Posts Tagged ‘N.Ireland’

… and I’m just talking about translations of the Bible in English.

English translations of the Bible

The question keeps on popping up.

How many translations of the Bible are there in English?

Answers range from 100 to 450 to 900! I’ve just been Googling, so I have.

Do we need them all? Certainly not!

Why do we have so many? Now, that’s a good question.

Ask the translators who keep on producing so many for us Anglophones. Is someone making some money out of it… but let’s not go there.

Especially when we research the other approx 7,000 languages spoken in the world today and see how many of them have a complete Bible – or a New Testament – or even a single verse of Scripture!

Why not do that research for yourself. I’ll even help you. And I’ll probably blog on this again: the new annual stats should be out soon.

However – 1.5 billion people are still waiting for the Bible in their languages… and us Anglophones, we’re spoilt rotten.

So why this blog at this time? Well, it’s all the fault of The Babylon Bee.

They decided to explain the main differences between popular Bible translations. That was their first mistake – they mentioned only translations of the Bible in English.

Then they said: Have you noticed how many Bible translations are available these days? There are so many to choose from that it can get downright overwhelming. That was their second mistake – they mentioned only translations of the Bible in English.

From then on, it was a very entertaining and satirical review of eight Bible translations – they were all, of course, without exception, translations of the Bible in English.

I thoroughly enjoyed their post, but there was one more mistake. They think that the NIV stands for the Nearly Inspired Version. Well now, everyone where I live knows that it’s really the Northern Ireland Version!

PS Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland have a new look, a new logo and a new website. Fancy a wee look


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… or more accurately, praise to God who created the world that we live in and enjoy.

Just one of God’s landscape paintings…

Following on from my tongue in cheek Jacana story yesterday, this morning I read this from Vivien Whitfield commenting on Psalm 104 in SU WordLive.

As a keen birdwatcher I regularly feed the birds in my garden and record those which come. It’s fun to watch their different characteristics. Greenfinches sit guzzling on the seed feeder. Tits fly in and out again quickly. I have seen collared doves appearing to plead with me to put more food out. And yet all the birds fly off when I go out into the garden. They depend on me when the surrounding food supply is low, but they’re wary of me as well. Perhaps that’s a good illustration of how humans are with God. We depend on him for everything and yet there’s a right wariness too – which comes through clearly in this psalm.

Yesterday we had a plump woodpigeon perching on our decking fence patiently waiting for untidy feeders like the sparrows and coal tits to dislodge seeds on to the ground so it too could feed. I’ve also been excited about the beautifully coloured goldfinches that come regularly to feed from the niger seeds this year.

Then there are the bossy noisy starlings, the bullying jackdaws and the imperious magpies that disturb the quieter robins, collared doves, tits and dunnocks.

Please take time to read Psalm 104 today. God has given us an amazing world to live in.

The Earth reflects the amazing creativity of our God. We destroy and exploit it at our peril.

Another quote from SU WordLive this morning



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It’s been a while since I posted a blog, but I’ve had a mini sabbatical during May.

Here are some photos to remind me of the past month 🙂

With a friend, putting the Enough Food for Everyome banner on the church wall

With Robert, putting the Enough Food for Everyone IF banner on the church wall

St Anne's Cathedral Belfast one sunny day between the showers

St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast one sunny day between the showers

2 day retreat at the Mourne Quiet Garden

2 day retreat at the Mourne Quiet Garden

Spent most of a week here at Murlough House at a mission course

One for Ulster rugby fans: “Have you heard the news, Rory? You’re going to Australia!” SUFTUM!

Wee bit of work in the garden

Wee bit of work in the garden

Forth Railway Bridge near Edinburgh… visiting the family pre return to work

And here I am – back in the office and off to the PCI General Assembly in Derry tomorrow to promote Bible translation! You can catch up on PCI GA goings on with Alan in Belfast. Perhaps I’ll have something to report later this week.

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Recently I read this quote from British politician Vince Cable in his memoir Free Radical written before he achieved a Cabinet position in the Conservative / Liberal Coalition government. He was reflecting on his period as acting leader of the Liberal Democrats in opposition during a tricky time of party leadership transition.

Vince cableI have always moved effortlessly from the spotlight to the shadows and there is a particular pleasure to be had from enjoying prominence and (in my case, modest) power without feeling the need for them.

Free Radical: A Memoir Vince Cable

I thought… thanks, Vince, that’s encouraging.

You see, I was contemplating a transition myself.

My big change came just after Easter as  I handed over my role as Wycliffe Bible Translators UK’s N. Ireland Coordinator to my colleague John Young. John is now UK assigned after six years in the Philippines where he ended up as Acting Philippines Director. So I’m happily handing over to a capable and experienced successor.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not comparing my role in Wycliffe Bible Translators UK with Cable’s role in British politics. Politicians often talk about serving, but to be successful it seems that they must ambitiously seek power and influence. I see my various roles in my 25 years with Wycliffe as a privilege that God allows me to be part of His Mission to His World. All the power and all prominence belongs to God.

I have never in my various roles with Wycliffe seen myself as enjoying prominence or power, modest or otherwise. But I was struck by the idea that a politician could contemplate a step down in position and accept it honestly and graciously. It was an encouragement to read Cable’s words as I know only too well that leadership transitions, whether in politics or in the church and mission, are not always smooth and can sometimes be rather messy.

So I have stepped down from the Wycliffe NI Coordinator role. I am not however retiring. John, my successor, wants me to stay on as part of the N. Ireland Church Engagement Team.

I am looking forward to my new role. I am fairly confident that I can step down and work within the team under John’s leadership.

I look forward in God’s strength to this new role with the same aim and passion that God’s Word will become available to everyone in their heart language.

For those of you who have ever visited the WBTUK office in Belfast, we’ll see about posting a few photos of how we have re-arranged it recently…

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John’s last few months as N. Ireland Coordinator for Wycliffe UK have been rewarding and encouraging. He loves being able to enthuse people about how God uses many different gifts and abilities in bringing His Word to life in every language. Two events in February were very successful. Twenty people came to First Steps and two people at CheckITOut offered to use their IT skills from home for Bible Translation projects overseas.

NL April 2013
Recruitment has been another part of the coordinator role that gets John excited! Our latest N. Irish member, Lydia, was accepted in April – another reminder of the privilege of seeing God at work in individual lives. Ruth enjoyed interviewing two recent applicants and hopes to continue being involved in this way.

Many people have prayed faithfully for the N. Ireland Office and specifically for the staff needed there. It has been more than John could have hoped for to see the way the new team has taken shape. He has really enjoyed the relaxed way the handover has been managed, giving time for the “new John” to watch what goes on in the office before getting to grips with how he plans to lead it forward.

On Monday 8 April the big day happened quietly. John Young officially took over as N. Ireland Coordinator and his wife Jennifer became the Personnel Coordinator. Some changes have been made to the layout of the office so that a new look has accompanied the new team. John Hamilton is now delighted to find himself with a new desk, in a new room, with a new role in the new look team! Please feel free to drop in to see the changes and greet the team.

You may be wondering what John is actually going to do? Well the focus so far has been on “Old” John helping “Young” John to familiarise himself with all things Wycliffe in N Ireland. The plan is for John Hamilton to take a short break in May to allow John Young to go solo. Then they will sit down together to map out John’s new role. It would be great if you could pray for both Johns – Young as he takes charge and Hamilton as he fits into the new shape team. He is already enjoying the prospect of having more time to focus on doing fewer things and to having a boss in the office. Having reached the milestone of official retirement age, John also plans to reduce his time in the office to 3 days a week. He is glad this will allow him more time to support his mum and dad … and who knows what else he might find God leading him into? Any prayer and suggestions about this will be welcome!!

Ecclesiastes 3 has lots of “times” – “a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to be silent and a time to speak.” New times in the Belfast office might include these and more…

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cracked pot

There are changes afoot in the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in Belfast. Job transitions will happen around Easter. We’re re-shuffling who sits at what desk in what room and stuff like that. It’s all very exciting – unless like me, your office has been accumulating STUFF since early 2005!

In the process, the broken pot above emerged. More recent staff had questions… What is it? Why is it here? I was pressured to get rid of it and I will do something.

Curious to confirm my memories of the origin of the broken pot, I did some research and found this dating from an office move in 2005…

In our new office we received a gift of a broken terracotta pot, planted with lovely flowers. Brightening up the office, it is also a symbolic reminder that in our job we are helping to ‘grow’ disciples. Often we think that God can’t use our brokenness. Thankfully again and again he proves us wrong. God calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things, provided they are willing to place themselves in His hands. How does he want you to grow?    Andrea Woodrow   Wycliffe News April 2005

I’m sad that we don’t have a photo of the broken pot in all its 2005 glory!

But I am delighted that the Belfast office staff will continue to stand alongside as “God calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things” in God’s Mission to his world through Bible translation.

What extraordinary things might God call you to do?

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When a Wycliffe colleague from Dublin was joining us some years ago, she referred in a conversation to Protestant traybakes. That was news to me. I thought everyone in Ireland enjoyed traybakes. The English I wasn’t so sure about…

Recently someone directed me to this blog by Petroc Trelawny, a BBC Radio 3 presenter who also writes about music, books and travel.

There was a time, long ago, when business at Broadcasting House in Belfast would briefly halt at eleven in the morning and three-thirty in the afternoon – the hours when the canteen laid out the fresh traybakes. Quite correctly, a former controller of BBC Northern Ireland decided the sweet cakes were taking up too much time – and now they appear on special occasions only.

Caramel slices, snowballs, raspberry ripple squares … I don’t really like sweet, sugary things, but, when in Ulster … The classic Northern Ireland traybake is the ‘Fifteen’; 15 marshmallows, 15 digestive biscuits, 15 glace cherries – chopped and crushed, bound together with condensed milk, refrigerated, rolled into a sausage and then cut into fifteen pieces.But wait. Shock horror. I have discovered that traybakes are sectarian.



A friend of mine from Belfast phoned the other day on his way back from a wake. I asked him if there had been any traybakes. He went quiet, then uttered a line of admonishment. ‘It was a Catholic funeral – there were scones, not traybakes’. So now I know. Fifteens and snowballs for the Protestants; cherry, fruit and plain scones for the Catholics. But, as I can testify, on the rare occasions when traybakes now appear at the BBC, people of all faiths and no faith fight their way to the front of the queue. Perhaps traybakes can be seen as a metaphor for the success of the peace process.

In Wycliffe Bible Translators UK, traybakes have been much more than a metaphor!

Traybakes have fuelled many’s a Wycliffe event – and not just social ones. Traybakes have been central to events held in and around Belfast: First Steps (formerly known as Wycliffe and Me), Wycliffe:Live, Pray 10/11/12.

But a few years ago, we began to export traybakes to England when we held summer short term team orientation weekends. I can testify that our English colleagues now know and love their Protestant traybakes! Sectarian? Not at all – traybakes have the potential to promote world peace.

This blog is dedicated to my friend and colleague who is affectionately known as Lynda McTraybake and who introduced traybakes to Bible translation.

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It’s a busy wee year here in N. Ireland! And what prompted me was spotting the poster on the right: perhaps more about the Balmoral review later. For the moment see Slugger O’Toole. We’re into the so-called decade of centenaries: the First World War and especially the battle of the Somme; the Ulster Unionist opposition to Home Rule for Ireland. the Irish Republican Easter Rising… not to mention the sinking of the Titanic! How could anyone miss it? As I mentioned in my recent Who’d be a third class passenger on the Titanic?– the Titanic is even being remembered in the village of Déma in Ivory Coast!

The Titanic Bar in Déma, Ivory Coast

It really has been interesting living in Belfast as N. Ireland people have re-adjusted their thinking about the Titanic from an embarrassing disaster for the reputation of the once world famous Belfast shipyard, to… here’s something we can celebrate. Belfast shipyard built what was then the greatest ship afloat – and as the song says..

Don’t blame me and don’t blame Jimmy

She was alright when she left the Yard!

Of course with world wide interest in the Titanic, who can blame N. Ireland for building on the Titanic story to develop our tourist industry. I touched on all this in a previous blog. My Dad and I went on a very enjoyable Titanic walking tour last year, but I’m afraid all the recent activity around the opening of Titanic Belfast has been overshadowed for me by our nostalgic and very memorable trip to the Kouya New Testament dedication in Ivory Coast.

Mind you if I hadn’t gone, I would never have known that the Titanic was being commemorated in Déma in the middle of Ivory Coast far from the coast and the sea. Indeed when the Kouya team was translating the Book of Acts, there were problems finding terms for all the nautical stuff in Paul’s final journey to Rome.

My favourite is the term for anchor which back translates as “big canoe stopping metal”!

Probably the last photo ever taken of the Titanic

The story about the memorial cruise on the Balmoral retracing the route of the Titanic to mark 100 years since the ship sank – see BBC News article – featured probably the last photograph of the Titanic taken from Cobh in 1912, and has sparked my interest again. So I must go and take a dander round Titanic Quarter sometime this week… and maybe take some photos of my own.

Nice image, this

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Perhaps you’re tired of seeing this mini poster. Or perhaps the image concept intrigues you – do you see yourself in the Wordle? What part could you play in the Bible translation team with Wycliffe Bible Translators?

Well, Wycliffe and Me happened in Belfast last Saturday hosted by Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church – a big thank you to all my friends there! And it was a success!

17 participants came. Some we’ve known for years… others we’ve never met before

  • There was a Spanish & Portuguese languages student who only signed up online on the Friday afternoon and was fascinated by the linguistics and grammar slot
  • There was a farmer with an IT interest and an IT guy with a grammar interest
  • There was a mother of 4 who wants to tell others in her church about what Wycliffe does – and another lady who came all the way from Dungannon for the same reason
  • There was an accountant with a wife interested in Spanish and translation
  • There was an English student wanting to know more about our MA in Field Linguistics
  • There was someone who wants to know more about translation consulting
  • There was a PhD Translation student exploring a dissertation on Bible translation

And then there was the guy who said:

“Please keep me updated by e-mail re Wycliffe Wild Weekends!”

So where did that come from? Well, Craig from Total Mountain Adventures actually… Craig is a friend of mine who was co-leader of the very first Wycliffe Transform Team to Cameroon in 2005. Craig, a younger version, is top left! Where are the rest of you now?

Wycliffe Transform Cameroon Team 2005

We were chatting one day and we thought… what about some adventure based events with a Wycliffe input?

Like the River Bann Canoe Trail – an amazing journey from Lough Neagh to Coleraine: spending the weekend canoeing, camping and cooking together… and hearing the challenge of Bible translation

Like skiing and snowboarding at a Scottish Winter House Party… and hearing the challenge of Bible translation

Like hill walking and some via feratta (hill walking up the side of a steep mountain whilst in a harness and clipped onto a steel cable) along with some shopping and coffee time in the Lake District… and hearing the challenge of Bible translation

So yes, a good day at Wycliffe and Me – and some food for thought about new ways of promoting Wycliffe in the UK or further afield!

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I have just read my daily Bible passage with SU WordLive. Mark is so concise, dramatic, direct in his story telling…

The Calling of the First Disciples   Mark 1:14-20

14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18At once they left their nets and followed him.

19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

… and I’m thinking wouldn’t it be great to have someone like Mark (who had first hand experience of Jesus’ teaching and ministry and also learned lots from Peter’s experiences of how Jesus called his disciples) to be part of the Wycliffe UK recruitment team. It looks like it would be so easy.

  • Bump into an IT geek: “Hey, you, follow me and I will make you an IT support person at Horsleys Green.” And off he goes to work with Andy and Patrick – just like that!
  • Meet a Queen’s University French and linguistics student: “Hey, you, follow me and I will make you into a Wycliffe member analysing an unwritten language in Senegal.” And off she goes – just like that!
  • Introduced to an accountant and his wife with an interest in translation in a church I’d never been to before: “Hey, guys, follow me and I will make you useful in Bible translation.” And so they e-mail their resignations, join Wycliffe and head off to… wherever – just like that!

But then I’ve always said that our role is to facilitate the people to whom God is speaking and so we need to be in tune with what the Holy Spirit is doing… and be patient… and let God work.

But wouldn’t it be nice to just walk up to someone and say, “Hey, join Wycliffe!”

Lord, send the people you want along to Wycliffe and Me at Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church, Belfast on Saturday 25 February 2012.

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