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GBS training week 2014 team photo

GBS training week 2014 team photo

#endbiblepoverty

Having retired as a full member in assignment with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland on 31 December 2016, today I have officially become a Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland local volunteer to work in the Guest Bible Scholars programme with linguist heroes Michael Jemphrey and Heather Saunders!

And some others in the photo above.

Watch this space……………..

#endbiblepoverty

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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

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So why does Wycliffe Bible Translators hold a worldwide Day of Prayer on 11 November every year? Why do offices and projects suspend their work to pray?

Well, first of all, prayer is and should be part of our work every working day. In the Belfast office, usually fuelled by a cup of coffee and perhaps a Seasons Restaurant scone, we pray every morning at 11am for our Irish colleagues  around the world.

Secondly on 11 November, we remember answered prayer way back in the beginnings of what developed into what Wycliffe has become today.

On November 11, 1933, Wycliffe founders, Cameron Townsend and L.L. Legters, crossed the border from the U.S. into Mexico because God answered prayer. It was a major step forward for Bible translation and also the beginning of what eventually became Wycliffe, now more than 100 Wycliffe Global Alliance organization.       Source Wycliffe Global Alliance

However, for various logistical reasons, Wycliffe UK & Ireland held our annual prayer event on 12 November this year and in Belfast we began by declaring together:

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We were a smallish group which included Belfast office staff, a couple of translation consultants (there would have been more but there were working in Zambia and Mali), four Guest Bible Scholars, a Presbyterian minister from the church of two of our members,  our Irish Personnel Coordinator and one year old Emily Ferguson who participated enthusiastically.

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We watched videos, we prayed, we shared ideas and experiences, we prayed several times more, we had coffee and scones – we identified with colleagues worldwide involved in helping individuals and language groups encounter God’s word and applying it in a wide variety of ways including writing Scripture songs, HIV-Aids education, multi-lingual education, trauma counselling and much more.

Here are some more images from yesterday including the last one which would have been an excellent way to end except that I forgot about it 😦

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Wycliffe:Live is an October fixture in N. Ireland. It’s when the Wycliffe family of members and supporters – and people exploring what we are about – get together to share what God is doing through Bible translation and literacy and lots of other things around the world.

This year we decided to have a dinner – and so we needed a menu!

WycLive Dinner menu

Apparently we eat starters as a taster, as a light dish to get our stomachs ready for the main event. But that’s more of a habit than an essential. In Bible translation it’s crucial! Without language survey, linguistic analysis and phonetics expertise to create an alphabet, we’re stuck.

Jennifer “Niffer” Love provided our starter on Wednesday evening 7 October at The Mount in Belfast and talked about her pre-translation work with a language group in Nigeria.

Niffer

So with stomachs prepared, the food menu took over…

MainThe main course was a video It Starts in the Strangest Place which lists the various impacts of mother tongue Scripture on communities – take a look and see how many impacts you can spot!

Time for desserts. Don’t you love to have a choice of desserts? Like starters, some people may think that desserts are optional. For me a dessert is a no brainer – and in our Wycliffe:Live Dinner menu, it is essential. Desserts are the crucial support roles without which Bible translation just doesn’t happen: teaching, IT, finance, administration and many more.

On the night, Sharon told us about her two year stint working in finance and project management in Côte d’Ivoire while Elaine talked about teaching with the Institute for Development of Languages and Translation in Nairobi last summer – 30 students, 11 teachers, 14 nationalities, 32 mother tongues, 1 God and Father of all. Sounds like a starter for Revelation 7 verse 9…

“a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb

No meal is complete without a takeaway. Cue James Poole, Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland. James told us that he had the best job in the world! He also said that the best thing in the world is being part of a local church – and local churches need God’s Word in their heart languages. And so, as members of local churches, we were challenged to be local churches providing the Bible for local churches everywhere. Some takeaway…

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I’ve written a few other blogs about Wycliffe:Live – for example in 2011 it was Going Backstage: behind the scenes in Bible translation. You can read about it here, here and here. And here’s the poster from back then…

WycliffeLive 2011

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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

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Kenny Woodrow, myself and the Moderator Michael Barry with Bill Bailie behind the camera

 

On Tuesday morning 9 September 2014, the current Presbyterian Moderator Michael Barry visited the Belfast office of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland. As one of the SSA partners of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, we like to invite Moderators along to get a fresh insight into what goes on in Bible translation and to meet and chat to some of our local staff.

Whatever we were talking about, Kenny and Michael look quite happy; I’m obviously chewing something nasty…

It was good to help Michael get a better understanding of what Wycliffe Bible Translators is all about – and we certainly discussed how to develop the SSA partnership. A visual presentation gave lots of opportunity for questions and discussion and the Moderator quizzed us on how Bible translation was done and the statistics of which languages have and don’t have availability to the Scriptures in their heart languages.

One of the issues raised was that of Bible poverty. While PCI as a church gives generously to relief and development projects – as we should – we wondered how much the denomination as a whole is aware of the need to resource the alleviation of Bible poverty though the complementary work of Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Bible Societies north and south in Ireland, FEBA Radio and SAT7 television.

We also talked about the possibility of Michael visiting a Bible translation project during his Moderatorial visit to Kenya this autumn – another wee task to get sorted out soon. The possible language project is Samburu which would be reasonably accessible when the Moderator’s party visits Stephen and Angelina Cowan in Tuum.

Some Samburu people in traditional dress

Some Samburu people in traditional dress

During the visit Dr Barry met several Wycliffe people:

  • Kenny Woodrow is assigned to a communications role with Uganda Tanzania branch but working remotely from a desk in the Beersbridge Road office.
  • Bill Bailie, one of our invaluable volunteers, was present along with Alistair Bill, vice chair of our Wycliffe N. Ireland Council.

As always with these visits, it re-emphasised the idea that mission is all about partnership and we pray that God will bless our partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and with the other SSAs – and that these partnerships will be mutually beneficial.

This is the first of the three significant events in September that I referred to at the end of a previous blog here.

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Moderator Rob Craig welcomed by Wycliffe UK's NI Coordinator John Young

Moderator Rob Craig welcomed by Wycliffe UK’s NI Coordinator John Young

Last Monday morning 13 January 2014, the Presbyterian Moderator Rob Craig visited the Belfast office of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland. As one of the SSA partners of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, we like to invite current Moderators along to get a fresh insight into what goes on in Bible translation and to meet and chat to our local staff.

Celebration of Global Mission official team photograph

Celebration of Global Mission official team photograph

 

Back in October 2013, I had shared the platform with Rob at the Board of Mission Overseas Celebration of Global Mission in Cookstown so he had heard something of our work recently.

 

 

Rob’s previous overseas mission experience with OM in India and his recent Moderatorial trip to Ruanda fed into our conversations about the role of Bible translation in God’s mission to his world.

A visual presentation gave lots of opportunity for questions and discussion and the Moderator quizzed us on how Bible translation was done and the statistics of which languages have and don’t have availability to the Scriptures in their heart languages.

Rob was very honest when he talked about the range of visits that he has experienced in his Moderatorial year. Each organisation, each cause that he hears about, becomes the thing that is important… until the next one. We got a renewed appreciation of how many requests parish ministers receive from a wide range of mission and other organisations and how no one church can respond to them all.

For our part we were able to say that the ability to access and understand God’s Word in the heart language is foundational to evangelism, discipleship and church planting in every culture.

Talking with colleagues this morning, the idea we’re taking away is that mission is all about partnership and we pray that God will bless our partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and with the other SSAs – and that these partnerships will be mutually beneficial. We look forward to continuing our friendship with Rob when he returns to Kilfennan in due course.

Rob Craig with some of the Wycliffe team in Belfast

Rob Craig with some of the Wycliffe team in Belfast

Along with office staff – clockwise from left: Lynda, Bill, John, Rob, John and Marlene – Rob met Clare Orr from Newtownbreda Pres (front left) who leaves shortly for a literacy assignment in Senegal. He also heard about Lydia Hunter from Trinity Pres Bangor leaving very soon for a linguistics assignment in the Philippines and Stuart Campbell from Saintfield Road Pres currently on his GAP year in Cameroon helping in the IT department.

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