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Archive for the ‘presbyterian church in ireland’ Category

I have attended many funerals in my work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. I used to attend the funerals of parents of Wycliffe members. But more recently, it has been the funerals of colleagues. Perhaps the most poignant funeral was on 22 December 2017, the day after my 70th birthday.

Mary Steele died at the age of 89 having made an incredible contribution to Bible translation in the languages of Ghana over a period of 55 years.

On the day that we learned of her death, Wycliffe Personnel sent this tribute to all Wycliffe UK members:

Mary was one of the true “legends” of Wycliffe, widely loved and respected. She was born in 1928, trained as a nurse, worked in mission hospitals in southern Africa in the 1950s, joined Wycliffe in 1959 and later sailed for Ghana as one of the first Wycliffe members to go there. She worked extensively on the Konkomba and Bimoba translation projects in the north of the country, facing a variety of challenges, including health issues and serious inter-ethnic conflict. Both of these language groups now have completed Bibles, and have seen significant church growth. In addition, Mary was instrumental in a wide range of literacy, Scripture Engagement and Community Development activities, all of which were of significant benefit to these communities. Mary also served as a translation consultant to a number of other projects. She was a much-loved and highly valued member of the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation.

In 2008 Mary was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for Services to Bible Translation, Literacy and Development. In 2015 she was appointed as a Member of the Order of the Volta by the President of Ghana. She retired (somewhat reluctantly!) in December 2014.

At the dedication of the Konkomba NT Mary was thanked and complimented by a Konkomba man: “She is deep and vast, and without her life for the Konkombas would be useless”.

Mary came from the Ballymena area of N. Ireland, sometimes referred to as the Ballymena Bible Belt. Mary’s achievements were often reported in the Ballymena Times newspaper by reporter Joe Boyd who now works for the online The Church Page. Joe asked me to contribute to his tribute to Mary.

‘When my wife Ruth and I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1989, Mary Steele was already a legend for newbies like us. Later in my Wycliffe UK role, I met her many times and was always impressed by her commitment to helping Ghanaian colleagues translate the Bible into their languages; her devotion to God; and her humility. It was a surprise and a great privilege when Mary asked me to be one of her guests – along with her niece Linda Farncombe and Justin Frempong, director of the Ghanaian Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT) – when she went to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE from Queen Elizabeth. It was a great day! I believe that protocol demands that one politely answers any questions the Queen might ask, but not initiate anything oneself. However Mary told us afterwards that having confirmed the Queen’s questions about her work in Ghana, she then made sure that the Queen knew how many people groups in the world were still waiting for Bible translation into their languages. I guess that summed up our “Queen Mary” and her passion for her work.’           [Joe Boyd’s full article can be read here.]

As a member of Killymurris Presbyterian Church, Mary was also very highly regarded in Irish Presbyterian circles.

The PCI website also published a tribute to Mary.

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Jesus, Light of the World

Jesus, Light of the World

I have just sent this off to Prayerline, the weekly mission prayer news from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland‘s Council of Global Mission. Wycliffe gets an entry every four weeks and this year, I’m delighted that we have the Christmas slot for a week starting 21 December 2016.

Wycliffe’s December contribution for PCI Prayerline

More people than ever before know Jesus’ name in their language this Christmas because of Bible translation. Here is a small sample of the name of Jesus in 3,000 plus languages with some Scripture. Speakers of up to 1,800 languages are still waiting to have the name of Jesus translated for them. #endbiblepoverty

Jezusi (Albanian)

يسوع (Arabic)

Յիսուս (W Armenian)

Езус (Belorusian)

যীশু (Bengali)

耶穌 (Chinese)

Ιησούς (Greek)

Íosa (Irish)

イエス (Japanese)

Иса (Kazakh)

ഈശോ (Malayalam)

Isus (Romanian)

Иисус (Russian)

যীশু (Sylheti)

ܝܫܘܥ (Syriac)

இயேசு (Tamil)

เยซู (Thai)

Ісус (Ukrainian)

Giêsu (Vietnamese)

uJesu (Zulu)

This Christmas Day the Wycliffe UK & Ireland prayer guide asks us to:

  • Thank God for the birth of Jesus. Also thank God that many more people can read about the birth of Jesus through the translated New Testaments that have been launched during the past year.

As you read and hear the familiar Christmas accounts in the Bible this week, ask God how he might want you to be involved in helping the name of Jesus to be translated into new languages and be known by the speakers of those languages.

 

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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.

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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

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