Posts Tagged ‘First Steps’


A week or so ago, I was thinking that holding First Steps on the Saturday at the end of half term had been a daft idea! However promotion on social media went out there and, more significantly, prayer was answered: 14 people registered online and more turned up on the day. My pessimism was well and truly squashed.

And after all, it turned out that Saturday 21 February was International Mother Language Day!

Int Mother Lang day

In the end 15 participants arrived promptly at Windsor Baptist Church  to spend the day at First Steps exploring the impact of Bible translation in God’s mission… and for most, it was a chance to explore how they might become involved at home or overseas.


Stewart getting us started…

Having started by by praising God in the Logoti language of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we explored Jesus’ compassion for people in Matthew 9, before Joanna, who had just spent three days on work experience with us, shared her (rather encouragingly positive!) impressions.

Great to have Marlene with us on a brief break from maternity leave

Great to have Marlene with us on a brief break from maternity leave

Up to lunchtime, we had sessions on dictionary making in DRC accompanied by the presenter’s baby girl crying for her mother’s attention; literacy in Côte d’Ivoire; translation, personnel member care, and communications in E Africa, plus a plug for Two Week Stint by a teacher who had been there last summer.

After lunch, we were off to a market with buyers and sellers who had very different cultural rules about buying and selling and general interaction with other people. Despite the chaos, the sellers made lucrative profits on their toilet rolls, oranges and second hand trainers!

Andrea delighted at completing a sale with Mandy

Andrea delighted at completing a sale with Mandy who dropped one of her cultural rules to look the camera in the eye

Who were they, these 15 people?

Two primary teachers, both with past short term mission experience overseas.

One minister invited along by his son who was exploring his options…

Four sixth formers, two of whom have been with us on work experience in the Belfast office.

Two students from Queen’s University Belfast.

A journalist, a law lecturer, a multi-media developer – and a couple of boyfriends brought along by their girl friends.

Not to mention Lindsay, the coordinator of MAP – Mission Agencies Partnership!

God brought them along. Jesus calls us to come with him in his mission to his world wherever we happen to be.

We’re now praying that God will continue to speak to each one; that they will be encouraged that they are where God wants them to be; or that God will prompt them to be where he wants them to be in the months and years ahead. Please pray with us for wisdom as we follow up and walk alongside them.

If this blog inspires you to explore other events and opportunities with Wycliffe and Bible translation go to or to your local Wycliffe website

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A day for discovering the world of Bible translation

I’ve been busy promoting this Wycliffe event today via e-mail and Facebook – so now let’s put out a wee blog too.

You can find out more about this event on your doorstep. Well, if your doorstep is near Belfast, Edinburgh, London or Chesterfield you can…

First Steps is a one-day event running across the United Kingdom.

runner on starting blocks

Please register your interest using the registration form, and we will confirm the remaining venues and dates as we know them. We will generally start at around 10am with coffee and finish at 4.30pm. There is no cost but we ask that you bring lunch along.

When and Where:
14 February 2015 – Central London
21 February 2015 – Belfast
28 February 2015 – Edinburgh
14 March 2015 – Brimington Chesterfield.
Register now.

You might be asking the following questions:
What is Wycliffe’s work all about? Why is it important for people to have access to Scripture in their heart language? Does it matter whether people can read and write in their own language? How could I be involved in what God is doing through Wycliffe? Is it just for people who speak lots of languages? Would I need to leave the UK? How can God use my skills and experience?

All ears at a previous First Steps in Belfast

All ears at a previous First Steps in Belfast

If you are asking any of these questions, then First Steps is for you. The event is informative, inspiring and interactive. At the end of the day, we promise you will know more about how God is using people with a wide range of skills throughout the world to fulfil His mission. You’ll have heard about how people’s lives are changed by having access to Scripture and other materials in the heart language. We hope that you will be inspired to be involved – whether through prayer, supporting others or by going!

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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

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

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 🙂

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Marcus presenting language survey

Marcus presenting language survey

We almost called it off a week or so ago. I’m glad we didn’t because 11 people showed up on Saturday 22 February at Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church. They came to spend the day with us at First Steps exploring mission in general and Bible translation in particular.

We touched on the history of Bible translation, on language survey, on translation, on literacy and Scripture engagement, on opportunities for working with Wycliffe.

Bible translation wisdom from Dorothea

Bible translation wisdom from Dorothea

Who were they, the 11 people?

A French teacher who has already taught missionary children in two African countries.

Her friend from their church mission committee.

Two sixth formers, one of whom had recently spent her work experience in the Belfast office.

Two final year languages students from Queen’s University Belfast.

A final year divinity student from the Irish Baptist College… and his girlfriend.

A guy who draws maps for a living.

A long term Wycliffe supporter, there to learn more about our work.

And the mother of our most recently accepted Wycliffe member who has just left for assignment in Senegal.

God brought them along. Jesus calls us to come with him in his mission to his world wherever we happen to be. We’re now praying that God will continue to speak to them and to guide them. Will you pray for a clear understanding of God’s will in their lives in the months and years ahead – and for wisdom for us as we follow up and walk alongside them?

For other events and opportunities to explore Wycliffe and Bible translation go to

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