Last week was a week of meetings where our organisation gathered for fellowship and to listen to God and to plan together. It was special to be together, to welcome new staff who have joined and to farewell those who are leaving. It felt strange to see our picture up on the screen this year as we are preparing to move back to the UK for a time.
Our flights to the UK are booked for the last day of May. Both Tim and I are planning for April to be our last month working in our SIL Nigeria roles so that we have a month to pack up and say our goodbyes and generally make all the necessary preparations to move houses and countries and continents, thankfully not quite planets! Although some days it does feel like the UK and Nigeria occupy different worlds. I want to share with you a couple of opportunities to encourage partnership between the Nigerian Church and the Bible Translation movement that Tim and I have been given. This kind of partnership is absolutely vital to the impact we all desire, changed lives as a result of Bible Translation. If the Church is bought in and owning the work of Bible Translation then the translated scriptures will be used. If the Church is just watching somewhat disinterestedly from the sidelines the scriptures may not be valued and used in the same way.
A couple of weeks ago Tim did what will probably be one of his last major road trips (for now). He drove over 1,500km in response to an invitation by one of our organisation's church partners to come and share at their board meeting. Their church structure means that the board is actually made up of their 35 District Superintendents, the equivalent of Bishops in other denominational set ups. The invitation was to come and share about what is happening in the Bible Translation projects that we manage in the areas of Nigeria where this church denomination is in partnership with the project at a local level. They were encouraged about the local partnership but really wanted the top levels of the denomination to also hear about it and think about how it can help them. Two days of driving to get there, for one hour of being in the meeting and a 15 minute presentation! However Tim was really encouraged by the response to the presentation and even more encouraged by a meeting the day after with the Vice President and General Secretary of the denomination where they invited us into further discussions about language strategy for Church growth and use of translated scripture. Very cool. This is a tremendous opportunity to expand our partnership with them over the coming months and years. Another exciting opportunity for encouraging partnership between the Nigerian church and Bible Translation organisations is coming up at the end of April. The Nigerian Evangelical Mission Association (NEMA) is putting on a Consultation event in the capital to give an opportunity for Bible Translation organisations to interact with high level church leaders to talk about the challenge of Finishing the Task of Bible Translation in Nigeria. I (Ali) have been asked to make two short presentations at the event, one on the current status of Bible Translation in Nigeria and one on the remaining needs for Bible Translation. Please pray that I will have the capacity to prepare well for these key presentations in the midst of all the rest of the handover I am doing.
As we face the reality that we have two months left in the place that has become our home over the last 11 years there are many emotions and challenges. Please pray that we will love one another well in this time and be thoughtful and gracious and considerate of one another's needs.
If you can take a few minutes to pray for us in this time of transition we would really appreciate it. Praise The opportunities that we have had and will have to encourage a growing relationship between the Nigerian Church and Bible Translation organisations. The home that Nigeria has been to us. Sorting out the house and selling some of our things has gone well so far. Prayer Peace and joy and hope in the transition. Healthy, positive goodbyes with friends here who have become family. House buying in the UK will go smoothly and complete before we return.