11 Jul

4 bed in 4 nights – Ministry Update – 10th June 2015

Greetings from Thame / Gateshead!
So far in our whistle-stop tour of the UK we have been to:
Thame, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Chinnor, Altringham (Manchester), Soulby (Cumbria), Lancaster, High Wycombe, Polegate, Eastbourne, Iden Green, Maidstone, London, Rugby, Corsham, Bristol, Malvern, Worcester Stroud, Weston-super-Mare AND Gloucester.
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I think our record so far is four different beds in four nights. Thankfully God has been very gracious and our schedule really has not felt too hectic. We have had great times hanging out with old friends, renewing friendships (Richard – here is your mention), making new friends, living with family.

Still to come (at time of writing) we have:
Lincoln, Preston, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, Horley, Redhill, Reigate, Henley, and probably some others that I have forgotten!

Someone at one of the churches we visited asked a really interesting question that made me stop and think. She asked “Why is it important for you to remain connected with people in the UK?”
We are putting a lot of energy and time into visiting as many people and churches as we can while we are in the UK and being asked this question helped me to really think through why. Firstly, of course it is great to catch up with all y’all (as some of our American friends would say). But it actually goes a lot deeper than that.
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I have this picture in my head of an iceberg. Weird, you might say, I thought you were based in N1geria, not the Antarctic? Bear with me. Tim and Dan and I are the tip of the iceberg, the bit that sticks up out of the water, that sticks into N1geria. That tip of the iceberg can’t stay above the water, can’t stay in N1geria, unless there is a whole lot more of the iceberg sitting below the surface. We need a vast team of people, praying for us, supporting us financially and generally being there for us in order for our family to be above the water in N1geria. This means that every single one of you who prays for us, who supports us, are just as much a part of the iceberg as we are, just as much a part of what God is doing through Bible translation in N1geria. So next time you are tempted to think that your life is boring, or that nothing you are doing is impacting the world, remember the iceberg!
If you don’t really feel like you are part of the iceberg yet and would like to join our iceberg, please do drop us a line, we would love to have you on board (or should that be on ice?)!
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We have just heard that there has been another twin bombing in Jos on Sunday night. Please pray for peace and unity in our home city. Pray for those who have lost friends and family that they will turn to their loving heavenly Father for comfort.

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!

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/

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.  

 

20 May

Bomb explodes in Jos – we are all okay – May 2014

Thank you for your emails and Facebook comments – here is the latest. 

Around 3:00 pm this afternoon there were two bomb explosions in downtown Jos, Nigeria. At this point we do not know the numbers of killed or injured but it seems there may be many. To the best of our knowledge all Wycliffe staff and their families are safe

Please pray for our Wycliffe staff based in Jos that they would make wise decisions in response to this situation. Please pray also for the country of Nigeria which is facing trouble on many fronts at the moment.

We are physically fine, Tim stayed at work for longer than usual to try and get hold of all our staff and make some "what if" plans with the acting director.   This evening as i write, things ae calm, we ahven't heard news of folow up or retaliation.

This morning I posted this on Facebook "With all that is going on – I am once again convinced that nothing will change until people have God's word in a language they can understand."   I'm not comfortable right now, but I am convinced that I am involved in the ministry and in the location that God wants.  

Keep praying

For Nigeria and its leaders and residents. 
For Jos and its residents.
For all our staff and partners involved in Bible Translation minisitries. 

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.

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?

14 Jun

Scripture in use encourages people.

Bibles on the way to people.Sometimes I wonder about how much use the Bible get once they are translated.  I don't think it is enough to simply have them available i do believe we need to be advocating for their use from a very early stage of a project.  It is always encouraging when we hear that people ARE using them, the story below was written by a colleague of mine – VERY encouraging! 

 

Last weekend, our church's mission committee had an outreach to their daughter church in the Afizere village of Rizek. On the Sat, we said we would be giving out several Izere NTs (some in print – usually sold for N200/£0.80 each), some on CD (N160 /£0.60) and some on 1Gb micro SD-cards for use in handsets or laptops (N500/£2.00 incl. a micro SD card adaptor), all of which were easy to get hold of at short notice. (We would have given out copies of the Jesus film on VCD too (N200 /£0.80) if I had been able to get hold of more copies from the Great Commission HQ). We showed the Jesus film in Izere on the Sat evening, which went down very well. They even watched most of it twice, since the first disc we tried got stuck towards the end, and we had no way of fast forwarding the second copy!

Then on the Sun, after the morning service, we gave out the printed NTs and asked them to try and follow the text as we played the audio version over the church's PA system. Even though most, if not all, of these people had never tried to read Izere before, all but one managed to follow the printed versions perfectly as the text was played. Afterwards they each received their own NT on CD or micro SD-card (their choice) together with the printed version, so that they could continue reading and listening at home.

This is one of the few times I can remember that I have seen young people in Nigeria actually queuing up to get MT materials in their language. Most of them wanted the micro SD-card, but we didn't have enough to go round. However, outside the church I noticed that a small group of them had already started Bluetooth-ing it to each other. Whether they were interested in it just for 'status' or 'cool-ness value' among their friends, I don't know, but I'm hoping they will actually listen to it from time to time!

It makes me think that an audio copy of the NT should be given out or sold with every printed copy – certainly in cultures which are primarily oral. Otherwise, I fear that most NTs stay will tucked away on a shelf gathering dust somewhere. Of course, this is no replacement for literacy classes, but it certainly gets people off to a great start, and for very little cost in terms of time and money. It would be great if they decided to have half and hour's MT reading/listening group like this before every Sunday service. It might even help the pastor learn some of the language, as he isn't a MT Izere speaker himself.

Our mission committee hadn't thought of using materials in the MT before on their outreaches – they had always used either Hausa or English – but after seeing the impact it made in this church, they didn't need any more convincing that this was the best approach.

 

31 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – friends

If you read my post about family, this is very much along those lines.  When you are in youth ministry, there  is a wonderful period of time when all the people you were working with across the years are growing up, graduating university, getting married and having kids.  I saw a wonderful exchange between two of my former youth, now both good friends. 1 has multiple kids the other is expecting number 1.  There discussing the best way for person 1 to send a bunch of needed baby stuff to person 2.  It was wonderful to see such relationships have far outlasted the ministry. Another guy being congratulated by a dozen folks from our days together as he graduates from the London school of theology.  There are even a bunch that  have taken it upon themselves to support us in our continuing ministry.  So whats the cost I hear you say? Well as of now I have missed a few weddings and multiple new children and know of 3 weddings and no doubt more in the next few weeks and months to come.  It is hugely disappointing not to be able to celebrate with these folks as they start a new phase of life. Skype, email, and Facebook really are no substitute at all.  True to say that it is all in God’s hands, and he understands our feelings about being unable to go.  There is no higher price paid than Jesus dying on the cross for us.

24 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – electricity

I know I know, we all take it for granted in the UK –  my friends from America are finding it amusing how much social media has had to say about the power cuts in the us in June.  Reality is, when you move to a third world country – even a city the electricity supply is problematic. Any thing we have plugged into a Nepa* outlet must have a voltage stabilizer plugged in first.  The stabilizer must be big enough to cope with the demand placed on it and there is no guarantee that if there is a spike in the supply, that the thing or what ever is plugged into it will survive.  We knew about the power situation, it wasn’t a surprise, but I guess I am minding it is one difference between short term trips where you are pretty much prepared to cope with almost anything and living long term.  Long term you have to put more things in place to cope.   2 weeks after arriving, we stumbled upon a house and moved in and bought the contents.  It save. A lot of running around and figuring out, part of that package was a battery back up system with two 12v deep cell batteries and chargers and inverters.  We never really heard of such systems let alone though about having one.  It was such a blessing, a bunch of lights attached (yes some rooms had 2 lights, 1 Nepa and 1 battery whose switch was in a cupboard down our corridor), and the ability to charge laptops and plug the fridge in was brilliant.  but they are only good if there is charge it he batteries.  We had them hooked up to charge from Nepa, so it was fine if you got a few hours of Nepa each day but 2/3 days without and the batteries aren’t any good to you.      We are lucky not to have lost any food out of our fridge or freezer yet, but a few months in we did decide to invest in a generator that wasn’t something we had previously considered needing.  Both these things have proved invaluable to us, but the up front investment, cost of running, upkeep and maintenance are a whole lot of grief.  It does mean I got wise when we moved house and engineered our battery system. Through our fuse board to power 1 light in each room, through the normal light switch, which means we don’t have to run down a corridor to trilogy’s on, and we don’t always have 1 bulb that is not in use :). We haven’t yet invested in solar charging system, nor a wind turbine like our neighbors (thought it’s brake keeps getting stuck on 🙁  )but there is still time for those additions.  Our projects however often don’t have power unless we buy a generator (small investment huge running costs now) or a solar system (large investment but as long as it works, zero running costs).

I’m not sure if it really counts as a cost, but the hassle involved here does take its toll and so I think that is a cost we pay.  I hope the real cost of losing a piece of equipment or an appliance is one that we will never have to face.

 

*Nepa is our power supplier it has such a bad reputation that a few years ago it changed it name to PHCN the Power Holding Company Nigeria.  However, everyone still refers to them as Nepa.  Among the numerous explanations of. The acronym is my favourite Never Ever Power Always.

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