Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’


Studying the Bible in a language you’re not very familiar with complicates understanding and could compromise the message. The Dukawa people of Nigeria tried to use the Scriptures in the “trade” language,* Hausa. But though Hausa was the language of the marketplace, it wasn’t the language of their home or their heart. Now God’s Word is being translated into their own Dukawa language, and many are surprised to find out what it really means.One man, a pastor for eight years, said, “I have recently compared my understanding of the Hausa Bible with the Dukawa translation, and I now realize that I misunderstood what the Hausa Bible was saying almost all of the time.”

I’ve visited countries where the church has been established for over a hundred years. I’ve met people who simply don’t understand the language that the Bible is preached from. I’ve met pastors who struggle to communicate with their congregation because they don’t really understand heart issues in the language spoken by most of them and vice versa.

We went to church for many years, but it wasn’t until we saw the Jesus film in our own language that we understood that Jesus died for our sins. We always thought he died because he did something wrong.

These are extracts from an article by Wycliffe USA colleague Bob Creson called: What Does It Really Mean? Please read some more of it.

This story is so honest – and it’s so important that Christians read it and understand why Wycliffe’s vision is…

By the year 2025, together with partners worldwide, we aim to see a Bible translation programme started for every language that needs one.


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Wycliffe Bible Translators UK Blog ended the year with a list of 12 Quotes for 2012. I have enjoyed reading them and decided to trickle them out on a daily basis 🙂

Quote number 9 is from a Nigerian Anglican Bishop saying how important Bible translation is in his country.

It means that Jesus is one of them, he is their brother, is their Lord. He can understand their language, he can speak it… It means that he understands their problems… When they talk to him, he is not a stranger.

Bishop Ndukuba, Nigeria

Wycliffe Bible Translators believe that the Bible is the best way for people to come to know who God is. But how can you access that knowledge without any of the Bible in your language? Bishop Ndukuba, a bishop in Nigeria, has seen how the translation has helped people, churches and communities come to know God more. Have a listen to what he has to say:

Nigeria has one of the largest remaining needs for Scripture translation in the world. If you believe, like Wycliffe and Bishop Ndukuba, that all people should have access to the Bible, find out how you could be part of getting God’s words to people’s hearts.

Almost 2,000 languages don’t have any access to God’s Word in their mother-tongue.

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The MAF plane flew into Korupun, West Papua in Indonesia – bringing the Kimyal New Testament to the Kimyal people. As the elders received the first box of New Testaments, one of the pastors prayed to God:

The month that you had set, the day that you has set, has come to pass today… You looked at all the languages and chose which ones would be put into Your Word. You thought that we should see Your word in our language. Today, the day that you had chosen for this to be fulfilled, has come to pass. O God, today, you have placed Your Word into my hands, just like you promised. You have placed it here in our land. And for all this, O God, I give You praise.

That’s how Wycliffe:Live started in Coleraine Baptist Church and Moira Baptist Church on 19 and 26 October 2011.

And then we asked the question: what needs to happen before a people group can receive God’s Word for the first time? That produced a whole list of roles and activities: printing, typesetting, translating, linguistic analysis, literacy, translation consultants, pilots, teachers, trainers, IT people, finance people, personnel, counsellors, scripture use, mother tongue education, recruiters, engineers, digital publishers, project managers, language software developers…

We couldn’t deal with all of these in one evening, so we zoomed in on a few examples…

Heather Saunders works with ETP to train people from around the world going to initial language assignments and has accompanied her husband Philip on translation consultant trips to Madagascar.

Heather Saunders with a trainee translation consultant in Madagascar

Mick Toolin (Water for Cameroon) who facilitates local communities to dig wells and install bio-sand water filters in NW Cameroon where the Ndop Team is working with a cluster of 10 language groups, two of which have recently had the Gospel of Luke completed.

Mick Toolin at the opening of another new well in Ndop

Bambalang man, who lost his home in inter-village violence, tastes pure water from his new bio-sand filter

Each year Wycliffe:Live has an offering project and this year it is for the First Gospel Beech Project from N. Nigeria which has a cluster of 7 languages spoken by over 520,000 people. One of the translation consultants is Jennifer Davey who has been working with the Zul team. Read more about this here and here.

Jennifer Davey checking Gospel of Luke with Zul team

… which took us to half-time. Part two to follow, but why not take a look at the video of the Kimyal people receiving their New Testament.

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Wycliffe UK’s Blog had a story on 15 September about a Wycliffe Bible Translators consultant from N. Ireland, Jennifer Niffer Davey entitled Beyond Our Dreams.

Jennifer Davey in Nigeria

Niffer Davey has been working as a translation consultant with a group of languages in Nigeria for the past five years. These languages have all been simultaneously translating the gospel of Luke – in each it’s the first book of the Bible to be translated.

Even though these men were chosen as translators by their communities, they always struggled to believe that they themselves could ever actually understand the Bible. They believed that it was too difficult, too spiritually complex and too mysterious.

But their spiritual lives have been changed by understanding that God wants to communicate with them! One of the team has decided they want to go to seminary, and learn to understand the Bible more. Another now regularly preaches in his mother tongue and holds Bible studies after church, as a way to engage more deeply with the text. The translators run twice-weekly literacy classes and are committed to doing the translation work and to engaging their community for no salary whatsoever!

Plenty of challenges remain, including engaging the whole community with what they have learnt.  But the changes that have already happened have been beyond all of our dreams!

Wycliffe UK First Gospel project

The project Niffer is involved with is called First Gospel. It supports a language community as they develop the gospel of Luke and the Jesus Film, as well as recorded Scripture and literacy resources, for the first time in their language. You can support projects like this through First Gospel.

And I might even see Niffer in the Wycliffe Belfast office later this week…

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Friend and Wycliffe colleague Sue training a Nigerian translation consultant

I came across this prayer request on one of our Wycliffe networks recently and it sparked some thoughts…

From mid-September to mid-October, three translators will meet with a consultant. Their drafts of Luke 19-24 are handwritten. The first week, time will be used in typing what the team agrees on as most natural. Then this team will travel to attend a three-week session with 11 other language teams. The aims are: 1) to check the exegetical accuracy of the completed chapters; and 2) to study the natural story structure of the language to ensure that the entire translation of Luke reads as a natural discourse. Pray for God’s guiding presence, the weather, health and protection from malaria, and consistent electricity for computers.

This is how Wycliffe Bible Translators is working in many places today. Experienced translation consultants (like Sue) training motivated mother tongue translators, called by God and approved by their local church, to make God’s Word available in heart languages.

Other Wycliffe staff (whether ex-pat or national) providing computer and other logistical support for all concerned.

People like you and me praying that mundane things that we all face – adverse weather, ill-health and unpredictable electricity supply – will not hold up the translation process.

Praying for adequate financial and other resources to be available as needed.

Praying too for God’s presence, encouragement and wisdom to surround everyone involved in the project whether on the ground or on the far side of the world.

Want to join the prayer team? Go here.

Want to contribute financial support? Go here.

Want to join Wycliffe? Go here.

Want to tell others all about it? Share this blog with your friends or go here.

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Last week from 17-23 July, I was at New Horizon.

Evening celebration with Ben Kwashi

New Horizon has been going at Coleraine University since summer 1989 – the year we left N. Ireland to teach at Vavoua International School in Ivory Coast as members of Wycliffe Bible Translators. In recent years Hope Street (the mission zone at New Horizon) has been operated as a multi-mission effort under the auspices of MAP [Mission Agencies Partnership] – and this year I was there to do my shifts in Hope Street, but also because I particularly wanted to hear two of the main stage speakers – Chris Wright and Archbishop Ben Kwashi.

Chris Wright, author of "The Mission of God"

As you can see below, Chris comes from Belfast and is the younger brother of a long term friend who lives close to us in Belfast. I have learned a lot from listening to Chris on downloads and reading his books, so was very keen to attend his series of morning Bible Readings throughout the week. I was not disappointed!

Chris Wright was born and grew up in Belfast but over the years has spent more of his life in India and England. In September 2001 Chris was appointed to his present role as the International Director of the Langham Partnership International. Chris and his wife, Liz, belong to All Souls Church, Langham Place where Chris enjoys preaching from time to time as a member of the ministry team. He enjoys running, birding and watching rugby and has a passion to bring to life the relevance of the Old Testament to Christian mission and ethics. Chris loves preaching and teaching the Bible, which he does now mostly through the Langham Preaching seminars in different parts of the world. When not travelling for this ministry he gives about 3 months of each year to his continuing writing projects. Chris and Liz live in London and have 4 adult children and 2 grandchildren.

Ben Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria

I was equally keen to hear Bishop Ben (as he became affectionately known throughout the week) since Wycliffe UK has strong links with Bible translation in Nigeria and Ben was once featured in a Wycliffe video stating: “Bible translation is evangelism!”

Ben Kwashi was born into a church-going family and went through normal primary education attending the Nigerian Military School. Although he had been preparing for a military career he received a clear call to go into the church’s ministry in 1976. He served in the Church for some two years before being sent for training to the Theological College of Northern Nigeria at Bukuru, Jos. He was ordained in 1982 and in January 2008 he was presented as the Archbishop of Jos Province, Nigeria. His pastoral experience is wide and varied as he has worked in rural and urban churches. In 1987 his church and vicarage were totally burned down in Christian-Muslim riots. He is currently the International Chairman of SOMA (Sharing of Ministries Abroad) and is well known as a preacher and evangelist throughout Nigeria and also in other African countries, England and America. He is married to Gloria and they have 6 children.

Another link was between Ben and the Theological College of Northern Nigeria where Ben studied. We have Wycliffe UK members teaching at TCCN on the Bible Translation degree course for Nigerian Bible translators. One of the New Horizon mission projects for 2010 will support a Wycliffe UK project to part fund Nigerian Bible translation students at TCNN.

As the New Horizon website says:

This year at New Horizon we will be supporting the efforts of 3 Mission Projects. One of these is:

  • Wycliffe Bible Translators programme for the training of Nigerian Bible translators at the Training College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN). In a country with more than 300 language groups, this programme will help meet the urgent need for well-equipped Nigerian translators.
  • Actually Nigeria has over 500 listed languages! And many of these still need Bible translation… If the New Horizon income allows this project to be supported, 18 more Nigerian Bible translators will be trained to work on some of those languages.

    New Horizon has promised that we will soon be able to download the talks of all the main speakers from their website… I’m looking forward to that!

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    …students come from more than a dozen denominations and spoke 28 different mother tongues”

    Nigeria has more than 300 languages without a translation of the Bible

    THE CONTEXT: There is a Bible translation training programme at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN).  Last time we checked the Bible translation students came from more than a dozen denominations and spoke 28 different mother tongues.

    A PROBLEM: Some dedicated Nigerians who want to join the programme simply don’t have enough finances to fully fund their studies.

    A SOLUTION: Several years ago a network of Nigerian churches and missions concerned with making Scriptures and Christian literature available set up a bursary fund to help. This has already helped 16 Nigerian students, the first group of which will graduate this year.

    A NEW PROBLEM: But the money available has not kept pace with the number of potential students. At this time more funding from outside Nigeria is needed.

    Ben Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria

    A SOLUTION: New Horizon, a large Christian conference in Northern Ireland has accepted a funding proposal from Wycliffe UK to help the TCCN bursary fund. One of the main speakers at New Horizon 2010 is Archbishop Kwashi… things were beginning to come together. Archbishop Benjamin Argak Kwashi lives in Jos, Nigeria, just down the road from TCNN. If that isn’t enough, he studied at TCNN. Yet more, he has sent clergy under his care to study at TCNN. And he is a on the board of a Bible translation organization.  New Horizon has agreed that this project will be one of the three supported by the 2010 mission appeal!


    a.     Funding will be provided for the bursary fund

    b.    The funding  will allow 18 more gifted Nigerians to be  trained (to receive the bursary prospective students must display a clear commitment to serve in translation work, show evidence of other sources of support, and have references from their own churches)

    c.     Bible translation will receive exposure at a major N Irish Christian conference

    d.    A Nigerian leader will hopefully validate the importance of Bible translation on stage, rather than just a “white face” doing so

    The Bible says that Jesus holds all things together. Occasionally, with initiatives like this one, you feel you can see him doing it.      Kent Anderson

    And just to make another link, when the current Provost of TCNN, Dr Tersur Aben was studying at Belfast Bible College a few years ago, he preached in my church and came to us for Sunday lunch!

    Who was it who said, “I love it when a plan comes together”?

    With thanks to my Wycliffe colleague Kent Anderson

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    Wycliffe UK colleagues Kent and Tim have recently returned from Nigeria where they were information gathering for a 28 venue UK tour of the Bible overview drama From Eden to Eternity which will feature a cluster of Nigerian languages that are just beginning translation.

    The promise of revelation 7v9

    Kent writes about his mixed feelings of sadness and joy…

    I spent 6 days in Jos, where there has recently been a serious outbreak of riots. Hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced in this latest round of violence.
    – I saw burned out cars and buildings
    – I travelled past a village which looked like it had suffered an earthquake and where they have pulled some 150 corpses out of wells
    – I met a man who had two people in his car killed by a mob and then had to hide in the bush for two days
    – I heard of someone taking 40 refugees into their home…

    Killings and burnings had been done by both Christians and Muslims. It was peaceful while I was there, but much of that was due to a 6pm to 6am curfew and a heavy miltary presence that meant you met a check point every few minutes on the road.

    The rest of my time was one excitement on top of another as I met a long list of Nigerians connected to Bible translation:
    – the District Head of Barde who we met “by chance” while buying a warm coke, but who is part of the Nyenkpa language committee
    – the Chief who thanked us on behalf of his people for helping give them the scriptures, even though his own people are doing the work
    – “Baba Duya” who has just completed Luke in his own language and who took me to hear local children say the Lord’s Prayer in Duya
    – Peter who has given up a successful business to translate and who organised for the local choir to sing joyfully for us in their language
    – the new Provost (President) at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria, who has a vision for people to come from surrounding nations to receive translation training up to a PhD level
    – Jerry who regularly talks about Bible translation with top Nigerian church leaders, such as the Archbishop of Jos…

    That is Nigeria. A complicated place, but one where God is certainly at work through his people.

    My readers in Ireland might be interested to know that the Archbishop of Jos Rev Dr Ben Kwashi mentioned above is one of the speakers at New Horizon in Coleraine 17-23 July 2010 and that part of the New Horizon Project fund for 2010 will go to a Wycliffe initiative to sponsor 18 Nigerians to study at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria to receive training and degree qualifications to become Bible translators for some of the 300 Nigerian languages still without the Bible.

    Rev Dr Tersur Aben, Provost of TCNN

    And I have just spotted on the TCNN website that the new Provost is Rev Dr Tersur Aben whom we had the pleasure to get to know a little bit when he was taking a graduate course a few years ago at Belfast Bible College.

    Meanwhile the Wycliffe UK Blog has also flagged up this story and Tim has blogged with his reflections on the Nigeria trip

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    It was once my pleasure to be a colleague of Sue Arthur in Ivory Coast. Now Sue, wife of my boss Eddie, is a translation consultant and a few days ago she posted a lovely story about her recent consulting trip to Nigeria – read it here. I think it’s worth a look for two reasons…

    1. Sue’s teamwork comment:

    To paraphrase St Paul:  ‘If I could translate into all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.’

    2. The photo of Sue which shows what fun translation workshops can be!

    Bible translation is obviously fun!

    Bible translation is obviously fun!

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