10 May

Robinson Ministry Update – 7th May 2016

Morning all!
So I hear that the UK has experiencing unseasonal snow. We, on the other hand, are experiencing quite seasonal heat. The thermometer is staying fairly steady at around 30o C inside our relatively cool house. The rains are still rather stop-and-start and have not settled into their regular daily downpour yet. Once that does start, the temperatures will drop significantly.

We have been having a bit of an issue with the system sending out these e-mail updates so although I have been writing them, you may not have received one for a few months. To take a look at what you missed, go to http://www.robinsonta.org/category/prayerupdate/

Tim’s trip to the UK was hectic but fun. He managed to see a lot more people than I had expected given that he was only really there for a week. The wedding was cold but a great celebration. Tim ended up acting as the second Best man (not second-best you understand – at least not in my eyes!) as the Best man had suffered a heart attack in the weeks leading up to the wedding. It was a real pleasure for Tim to be able to support Andy who has supported us for many years!

The SIL Nigeria Spiritual Retreat was a great blessing to me and Dan. We had a great speaker who spoke on the Walk of Faith. He really challenged me to think about whether I always make decisions and react to situations based on my faith in God or on my faith (or sometimes lack of faith) in myself or others.

Retreat was also hard for me as my grief at the death of Dan’s godfather (Tim Pickering) and the moving of our closest friends (Hollmans) back to the UK finally caught up with me. As a missionary kid I finetuned the ability to “move on” and pretend I had not really lost anything when people I was close to left. Having to do some un-learning of that now, proving painful but healing.

Another mixed blessing at Retreat was that Dan lost his ripstick (kind of like a two-wheeled skateboard). He really loves it and rides it at every opportunity (including around the house!). But when it went missing he was able to pray and tell God that if God was taking it away from him for some reason then that was OK with him (but that if possible he would really like it back!). Seeing him trust God and put his faith in God’s will over his own was such an encouragement to me.
STOP PRESS – The ripstick has been found! Praise God for his generosity to us!

Thank you for all that you do to support and encourage us, we really appreciate it!

Praise
Tim managing to see so much of the family and several friends while in the UK.
Encouraging and challenging retreat for Dan and Ali.
Managed to book very reasonable flights to Canada for the summer (with Ethiopian Air!).

Prayer
Getting back into routine post Tim’s trip and the Retreat.
Tim catching up on work and having peace with all the difficult things that need to be dealt with.

11 Apr

Firm Foundations

I am not a runner. It may seem that I do a lot of running, but I don’t love running. I do it more out of necessity, to keep the happy hormones flowing, to reduce the spare tyre from around my waist, and mostly, because well, I like eating. I run because I eat. Over the past few years I have learnt a lot about running, what to do and what not to do, how to avoid injuries and how a cold beer is a great source of much needed chromium. One thing has remained especially true all this time, if you are running, your feet need to be landing on a firm foundation in order for you to retain any forward momentum. This was hammered home the other day when I was chased by possibly rabid dogs. Dogs here aren’t pets, they are guard dogs, occasionally they will come out of a house or compound to make sure you keep on going past and not in. On this occasion, they kept coming at me. First I thought I’ll speed up, make sure they know I am just going past. I growled and hissed a bit and the first 2 ran off. But then they came back with 4 friends and were eyeing up my heels. They were getting much closer than I was happy with. Being bitten by a dog is something I was DESPERATE to avoid. So as one got closer (close your ears all you dog lovers out there) I had to kick him in the head. He scuppered off and took his friends with him. Phew, I thought, I’m not going to be bitten today. Then, next thing I know, I have hit the ground with my knees and not my feet. Yes, I tripped up. WHY did this happen I asked myself. Well, basically, I was completely distracted by the threat of the dogs coming at me. I looked at the dog as I kicked him and in so doing I took my eyes off where my feet were going to land. IMG_0680I was running fast, missed the firm ground, hit a bit of muddy sand, tripped up and fell over. Adrenaline pumping, I jumped up, saw ANOTHER dog coming at me and ran harder to get around the corner. The end result was a pounding heart, blood mixed with mud and the desire to puke, all because my feet didn’t hit a firm foundation.

As I was thinking about this later in the day and it hit home that this incident was as much about my spiritual life as my ‘running’ life. We need to take our steps based on a solid foundation. It isn’t okay, nor is it a great plan to just simply head out there and see what happens, pick up whatever mud hits us on the way. Our spirituality needs to be based on something solid, a firm foundation. God’s word, the Bible, Scripture, however you prefer to refer to it, IS that solid foundation. It is easy to get distracted from it when trouble is biting at your heels, it is easy in my life to look at the times when I have been grounded in the Word, but dipping in and out on special occasions – the results were the spiritual equivalent of bloody knees.

We are privileged in English to have so so many different versions of the Bible. It is possible I believe, to find one that you are able to read and understand well enough, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, the content can change you. For millions of people around the world and Nigeria, they are yet to have that version of any scripture at all, they have no foundation to base their life on.

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.

09 Oct

Ministry update – 9th October 2015

Good morning from what may well be one of our last damp days of the season.

The weather is changing. We are reaching the end of rainy season and are experiencing some big wind storms. They can be quite exhilarating but also potentially a little dangerous. When I was little, growing up in the north of Ghana, we had a really wild wind storm, and it took the roof off our house! Thankfully this time we have escaped anything beyond a few small branches coming down.

Change is often turbulent and can be messy, it can be exciting and at the same time tiring. It can remove dead wood and bring potential for fresh growth.

Tom&IanWe are in the middle of considerable change at work. We have a new Director for SIL N1geria, Tom Crabtree (on the left in the picture). He and his wife are godly, prayerful, wise people, not to mention good friends of ours 🙂 and we are looking forward to a new era. Our previous Director, Ian Hollman, did an amazing job and really knit together a diverse group of people with one passion – to see God’s Word being used and understood by people from every language group in Nigeria. He is now focusing on his job as an Africa Area Director and he and his family will still be based in Nigeria for the time being. We are very happy about this as our families are close and we would miss them terribly if they left Nigeria.

With this charge of Director has come some change to the structure and set up of our group. Tim has been responsible for the Finance, Facilities Management and IT teams for a while and Tom asked Tim to add the Human Resources team to his responsibilities. He is looking forward working with a new group of people, many of whom he has worked with on projects before. It will be a learning curve but we thanks God for His timing and His provision and His peace throughout these changes!

Still on the subject of change, our next door neighbours (Kostrevas) are leaving Nigeria next month. One of the many blessings of our life here is that we get to share our lives with people from all over the world. And we really do share our lives, we become family to each other because usually our blood families are not nearby. However, this blessing also brings a challenge because people come and go. We sometimes have to say “Goodbye” to parts of our adopted family with no expectation of ever seeing them again, at least until Jesus returns!

Praise
• New beginnings in SIL N1geria
• Friends who become family

Prayer
• That we will cling to God in the midst of the changes and always seek His will
• Wisdom and strength for Tom, the new Director, and for Tim with his new team
• Peace and joy even as we say “Goodbye” to family

10 Sep

Ministry Update – 9th September 2015

Delightfully damp greetings from Jos,
I know that rain is a blessing as I sit here watching the rain fall this morning. All living things need water (trust me, I have been a Biology teacher, I know these things!). However, sometimes the actual coming down of the rain does not feel like a blessing.
Thought that I am now pondering . . . are there other blessings in our lives that don’t always feel like blessings? That we forget to thank God for as a result? Your fellow musings on a postcard (or by e-mail) gratefully received.

Reading through the last update we sent out, not much seems to have changed. We are still having issues with securing group cash, please do continue to pray for a good resolution for that. I am still wading through my e-mail backlog. Dan is keeping his head above water at school but is struggling a bit with organisation and keeps losing things.

There are two things that I (Ali) was involved in over the last two weeks that I wanted to share with you. One of the things that I do is to maintain a database of all the translation projects in N1geria and all the materials (especially scripture) that have been produced. I nicknamed the database NigeL as it is the Nigerian Languages database and it is a lot easier to say NigeL. 😉

At the end of last week, a friend of mine who works for a partner organisation told me that he was travelling to a state north of Jos to work with a people group called the Polci for a few days. As a result of my work with the database I was able to tell him that there was a language project working on translating the New Testament into a closely related language. When he came back from his trip he told me that the people he was working with said that they also wanted the New Testament in their language and wanted to know how to go about it. In fact one of the people he was working with was so desperate to meet with him that he swam across a fast-flowing swollen river to talk about translating God’s Word into his language!

Another Nigerian friend, a colleague at SIL N1geria, has been working on raising financial and prayer support amongst Nigerians and Nigerian churches. One of his supporters is passionate about getting the Bible in his language (Esan) and wanted to know if anything had been translated yet in his language. After a bit of research I found that some ground work had been done by a partner organisation but nothing was published before the project ground to a halt. This supporter is rapidly mobilising people to get involved with the project so that they can finally get God’s Word in their language.

It is this evidence of hunger for God’s Word among N1gerians that inspires us as we work. Please pray that God’s will is done as these two people groups seek to take the next step towards the scriptures in their languages.

I(Tim) held a meeting with all my operations team a couple of weeks ago and we had a wonderful time together. We spent time exploring who we are, what we do as part of

‘Seeing Nigerian communities have access to scriptures in their language and be using them to transform their communities’

and also spent some time praying together.

Praise
We are blessed with abundant rain!
Many N1gerians are hungry for God’s Word in their language

Prayer
Financial issues to be resolved completely and in a way that honours God
That Dan will find the things that he has lost and will be able to tighten up his organisation!
That the Esan and Polci will be able to make progress towards the scriptures in their languages.

07 May

7th May 2015 – Ministry Update

Greetings from a parched Jos,

IMG_4140Somehow the rainy season still has not started. It is really about a month overdue now. The last rainy season trickled to a stop around 7 months ago and water is now becoming increasingly hard to find. We are blessed to have a well on our compound that, although getting close, has not quite dried up yet. The city seems to have stopped providing water through the pipes and many people are really struggling to find enough water for their families. Please pray that the rains will start this week, they are desperately needed, not just for people now but also for their crops to provide for them for the rest of the year. This seems to be a problem across West Africa, not just in Nigeria. So, here is an opportunity to do that rather unusual thing and pray for rain!

Tim’s meetings in Kenya went well, thank you for praying! They were intense and he has come back with a bit of a backlog of work, but overall it was a positive time. Dan and I did fine, but were very happy to have him back safe and sound.

We are now in the final few weeks of Hillcrest term, school ends for the year on the 21st of May and will not resume until the 6th of August. We are also in our final few weeks of preparation for coming to the UK for the summer! We will leave Nigeria on the 25th of May, a few days after the end of term and plan to be in the UK until the 1st of August.

We hope to meet up with many of you who live in the UK while we are there! Once we have a better idea of where we will be when, we’ll let you know and hopefully you can fit us in! One big need we have for the time we will be in the UK is a car. We really can not afford to hire a car for the whole time but we need to do a lot of travelling around to see you all! If you happen to have a car you could lend us or know someone who might be willing to do so we would be hugely grateful. If you do not have such a thing at your disposal then please could you pray that someone else will! We know how powerful the prayers of God’s people are!

Praise

  • Helpful meetings for Tim in Kenya
  • Safety and peace for Dan and I while Tim was away
  • Tickets booked to come to the UK!
  • Prayer

  • Rain!!! Consistent rain across West Africa starting this week.
  • That Tim could deal with his build up of work and that he will have peace as he deals with it
  • Provision of a car for our time in the UK
  • 27 Apr

    Scripture Listening and Reading Groups

    This is a collection of stories that was shared with our group back in November. I re-read and got re-excited about the things that are gong on!

    In Nigeria, our vision is “Seeing Nigerian communities have access to Scriptures in their own languages and be using them to transform their communities.” Through Scripture Listening and Reading Groups (SLRGs), this is exactly what we are seeing God do in the various language communities of Nigeria. The structure of the SLRG is simply listening to Scripture in the Mother Tongue, followed by discussion, and marked by prayer at the beginning and end. We teach people how to facilitate their groups through five discussion questions:

    1. Can someone retell in their own words what they understood from the Scriptures we have just listened to?
    2. What struck you particularly from what you heard? (e.g. something you liked, or were surprised by.)
    3. What did you learn about God or Jesus from what we heard?
    4. What is God saying to the people in what we heard?
    5. What do you think God is saying to us today in what we heard? What should we do in response?

    Training has taken place in five language communities with about 170 people trained to lead discussion groups. Six people have been trained as trainers. Here are some of the impacts we have seen from this initiative:

    SLRG11. Literacy: In Mwaghavul, the participants follow along in their Mwaghavul Bibles as they listen to the recording. One man was literate only in Hausa and English, but he learned to read in Mwaghavul through the SLRG training. Now when he attends any gathering in church, he is the one people call on to read the Scriptures in Mwaghavul because not many have that skill yet.

    2. Answered Prayers & Increased Faith: One elder, Isaac, meets regularly with the youth in a Mwaghavul community, facilitating a Scripture Listening and Reading Group. The youth were so excited about what they were learning that one of them prayed, “God, may you protect this man, make him to live long so he can continue to teach us your Word in our language.” A short time later, the man was in a collision with a truck carrying firewood. Surprisingly, it was the truck that got damaged instead of the small car Isaac was driving. The elder testifies to God’s protection in answer to prayer and is passionate about continuing his ministry with the youth.

    3. Real Understanding of Scripture: One woman in a listening group realized what the word of God really says. She explains, “I am seeing for the first time that before, we were not actually following God, we were only following men of God to understand. Because of our mother tongue audio scripture, now I’m hearing from God myself.”

    4. Evangelism: In one of the SLRGs, a woman in the group believed the facilitator when he affirmed, “If you have problems in your homes, God will use you to solve these problems.” She started praying that God would bring back her husband, who had left her many years before. Two months later, he came back. As he knelt and asked her to forgive him, she forgave him and led him to Christ.

    SLRG25. Increased Interest in Mother-Tongue Scripture Products: During the SLRG training in Kuteb land the participants got very excited. Seeing the power of using Scripture recordings in this way they asked, “When are we going to get these on SD cards, CDs, and mobile phones? We want to invite our people from all over to a launching of our Audio Scriptures so that everyone can have this!”

    6. Increased Demand for Translation: A man from the Obanliku language group attended a Church Leaders Scripture Summit. There is currently no published Scripture in his language. After listening to a presentation by the Scripture Engagement team on SLRGs, he asked with excitement, “How can we get the Scriptures in our own language?” SLRGs are sparking excitement among language groups where work is still needed!

    23 Apr

    Technology – Moving Ministry Forward

    I mostly love the impact that technology is having on our ministry and work. YES computers go wrong and cause huge headaches at times, but every now and then something happens that restore my .. umm ‘faith’ in the tech.

    Jonathan and a translation team.

    Jonathan and a translation team.

    Here is a note that my colleague Jonathan sent me about what he has been up to.

    Waci language development has been slow because there has not been much linguistic analysis done on the language. As a result, translators have always struggled to write their language consistently.
    Bruce is a linguist who resides in Canada, but has recently started to work with the Waci language to unravel its secrets! For three days, two Waci translators came to Jos to meet with Bruce. We met over Skype for the 3 days. Bruce directed the conversation to ask questions related to his research. Once he was comfortable that he understood the words, we would record them. When Bruce asked for a word, Baba Peter would recite the word twice and hum it twice. They would then move on to the next word.
    Once the words had been collected into a recording, I would drop the 200MB file into a folder on the network, and Bruce would upload it to his computer using a syncing program.

    It was a headache to figure out the uploading of such a big file. It had to be done overnight in Nigeria so as not to use ALL the bandwidth during the day. It slowed the process down for Bruce and the team. Several people were involved in finding the solution, but how amazing that Bruce who was unable to visit Nigeria at the time, WAS able to help the Waci team in such a significant way!

    19 Apr

    Prayer update – 19th April 2015

    Greetings from a peaceful Nigeria!

    We are thankful that we serve a powerful God who is alive and active in the world today. The presidential elections here in Nigeria were conducted peacefully (for the most part) and most importantly, concluded without major controversy. I think the biggest contributor to this was the fact that, even before all the votes from all the states were in, the current President (Goodluck Jonathan) called his opposition
    Buhari - Nigeria's President Elect. (Muhammadu Buhari) and congratulated him on his victory. As one of my Nigerian friends put it, “This means that if anyone causes trouble now, they are doing it on their own behalf and not on Jonathan’s behalf so no one will listen to them.”. All this may not seem like that big of a deal, but you have to bear in mind that this is the first time that a sitting Nigerian President has been defeated in an election!

    The State Governor elections were held on Saturday 11th April and again all went smoothly. The representative for the party that is normally considered a dead cert for our state (Plateau) did not win, but there was plenty of celebrating and everyone I have spoken to so far seems delighted with the outcome!

    We had a great Spiritual Retreat with the rest of our group. There was good spiritual input and food for thought, time for contemplation and time for building our relationships with others (i.e. sitting around chatting or playing sport 😉 ). Dan’s highlight of retreat was the Skit Night in which the Brits of the group tend to feature quite highly. In fact Dan managed to end up involved in 4 of the skits, much to his delight! Thank you for praying about our concerns of people arriving at different times and just the whole uncertainty over elections during retreat – God really answered your prayers in a big way!

    On Easter Sunday we hosted a big lunch for the three families on our compound and ended up adding another family of six to the gathering less than 2 hours before we sat down to eat! As always Tim masterminded it brilliantly and pulled off another epic (as Dan would say) success. We interspersed the courses with some surprisingly thoughtful video clips where Lego characters acted out the Easter story. Easter Lunch Easter Lunch[/caption]There were some interesting discussions with the kids including an insight from one of them that maybe the darkness when Jesus was dying was because he is the light of the world.

    Tim is on his way to Nairobi for 2 weeks of meetings, please pray that they will be encouraging and that all those involved will be able to keep their focus on our common goal of language communities having God’s Word in a form that they can really understand.

    Praise
    Massive praise for the peaceful presidential elections
    Huge praise for a refreshing and re-envisioning Spiritual Retreat
    That we serve a living, loving God!

    Prayer
    Productive and inspiring meetings for Tim
    Protection and peace for Dan and I (Ali) while Tim is away

    06 Feb

    Prayer update – 6th February 2015

    Greetings from toasty warm Nigeria!
    Well, the cold has gone and been replaced by quite considerable heat. Walking home with Dan after school, only about a ten minute walk, is enough to leave us both gasping for a cold drink. We are hoping to make the most of a day off school that Dan has tomorrow to go to a swimming pool (outdoor and definitely not heated!).

    IMG_9286Talking of school and Dan, he is now in his final year of Primary school (Elementary). His teacher has been increasing the amount of homework recently so that when his class hits Secondary school (Middle school for any Americans out there), it won’t be quite so much of a shock. It does mean that he is often having to finish his homework after our evening meal which does not leave a lot of playing time for him during the week. Please pray that he will adjust well to this new routine and that we will still be able to find time when he can just be a boy!

    I am also experiencing an adjustment related to school. Once again I agreed to teach the Computer Applications course for Grade 9 (Year 10 for any Brits out there!) at Hillcrest. Although I have already taught this course 3 times, this time is completely different! Hillcrest updated their software from Office XP to Office 2013 – a big jump! As a result the old textbooks can’t be used and as buying new textbooks is ridiculously expensive I decided to try and find a new way to teach it. I discovered some brilliant free online tutorials for Word and Excel. Using these in combination with a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Schoology, we are making it work. Best of all, the students are enjoying it far more than the old way of doing it!

    A few weeks ago Tim was able to travel to Togo for a great occasion. It was the dedication of the full Bible in Ncham (also sometimes referred to as Bassar), a language spoken in both Togo and Ghana. For more on this – check out Tim’s blog post at HERE/

    The elections are now approaching rapidly and there is a certain amount of tension in the air. The presidential elections look likely to be closely contested and may result in a run-off.
    To be honest with you, one of the things that I am struggling through processing is the uncertainty of what may happen. Will everything go smoothly, will there be trouble, will we have to leave the area or even the country?
    Please pray for peace for Nigeria and mental peace for us, whatever happens.

    Praise
    Jos has remained calm since the start of the New Year
    Tim was able to travel to Togo for the dedication of the Ncham Bible

    Prayer
    Dan will cope well with the new levels of homework he is receiving
    I will be able to balance teaching with the rest of my work and do all of it for God’s glory!
    The whole election process will go smoothly and that we will trust God whatever happens

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