BBC one week Sep15 Kairos flyerI have now been a facilitator (a politically correct term for teacher) on four Kairos World Mission courses and every time I come away with the same phrase ringing through my mind – Blessed to be a blessing!

It starts in Genesis and reverberates throughout the Bible all the way to Revelation.

‘I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing…
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.’   Genesis 12:2-3

‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.’   Revelation 7:9

As you can see from the image above, we have recently finished a preterm Kairos for students at Belfast Bible College. Personally I felt blessed, not just by re-visiting the mind-blowing Biblical overview of mission, but also by the super bunch of 22 students with whom we worked for five intensive days.

Here are some images from the week…

M&Ms inspired interest for Kairos Ch3

Day 4 started with prayer for Buddhists in cambodia

Day 4 started with prayer for Buddhists in Cambodia

Worshipping the everlasting God on Day 5

Worshipping the everlasting God on Day 5

On the last day, students were invited to reflect on the week with the options of writing a letter to God or making a drawing. My group shared moving and encouraging extracts from their letters while Amy produced this impressive sketch.

God's heart for the nations

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51v10

Amy’s message was that she was handing her heart over to God as a symbol of her desire to serve in his mission to his world. As I look at the drawing, I am forcefully reminded of God’s heart for the nations of the world that he created. Perhaps other people will identify their own layers of meaning as they apply the image to themselves. My thanks to Amy for allowing me to share this.

Finally here is the photo of my group (and me) with their Kairos certificates. Thank you to all of you. You’ll probably never know how much you encouraged me throughout the week. God bless you.

My Growth Team

Wycliffe:Live Dinner

Wyc Live MenuThis whole Wycliffe Menu idea was born out of desperation on the morning of the day that we needed to assemble our stand at Bangor Worldwide 2015. We wanted something a bit different and we ended up with a table for two with cutlery and mugs – and a menu! You can read our menu on the left above and see Ricky Ferguson seated and waiting for customers on the opening night of the mission exhibition at Bangor below.

Ricky at Bangor Worldwide

Wycliffe:Live has been an autumn fixture in the Wycliffe calendar in Ireland for many years, but for 7 October 2015, we have planned something different – a dinner priced £17 per person.

Monday 1 June past was a significant day for us. We moved to our new office in The Mount Business and Conference Centre in Belfast. Ricky Ferguson became the new NI Church Engagement Team Leader. Alf Thompson joined us as part of Wycliffe UK Communications Team and James Poole had been the new Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland Executive Director for just over a year.

So with a new office location and new team members, but the same passion and vision that every language group in the world should have access to God’s word in the language they understand best, we want to spread the word about…

Wycliffe:Live Dinner

Our theme is a Wycliffe Menu of news and stories of what God is doing through the work of Wycliffe and our partners worldwide interspersed with a meal.

Check out the details on the poster at top right in this blog. If you live close enough to Belfast and are interested in coming, you can reserve your place by emailing us at northernireland@wycliffe.org.uk or phoning 028 9073 5854


Ok, I’m being deliberately provocative in the title, but please read on.

“Dear Sir, I’d like to come and be a dentist for two weeks. I’ve been meeting once a month with a small group of others who also want to be short-term dentists. We have our t-shirts printed and we’re ready to come.

P.S. Can you drive us around, translate for us and help take cool photos for our Facebook pages?”

I’d like to be a fly on the wall when the dentist received that letter. We don’t have short-term social workers, or short-term bio-scientists. We don’t have short-term gastro-enterologists or short-term politicians. So why do we have short-term missionaries in ever-increasing numbers?

So writes Craig Greenfield at Relevant Magazine.

This appeared in the past few days (or perhaps it has re-appeared because I seem to remember reading it or something very similar before). It’s in your face; it’s radical; it’s though-provoking – or is it? Because Craig goes on to make several key statements which should not be unfamiliar with Christians who understand the Bible and what Jesus has called us to in the New Testament. Take a look at John 20:21  for example.

Let’s just agree right up front that there is no such thing as a part-time Christian. There is no such thing as a follower of Jesus who is not in full-time service to God. As followers of Jesus, we are all called to a vocation.

When we see that each of us has a unique and important vocation, we’ll develop a theology of work that works.

And later he suggests some re-defining or rather, re-naming of what have come to be known as short term mission trips. You can read his suggestions in the article.

When correctly framed, these trips can be important and even life-changing seasons of engagement with the poor.
At first reading I wondered why he emphasises “the poor”. Do all short term mission teams go to visit / help poor people? Short term mission in my experience can be life-changing in many ways, not least an awareness that so many people in the world don’t have the Bible in their heart language. But then I suppose that is a form of poverty too, isn’t it? Bible poverty!
So what do you think? Does short term mission need re-thinking in your church or in the mission organisation that you are involved with? I f so, let’s do it! So that we can obey Jesus better.
PS With reference to the dentist idea above… I tried Googling “short term dentist” and I found opportunities for dentistry overseas at GapMedics UK. So dentists, there’s an option.
Or dentists and anybody elsewhere, get in touch with Wycliffe Bible Translators about opportunities to explore the Bible poverty that I referred to above.

Monday 1 June 2015 was a significant day for Wycliffe Bible Translators in N. Ireland.

After almost 14 years in our office on Beersbridge Road, Belfast, we moved downtown. Well, a little bit closer to the centre of Belfast. We are in two adjoining rooms in The Mount Business and Conference Centre not too far from Belfast Central Station.


Our address is: The Mount Business Centre,  2 Woodstock Link, Belfast  BT6 8DD and our  phone number is 028 9073 5854.

Here is an extract from my latest newsletter…

NI Team
On the same day Ricky Ferguson started as Leader of the Church Engagement Team in N. Ireland. Ricky brings youth, enthusiasm and his passion for Bible translation. He also has the advantage of being married to Marlene!

Also on 1 June, Alfred Thompson started working with the Wycliffe UK Communications Team based with us in The Mount. Completing the NI team are Kenny Woodrow (Uganda / Tanzania Branch communications) and our invaluable long term volunteer Bill Bailie.

I really like working in this team. Not only is there coffee and yummy scones from Seasons Restaurant downstairs, but we have regular team meetings, daily prayer together and we get to bounce ideas and banter off each other.

What about me?
These changes mean I have fewer responsibilities and renewed enthusiasm as I work a three day week as part of Ricky’s team. I hope that I can help him in his new role. I continue to be involved with the Kairos World Mission Course at Belfast Bible College and to be our contact with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. As a team, we want to build partnerships with all denominations and with new churches. We pray that God will call more people from Ireland to join Wycliffe.

A new office, new colleagues… all good stuff. But the task remains the same. As the front page of our Wycliffe UK website currently says…

Wycliffe Bible Translators believe that the Bible is the best way for people to come to know and understand who God is. Our 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, 180 million people speaking 1,860 languages need Bible translation to begin, because they 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. Of the 6,901 languages in the world today, only 531 have a complete Bible.

And there’s also a wee video from one of our partner organisations to watch…

Inspired? See where you might fit in? Contact us at our new office at The Mount to find out more.

No Ordinary Book revised 2015 edition

No Ordinary Book revised 2015 edition

The Book of Life

One day He will hold a book in His hands
And He alone is worthy
To open it up

For He died, and by His death
He bought back for God
People out of every tribe and group,
Language and nation.

One day all books will be opened
And all will be revealed.
The thoughts of all men’s hearts
Will be made known.

And one day He will take up a great book,
The Book of Life,
And He will read the names from it.

And we will weep with joy, for we will hear
The names of Kouya friends,
A great number, many we had not known.
Saved by grace.

Names which our tongues could once not master
The Master will read out perfectly,
For all tongues are known to Him.

And when He holds that book in His hands,
The need to translate will disappear,
No more need for Living by the Book.

For in that great day, when we meet Him in person,
Then shall we know
Even as also we are known.

          Philip Saunders   No Ordinary Book page 302

Bai Laurent holding the prinout of the Kouya New Testament at the final checking session

Bai Laurent holding the printout of the Kouya New Testament at the final checking session

Bible translation stories often include people dreaming of holding a book in their hands, just like Toualy Bai Laurent did for decades as he prayed that God would send someone to help translate the Bible into the Kouya language. You can read Bai Laurent’s story in No Ordinary Book.

In the poem above, Philip has layers of bookholding going on. Kouya people now hold and read the New Testament in their language. There are also hints that speakers of many other languages cannot yet do that, but they will. And then there is the Book of Life that God will one day hold and open – and read in every language.

In a recent blog, I announced the arrival of the new paperback version of the revised and updated edition of No Ordinary Book which is now available from Amazon and soon via Philip’s independent publishing platform website.

No Ordinary Book continues to bring memories for me: perhaps it will inspire some future blogs. But with this new edition becoming available, my prayer is that many new readers will be challenged to get involved in Bible translation. If that happens to you, here is a great place to start.

Again if you want to see a few of the many photos that I took at the dedication of the Kouya New Testament dedication in 2012, you can see them in my Facebook photo album

No Ordinary Book revised 2015 edition

No Ordinary Book revised 2015 edition

I think it was the first time I read a book about mission and felt like the missionary was a human being… and I liked that. Such a challenge and an eye-opener! I hope many young linguists read this book and get a taste for Bible translation.

Rachel Hanna (PhD student at Queen’s Universitty Belfast) quote on back cover of No Ordinary Book

In May 2013 I blogged Kouya Goes Kindle which flagged up that No Ordinary Book, revised and updated to include the 2012 New Testament dedication, had just become available on Kindle.

Last Friday, Philip gave me a personal copy of the new paperback version of the revised and updated edition which is now available from Amazon and soon via Philip’s independent publishing platform website.

Talking about the book with a colleague and flipping through some of the pages, took me back through over thrity years of friendship with Philip and Heather. I remembered times we have shared together in Côte d’Ivoire.

Although No Ordinary Book continues to bring memories for me, I want to endorse Rachel Hanna’s hope expressed above that many readers both young and older will be challenged to get involved in Bible translation. If that happens to you, here is a great place to start.

If you want to see a few of the many photos that I took at the dedication of the Kouya New Testament dedication in 2012, you can see them in my Facebook photo album



A few days ago, I read a blog written by colleague Eddie Arthur. Funnily enough, I learned since that I’ll be at a barbeque at his house tomorrow evening.

Eddie recently sat in on a discussion with representatives from three mission agencies in the UK. Three issues seemed to be key in terms of why recruitment is difficult.

Many churches no longer have world mission on their agenda. They are fed up of being badgered by multiple agencies all asking them to do something which is not a high priority.

For many churches in the UK, the word mission has changed its meaning and now means local action, not world-wide involvement.

Changes in the world; globalisation, post-colonialism and post-everythingelse-ism make the whole idea of long-term missionary work seen rather anachronistic.

As Eddie said: “This is how some mission reps see things – I wonder what church leaders would have said.”

Another Wycliffe UK colleague Phil Prior made this somewhat provocative comment on Facebook about Eddie’s blog:

So, in summary, the reason mission agencies are struggling to recruit is that local churches no longer care about world mission – I’m paraphrasing slightly provocatively in the hope of attracting some attention. Is this true? Do Christians not working for mission agencies agree? What about church leaders? Would love to see more thoughts on this.

As I head off this afternoon to join colleagues in the Wycliffe UK Church Engagement Team, I’m wondering what comments any of you, especially church leaders, who read this blog, might have to enlighten us.

Go on – provoke me!



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