Posts Tagged ‘partnership’

Ears to hear?

I was at this conference last week with Wycliffe colleague John Young and we both found it thoroughly worthwhile and challenging.

Over 80 people had 'Ears to Hear' !

Over 80 people had ears to hear!

Last Wednesday 28 November, Presbyterian Mission Overseas held a special conference entitled “Ears to hear?” to give people the opportunity to hear how God is calling men and women to build his Kingdom in their particular culture and context – Asia, Africa and eastern Europe.

It was also a time for PCI members to listen carefully and learn from our partners, seeking to discern what God might be saying to us.

The main speakers were leaders from around the world, who are currently receiving sponsorship for their studies in the UK from PCI:-

  • Jorum Mugari – Zimbabwe
  • Andor Ferko & Zsuzsi Soos – Romania
  • Maqsood Kamil -Pakistan

PCI BMO Ears to Hear Conference Photo 2012

The Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Roy Patton, led devotions at the beginning of the conference and worship was led by three of PCI’s current leaders-in-training – Andor Ferko, Zsuzsi Soos and Peter Jenei (from Hungary).

Over 80 people from various congregations attended the conference, which concluded with lunch.

I appreciated the summing up one liners from three BMO people:

Lord, give us time, give us wisdom, and give us strength.  Gordon Campbell

Lord, help us never to leave your promises no matter what happens to us in Ireland.  Helen Johnston

The Gospel is transformation. Transformation begins with repentance. Give us repentant hearts.  Mark Welch



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prayer 2Every fourth Monday I sit down to write some prayer news. This week I wrote about the Gwoza Hills cluster project in Nigeria.

My prayer notes appear in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Board of Mission Overseas’ weekly Prayerline. It’s one of the perks of Wycliffe Bible Translators having been recognised by PCI as a strategic partner in mission. Prayerline appears on the BMO website each Wednesday and is e-mailed to 1,629 addresses each week.

Here is what appeared this week. Happy Christmas to all my Prayerline readers!

John Hamilton (Wycliffe N. Ireland Coordinator) invites you to lift up your eyes and prayers to the Gwoza Hills in Nigeria, the home of 7 language groups, representing over 213,000 people.  Churches have taken their first steps to getting the translated Scripture in their languages. Pray that communities and churches will become more fully involved in the translation project.

Christianity came to the Gwoza Hills about 50 years ago. Today, though many people call themselves ‘Christian’, African traditional religion remains very influential. Praise the Lord for this new beginning: that as Scripture becomes available, the region will never be the same again.

Gwoza Hills mapGwoza Hills people are eager to have Scripture in their own heart languages because they have seen Bible translation affecting neighbouring communities. The project aims to translate Luke’s Gospel and The JESUS Film in just four years. Thank God for the testimony of the other language groups, and pray that these language communities too will become a light on a hill. (Matt 5:14)

Prayer for Christmas Day

τέξεται δὲ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσειςτὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν, αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπτῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν.

Praise God that these words didn’t stay in Greek and that we can read and celebrate the truth of Matthew 1:21today. Pray for those who aren’t able to read this truth in their languages.

Read more about the Gwoza Hills project at http://wycliffe.org.uk/live/forchurches/firstgospelprayer-gwoza.html

Wycliffe Bible Translators is just one of PCI’s strategic partners known as Specialist Service Agencies (SSAs): the others are the Bible Society in N. Ireland, the National Bible Society of Ireland, FEBA and SAT7.

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Pick up the pieces and get on with the job

A lot of people were sharing this cartoon on Facebook a few weeks ago. I liked it and it occurred to me that very often in life in general and in work in particular, all the ingredients of a project or a problem or a decision or an event or a whatever are there… only not just quite in the right combinations or we need some expertise or inspiration or creativity or advice or maybe just hard work to get them all in the right order, fitting together… like an IKEA flat pack.

Take some the tasks involved in what colleagues in Wycliffe Bible Translators do to make the Bible available  to every people group in the language they understand best…

Getting to grips with an unwritten language…

People speak the language; they know the culture; they can express ideas clearly in their language and within their cultural context… but it takes someone with linguistic training to work out the sound system of an unwritten language, create a suitable alphabet, analyse the grammar. Once that is done, a start can be made to writing the language down and translating the Bible into that language.

Wrestling with the messiness of a potentially very productive partnership…

By the year 2025, together with partners worldwide, Wycliffe Bible Translators aims to have a Bible translation begun for every language that needs one… we call it Vision 2025

Sounds dead easy put like that but we all wrestle with partnerships which have the inevitable tendency to produce personality clashes, cross-cultural misunderstandings, interdenominational prejudices – or just sheer bloody mindedness.

Getting the church in the UK and Ireland to embrace Vision 2025…

That’s essentially my current job… at least in my corner of the UK and Ireland, primarily in N. Ireland. It’s a great place to work: geographically compact, still a high percentage of evangelical Christians and many strong churches. However many of those strong churches are already – as we say here – up to their oxters involved in mission at home and overseas. Others are much too parochial, not knowing enough about what God is doing outside their own small corner or else misunderstanding what they hear. Again many are so used to having the Bible in English, either they assume everyone has it or worse they have lost confidence in the power and relevance of the Bible in an ever-changing British and Irish culture.

Getting Wycliffe:Live ready for October in Coleraine and Moira…

Well that’s a success story. As you may have noticed, October is almost gone. On Saturday we turn the clocks back and start looking forward to Christmas prompted by the shops that have been displaying their Christmas wares for months now..?

Wycliffe:Live went really well in Coleraine Baptist Church on 19 October and in Moira Baptist Church on 26 October thanks to a bunch of hard working and creative people called Graham, Marlene, Clarke, Philip, Janet, Mick and Heather plus a vast supporting cast.

But Wycliffe:Live and what happened – that’s for another blog

All the pieces of the story are there… somewhere… just need to put it together… like an IKEA flat pack 🙂

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Title slide of Vision Lunch presentation back in 2002

“No language group should be considered reached until they have the Scriptures available in their mother tongue as the foundation for building sustainable Christian thought, life and community.”
—Rev. Dr. Kwame Bediako, Ghana

I remember this so well. We were not long home from eight years with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Ivory Coast teaching missionary children. I was learning how to represent Wycliffe at home in N. Ireland when our international conference came up with Vision 2025!

Vision 2025 is a vision for this generation.  Prior to 1999, the rate of Bible translation meant that it would be 150 years before translation had even started in every language that needed it.  150 years – that’s about 4 generations of people who would pass into eternity before having access to God’s Word in their own language.  Bible translation was simply going too slowly, and our desire was that in this generation – by the year 2025, God’s word would start to become available to everyone who needed it in their language.  But how?

Facing these harsh facts, on 1 October, 1999, the Wycliffe International organisations and key partners adopted the following Vision 2025 resolution:

Motivated by the pressing need for all peoples to have access to the Word of God in a language that speaks to their hearts, and reaffirming our historic values and our trust in God to accomplish the impossible, We embrace the vision that by the year 2025 a Bible translation project will be in progress for every people group that needs it.  We acknowledge that this cannot be accomplished simply by our working harder or doing more of what we are now doing. It will require us to make significant changes in our attitudes and ways of working… To this end we commit ourselves to pray for the fulfillment of this vision, seeking God’s guidance and obeying Him in whatever new directions He may lead.

We began holding Vision Lunches around Ireland [see image above] to spread the message. Some people were shocked at the 150 years projection; others somewhat apathetic. Some invited us to come and tell more at their churches; some slipped away for more urgent appointments. Many took away a Wycliffe folder and the Power of the Word video which was current at that time. In early December I am speaking again at a Presbyterian church whose minister I first met at a Vision Lunch.

But Vision 2025 is still in process. Read more about it on the Wycliffe Blog. You can read more quotes like the Kwame Bediako one and watch our latest Vision 2025 video.

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Rev Ivan Patterson Moderator Designate of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

The new Presbyterian Moderator, Rev Dr Ivan Patterson, will be installed following the opening of the church’s General Assembly in Belfast on Monday.

Dr Patterson, 62, has been minister of Newcastle Presbyterian Church in County Down for the last 20 years and succeeds outgoing moderator Dr Norman Hamilton. He was ordained in 1980 and served in Newcastle for the past 20 years. He will hold the post for one year.

The assembly, which will sit for four days, closes on Thursday evening.

… so begins the article on our local BBC NI News website

Tonight I will be there at the opening meeting of the General Assembly when Rev Patterson will be installed. There will be other people there who are more newsworthy than I am.

Rev Ivan Patterson’s theme for his year as Moderator, is “The Word is Life”. I look forward to his address on this theme tonight… and I’ll be wondering how it might further pave the way for the continuing partnership between PCI and Wycliffe Bible Translators here in Ireland.

Actually thanks to a friend falling out of a roofspace and breaking some ribs, I will be attending the four days of the General Assembly as representative elder for my home church Saintfield Road Presbyterian – so look out for exciting insights!

See also my blogs on recent Moderators’ visits to the Wycliffe office in Belfast:

We have the Bible, but we don’t read it very much

Norman Hamilton visits Belfast Wycliffe office

Stafford Carson visits Belfast office

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Rt Rev Dr Norman Hamilton OBE Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Next Tuesday at the General Assembly, Norman Hamilton will complete his year as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and will hand over to Rev Ivan Patterson of Newcastle Presbyterian Church. The year quickly passes, but Norman found the time to spend a morning with us at the Wycliffe office in Belfast. Read about it here.

Norman and me at the Wycliffe office

As Alistair Bill (minister of Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church and a member of the Wycliffe NI Council) put it at the time:

This was a valuable opportunity to present what Wycliffe is about to the Moderator, who has had previous experience of a Wycliffe event (From Eden to Eternity at Stormont) and also has travelled in Africa during his Moderatorial year. So, he brought to the meeting a lot of experience and also the benefit of reflections on the work of mission overseas. He was not concerned with learning for his future benefit, but more with improving the partnership that Wycliffe has with PCI. He asked a number of questions about that partnership, the most important of which could be summed up as ‘what would an effective partnership between Wycliffe and PCI look like?’

The day after Norman’s visit to our office, he was off to Dublin for the Queen’s visit and then to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. A few days ago he sent me his own brief reflection on meeting us…

I was delighted to visit our local Wycliffe staff in Belfast, for the Bible is absolutely central to our faith and our daily walk with God.  As one friend put it to me recently, we have the Bible but don’t read it very much.  On the other hand Wycliffe make the Bible available to people who do want to read it!  That is why our partnership between PCI and Wycliffe is so important.

We still have a lot of work to do to figure out exactly what our partnership / fellowship will look like over the coming years.  One obvious way forward is to help our younger people to see for themselves exactly what it takes to do this type of work – and so build both a prayer / support base as well as enthuse people to actually be part of it as their long term God given vocation.  This is a work that really does change nations as people find God through his word!

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