Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mary Steele’

So said Mary Steele, Wycliffe Bible Translator, when interviewed on Ulster Television (UTV) some years ago.

My mind was very focussed on Mary and her long career with Wycliffe Bible Translators when I attended her funeral just before Christmas.

My mind went back to Mary’s interview with Paul Clarke which was shown on UTV twice in the same day. Did I have a copy of it? Where might I find it? It was a sheer accident that I found it on the new Wycliffe UK website – and I thought it deserved a plug.

The quotation below is  from When the Good News met the media which I blogged on 31 October 2010…

UTV Live news last night (Tuesday 10 June 2008) twice carried the story of Mary Steele MBE, 80 year old veteran Bible translator in Ghana. Mary is home near Ballymena in N. Ireland for a few months before returning to Ghana to complete the revision of the Konkomba Bible to be type-set in the autumn. She was very sensitively interviewed by Paul Clarke and Mary was her usual calm and clear speaking self. She talked about the growth of the Konkomba church since the sixties when she first went there and the amazing growth in literacy – hence the need for a new edition of the Konkomba Bible.
When asked why she does what she does, Mary replied, “I love the work, I love the people and I love the Lord!”

So I invite you to watch and enjoy Mary’s interview with Paul Clarke…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

In 1962 Mary Steele arrived in Ghana to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Moving up to the north of the country, which was very under-developed at the time and had few schools, Mary started work on the Konkomba language.

Mary with her MBE at Buckingham Palace

Mary with her MBE at Buckingham Palace

When the Konkomba New Testament was completed and local language literacy well underway, Mary started work in another language, Bimoba.  Then when the Bimoba NT was translated, she returned to help the Konkomba team work on the Old Testament.

Readers of this blog may recall that Mary received the MBE at Buckingham Palace in May 2006 for services to linguistics, literacy and Bible translation in Ghana.

Just last week the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation (GILLBT) recognized Mary’s long service with them.

Mary at the British High Commission in Ghana

Mary at the British High Commission in Ghana

Wycliffe Bible Translators UK executive director Eddie Arthur was present at the event.

Last Thursday 20 March 2014 I attended a reception at the British High Commission in Accra to celebrate Mary’s 52 years of service to this country. Perhaps the most remarkable intervention was from a former government minister from the Konkomba area who said that he and other successful Konkombas could not have received an education and done as well as they did without the work of the woman they call their mother.

Eddie quoted a recent blog by Rollin Grams.

The local church can support a missionary perspective by separating the recent concept of ‘short-term missions’ from ‘missionaries.’ Missionaries are called into a life-time of cross-cultural ministry. They are skilled in cross-cultural interaction, Biblically educated (or should be!), able to share the Gospel clearly, and working to evangelize, plant churches, and nourish people and churches in the faith through training in the Scriptures and for ministry. Their example is Paul the apostle and his missionary team, not the Peace Corps or the Red Cross.

Mary is rather unique in having been blessed with the health and strength to serve for 52 years. Her career illustrates that mission work – and especially Bible translation – is by its nature a long-term venture. Perhaps this is something our short-term church culture needs to grasp.

Read Full Post »

Mary Steele in Ghana

Just a few minutes ago, Wycliffe partner in Ghana GILLBT published this on their Facebook page

The work of Mary Steele is being celebrated at the British High Commission today!
Mary Steele has, through a period of over 50 fifty years, contributed significantly to the intellectual, material and spiritual life of Ghana. Her contribution to language development and the spiritual transformation of language groups in Ghana was recognized by Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of British Empire) at the Buckingham Palace in London in May 2006.
GILLBT congratulates Mary Steele for the great work the Lord has used her to do in Ghana!

Wycliffe UK director Eddie Arthur travelled to Ghana yesterday to be with Mary Steele at the British High Commission in Ghana today, celebrating the work of Bible translation partner GILLBT and Mary in Ghana.

As referred to in the GILLBT statement above, Mary was awarded the MBE at Buckingham Palace May 2006 for services to Bible translation, literacy and language development in Ghana. I had the privilege to be there with Mary, her neice Linda and former GILLBT Director Justin Frempong.

Read Full Post »

Well, first of all, for a very few Bible translators, it leads to an invitation to Buckingham Palace!

Mary Steele, the first Irish member of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, received the MBE for services to linguistics, literacy and Bible translation in Ghana. And I got the chance to go with her for the investiture. Mary was also interviewed on Ulster Television about her many years with Wycliffe.

Mary Steele MBE at Buckingham Palace with some colourful friends

Mary Steele MBE at Buckingham Palace with some colourful friends 10 May 2006

However what sparked my reminiscing about Mary today was finding a story posted by Wycliffe colleague Ed Lauber about one of the two Ghanaian Bibles that Mary was involved in translating – the Bible for the Bimoba people of Northern Ghana.

I have written before about Solomon Sule-Saa, a Ghanaian who has done extensive research on the impact of translating the Bible into the Konkomba and Bimoba languages of northern Ghana. In a summary of his research presented to a conference in September, he said of the Konkomba and Bimoba peoples:

“The Bible now provides the key to understand the world”

During an ethnic conflict which was so serious the Ghana army had to intervene, the Bimoba lost confidence in the neutrality and good will of the Ghana government. They saw no way forward but to continue fight for their rights. In a war council, several leaders quoted from the translated Bible, arguing that that Jesus way is the way of reconciliation. So, abandoning their own wisdom they agreed to engage in peace talks moderated by the government they no longer trusted. It worked. They got what they were seeking through negotiation. Now that is faith – following the teachings of the Bible when your life and your livelihoods are at stake. This story shows that the Bible in these languages is doing more than influencing the decisions of individuals. It is also affecting the decisions made by the chiefs for the whole group. Now that is being transformed.

Wycliffe UK’s tag line used to be Translated Scripture Transforms Lives – it still does.

mary-marlene-small

Mary Steele in conversation with Marlene Ferguson at Wycliffe:Live 2009 when we marked her 50 years with Wycliffe

Doing your sums? Mary will be 54 years with Wycliffe sometime this year and continues to work as a translation consultant in Ghana.

Find out how you could be part of your generation translating Scriptures to transform lives.

Or try a taster at Two Week Stint this summer in France!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: