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 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

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

26 Jul

Until all have heard

I wrote a blog post for the Elim Missions website about some of the impact of Bible Translation. bibl1

On the 24th May there was a great celebration on an island in the far south of Nigeria where the Obolo Bible was being dedicated! This was the result of over 30 years of hard work by a dedicated team of Obolo translators and committed support from the local churches and supporting agencies.

To read more about it head over to http://www.elimmissions.co.uk/

16 Jun

Week of prayer for Nigeria

Christian Solidarity Worldwide have declared a week o prayer for Nigeria. 

http://www.csw.org.uk/prayfornigeria – a TON of great resources on here.  

From thier website: 

Prayers to inspire you…

Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi, has asked us to use this special prayer for Nigeria:

Almighty and everlasting God,

We praise and glorify You for the creation of the world.

We thank You for Nigeria and her people; have mercy on all her people, especially the youth, women and children; forgive her sin and cover her shame; deliver and free Nigeria from violence, corruption and evil, deliver her from the sponsors of abduction, destruction and persecutions, bring speedily the days of peace and restoration.

Help Nigerians to build a nation strong, generous and prosperous, we pray in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

Each day I'll post on my twitter and my facebook a theme and a verse for inspiriing those prayers.  

For the next 7 days, please join us in praying for this mighty nation.  

27 May

Aramaic? Hebrew? What language DID Jesus speak?

I read an interesting article on the BBC today about which language Jesus spoke.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27587230

Follow me for a minute (remembering I am neither a Biblical scholar nor a linguist!)…..

The evidence suggests he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew and probably understood some Greek.  I live and work in a place where people regularly use 2, 3 or even 4 different languages.  It seems perfectly normal here to do so, yet each person seems to have 1 language that they understand best.  We refer to this language as their mother tongue or heart language.  

The New Testament was written in Ancient Greek so no matter what conclusion is drawn on the language Jesus spoke, it seems that Jesus words were translated when the Bible was first written down.  God seems very pro translation to me!   

I think God's desire to reach out to humanity is demonstrated in Revelation 7:9 "After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands"

Every language represented – it doesn't matter how big or how small that language group is and we have both here in Nigeria, they will be represented!  Brilliant.  

 

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