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In my article in the current Presbyterian Herald reflecting on my 28 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators, I wrote:

Wycliffe is working towards #endbiblepoverty – and I would love to see our Church embracing this as a core strategic aim as we strive to be people of global concern.

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Wycliffe Bible Translators values the partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI). Browsing the PCI website recently and via the Mission Partners page, I came upon this

Wycliffe Bible Translators believe that the Bible is the best way for people to come to know and understand who God is. Their vision is that by working with churches, organisations and individuals from around the world, all people will have access to God’s Word in a language that they truly understand.


Worldwide there are around 160 million people speaking up to 1,800 languages who do not have access to the story of God’s love for his people – the story of the Bible – in the language that they understand the best, their heart language.

Together with agencies involved in Bible distribution and in Christian broadcasting, agencies such as Wycliffe play a vital role in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church.

PCI have identified Wycliffe Bible Translators as one of the Specialist Service Agencies that are doing what no one church or denomination can easily do. As such they are playing a vital role in the building of God’s Kingdom around the world.

To this end, PCI commends the work of Wycliffe and would encourage congregations to support them in any way they can.

And then the website page helps congregations by supplying our contact details.
Calling all PCI churches, please get in touch!

Contact Details:

Wycliffe Bible Translators
The Mount
2 Woodstock Link
Belfast BT6 8DD
N. Ireland

T: +44 (0)28 9073 5854W: www.wycliffe.org.uk

In the meantime, take a look at this video, use it in your church, pray for those with no Scripture in their heart languages – just click in the space below.

Tha Fower Gospels

Agane Jesus saed, “Peace be wi yis! Jist as tha Faither haes sent me, A’m sennin yous as weel.” John 20:21 in Ulster Scots

triptych

Launch of the Four Gospels in Ulster Scots at Greyabbey Presbyterian Church 12 November 2016

In 2012 I attended the dedication of the Kouya New Testament in Côte d’Ivoire with my wife and two colleagues – and I was invited to be “official photographer”. Such was my success that when Tha Fower Gospels in Ulster Scots were being launched the other Saturday night, off I went once again with my camera.

It is good when Scripture is read: on that Saturday evening, many passages from the Gospels were read in Ulster Scots, the heart language of many people who live in the Ards Peninsula and the Glens of Antrim.

This post is simply a series of photographs that I took on the night.

Tha Fower Gospels set out for sale

Tha Fower Gospels set out for sale

This lady bought three copies

This lady bought three copies

Philip and Heather Saunders with Jim Shannon, the local MP and keen advocate for the Ulster Scots language

Philip and Heather Saunders with Jim Shannon, the local MP and keen advocate for the Ulster Scots language

The Ards translation team

Philip & Heather and Jim Shannon with the Ards translation team

A goodly crowd listening to Rev Neil Stewart, minister of Greyabbey Presbyterian Church

A goodly crowd listening to Rev Neil Stewart, minister of Greyabbey Presbyterian Church

The Low Country Boys who provided the music

The Low Country Boys who provided the music

The full team involved with Tha Fower Gospels translation project

The full team involved with the Tha Fower Gospels translation project

May Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth McLeister sign each other's copies

May Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth McLeister sign each other’s copies

Check out the Low Country Boys blog for a few more photos of the evening.

Finally you might like to take a look at the latest statistics on Bible translation worldwide on the Wycliffe Global Alliance website

Or get involved with Wycliffe UK & Ireland #endbiblepoverty

harry-potterIn keeping with my post yesterday about significant steps in Bible translation, my friend and colleague Eddie Arthur had an article in Christian Today (23 November 2016) on the very same theme… which is not surprising since all of us in Wycliffe Bible Translators worldwide are excited by the new stats.

Eddie starts with Shakespeare, continues with Harry Potter, includes the UN Declaration of Human Rights in a sort of league table of many languages they have been published in and then comments…

However, Shakespeare and JK Rowling are miles behind the UN Declaration of Human Rights which is available in 370 different languages from Abkhaz to Zulu.

These are all worthy efforts, but the real champion of international availability is the Bible. This month, Wycliffe Bible Translators released the latest Scripture access statistics which tell a truly amazing story.

The bottom line figure is that there are passages of the Bible available in 3,223 different languages. This includes 636 languages which have a complete Bible and 1,442 more with a whole New Testament.

There’s also a video to look at but I prefer the photo… choose for yourself by reading the whole article

A young boy stands by a display featuring Bible stories translated into Chinese at the Xinhua bookstore in Beijing | Reuters

A young boy stands by a display featuring Bible stories translated into Chinese at the Xinhua bookstore in Beijing | Reuters

I like the concluding challenge that Eddie gives to English speaking Christians in his article…

In the English-speaking world, we have more different translations of the Bible than we know what to do with. You don’t have to look very far on the internet to find supporters of the various versions arguing the merits of their particular favourite. Meanwhile, around the world, translators are quietly translating the Scriptures into ever more languages. This is a truly international, cooperative venture that we should be proud of.

Today, Wycliffe, the various Bible Societies and local Christians around the globe are working to translate the Bible into more than 2,400 languages. Harry Potter and Shakespeare would be jealous, but this is a story that many Christians in the UK don’t even know about.

Find out more at www.wycliffe.org.uk and www.wycliffe.net/en/statistics

Yesterday I posted that members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland have been praying for South Sudan. Please keep praying for Sudan but also give thanks for what God is doing through Bible translation!

Every fourth week the Wycliffe office in Belfast gets the chance to post prayer news and requests on the weekly PCI Prayerline – today this week’s edition heralded dramatic progress in Bible translation

636 languages have a full Bible2016-stats-english

1,442 languages have the New Testament

1,145 languages have Scripture portions

Here’s what I wrote this week…

Wycliffe Global Alliance website has just published the latest Scripture and Language statistics.

This means that perhaps 111 language communities may be hearing the Christmas story this year in their heart language for the first time.

  • Please celebrate with us as we thank God for what he is accomplishing through His power and through many partners involved in Bible translation.
  • Pray that all those people, who now have some or all of God’s Word in their heart languages, will respond and follow Jesus.

There are an estimated 7,097 languages spoken in the world today.  The research indicates that over 160 million people, speaking up to 1,800 languages may need a Bible translation programme to begin.

  • Pray that Wycliffe Bible Translators and our partners in Ireland and around the world will be guided by God to complete the task.
  • Please continue to pray with us for people with no access to God’s Word.  Our prayer is that more PCI congregations will join with us to #endbiblepoverty.

Find out more at www.wycliffe.org.uk and www.wycliffe.net/en/statistics

Refugees from South Sudan look at a photo montage depicting the conflict in their country on a calendar at the Kyangwali refugee settlement in Hoima district in Uganda

Refugees from South Sudan look at a photo montage depicting the conflict in their country at a refugee settlement in Uganda

This past week, members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland who read Prayerline have been praying for South Sudan – please join them and learn more of the tragedy facing one of newest African nations…

south-sudan-200x250The United Nations has warned that the world’s newest nation is “at risk of outright ethnic war, and of genocide being committed”.  South Sudan, which became independent from Sudan in July 2011, has struggled to achieve stable government due to ethnic and political divisions between the country’s two major ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer.  Civil war broke out in the country in December 2013, and since then tens of thousands of people have been killed and around 2.4 million people driven from their homes. Despite a peace agreement signed in August last year, violence broke out in the capital Juba in July and has spread to other parts of the country.

After almost three years, the devastating economic and humanitarian effects of the war are deepening across the whole country.  An estimated 4.3 million people are now in need to food aid, as harvests have been disturbed for yet another year, and the economic downturn in the country is continuing, with inflation now at 700%.

Pray for peace in South Sudan.  Pray that the warring political factions will have the will to work for a lasting peace and that an outright ethnic war and further acts of genocide will be avoided.

Pray for those suffering displacement from their homes and who are in need of humanitarian relief, especially those facing food shortages.  Pray that each person will receive the assistance they need.

Pray for work of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS), as they continue encouraging peace and good relations between communities, and for wisdom and guidance for its leadership team seeking to lead the church during such difficult times.

Pray too for our partners Christian Aid and Tearfund who are working daily in South Sudan providing humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Text from PCI Prayerline: Published Wednesday, 16th November 2016

Read full text and more on the PCI website

For more information on the work of Christian Aid and Tearfund in South Sudan go to:
Christian Aid – South Sudan  |  Tearfund – South Sudan

Emily is our new volunteer in the Wycliffe UK & Ireland office in Belfast. Not only is she learning a lot but she has been a great asset to the team already – and she has written me a blog!

Scroll listing around 1,800 languages with no Scripture

Scroll listing around 1,800 languages with no Scripture

I have been volunteering with Wycliffe for the past few weeks doing general admin work, which has already proven to be varied and interesting. One of the highlights so far is a scroll I had to make of all the languages that the Bible needs to be translated into. It was an amazing visual, as the list went on and on. It’s a lovely atmosphere in the Belfast office as everyone is friendly and there’s always a bit of laughter. I was told that my desk is the best in the office as it has the best view…which is true. Right now I can see a beautiful rainbow stretching over the city of Belfast. In just the first two days of volunteering at Wycliffe I was made more aware of the depth of work that goes into translating the Bible; it’s not just a case of sitting down with the Hebrew and Greek scriptures and translating it into another language. For example, on my first day I met Kenny who told me that some languages are purely oral, so a writing system needs to be created from scratch, then the people need to be taught to read so that they will be able to read the Bible in their own language. At 11am everyone in the office stops for a time of prayer. It’s great to be able to bring the workers and projects to God and to share in their burdens and successes.

If you didn’t make it to the recent Wycliffe:Live in Belfast – and unfortunately very few did – you can read Emily’s report of an excellent evening focussing on how God impacts lives through His word.

wycliffe-live-16-a5poster2On Thursday, 13th October, I had the opportunity to attend Wycliffe:Live where I learned much more about the work that Wycliffe is involved in. We had been greeted at the door and handed a paper footprint and heart which were then used by Alistair and Marlene to share some statistics. Alistair revealed that 78% of the world’s population have the entire Bible in their own language. “Well, that’s pretty good, isn’t it,” Alistair asked. It sounds good; in fact, it’s a higher statistic than I thought it would be. But then Marlene revealed that if you look at it from a language point of view the statistics aren’t so positive. Only 8% of the world’s languages have the complete Bible. Marlene pointed out that it doesn’t matter whether the language is spoken by a large or small population, the amount of work to translate is still the same. As mentioned above, there is more work that goes into translation than you would realise!

Throughout the evening we heard about various projects throughout the world and how the Bible was changing people’s lives when they heard it in their mother tongue. Two images stood out for me: the first was of a group of Supyire people in Mali huddled together under a basic shelter to listen to their audio Bible. Their eagerness to hear the Word of God was evident. Another photo showed Mikatoso, a Zambian, reading the Book of Luke in his own language for the first time. As Ricky said, “His smile sums it all up.”

Alf told the story of Mpeere, who said she had become more patient since she started listening to Romans 12v20 on the audio Bible. She even reached out to a woman who didn’t like her and wasn’t well liked by others. In doing so, she changed a negative relationship into a positive one.

Mpeere’s Supyire Bible listening group, Mali

Marlene and John shared testimonies of Scripture impacting refugees. One testimony told of how the Book of Ruth brought comfort to women refugees because they could identify with losing husbands and sons. Refugees are even praying for those that are persecuting them.

It was interesting to hear John’s story of his 28½ years with Wycliffe and how, even though he and his wife Ruth didn’t feel called to be translators, they were challenged to use their skills as teachers to teach missionaries’ children at Vavoua International School in West Africa. This is something I have come to learn: many different skills are needed in Wycliffe; you don’t just have to be good with languages. There are many supporting roles that are required in order to help the translating process run smoothly. John is retiring in December and I wish him all the best for the future…whatever that may be!

Another thing that really stood out for me at the meeting was the emphasis on prayer. Everything, whether it was the work, the projects or the offering, was brought back to God. There was a real sense of the need for prayer and a reliance on God, that this is His work and we are His workers. Many prayers were offered up that night.

Finally, Strandtown Baptist Pastor, Lee Campbell closed the meeting with a message on the importance of continuing mission. Lee explained the word fellowship means “Coming together and working together for a common goal and purpose”. Therefore, we are partners with God as He does His work in this world.

There is so much more that I could write about but I will leave you with some of the challenges that I feel were raised at Wycliffe Live: Do we read the Bible with the same joy and eagerness as those receiving the Bible in their own language for the first time? Do we listen to God’s Word so that it changes our lives and attitudes as it did with Mpeere and the refugees? Are we using our skills in the way God wants, like John and Ruth? And what can we do to be involved as partners in God’s work?

A big thank you to Emily for this blog. There are lots of ways to volunteer with Wycliffe at home and overseas both short term and long term… take a look.

Sin red like fire!

white as snow

the little red cardinal has no hope of the snow camouflaging his presence!

If you are familiar with the Bible, you have probably heard the phrase “white as snow” – although you may not know where it appears in The Bible. Isaiah 1v18 is one place. Below you can read the verse from two translations in English.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Isaiah 1.18 ESV
‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord.
‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1.18 NIV UK
Recently Wycliffe friends and colleagues Colin and Dot Suggett, who work in Burkina Faso raised an issue that I have often met before – what if the culture of the language that this phrase is being translated into, has no concept of snow. I first came upon through an Irish colleague who has worked in the Amazon jungle of Brazil and they certainly don’t get snow there!
Colin and Dot sent this back translation from the Turka language of Burkina Faso…
The Eternal-God says, “Come, let us discuss:
though your sins are red like fire, they shall be white as milk;
though they are red like blood, they shall be white like cotton.”
Isaiah 1.18 (Turka back translation)

… and then continued.

Readers familiar with English translations of the above passage will note a change in the colour similes in our Turka translation. That’s because the Turka language does not have a lexical means of distinguishing “scarlet” from “crimson”. (We only have one generic word for the colour “red”.) Now, scarlet is a “brilliant red colour with a tinge of orange”, whereas crimson is a “strong, bright, deep red colour combined with some blue and/or violet, resulting in a tiny degree of purple”. Our solution to this particular translation problem was to insert the simile “red like fire” to correspond with scarlet, and “red like blood” to correspond with crimson.

In addition, the similes “they shall be as white as snow” and “they shall become like wool” in this verse are likewise problematic. It turns out there’s not much call for snow in Burkina Faso (though, on rare occasions, it has been known to hail), and people do not exploit sheep’s hair to make wool. Consequently, we made use of two white commodities which are commonplace among the Turka: milk and cotton.

The above verse is just one of a large selection of key Old Testament passages which will be integrated into a chronological teaching series we are preparing for a radio play. This series provides a sweeping overview of the Old Testament with a view to prepare Muslim-background Turka listeners for a fuller understanding and appreciation of the coming of Jesus Christ into this world. We praise the Lord that this Old Testament translation work is approaching completion and should be wrapped up before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, translation work on the New Testament continues to move forward with first drafts prepared for most of the remaining books.

If you’re someone who prays, please pray for Colin and Dot and their Turka colleagues.

We covet your prayers for health, strength, spiritual vitality, and for healthy and fruitful interactions with our Turka colleagues, Foromine and Jeremy, and the Turka population.

 

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