Dear Didier

Monday 14 April 2014

Greetings Didier!

We were praying for the Kouya Jesus Film this morning in the Belfast Wycliffe office…

I was remembering when I observed Philip & Heather and Emile and the team having Luke consultant checked in Daloa – and there was so much spiritual opposition. Two snakes, one rather nasty, appeared in the garden. The telephone was cut off. With quite a few visitors expected for the checking, the toilet apparently blocked itself. Clare, a short termer, was mysteriously and painfully ill. Coincidences perhaps, but the passages being checked were about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

But Luke was checked and printed and I had the privilege of travelling back to Cote d’Ivoire in 1998 with Philip carrying the Gospels of Luke printed in Belfast and visiting all 13 Kouya villages to distribute them.

Ezekiel reading Luke to the chief of Dediafla

Ezekiel reading Luke to the chief of Dediafla

And then the NT was completed and arrived in Abidjan in 2002 the day after all the Wycliffe expatriates were evacuated.

Ambroise and Didier unpacking the Kouya New Testaments in Abidjan

I was so upset at the frustration and sadness of the 10 year delay until the joy of the dedicace in March 2012.


Procession of the Kouya New Testaments

Procession of the Kouya New Testaments

And now! The Gospel of Luke provides the script for the Jesus Film! Praise the Lord!

Previewing Kouya Jesus Film

Previewing Kouya Jesus Film

May God use the Jesus Film powerfully to grow His Kouya church!

Que Dieu te benisse!


Based on an e-mail that I sent to Didier. Photos added.

Jesus and Peter

It’s too easy to criticise the disciples as Jesus approached Easter and crucifixion. Why didn’t they understand what Jesus was telling them?

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Matthew 26

Why were they so confident that they would not deny Jesus? That they would not let him down? And it was all of them; not just Peter. Are we tempted to say… well, if I had been there, I would have understood. I would have got it! I wouldn’t have said such things.

SU WordLive helps us put ourselves there with the disciples by making us look at ourselves in our own context.

Have a read of Ben Askew’s meditation

‘Even if all fall away I will not’ – I’d never get caught saying that!
Never looked at the other Christians around me and thought, ‘What are they playing at!?’
Never got frustrated that I’m one of the few at my church that really takes this seriously.
Never taken on a bit of ministry, or service thinking. ‘If I don’t do it no one will’.
Never done something good, or noble, because I thought I should do rather than because I wanted to.
Never placed myself in a league table of holiness with the Christians around me, so that I know just where I stand.
Never overestimated my own abilities and gifts, or underestimated the contributions others could make.
Never let an appearance of boldness or confidence cover up just how scared I am inside.
Never forgotten how much I am in need of someone to save me.
No, of course not! I’d never let God down like that.

Ben Askew for WordLive  © Scripture Union 2012

So many of us have the Bible in our languages. We have little, perhaps no excuse for not recognising what the crucifixion and resurrection was all about, what Easter is all about.

1,919 language groups are still denied that privilege, that opportunity.

The preacher as translator.

… the preacher should not be so seized by the image of translation that the Biblical text loses its ‘teeth’ in an effort to fit in with the world of those who hear the sermon. It is, and always will be, a word from ‘another place’ which lands in the world of the listener…  I concluded that the most effective measure of any sermon was not how it sounds or how much it is enjoyed, but how much difference it makes. A translator whose job is to translate road signs, for instance, knows that they are doing a good job when all the cars turn the right way!

This morning my blog friend, Richard Littledale, has posted a telling piece on translating God’s Word as a preacher in order to have a successful impact in the lives of his hearers.

successful preaching..?

successful preaching..?

Useful thoughts for preachers and teachers … and even Wycliffe Bible Translators UK Church Engagement Team members :)

Je n'ai pas de chevre

“Je n’ai pas de chevre”

The book was sent by a friend and former member of Wycliffe Bible Translators from N. Ireland who spent some time working with Wycliffe Switzerland. Recently she has been in Switzerland at the 50th anniversary of Wycliffe Suisse.

The book contains 50 stories celebrating those 50 years written by Swiss members who have lived and worked in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Cameroon, the Gambia, Nepal, Cambodia, Chad, Togo, Benin, Papua New Guinea, Congo Brazzaville and Brazil.

wycliffe suisse card

Wycliffe Switzerland have produced cards like the one above. On the reverse side it says…

La Parole de Dieu est indispensible pour traverser le fleuve de la vie. Vraiment? Intéressé à d’autres cartes? fr.wycliffe.ch/cartes

Some of the story writers in the book are former colleagues from our time in Ivory Coast. It is a pleasure to celebrate with them!

And like them, I remember the 1,919 languages of the world still awaiting the indispensable Word of God.

wycliffe suisse_logo

Imagine seeing a film telling the story of Jesus: seeing him and all the other characters in the story; hearing them speak in your own language – perhaps the first film ever made in your language.
What an impact that would have!

During two weeks in March, Kouya voice actors recorded the parts of Jesus, his disciples and all the other characters in a makeshift recording studio in the village of Déma, sound proofed by foam mattresses placed against the walls.

Recording studio

Recording studio

Tra Didier in the studio with technician

Tra Didier in the studio with technician

Prayer requests were e-mailed daily from Côte d’Ivoire: for good health for actors and technicians; for reliable electricity; for actors turning up on time; for no rain during the hours of recording…
In fact there was heavy rain – and that was great news for the local farmers – but not if you are recording in a building with a tin roof!

In fact Henry and Rosmarie Knecht, the main technicians, got malaria and had to spend a few nights in a hospital an hour’s drive away.

But it was all completed on time! Henry and Rosmarie recovered in time to catch their flights from Abidjan. A digital draft of the Jesus Film has been shown in Déma, lots of people came to see it and can’t wait to get copies of it.

Previewing the draft Jesus Film

Previewing the draft Jesus Film

Bai Emile with family and friends in his courtyard

Bai Emile with family and friends in his courtyard

We give thanks that the Kouya Jesus Film has been completed and pray for the final stages of production and distribution, so that the Kouya church can use this powerful tool to bring others to faith in Jesus.

The Jesus film has been produced in over 1,200 languages – more than any other film. Find out more about the Jesus Film and its impact worldwide at www.jesusfilm.org



Friday Night Theology from Evangelical Alliance arrives promptly in my e-mail inbox every Friday afternoon around 4pm. It is almost always well worth reading – thinking about the topic oneself or with friends. In fact, that’s the whole point of it.

So I want to share some extracts from Chas Bayfield’s thoughts with blog friends this evening…

Since the plane’s disappearance on 8 March, I have found myself becoming quietly (and slightly morbidly) obsessed with the story. But what I’ve been reading and hearing was not news, it was conjecture; assertions from anyone qualified to have an opinion which, for the record, appears to be anyone who has ever flown a plane.

Know-it-alls from the aviation world have bestowed upon us the benefits of their expertise, each one confident enough in their own speculation to have it published in an international news journal.

Add to this the plethora of opinions from bloggers, the Twitteratti, rock stars and our friends and families and you really have quite a smorgasbord of different theories. The plane was hi-jacked by pirates. The pilot was suicidal. A meteorite hit it. Aliens stole it.

In the last 24 hours, there have been enough articles on flight 370 to fill 70 pages of Google. The simple fact that a plane can disappear in this ultra modern hi-tech age has left people baffled and awed. I am encouraged that so many men and women who do not think themselves religious, still have the capacity to be ‘certain of what they do not see’.

Christians see God as an anchor; a safe mooring. Belief in God grounds us and helps us make sense of the world in which we live.

Our mandate today is to pray for the families and friends of those onboard flight MH370. But it is also is to keep God at our shoulder, in our eyeline and close to hand.

I have found the endless theorising frustrating. The dogmatism of “experts” too often self-promoting. Much media coverage intrusive and insensitive. And yet, as Chas says, wanting to know becomes almost obsessive.

I have almost wept with the relatives trying to come to terms with this terribly sad story by hoping beyond hope. I have applauded the efforts of governments and flight crews to search for the haystack and then for the needle. My prayer is the same at that expressed by Chas above: to pray for the families and friends that somehow they will experience God’s peace in closure.

Chas Bayfield is creative director at Noah advertising agency and secretary of Cricklewood Baptist Church

In 1962 Mary Steele arrived in Ghana to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Moving up to the north of the country, which was very under-developed at the time and had few schools, Mary started work on the Konkomba language.

Mary with her MBE at Buckingham Palace

Mary with her MBE at Buckingham Palace

When the Konkomba New Testament was completed and local language literacy well underway, Mary started work in another language, Bimoba.  Then when the Bimoba NT was translated, she returned to help the Konkomba team work on the Old Testament.

Readers of this blog may recall that Mary received the MBE at Buckingham Palace in May 2006 for services to linguistics, literacy and Bible translation in Ghana.

Just last week the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT) recognized Mary’s long service with them.

Mary at the British High Commission in Ghana

Mary at the British High Commission in Ghana

Wycliffe Bible Translators UK executive director Eddie Arthur was present at the event.

Last Thursday 20 March 2014 I attended a reception at the British High Commission in Accra to celebrate Mary’s 52 years of service to this country. Perhaps the most remarkable intervention was from a former government minister from the Konkomba area who said that he and other successful Konkombas could not have received an education and done as well as they did without the work of the woman they call their mother.

Eddie quoted a recent blog by Rollin Grams.

The local church can support a missionary perspective by separating the recent concept of ‘short-term missions’ from ‘missionaries.’ Missionaries are called into a life-time of cross-cultural ministry. They are skilled in cross-cultural interaction, Biblically educated (or should be!), able to share the Gospel clearly, and working to evangelize, plant churches, and nourish people and churches in the faith through training in the Scriptures and for ministry. Their example is Paul the apostle and his missionary team, not the Peace Corps or the Red Cross.

Mary is rather unique in having been blessed with the health and strength to serve for 52 years. Her career illustrates that mission work – and especially Bible translation – is by its nature a long-term venture. Perhaps this is something our short-term church culture needs to grasp.


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