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Posts Tagged ‘Oku’

Oku Rich Fool Cover

A few days ago I blogged on the idea that Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Fool could be a good parable for Boxing day – see The Rich Fool:Jason Ramasami style

Today however, on the cusp of 2016, I think it’s a parable for any time of the year and for every culture. I want to illustrate it by showing you how the Oku Bible translation and literacy team from NW Cameroon  produced the parable in a booklet before they had completed the whole New Testament in Oku.

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’

14 Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ 15 Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

16 And he told them this parable:

Oku Rich Fool 1

Oku Rich Fool 2

Oku Rich Fool 3

Oku Rich Fool 4

Oku Rich Fool 5

That’s it! The Parable of the Rich Fool that Jesus told to a first century Jewish audience in Palestine, probably in Aramaic – translated into Oku and graphically illustrated in the cultural style of 21st century rural NW Cameroon

I wonder how many Oku readers will see this post: if there are, I’d love to hear from you. For the anglophones, the parable is below in the NIV version of Luke’s Gospel.

Whether in Aramaic, Oku or English, Jesus’ message is the same: God must take first place in our lives.

‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”18 ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

20 ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

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Speaking in Desertcreat Parish Church

Speaking in Desertcreat Parish Church Sunday 23 March 2014

I’ve been in Ardtrea and Desertcreat Parish churches several times before, but although I knew the churches had a long history I only found out how long when I checked their websites this morning.

First Ardtrea…

Ardtrea Parish Church

Ardtrea Parish Church

The name Ardtrea means ‘hill of Trea.’ Trea was a virgin saint who was converted to the Christian faith by Patrick in the fifth century. She was said to live as a recluse at Ardtrea Derry.

Our record of former ministers dates back as far as 1406 so like Desertcreat we are a church with a lot of history.

Pretty impressive!

Now Desertcreat…

Desertcreat parish Church

Desertcreat parish Church

On the wall of the vestry room at Desertcreat there is a list of Vicars, Rectors and Curates. The earliest entries date back to 1440 but Christians have been meeting to worship at Desertcreat for much longer than that. In the fifth century A.D Saint Patrick was travelling throughout Ireland. Christians were meeting to worship at Desertcreat during this period so it goes without saying that we are a church with a lot of history. The building we use at present is the fourth building on the site. The name Desertcreat means the hermitage or desert of the two territories.

I showed photos of the Oku New Testament dedication in NW Cameroon and thanked the two churches for their faithful support for that project. As I went on to introduce them to a new project translating God’s Word for 16 languages in a cluster of islands in Indonesia… I wonder, could St Patrick himself have stood on or close to the spot where I was speaking..?

Probably not! But it is exciting to be encouraging support for Bible translation for the remaining 1,919 languages with no Scripture, in a context where God has been worshipped for sixteen centuries.

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At least according to someone who spoke to Eddie Arthur, Director of Wycliffe UK.

A few years ago a prominent British Christian leader (names withheld to protect the guilty) told me that he couldn’t take Wycliffe Bible Translators seriously because we wasted so much time translating the Bible for tiny little people groups.

I might just have ignored this as the ramblings of someone who didn’t know what they were talking about, but the person in question had just given the weekly missionary talk at a well known summer gathering.

So what was the problem with this Christian leader’s opinion?

Eddie has just posted a blog setting the record straight. Here’s how he starts…

Well, firstly, it was a rather ignorant caricature. We do work with some very small groups (the Kouya number not much over 10,000), but we also work with some groups of several millions.

However, and much more importantly, the person in question really hadn’t grasped the nature of God’s mission to the world.

These Koiuya women and girls were pretty excited at the dedication of their New Testament; I should know - I was there!

These Kouya women and girls from Ivory Coast were pretty excited at the dedication of their New Testament; I should know – I was there!

So were this Oku couple from Cameroon, studying their New Testament as soon as they received it!

Read the rest of Eddie’s excellent apologetic for Bible translation as central to God’s mission. He concludes…

…in the upside-down world of the Kingdom of God, we simply can’t say that some groups are too small to deserve our attention. Our God is a God who continually reaches out to people wherever they are; we, his people, can do no less.

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Oku NT

The New Testament in Our Mother Tongue

Part of poem written for the Oku Dedication by Peter Ngum Oku Project team leader

Aba! The story of Oku has changed!

That time of darkness and ignorance is passing away

Because a great light now lights the way

And the people’s hearts once darkened, now are brightened.

For the Jesus who was called a white man

Now speaks like an Oku man.

The God of heaven and earth has done it again

Our attitude to Scriptures was disdain

But now Scripture is gain.

No longer shall it be said of us,

“Their heroes are only witches and witch doctors;

Nothing good can come from their sectors”,

But Jesus would be our true doctor.

Now we rejoice with joy unspeakable

For God has multiplied our joy;

Again we rejoice with joy unspeakable;

As though we have caught a tiger with our hands.

Yes, we rejoice with joy unspeakable

With radiance of smiles as of the bright gentle waves of Lake Oku.

I visited the Oku people in NW Cameroon in 2003 and again in 2009. I kept an interest in Peter Ngum and his team working away over the years to translate the New Testament into their heart language, the work supported by churches in N. Ireland.

On 12 October this year, the Oku people dedicated the New Testament in their own heart language.

Celebrate with us  that the Oku people can rejoice this Christmas by reading about the birth of Jesus in their very own New Testament.

May we all experience the Christmas story with fresh eyes and ears.

With our love and prayers for a Joyful and Peaceful Christmas wherever you are!

See also here and here and here

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Celebrating the arrival of the Oku New Testament

Celebrating the arrival of the Oku New Testament

On 12 October 2013, many years of work on the Oku New Testament came to fruition when around 2000 people celebrated the dedication of God’s Word in the Oku language of NW Cameroon.

The Oku people who live in more than thirty villages are mainly subsistence farmers. Churches (Presbyterian, Baptist and Roman Catholic) have existed alongside traditional religion for many years – without God’s Word in their heart language. But as the opening words from the celebratory poem below declare: “The story of Oku has changed!”

The New Testament in Our Mother Tongue
Poem written for the Oku  Dedication by Peter Ngum, Oku Project Team Leader

Aba! The story of Oku has changed!
That time of darkness and ignorance is passing away
Because a great light now lights the way
And the people’s hearts once darkened, now are brightened.

For the Jesus who was called a white man
Now speaks like an Oku man.
The God of heaven and earth has done it again
Our attitude to Scriptures was disdain
But now Scripture is gain.

No longer shall it be said of us,
“Their heroes are only witches and witch doctors;
Nothing good can come from their sectors”,
But Jesus would be our true doctor.

Now we rejoice with joy unspeakable
For God has multiplied our joy;
Again we rejoice with joy unspeakable;
As though we have caught a tiger with our hands.
Yes, we rejoice with joy unspeakable
With radiance of smiles as of the bright gentle waves of Lake Oku.

For to us, the New Testament has been delivered,
To us, a permanent document has been given;
It shall be called the preserve of language;
The reservoir of truth
A compendium of the verdict that sets all men free
The pointer of wrong in our lives; and
The source of everything that is right.

And concerning the use of this book there shall be no end;
For it shall be used from generation to generation,
And God shall use it to bring people to his kingdom
Through its powerful message of the kingdom
And people from Oku shall enter the kingdom
Through Jesus Christ our saviour and King.  Amen.

Bob Duff, retired Wycliffe member, once coordinated support from N. Irish churches for the Oku project and others. His church, Greenwell Street Presbyterian Newtownards, was one of those churches. Bob and fellow elder Alan McCormick represented Wycliffe UK at the dedication ceremony.

“The Oku people had waited for this moment for over twenty years and many had paid in advance for their copy of the New Testament so eager were they to read ‘God’s Talk’ for themselves.  The experience of being present at this event prompted one to ponder at the value placed on God’s Word by people In Cameroon compared with the sometimes casual attitude we regard those same scriptures in Northern Ireland.
“Heavy rain fell during the final stages of the event and it is our earnest prayer that this deluge might symbolise the showers of blessing from God on the faithful use and understanding of the scriptures by the Oku people.” Bob Duff

Peter Ngum receives his Certificate of Appreciation for his work and leadership in the Oku Bible translation Project

Peter Ngum receives his Certificate of Appreciation for his work and leadership in the Oku Bible translation Project

Oku people receiving their New Testaments

Oku people receiving their New Testaments

Receiving and studying Oku New Testament

Receiving and studying Oku New Testament

Oku Bob 2If your church would like to hear more about the Oku story or how you might support another Wycliffe Bible Translators UK InFocus project like Oku, please check out InFocus

[Thanks to Bob and Alan for account and photos of the event]

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Two friends of mine were at the dedication of the Oku New Testament in NW Cameroon in October. Bob and Alan are members of a church that has supported the project for many years.

Bob Duff (centre) and Alan McCormick (right)

Bob Duff (centre) and Alan McCormick (right)

When Bob worked in the Wycliffe office in Belfast, he coordinated churches and individuals in N. Ireland who supported the Oku Project. Along with Wayne Johnston from Canada, Bob and Alan were presented with traditional Oku tops and headwear.

Bob wrote us an account of his visit

The Oku people had waited for this day for over twenty years and many had paid for their copies in advance, so eager were they to read “God’s Talk for themselves”.

Heavy rain fell during the final stages of the dedication and it is our prayer that this deluge might symbolise God’s showers of blessing on the faithful use and understanding of the Oku scriptures by the Oku people.

This morning I was surprised to find the Literacy at the Morgue story on the Wycliffe UK Blog.

Within two weeks of the Oku New Testament launch, the newly translated Scriptures were piercing and comforting hearts in the Oku community, Cameroon.

Read the rest of the story of how within a short space of time, the Oku New Testament was not only comforting the widow of an Oku man living in the capital city Yaoundé, but Oku people in the capital were learning to read the Oku language for themselves.

Pastor Peter Ngum, Oku Project leader, receives recognition at the dedication

Pastor Peter Ngum, Oku Project leader (right), receives recognition of his work

An Oku couple study the New Testament as soon as they received it

An Oku couple study the New Testament as soon as they received it

Photo credit: Alan McCormick

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On Saturday 12 October 2013, the Oku people of NW Cameroon celebrated the New Testament in their heart language.

Over many years, churches and individuals in N. Ireland have supported this project prayerfully and financially. At Wycliffe:Live on Wednesday 16 October, we praised God with the Oku people for His Word now available in their heart language.

Retired Wycliffe colleague Bob Duff is a member of one of those supporting churches. He and Alan, another member of the same church, were at the celebration and they sent us some photos.

The crowds gather for the celebration

The crowds gather for the celebration

Church leaders prepare to dedicate the New Testament

Church leaders prepare to dedicate the New Testament

Dedicatinfg the Oku New Testament

Dedicating the Oku New Testament
The Oku New Testament

The Oku New Testament

Today Bob Duff called into the Wycliffe office in Belfast and gave us a copy of the Oku New Testament. I’m taking it with me this evening to use it in my presentation in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Celebration of Global Mission event in 1st Cookstown Presbyterian Church.

PCI Transforming Mission

Another language group now has God’s Word in the heart language.

Hopefully we will have more to say about this event and more pictures.

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