Posts Tagged ‘Ivory Coast’

As some of you know, I have got back into birdwatching since retiring and am enjoying it. This morning I had a surreal experience when I looked out the back bedroom window into the neighbour’s garden which has a pool. I got just a glimpse of a familiar but very unusual bird, the Jacana or Lilytrotter, which immediately flew off. We often saw them in Ivory Coast. In fact while at Vavoua International School, my son Stephen drew a picture (below) which hangs in our living room. Do any of my ornithological friends have news of recent rare blow-ins?

Jacana or Lilytrotter

Did you notice the date at the top?

Some of my Facebook friends were fooled! And took it well.

The woodpigeon below actually did spend some time on the fence bordering our decking today. I suspect he was waiting patiently for some untidy coal tits or house sparrows to spill some seeds so he could get something to eat.



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Apparently someone has developed what3words, a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares each with a unique three word address that can be communicated quickly, easily and unambiguously.

It was hearing about what3words that inspired my Retirement Reflections in the recently published January edition of Wycliffe News

Jon, a former student at Vavoua International School (VIS) in Côte d’Ivoire, where Ruth and I taught for eight years, recently posted an interesting story on the VIS Facebook group. People living in rural villages in Côte d’Ivoire – and many other places around the world – don’t have addresses and postcodes like we do. So among other things, it’s hard for Amazon to deliver their Christmas presents.


Click on photo to read BBC article about what3words

Apparently someone has developed what3words, a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares each with a unique three word address that can be communicated quickly, easily and unambiguously.

No, I don’t understand how it works, but it prompted me to reflect on how so many things have changed during our 28 years with Wycliffe.

Just before we went to Ivory Coast

Just before we went to Ivory Coast

Communication between VIS and home in the early 1990s depended on hand written airmail letters written on flimsy paper which might get a reply within three weeks. Telephone calls from the rented room in Vavoua town where one tried for up to an hour to get a line and all too often failed. Eventually we got a phone line at the school and a fax machine spewed out messages which promptly faded in the Ivorian sunshine if they weren’t instantly photocopied.

But what developments in technology we now enjoy: whether we work in a Wycliffe office in UK; or with a translation team overseas; or as translation consultants interacting remotely from home with teams overseas! Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Bible apps on smart phones the world over are familiar to most people. Bible translation specific software like Paratext has revolutionised life for translators and consultants.

An American colleague once commented that God invented computers for Bible translation, but he graciously lets the rest of the world use them.

So much change!

What never changes is our loving God who desires to reach every nation, tribe, people and language with the Good News of Jesus. What a privilege to have been a small cog within Wycliffe striving to make that a reality.

What never changes is that God still uses his people, blessed with the skills that he has given them, to bring his word to those still waiting to hear about the love of God in Christ.

His people? Friends and colleagues in the Belfast office; the wider team in Wycliffe UK and Ireland; and the even wider team that God has built within the Wycliffe Global Alliance. And since this is appearing in Wycliffe News – especially all those friends and colleagues in this magazine who have been an encouragement to us in our work and for whom we can all pray as they share their news, their joys and their challenges.

July 2016 North Berwick practising for retirement

As we retire, thank you everyone for your friendship past, present and future.

God bless, John and Ruth

PS By the way, Wycliffe’s what3words office address at The Mount is toward.image.enable and my home address is heavy.danger.plot – looking forward to hearing from you.

To receive Wycliffe News contact Ricky or Bill at northernireland@wycliffe.org.uk

To find out more about how Wycliffe is using technology to support Bible translation

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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


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I’m very excited about something that is happening in the village of Déma in the middle of the Ivory Coast this week! The Jesus Film is being recorded in the Kouya language.


The Jesus Film Project website makes this claim…

Every eight seconds, somewhere in the world, another person indicates a decision to follow Christ after watching the “JESUS” film.

I got this e-mail from friends and colleagues Philip and Heather Saunders…

Starting this week is the recording of the Jesus Film into Kouya. We are all excited about this: the translators and recording team in Ivory Coast, the local Kouya Christians, and the Arthurs, Hamiltons and ourselves, who worked together for many years in the Kouya area.

An experienced Swiss couple, Henry and Rose Knecht, have undertaken Jesus Film recordings in a number of Ivorian languages, and we praise God that they have made the time to include Kouya among these.

The recording is to take place in Dema village where we once lived, and translator Emile is having our house prepared for the Knechts to stay in. Mattresses are being purchased to create a studio, and block out the village sounds.

Kouya New Testament dedication March 2012

Kouya New Testament dedication March 2012

A recent update from Eddie and Sue Arthur includes…

Sue spent time helping the Kouya team in Ivory Coast work on the script for the Jesus film. The excellent translation of Luke’s Gospel needs to be adapted to fit the needs of the film which isn’t always straightforward, but Sue was able to help the team think through different possibilities for the adaption. According to Didier in Abidjan, Kouya is still in her blood!

In the future Kouyas may be able to watch and listen to the Jesus Film in their language via their smart phones… here is another Jesus Film blog I spotted this morning about Bete, another Ivorian language!


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It’s been the verse that kept buzzing around my head during this whole Advent and Christmas season. Eddie Arthur’s Christmas Day blog prompted me to quote it again…

’Anzɩ nɛɛ wa -ylaɛ: «A ‘na nyamanɩ -nɩ, nɩɩ, ‘dɩzɔnʋ ɩn -laa aɩn. Mʋ yia nyɩma weee ‘mʋna ‘kadʋ dlɩ zɔ slua.

… to remind myself and anyone else listening, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not just for the locals or the Jews but for all the people that God has created before and since.

Eddie’s blog is a reminder that reading this good news of great joy is hard to grasp unless we can read it / hear it in a language that we really understand.

Read on… let the idea seep in – and then take a look at my concluding words borrowed from Eddie’s blog.

-Mʋʋ bhla, nyɩmaa ‘wlulapɩlɩnyɔ ‘kadʋ *Sezaa Ogusɩ palɩa tite yabhlo, nɩɩ, wa zɛlɩ ɔ nyɩma weee, dʋdʋ weee -gʋ. 2 Bhla -we nya Kiliniusʋ mɩa Siliii -dʋdʋ -gʋ nyɩmaa ‘wlulapɩlɩnyɔ nya, we bhla wa zɛlɩa nyɩma tɩanʋ. 3 Nyɩma weee yia wa ‘dɛɛ -zɔɔ wa ‘ŋnɩ cɛlɩa mnɩ -bhlo -bhlo.

4 *-Zɛzɛfʋ -mɔɔ yi ‘yaa Nazalɛtɩgbe ‘wʋ ‘bhʋ, Galilee -dʋdʋ -gʋ, ‘ɩn ɔ yia -Davidɩɩ ‘gbe wa laa Bɛtɩlɛmʋ nʋkplɛ mnɩ, Zudee -dʋdʋ -gʋ. -Davidɩɩ zʋayli -yɔ ɔ -budu zɔ -nyɩmɛ ɔ -mɩa, -Davidɩɩ -budu zɔ. 5 Ɔ -yɔ ɔ bhoyi Malii, -ɔ mɩa ‘wlʋwlʋ -nʋkpla ‘sɔ, ‘ɩn wa yia mnɩ, wa ‘ka wa ‘ŋnɩ cɛlɩɩ ‘gbʋ. 6Wa mɩ Bɛtɩlɛmʋ, ‘bhie, Maliii ‘wlusabhla yia nyni. 7 ’Ɩn ɔ yia ɔ ‘wʋkpɩalɩ yu gwalɩ, nʋkpasuyu nya. Ɔ bibelia ɔ ‘naa -yɔla nɩ, ‘ɩn ɔ yia ɔ nɩmaa ‘wʋlili -gbo ‘wʋ lapɩlɩ. Nɩɩ, wa ‘nɩ ‘bɩ ‘yɩ ‘lakpanyaa -budu zɔɔ ‘gbʋ.

-Lagɔɔ ‘anzɩ yabhlo -laa bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnya ‘dɩzɔnʋ

8 -Mɔ wee dʋdʋ -bhlokpadɛ -gʋ nɩ, kpaa bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnya gʋa. Sabɔ, -zugba wa kʋ wa bhlabhlɛɛ -zlo ŋwɛ. 9 -Jejitapɛɛ ‘anzɩ yabhlo yia wa ‘klʋtlalɩ, ‘ɩn -Lagɔɔ ‘ŋnɩmnɩee san ‘kadʋ yia wa gbeli. ‘Ɩn -nyanɩgbɔ yia wa -kpalɩ. 10 ’Anzɩ nɛɛ wa -ylaɛ: «A ‘na nyamanɩ -nɩ, nɩɩ, ‘dɩzɔnʋ ɩn -laa aɩn. Mʋ yia nyɩma weee ‘mʋna ‘kadʋ dlɩ zɔ slua. 11 -Zɛɛn sabɔ, wa ka amɩaa Gbʋwʋsanyɔ gwalɩ, -mɔ -Davidɩɩ -zɔɔ. Mɔ -wa -Lagɔɔ -Bhasanyɔ, ‘ɩn mɔ -wa Nyɩmaa -Kanyɔ. 12 -Lu -we ‘kaa ɔ -slolu, ‘bhie, a ‘ka ɔ yibheli mʋ nɩ: ‘yuyolu yabhlo a yia ‘yɩa, ‘naa mɩ ɔ -yɔlabibelida, -zugba ɔ pɩ nɩmaa ‘wʋlili -gbo ‘wʋ la.»

13 Tɔʋn, yalɩ ‘anzɩɩ -zlo yia ‘anzɩ -gʋbho, -Lagɔɔ ‘ŋnɩmnɩnɩe nya, -zugba we gbaa:
14 «-Lagɔɔ ‘ŋnɩ ‘yli -mɔ yalɩ ‘pɩpɩ,
‘ɩn nyɩma -wa -Lagɔ ‘yɩbhaa,
‘wʋtʋtʋe -dlɔɔ mɩ wa -nʋ nya dʋdʋ -gʋ.»

Bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnya mnɩa Bɛtɩlɛmʋ

15 Da -Lagɔɔ ‘anzɩnya ‘bhʋa wa kwesi, ‘ɩn we ‘dɛ weee yia yalɩ mnɩ nɩ, -bha bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnya zʋzlʋa ‘dɩ, wa nɛɛ: «-A mnɩ Bɛtɩlɛmʋ, gbʋ -we nʋa -mɔ lɛ, Jejitapɛ -slolua -aɩn ‘klʋ, -a ‘ka we ‘yɩ.»

16 Wa -sɔa ‘wʋ -gwagwɩe nya, ‘ɩn wa yia -mɔ mnɩ. ‘Ɩn wa yia -mɔ Malii -yɔ -Zɛzɛfʋ ylɩ. ‘Yuyolu pɩ nɩmaa ‘wʋlili -gbo ‘wʋ la, ‘ɩn wa yia ɔ ‘yɩ. 17 Da wa ‘yɩa ɔɔ ‘yuyolu nɩ, -we ‘anzɩ gbaa wa -yla ɔɔ ‘yuu daa, ‘ɩn wa yia we ‘dɩsasɩe bhli nyɩma tɔlʋa -yla. 18 Gbʋ -we bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnya gbaa, -wa weee ‘nʋa we, ŋwɛgaga sʋbhaa wa. 19 Gbʋ weee ‘plɩa, Malii yia we dlɩ zɔ ladɩlɩ. Ɔ -ka ladɩ, -zugba ɔ pʋpalɩ we -gʋ ‘wlukʋʋn la. 20 -Mʋʋ ‘bɩgʋ, ‘ɩn bhlabhlɛɛ ‘yliyɔzʋnya yia lʋmnɩ, -Lagɔɔ ‘ŋnɩ ylimanɩe -yɔ ɔ ‘ŋnɩ mnɩnɩe nya. -We wa ‘nʋa klaa, ‘ɩn wa ‘yɩa -yɔ klaa, nɩɩ, sa ‘anzɩ gbaa we wa -yla, ‘sa we nʋa.

Luke 2:1-20 in Kouya. If you couldn’t read this; please remember the 340 million people around the world who have no record of the Christmas story in their languages. Perhaps 2014 could be the year when you get involved in God’s amazing work of Bible translation.

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Photos like these bring happy memories…

The Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way October 2008

… walking the Great Glen from Fortwilliam to Inverness by myself at the start of a sabbatical.

St Cuthbert’s Way marker July 2013

St Cuthbert’s Way marker July 2013

… walking St Cuthbert’s Way (this section coincided with Dere Street, the Roman road) this summer with my wife!

Here’s another way marker…

The Way

It is the image from SU WordLive Bible reading John 14:1-14. .

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6.7

In the middle of a day’s walking, whether alone or with company, it is always a comfort to spot the way marker and know that you are on the right track. Nowadays we can find our way on long walks with GPS. In the SU comments this morning Sue Rinaldi says…

Jesus was a ‘sat nav’ for his followers, providing them with the only viable route to reach their preferred destination – his Father’s house. Aware of their obvious concerns, Jesus assures them it’s going to be OK. Even though he’s going away, he won’t abandon them, and encourages them to trust him.

John’s message of encouragement and confidence in Jesus is just one of the messages that everyone needs to hear in the language of their hearts. Yet speakers of 1,967 languages still don’t have that opportunity.

During our years in Ivory Coast, we had a rather battered vehicle which had a message of good news on the rear window sticker. I wish I had a photo of our old Renault Douze to show you…

Jésus dit: je suis le chemin, la véritié et la vie

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