 2015 the following groups having worked tirelessly over many years received translated scripture.

Portions:
Tarok Old Testament books – 300 thousand speakers
Nyankpa Gospel according to Mark – 70 thousand speakers
Duya Acts of the Apostles – 78 thousand speakers

New Testaments:
Tula New Testament – 30 thousand speakers
Tyap New Testament – 130 thousand speakers

Between Tyap and Tula who both received their new testaments, 160 thousand speakers were able to understand the Christmas story possibly for the very first time this year — pretty cool. It really opens the doors for evangelism, discipleship, church planting and dozens of other ministries with the church here.

Obolo man reading his Bible for the first time.

Obolo man reading his Bible for the first time.

Bibles:
Hausa Common Language Bible – 18 million speakers

The Hausa Common Language is the people’s Hausa, the language that they really speak and understand well. In fact Hausa is a language spoken, usually fluently, by an additional 15 million Nigerians who are not actually Hausas. This means that this translation has the potential to impact 33 million people! The original Hausa translation was like trying to read and understand the King James, okay to a point, but not always the most accessible and useable. Any version of scripture you can really understand easily is far more likely to be used and far more likely to change lives.

24 Nov

High or low – it is all about Tone.

20150609_092858I love hearing stories from around the world illustrating the importance of having a good understanding of a language and culture before launching into translation.

One thing our linguistics experts try to work on is a language’s tonal structure. What this means is that the tone used when saying a word can completely change the meaning.

One of my colleagues shared this story recently.

“One missionary translator in East Africa had never accurately analysed the tonal differences in a local language and accordingly in the communion service, he seriously mispronounced the statement, “This cup of blessing do we bless”. What the people heard was “This cup of poison do we bless”, because the words for blessing and poison differed only in tonal patterns. But the congregation did not realise that this was a mistake in pronunciation. They themselves had a custom of drinking a poison cup in the case of trial by ordeal when someone died under mysterious circumstances. Accordingly, the people assumed that each Sunday believers drank a poison cup and in this way showed that they were innocent.” In writing, it would be crucial to mark such a tonal difference, otherwise major misunderstandings would ensue.

Isn’t that amazing – the difference HOW you say the word can make! Our teams do multiple drafts and checks to make sure the final product is both accurate and understandable.

09 Nov

Ministry update – 9th November 2015

Dear Awesome People,
Thank you so much for your prayers and support of us and through us, of God’s work here in Nigeria.
It means so much to us when we hear from you that you are praying for us. We received a couple of postcards from our church a few weeks ago and it was so encouraging to know that people are thinking, and much more importantly, praying, for us! There is something special about getting something in the post, at least for me! Maybe it is because I was not really born in the digital age? However, e-mails and Facebook messages and other digital communications are also great to get!

We are going through a bit of a busy time at the moment.

We had our annual Staff Conference at the end of last week. It was a fantastic time of getting together with all of our staff who are in Nigeria, celebrating what God has done and reminding ourselves of the importance of prayer through everything we do. There were also some sessions dealing with tough issues like funding and how that is changing. Tim was very involved in planning and presenting that topic. There was some concern beforehand about how it would be received but we had some really encouraging feedback afterwards. They said that Tim did a great job of presenting a very difficult and potentially controversial subject clearly, interactively and in a way that helped people to really understand it better. James Poole (the Wycliffe UK director) joined us for Conference and led the devotions each morning. He spoke on Jesus’ parables from Matthew 13 and managed to make an oh-so-familiar passage
speak in a new way to me.

There have also been a number of social/community events that I (Ali) have been involved in preparing things for. One was our celebration of Bonfire night last night that involved Sticky Toffee Pudding cooked on the fire! Another one is coming up on Saturday, the biannual International Food Fair at Dan’s school.

On Sunday morning I am traveled to Abuja and from there I flew on to Ghana. I will spend a week and half in Ghana, joining in the celebration and dedication of the full Bible in Kasem. My parents first started working in the Kasem language before I was born so this is also a kind of celebration of their life’s work! Most importantly however, it is a celebration that another group of people has the full Word of God in the language that will best speak to them! Please pray that God’s Word will not just remain on the pages but will be written on their hearts and minds.

I will be leaving Tim and Dan at home in Nigeria. We also have a good friend staying with us for the month, Jono Barnhoorn, whose family are in furlough at the moment in Canada. He will be with Tim and Dan while I am away so I am sure they will have fun together!

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

Praise
An encouraging Staff Conference
Lots of fun community activities to get involved in

Prayer
Safe travel for me to the north of Ghana for the Kasem dedication
That the Kasem Bible will impact lives and not just be a book on the shelf
Peace and joy for Tim and Dan while I am gone
That Tim and I will communicate well in the midst of the busyness

31 Jul

Ministry update – 31st July 2015

Greetings from our last few days in the UK.

Tomorrow our iceberg sets sail for home (if you have no idea why I am talking about icebergs, take a look at our previous update). It has been great to see so many people who are integral parts of our iceberg and I hope that we have been able to be part of your icebergs too. We are floating high and really looking forward to getting back to N1geria, looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues again, looking forward to getting stuck back into work, and to be honest, looking forward to sleeping in our own beds again!CLQsKT0W8AATwTC

I has been a bit of a whirlwind and we are tired, but sharing about God’s work in N1geria and our small part in it has had the slightly unexpected side-effect of re-enthusing us! It has helped us to lift our heads and remember the big picture and see more clearly how our little corner fits in.

Praise
A good, re-envisioning time in the UK with a remarkably good balance of times of rest and times of busyness
Looking forward to heading home to Nigeria

Prayer
Safe travels flying to Abuja and then by road to Jos
For a good settling in time and not to much work to do on the house

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