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.



27 Nov

Living water

I’m in abuja helping out with the Hillcrest choir tour (We live opposite the choir leader Mrs Rasche – besides it is my youth work fix for a while!) The kids just did a great job singing glory to God.

The pastor preached in church this morning about the women at the well, under the title “the man I met”.

I was struck by these verses.
John 4:10-11
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?

the well is very deep – metaphorically she is correct abut the well of our Lord and saviour, but I have learnt far more about wells since living in Nigeria. This well where the woman was sat is famous because ti never ran out, it never ran our because it was so deep that even if the water tael dropped, you could still get water. But deep wells come at a price. They are hard to dig. The cost a lot to create. They require more effort to get the the out – there was not pump at this well! She was joking Jesus because she knew all these things (as did Jesus right!). and at that point where she thought she had the upper hand, Jesus made his move and challenged her in a way that no one else could. I understand more now about how central to life wells are. I have witnessed them as that central meeting point. We have had our share of water supply problems – who eve drinks this water will thirst again – SOOO true. We are in dry season, and there is talk that our well will dry up because there wasn’t enough rain this year.

God’s living water will never run out. Even though I am a missionary in Nigeria, I do wonder how well am I doing at trusting God to supply all our needs. Some may look at us in wonder the fact we left up the Uk, Ali left her job, moved away from everything we knew, but still I wonder – do I trust God for that living water every day? Does the well run dry in my life, because I am trying to get from the wrong well?

The choice the woman feed wasn’t about water or no water. Her well had never run dry in the history of the well. The choice was really between temporary and eternal.

The person offering you something can indicate the quality of the offer. When Jesus makes us an offer it is a guarantee based on who he is. The Supply is continuous – unlike our power, and sometimes our water! His promise, his power to supply is unending, unchangeable, unbreakable, untappable, incorruptible and perfect for our needs.

11 Aug

Parachute Bible

I have been put to use shooting some video of a few workshops that the team here are presenting as part of a theological conference held at The Theological College of Northern Nigeria, one fo our partners here in Jos.  One of the speakers yesterday shared this story.

There were two men in an aeroplane, the pilot and the co-pilot.  The pilot had many years or experience, but the co-pilot just a few flights.  The plane gets into trouble and the pilot decides that he is going to have to abandon the plane before it crashes.  He tells his co-pilot to go and get eh parachutes.

The co-pilot looks at him and says, ‘where do I find the parachutes?’

The pilot is surprised but tells the pilot where to find them.  The pilot quickly puts his on, but the co-pilot stands there staring.  The pilot ask if he has ever used put on a parachute before, the co-pilot replies ‘I have heard of them, but I have never put one on before’

So the pilot shows him how to put it on.  Then the pilot jumps out of the plane, counts to 3 and then pulls the cord to open the chute.

The co-pilot jumps out of the plane, does nothing, and eventually hits the rocks on the ground and dies.

It is not enough to know what the Bible is, and to have a copy of the Bible, you have GOT TO USE IT!

25 Jan

Off to Nigeria Part 1 – Why Wycliffe?

Why Wycliffe?

We are heading to Nigeria with Wycliffe, but why Wycliffe and not one of the other organisations?

In short – The bible.   We know in our lives just how just important the Bible is.  At different times it is a source of invaluable wisdom, comfort and inspiration.  It is also the best way we know to get to know God better.  I find that the inspiration often comes when we least expect it, but also when we most need it!  The Bible is a lifeline.

In a world of nearly 7 billion people and around 7000 languages we find it a travesty that not everyone has access to scripture.  How are they supposed to find that wisdom, comfort and inspiration.   How are they supposed to get to know God better and live a life that is honouring to him?

We have literally a hundred versions of the Bible in English but there are only 430 completed in other languages.  There are still 2500 translation projects that need starting all over the world.  The work Wycliffe is currently involved in, will impact around 2.5 Billion people.

Wycliffe’s Vision is to see a world where every single person has access to a Bible in the language that best speaks to their heart, sometimes that is called ‘mother tongue’  the most natural language that we understand best.  Why?  well because untill people have it in that language, they simply will not get the full meaning of God’s message of love for them.

Did you know that you probably only know about 80%  all the words in english?  Some people ask why we just don’t teach everyone English, after all everyone use it on the internet these days.  Well, there are 2 problems with that.

1 – it is not the most used language on the web, chinese is.
2 – if we taught them, they would only get to about 40 – 50% of all the english, so much would be missed!

Maybe you haven’t considered the impact of not understanding every word of your Bible.   Take John 3:16 for example:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him, shall never die but have eternal life”

27 words in that version.   So on the basis that you only understood 80% the words there,  you wouldn’t have understanding of the 5 most difficult words in that verse.  What are the 5 hardest words to understand? (you can comment below if you don’t agree with those ones)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him, shall never die but have eternal life”

If you remove them from the verse, what would you end up with?

“For God so the, that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever in him, shall never die but have life”

You might be able to get the gist, but you would certainly miss the full true meaning behind the verse.  You really need to read it in the language you understand best.

Despite Wycliffe Bible Translators being established in 1942, in the past 10 years there has been a big shift in approach to the global task.  This was prompted by a challenge presented to our organisation at our tri-annual international conference.   It was called “vision 2025”, – to see a Bible translation program begun in every language that needs one by the year 2025.  Here is a short video about that.

Wanting to respond to that challenge, we’re heading to Nigeria!

01 Jan

Happy New Year!

Well it seems right in the blogosphere to write something satirical about 2010 and about my hopes for 2011.  If you want to know about 2010, you can read the archives on the blog!

New Years resolutions seem to be dominating twitter and other social media, I am sure most pubs have a bunch of people talking about what they are going to do in 2011.  So many good ideas and worthy causes, but frankly how long will any of them last?  Eat better?  Do more exercise?  Read more books?  Spend more time with the family?  HOW LONG WILL THEY LAST?  I think my only resolution in 2011, is to try and be more like Jesus.   How I achieve that, probably need to read my Bible more and pray more (I should also eat 5 fruit or veg, but not sure the impact that will have on my faith!)

2011 is going to be a big year for us we hope.  🙂  with plans to head out to Nigeria later in the year, there are plenty of challenges ahead for us, but we rejoice in the God that we serve and his all sufficiency and perfect timing.

What are your hopes for 2011?

30 Dec

Making the Bible Meaningful, Accessible, Practical

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Nick Page for a good number of years, in My WYnet days he came and spoke at a couple of events we ran in partnership with Opendoors youth team.  (underground was what they were called at the time).  During one of those events Nick was testing some new materials with us, the whole idea of the Bible being a map that you can journey though.  He was testing for a new book he was working.

The Map: Making the Bible Meaningful, Accessible, Practical

I had never seen said book UNTIL NOW!

I finally got a copy this christmas, and it is everything I expected from Nick and MORE!

It starts with GREAT info about how to get the most out of the bible.
Each book starts with Who, What, When. There is a quick guide, a kind of snapshot of the book. A graphical overview rough though the book.
There are also, Landmarks, Puzzle point, brief lives talking about major characters, details, postcards, maps and fantastic cross references, where more than 1 book refers to any given story.

Deep theological thinkers won’t want it, but anyone else who is curious about how the Bible fits together, or wants a bit more info about what ever they are reading, or especially anyone who is opening the Bible for the first time, this is simply the best Bible handbook I have opened!   I shall enjoy exploring it more 🙂

ALSO a great resource if you or your church are involved at all with BibleFresh.

13 Dec

Scripture in mission

We live in an ever-changing world and I LOVE technology and I love seeing how things change and adapt and I am often surprised by how far behind the rest of the technological world, mission agencies can be. Not all parts of every mission agency are in the dark ages by any means! One example is Wycliffe and it’s partners helping to provide scripture on mobile phones and listening devices. Freddie Boswell (The Executive director of SIL international, SIL is one of Wycliffe’s partners in Bible Translation) was one of the many delegates at the recent Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, and he participated in a cool sketch designed to challenge the mindset that it is “all about the printed word”

28 Oct

Biblefresh Launch event

2011 is the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible and a whole heap of groups/churches/agencies are getting together and taking the opportunity to promote the Bible within the UK.  Read more about it on the Biblefresh website.

Wycliffe is part of the group driving it and there is a wondering launch event planned for mid-November.

We warmly invite you to the launch event.  In addition to Daniel’s address, there will be a time of sung worship led by Jaques Sankara, a dynamic and enthusiastic worship leader from Burkina Faso.  Read more about the event on the Wycliffe Blog.

Speaker: Daniel Bourdanne – General Secretary of IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students)
Where: St Paul’s Church, Robert Adam Street, London, W1U 3HW.
When: Tuesday, 16th November, 2010.
Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm
Registration Free: www.surveymonkey.com/s/biblefreshevent
Questions: contact us – the Wycliffe Office are dealing with enquiries

I’m hoping to be at the launch, and espcially excited as Biblefresh is a big advotate of the From Eden to Eternity tour that I am helping put together for March 2011.

16 Oct

Life changing app


Example of the day by day view

Every now and then an app really captures my attention. Maybe it won’t change my life but definitely my lifestyle! I guess anything that helps manger more out the bible

and track Gods answers to prayer, that should change my life!  I discovered Momento
My phone is so much more than a phone. It has my diary, my email, my Bible , my music, some video and plenty of games! 10 days ago while sat at home in a slightly frustrated state pondering my Bible reading habits, it occurred that there must by a diary/journal type app that I can use to take notes. I’m not a fan of paying for apps unless absolutely required. So my Bible app I paid for I wanted that to do more than provide scripture on my screen.
I found a GREAT app for £1.59 called momento for diarying and journaling. You can tag people places, you can import social media ‘moments’. You can also create you own tags. You can display all the moments with a particular tag. So I also use it to track prayer requests, take notes in church and life group. I can also write snippets during the day if I and thinking or processing something. The copy and paste function of the phone is useful for Bible bits you want to include in notes.

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