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“Wycliffe Bible Translators are vital in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church, so to this end I would like to encourage congregations to support them in any way they can,” said Dr. McNie in a news release from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

On Monday morning 25 January 2016, the Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, joined us in the Belfast office of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland. Ian met five of the staff over tea and scones, then spent most of his time in conversation with the Church Engagement Team – see below.

John Hamilton, Ricky Ferguson, Marlene Ferguson and Rev Dr Ian McNie

In a wide ranging conversation, we presented the biblical basis for Bible translation: debated current Scripture access statistics; discussed how together we might address the issue of Bible poverty in today’s world; and answered Ian’s perceptive questions.

As of October 1st 2015, estimates suggest between 165 and 180 million people speaking up to 1,800 languages are understood to ‘likely need Bible translation to begin’

For example from his knowledge of East Africa, he was interested to know whether the Turkana people from the north of Kenya yet have Scripture in their heart language. Having consulted The Ethnologue, we were able to assure him that the Turkana New Testament was completed and published in 1986.

We were also pleased to show him photographs of 22 Presbyterians supported by their home congregations throughout Ireland. They are working in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe engaged in a wide range of Bible translation, linguistics, literacy, Scripture engagement, IT and administrative roles.

As he left us for other engagements, Ian received an invitation to First Steps on Saturday 6 February 2016 at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church. I wonder if his schedule will allow a brief drop-in..?

Below is the full text of the PCI news release on 28 January 2016

The Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, visited and encouraged those who work in the Belfast branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland earlier this week.

Wycliffe Bible Translators believe that the Bible is the best way for people to discover and understand who God is. Their vision is that by working with churches, organizations and individuals from across the world, all people will be able to access the Word of God in their own language.

Located in east Belfast, the Moderator had the opportunity to talk with those involved in Bible translation locally. He heard about their work and meeting the staff and volunteers, discovered first hand what it means to translate God’s word into another language.

“I discovered that around 180 million people, speaking at least 1,800 languages, need a Bible in the language they understand best. Without this incredible work taking place those people will never be able to read the story of God’s love for themselves.

“Wycliffe Bible Translators are vital in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church, so to this end I would like to encourage congregations to support them in any way they can,” said Dr. McNie.

Along with other agencies involved in Bible distribution and Christian broadcasting, Wycliffe Bible Translators play a crucial role in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church. Of the 6,887 languages in the world today, only 554 have a complete Bible.

As a result, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has identified Wycliffe Bible Translators as a Specialist Service Agency. This special relationship with PCI recognises the fact that the valuable service Wycliffe is doing is something that no one church or denomination can easily do.

John Hamilton, of Wycliffe Bible Translators in Belfast said, “We had an enjoyable and encouraging time with the Moderator. He already knew a lot about Bible translation, but also confessed that the visit had widened his perspective.

“We told him how much Wycliffe values the partnership with PCI and that together we can work to alleviate the Bible poverty that still exists in the world. Our staff would be delighted to visit congregations to tell them more about Wycliffe’s work and to encourage them in their global mission.”

To find out more about the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators visit their website (www.wycliffe.org.uk/) or contact the Belfast office at 028 9073 5854

It’s work experience time of the year again… our opportunity in Wycliffe Bible Translators UK to offer useful experience for A level languages students. Last week Grace, from a school in Coleraine, spent two days with us in the Belfast office and here are her reactions…

I absolutely love languages, but sadly before my time at Wycliffe I thought French, German and Spanish were really the only ones I wanted to learn.

I thought that because of colonisation, French and Spanish meant that the majority of people could read the Bible in places like Ivory Coast and Ecuador if they wanted. Spending two days doing work experience at the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in Belfast helped me to realise that even though there is an official state language, many of the people have their own tribal languages which require translation. It is true that if educated people in Ivory Coast have a Bible in French, they will be able to read it, but having their own Bible in an indigenous language such as Kouya, which is their mother tongue, will let God’s Word speak to their hearts.

Before my work experience I also had the wrong view of what a Bible translator actually was – in my mind it was one pious individual going out into the middle of nowhere, flicking through a dictionary all day.

I think this is what I loved most about the work experience – finding out what it wasn’t like!

Firstly, the translators go where there is need and generally the church there wants the Bible in their own language and, secondly, they don’t have a dictionary to help them translate because many of these indigenous languages have never been written down!

The community work which Wycliffe is involved in with different people groups is just as important as the Bible translation in my opinion. While in the process of translating, they are teaching the people to read in their own language. For some of these people, having their language written down and being taught to them, makes them feel like it is adequate and they can go from praying in the official state language to speaking in their own mother tongue because “God can now speak my language”.

The finished product of having one Gospel, or the whole New Testament, printed in their own language is amazing. It could only come about because of years of work from members of the community and Wycliffe missionaries. I had the opportunity to watch a few videos of dedication ceremonies where people received the Bible and the joy on the people’s faces was so evident, it really touched me!

Whilst in the office, we also looked at some of the statistics about how many people have access to God’s Word in their own language. There are still a lot of people out there who are reaching out for a Bible which they can read in their own language. In my opinion it is something that every single person should have access to, no matter what minority they come from. The goal is that by 2025, work will have started in translating the Bible in all the languages that need a Bible of their own.

I praise and thank God for allowing me to see the work that is being done for Him both in the UK and all over the world. He has told us in Rev 7v9 that people of “every nation, tribe, people and language” will be in Heaven. Wycliffe are the people who are honouring God by helping people of every language hear God’s saving grace through translation of His Word.

My thanks to Grace for this guest blog about her work experience with us.

Grace has signed up for our First Steps day event on 6 February 2016 at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church Newtownabbey. To find out more and to register go to

There are still at least 1,800 languages that don’t have a Bible.

Find out more about Bible translation and mission and the ways that you could become involved on our website.

Bible translation = teamwork… community teamwork!

If you ever think about a Bible translator, what image comes into your mind? Is it an historical, perhaps accurate way back then, image like this? But certainly not how it happens today.

The Last Chapter 735 AD

The Last Chapter

Here’s a different way to look at how a Bible gets translated into a previously unwritten language. It Takes a Village is a photo-journal about the Mono Bible translation project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. A child is not simply the product and responsibility of its parents. To be completely integrated into the fabric of its community, a child needs to have meaningful contact with and input from its wider family and community. The same is true of the process of birthing Scripture in the language of a people. Many minds and hands are part of the process, resulting in ownership of the product as well as impact by that body of Scripture in the life of the community.

The following photographic essay by Heather Pubols provides a window into one such village effort on the part of the Mono speaking people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Here’s a more accurate image of Bible translation in Africa today.

Four members of the Mono translation team at work in Gemena, DRC

Four members of the Mono translation team at work in Gemena, DRC

Go on, read the whole story – and let it prompt you to prayer. Or perhaps to go to an event such as Wycliffe UK’s First Steps. We’re holding one near Belfast, N. Ireland on 6 February 2016.

First Steps Newtownabbey

First Steps Newtownabbey

The story is told of a father attending a parent teacher event. His child asked the father to make sure that he saw her story which was posted on the classroom wall – and he found it. It was beautifully written and very well illustrated, but there was no punctuation. The story was almost incomprehensible.

We need punctuation in our lives and our work as well as in our writing. If there are no pauses for reflection or spaces for rest – we’re in trouble. So that’s what I did with some colleagues last week: we put in some punctuation.

We took time out of the office to spend time both individually and as a team to listen to God so that our lives and our work might be more comprehensible.

Time out

Last week the Wycliffe team based in N. Ireland had an away day with a friend called Anne who opens her home for retreats… for punctuation. On the theme of the new year, Anne shared a poem by Joyce Rupp called Freshness.

Freshness

The repeated verse struck me…

a new year is moving in

just as surely as the winter

walks along in snowflakes

I imagined a fresh fall of snow on the ground, pure white, no muddy smudges, no footprints – I saw a new untouched fresh page for 2016.

my God is moving in again

and just like winter snow

he breathes my life full freshness

In my new 2016 life, there will be more than one fresh page to write on: my personal relationship with God; with my family; with my church; my role in the Wycliffe N.Ireland Church Engagement team…

It was a day well spent in rural Raffrey. I plan to put in the punctuation again… soon.

 

Oku Rich Fool Cover

A few days ago I blogged on the idea that Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Fool could be a good parable for Boxing day – see The Rich Fool:Jason Ramasami style

Today however, on the cusp of 2016, I think it’s a parable for any time of the year and for every culture. I want to illustrate it by showing you how the Oku Bible translation and literacy team from NW Cameroon  produced the parable in a booklet before they had completed the whole New Testament in Oku.

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’

14 Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ 15 Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

16 And he told them this parable:

Oku Rich Fool 1

Oku Rich Fool 2

Oku Rich Fool 3

Oku Rich Fool 4

Oku Rich Fool 5

That’s it! The Parable of the Rich Fool that Jesus told to a first century Jewish audience in Palestine, probably in Aramaic – translated into Oku and graphically illustrated in the cultural style of 21st century rural NW Cameroon

I wonder how many Oku readers will see this post: if there are, I’d love to hear from you. For the anglophones, the parable is below in the NIV version of Luke’s Gospel.

Whether in Aramaic, Oku or English, Jesus’ message is the same: God must take first place in our lives.

‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”18 ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

20 ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

A parable for Boxing Day…

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’

14 Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ 15 Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

16 And he told them this parable:

Jason Ramasami’s illustration of this parable seems very suitable for Boxing Day, a day in times past, when people opened their Christmas boxes – or presents… Also a parable very relevant to our society’s consumerist view of Christmas.

The parable of the rich fool

The parable of the rich fool | Jason Ramasami

The parable of the rich fool  (Luke 12:13-21 NIV)

Continued from above…

‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”18 ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

20 ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

 

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate.

Earlier this month I posted Room or no room at the inn or no inn… in Bethlehem.  It was a borrowing from Alan Wilson who had beaten me to it this year. Then just a few days ago, I came across Kezia’s post Alternative Nativity which is a poignant mix of Scripture words and contemporary photos.

Here are some extracts from Luke’s Gospel (The Message) and recent photographs that Kezia has put together to focus our thoughts as we approach Christmas and on into Christmas Day and beyond. I hope you will go on to read Kezia’s full post.

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for.

So Joseph went to Bethlehem. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

0 image.adapt.990.high.Roszke_Border_091415.1442263172703

But there was no room for them in the inn. While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and Mary gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger.

1 yannisbehrakisreutersbaby

These are not the cosy images of a school nativity play or Sunday School or even perhaps what might happen in our churches this Christmas.

But then the words of Luke’s Gospel and Matthew’s Gospel have nothing cosy about them either. Perhaps we should acknowledge that current events can help us de-sanitize our Christmas story this year and give us a real insight into the risky and radical arrival of how God the Father translated himself from divine into human in the person of God the Son.

This year, may we all meet the boy who became the man who was crucified and resurrected for you and me.

Thanks to Kezia for permission to re-post. Why not return to the link at the top and read her whole post.

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