With Wycliffe Bible Translators of course!
Emma got the train from Coleraine to Belfast (at a ridiculously early hour for a teenager) to join us in the Belfast office for three days work experience. Here are her reactions.
I had the privilege of spending three days at the end of January in the Wycliffe office in Belfast as part of my work experience.
As a lower sixth pupil studying French and Spanish, where I could find a placement linked to languages that would not only be informative, but also interesting? So when my French teacher told me about the opportunity of spending a few days with Wycliffe, I was really excited. I first heard about Wycliffe through two members of my Church, Clarke and Alison Rice, who spent a year in Cameroon – and I believe that this is an area of mission which is both worthwhile and exciting.
I didn’t quite know what to expect. Any Wycliffe work I’d heard about has been in places like Africa or Asia in towns and villages that speak foreign languages, not in an office in Belfast. So, when I arrived to find out that I had a varied programme ahead of me, I couldn’t wait to get started.
Working on a grammar puzzle at First Steps last Saturday
We began by looking at a general overview of the tasks involved in Bible translation, including the training process, language surveys, language learning and analysis, creating an alphabet, literacy classes, translation checking and typesetting. I had the opportunity to do some simple language analysis of my own and I really enjoyed looking at how different languages are put together and considering the impact of cultural issues on the way certain words or phrases are translated. Something that struck me was the wide range of skills that are involved in the work of Wycliffe. There are so many people who aren’t directly involved in translation work and perhaps, before now, I hadn’t fully appreciated the importance of these roles.
There is clearly such a great need for Bible translation as there are still over 1,900 languages that don’t have any scripture in their own language.
Bible translation wisdom by Dorothea at First Steps
Over my few days with Wycliffe, I was reminded afresh of the importance of God’s Word and how all too often we take it for granted. As I watched videos of the dedication of the Kimyal New Testament in Papua, and of people watching the Jesus film in their language for the first time, I was struck by their enthusiasm and desire to read God’s word. The excitement on their faces was a challenge in itself as I thought about how little I appreciate the fact that I have always had the Bible and many other resources in my own language.
I find Wycliffe’s vision, to have a Bible translation programme started in all the remaining languages that need one by 2025, an exciting prospect and as I read through lists of completed Scripture in 2012 and 2013, I felt greatly encouraged that God is clearly at work.
In recent years, so many people have received the Bible in their language and this gives such hope that although Vision 2025 is an ambitious target, it is definitely achievable with God’s help.
On Tuesday I enjoyed meeting Clare Orr, who has recently completed her training with Wycliffe and is going to work on literacy projects in Senegal. As I talked to her about the importance of literacy work, I realised that when Wycliffe translate the Bible into a language, it also brings many other great benefits. It is extremely helpful for people to be able to read and write in their own language and it can also improve their education system as it gives them the opportunity to be taught in their mother tongue.
Heather Saunders testing Kouya literacy
On Wednesday, I enjoyed meeting Heather Saunders who showed me photographs of her time in the Ivory Coast and this gave me an insight into the work that she and her husband, Philip, did there. She also taught me some phonetics to show me how they initially went about writing down words before creating an alphabet. The language they worked on – Kouya – is a tonal language and so I was able to see the value of having a musical ear when listening to languages like this. I would say that hearing about her personal experiences from her many years with Wycliffe was one of the highlights of my three days.
I really enjoyed the few days I spent in the office and I’m very grateful to everyone who made it such a brilliant experience. I’d like to finish by sharing a Bible verse which I think shows why it is so important that people can read the Bible in their own language:
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God which is at work in you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Emma enjoyed work experience so much that she brought a friend along to the Belfast First Steps last Saturday! And we were encouraged by her enthusiasm and aptitude for the work. Thank you, Emma