30 Jan

From imagination to creation.

There are a whole lot of languages in Nigeria – 512 or thereabouts – and only a handful of those have Bibles. Some have New Testaments and there is plenty of work in progress.

Every now and again, there is a real sense of excitement in our office at the prospect of a dedication. From the moment someone imagined translating the scripture into that language, to the moment a person opens up that book for the first time… In between those moments, there are years and years of work, thousands of combined man-hours by people often on multiple continents. They’ve all been part of the process to get that New Testament or Bible printed.

I was lucky enough to attend one such celebration last year and Wycliffe USA has just written a brilliant piece on the last part of the process.

Peter,* a member of the Fulani translation team in Nigeria, couldn’t understand why Heidi Rosendall wanted him and the other team members to sign her copy of the new Fulani New Testament. After all, they aren’t famous.

But to Heidi, those signatures are more precious than any celebrity’s. They represent the literal blood, sweat, and tears that Peter and others have sacrificed so that the Fulani could have God’s Word in their own language.

As a typesetter living in Jos, Nigeria, Heidi works with local translation teams from several language groups, putting their finished translations into printable formats—or, as she puts it, “making Bibles beautiful.”   (read the rest here)

Heidi’s office is about 4 doors down from mine. There is a constant stream of people going there, trying to get past the final hurdle, each with amazing stories of overcoming obstacles and confusion in order to see lives changed through the translated Word of God.

22 Oct

Make a difference by praying

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.

Find out more and register for Frontline Prayer Live (details are also on Facebook).

 
19 Oct

Good Bye Wycliffe Centre

On Saturday 7th September, over 450 People gathered at the Wycliffe Centre to attend a celebratory goodbye service. I was unable to be there due to our current African location, but it got me thinking about my memories of the site. I have LOTS of fond memories.

I first moved there April 15th 1985, a few months before I was 5. I lived longer at our house there than anywhere else in the world (so far). After university I started my real working life there (unless working a summer job at a distribution warehouse for nine weeks counts as 'real work'). In fact, almost all my memories are attached to that place.

On the whole I have happy memories… Long summers messing around in the woods or the swimming pool… Earning money in the kitchen at the weekends… Making some of the longest lasting friendships I have.

Many of us started our sporting careers on that site. For some the never-ending locations to kick a football around. For others the table tennis or the foosball… and dare I mention darts? Every summer evening there would be volleyball. Some of us grew tall enough to be of some use at the net, others not so much – but it did lead to representing universities, (yes it wasn’t a very big club)! Cricket also featured, if you were daring enough to face the fastball of Dr. Crozier!

In the later years, Ultimate Frisbee began to appear. Fast and ferocious, if you didn’t get out the way, a disc could leave scars, both emotional and physical. (It's okay, friendships are intact.)

Many of us learned to swim in that tiny, tiny, FREEZING pool. Somehow, as a kid, the temperature didn’t matter too much.

I remember many, many discussions over the rules of half court. Does the scorer retain the ball at the start of the next point, or not?

Bonfire parties and carol services were chances to connect with the local community and schools. Both were often so well attended that it was easy to feel anonymous for a while. Funny to see my son in my school uniform, causing as much hilarity as I am sure I did, trying to sing on that stage.

For some, the Wycliffe Centre isn’t full of happy memories. Some kids were evacuated from their homes overseas and landed there, confused and hurt. It seems strangely similar to the kids who occupied the school on the site during the Second World War. I had the privilege of working with some of our modern day evacuees. Seeing God at work in their lives, I realised that they can hate Horsley’s Green all they like, but it wont change the situation or heal the pain of having to leave their homes overseas.

The site has meant so many things to so many people, but I am glad someone has been brave enough to make the extremely hard decision to sell the place and take Wycliffe UK into the next stage of it’s ministry.

11 Oct

Prayer Update 11th October 2013

Greetings from Jos!

Last week Tim did a road trip with Jono, a colleague and good mate of his. They travelled to Niger (sounds like tiger) State, not to be confused with Niger (sounds more like kneezjair with a French accent) the country! Niger State is found in the north west of Nigeria. There are a number of language projects that we are involved with in Niger State and Jono, as our Language Projects Co-ordinator, needed to go and visit them. Travelling on your own is not really recommended here, the prospect of a New Testament dedication and eager to try out his new camera, Tim jumped at the opportunity to accompany him. Despite a minor car problems involving leaking automatic transmission fluid on the way, they made it safely to their first stop. The second day’s travel involved heading further across the state towards to Benin border including a very poor section of road where it took nearly 3 hours to travel 90km, but once again they arrived safely and in plenty of time before dark. A couple of days later, having met local translators and heard about how the work is progressing, they headed back home. This time they did the whole distance in one day, leaving at 6am and making it back to Jos by 4.30pm. The distances they were travelling didn’t look all that far on our wall map of Nigeria but in reality it was a round trip of 850 miles, Nigeria really is a BIG country! One disappointment was that the community decided to postpone the dedication until November. We are quiet sure why but it is not uncommon over here!

For larger high quality pictures go to Tim's Flickr page. 

I have been tackling an update to one aspect of the Ethnologue (a book that describes, albeit briefly, all the languages of the world) this week. We are trying to describe the vitality (or “aliveness” if you like) of the different languages in Nigeria. The thing that really affects the alive status of a language is whether it is being passed on to the next generation. If parents are not teaching the language to their children then the language will become threatened and unless something changes, will eventually die out. One of the reasons we need to know about language vitality is so that we can make wise decisions about which languages to invest our limited resources in translation.

Thank you to all of you who e-mailed to say that you were praying for Dan. In general he has had a better week this week, in particular he has felt more included by the other kids at break times. He finds the less structured class time in Art difficult and this is often a trouble spot in the week for him. He has Art on a Tuesday afternoon so if you remember please do try and pray for him then. We have spent some time talking about (and drawing) the armour of God and Dan has come up with his own, personalised version, so rather than the sword of the Spirit he has the light-sabre of the Spirit! This has definitely helped him to be more conscious about calling on God’s help in difficult situations. Thank you so much to all of you who pray for us so faithfully, it makes a huge difference. We often forget how powerful prayer is!

Praise

• Dan has had a better week at school
• Tim’s road trip went well and they made it back safely

Prayer

• That Dan would have a better experience at school, especially during Art class
• That I can gather the necessary information about language vitality in time

03 Aug

Newish Beginnings

IMG_9286Newish number 1 -) These past few weeks have been hectic.  We came back form Nigeria for a scheduled 2 month break in June – and we had to jump headlong into fundraising.

It isn't our favourite activity, but when you find yourself £700 short of your ministry every month, you don't have much choice. You have to get on with it.

Almost all missionaries around the world (no matter what ministry they are involved in or who they are sent with) don't get paid a salary and have to raise support. It is one of those things that binds us missionaries together — along with Jesus, and sharing Jesus to people, and playing our part in growing God's kingdom… Sometimes I wonder if loathing fundraising doesn't bring us closer together sometimes, too!  

Anyway, we have chatted over coffee, dinner, coffee, lunch, and more coffee (which is okay, we LOVE coffee). We have shared and preached, laughed and cried, asked and prayed and prayed some more, then asked some more, then got miffed at God, not prayed then realized that telling God I'm miffed at him is in fact praying – and seen God continue his faithfulness regardless.

We haven't completely hit the target, but we are close enough, and there are enough things in place that we have been signed off to return to Nigeria.

It is not possible to properly express our gratitude to all the people and churches that are giving sacrificially so that we can serve God in Nigeria. We truly appreciate both your prayers and your pounds – we would honestly not be able to do what we do without you.  

Newish number 2 -) Before we first left for Nigeria 2 years ago, we started working on becoming part of our church denomination's mission structure.

I have thought long and hard how best to describe it, but basically, as of this week, we are signed up as Elim missionaries working in partnership with Wycliffe. We'll still be involved in all the same things we were before, but with the extra bonus of being backed by our denomination. We are in the VERY early stages of this partnership and we are looking forward to seeing what God does in this stage of our ministry. 

Newish number 3 -) I have uploaded a few pics of our time in the UK  

Newish number 4 -) Do you like our new website design?

02 Apr

Nigeria: a call to serve


Taken from http://wycliffe.org.uk/blog/2013/04/nigeria-a-call-to-serve/

Nigeria: Africa’s most populous and most linguistically diverse nation. And, not surprisingly, its the home of one of the greatest translation needs in the world.

A boy looks in at a barred church windowYou may recently have seen Nigeria featured on the news or cropping up at times of prayer at church: conflict in the northern part of the country is putting many millions of Christians at risk. Not only that, but they live with that fear day-to-day without the comfort and hope that the Scriptures provide because, of Nigeria’s more-than-500 languages, only 20 have a complete Bible.

If you think that you could serve the brave Bibleless Christians of Nigeria, and if you want many more Nigerians come to know the truth revealed in God’s word, you could be part of God’s plan for that nation. And you don’t need to be a Bible translator or a linguist – you just need a willing heart.

Wycliffe is currently looking for someone to serve Bible translation in Nigeria as the director’s assistant for a partner organisation there. This role runs from May this year to February 2014. You would be responsible for enabling the director to manage and lead a multinational team of Wycliffe workers.

If you think that God might be calling you to step out of your comfort zone and serve his people in Nigeria, this is your call. If you are looking to see if mission overseas is for you, this could be the short-term role for you. Contact us.

Please pray with us that God would provide the right person in good time to fill this role.

16 Mar

Why does Bible Translation take so long?

There are many many reasons that Bible Translation takes a long time. A good translation will be accurate and easy to understand. It can take a long time to bring a Bible translation to this very finely negotiated balance. The most 'understandable' phrase isn't always the most 'accurate'. Sometimes lengthy discussions and extensive testing is required just to get one word right.

The story below is from our Wycliffe collegue in the USA who travels to Nigeria to work with Bible Translation projects. 

 

As the Mbe* translation team in Nigeria was translating the Gospel of Luke, they came to chapter 2, verse 7, where Luke describes the first moments of Jesus’ earthly life: “She [Mary] gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”

The translators took time to ponder how to translate some of the words, but not “manger.” They immediately used the word “ókpáng.”

“What’s an ókpáng?” asked their consultant, John Watters. “Tell me what it looks like.”  One of the translators drew a picture on the whiteboard. It was essentially a cradle hung by ropes so that the newborn could be laid in it and swung.

“Read the Translator’s Notes again,” John suggested. “What do the notes say about the manger?” (“Translator’s Notes” is a series of commentaries in non-technical English that are especially helpful for Bible translators for whom English is a second language.)

The Mbe translators read the notes and saw that “manger” referred to an animal feeding trough. Joseph and Mary apparently stayed near the animals, since there was no room for them in the part of the house where people usually stayed, and so Jesus’ first bed was an animal feeding trough.

Even as the Mbe team read the notes, they objected. “We have always used the word ókpáng. We have used it for years, and that’s what we should use.”

John pointed out to them that it wasn’t just a matter of tradition. God expects us to find the words that express the original meaning as accurately as possible. Furthermore, this word tells us something profound about God. “When He came to live among us and bring salvation to us, He came in the lowliest way possible. He did not come and sleep in a nice ókpáng like every Mbe mother wants for her newborn. Instead, He showed us his unbelievable humility,” John told them. “So we need to find your best word for an animal feeding trough.”

Suddenly the one who had argued most loudly for the traditional term offered, “We feed our animals out of an old worn-out basket that is not usable anymore except to feed the animals. We call it ‘ɛ́dzábrí.’”

“Then try that term,” said John. “Put it in your rough draft and test it with Mbe speakers.”

The next weekend they read the story of Jesus’ birth to all kinds of church groups and individuals in Mbe villages. Often people asked about the word for manger. They understood what ɛ́dzábrí meant, but they weren’t sure it was the right choice. “We always say they laid Jesus in an ókpáng,” they said.

Each time they were asked, the translation team explained the reason they had chosen the new term. Jesus really did lie in a place where they fed animals. In this way, He demonstrated the humility that would characterize His years on earth.

As the Mbe people listened, they were visibly moved. Picturing the newborn Baby lying in the animals’ feeding basket, they recognized in a new way that Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to reach them. As an adult, He would humble Himself by washing the disciples’ feet and then by dying on the cross. And this humility started right from birth, when He was born to a young peasant woman under questionable social conditions and laid in an animal feeding trough.

No word in Scripture is too unimportant to translate carefully and accurately. Even the word for a baby’s bed—accurately translated—can show people the lengths to which God will go to reach them, to reach us.

And no language community is too unimportant to merit the Scriptures in the language they best understand. John says, “Translation in the heart language respects the people who speak it, and through the process it frees them to have a relationship with God in their own words and terms.” 

There is nothing God wants to say to a language community that He cannot say in their own language. The translated Word frees people to respond to the God who humbled Himself for them, and it frees them to worship the exalted God in the language that best expresses their joy and adoration. One day every knee will bow and every tongue—speaking every language—will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

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 🙂  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. 

04 Mar

Mother Tongue Lanuague Day

imagesYou may or may not know that last week UNESCO held their annual Mother Tongue Language day.  For most people the day passes every year mostly unnoticed and this year was probably no exception, at least for most of you.  Our ministry is all about helping to get Bible into those mother tongues.  I may seem simple or even unnecessary; we are sometimes asked why can’t they just use the English Bible?  The speak English in Nigeria right?  For some people that might be true but to be honest for the vast majority of people here, a Bible in English is completely unintelligible.  A Mother tongue language is the language that used at home from birth, it is the language that a person understands best of all, the language they think in, process in, pray in, some might say dream in.  

Nelson Mandela said “if I read in my mother tongue language, then I know exactly what the Bible means” so simple but so poignant.

Ali shared this story in our email update a couple weeks ago.

I recently heard of some translators from a Nigerian language group who were working on a translation of some portions of the gospels into their own language. They were blown away when they finally understood that Jesus had died for THEIR sins; they had always thought that he had died for his own sins.

A subtle miss-understanding but rather fundamental to understanding the Christian faith!  Something we probably take for granted when working with other Christians but in this case it was all because they had never before had it in their own mother tongue language.  That is EXACTLY why we are involved in Bible Translation ministry. 

A local Nigerian paper just featured an article all about Nigerian languages, it speaks very highly of the ministry we are involved in – it is quiet long, but an interesting read.

 

 

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

½ 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

“This is your project not mine, I want to help you get your language written down and eventually translate the scriptures”

7 white people causing a stir

1 message from Divine

“These 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”

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.

 

 

 

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