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Jesus, Light of the World

Jesus, Light of the World

I have just sent this off to Prayerline, the weekly mission prayer news from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland‘s Council of Global Mission. Wycliffe gets an entry every four weeks and this year, I’m delighted that we have the Christmas slot for a week starting 21 December 2016.

Wycliffe’s December contribution for PCI Prayerline

More people than ever before know Jesus’ name in their language this Christmas because of Bible translation. Here is a small sample of the name of Jesus in 3,000 plus languages with some Scripture. Speakers of up to 1,800 languages are still waiting to have the name of Jesus translated for them. #endbiblepoverty

Jezusi (Albanian)

يسوع (Arabic)

Յիսուս (W Armenian)

Езус (Belorusian)

যীশু (Bengali)

耶穌 (Chinese)

Ιησούς (Greek)

Íosa (Irish)

イエス (Japanese)

Иса (Kazakh)

ഈശോ (Malayalam)

Isus (Romanian)

Иисус (Russian)

যীশু (Sylheti)

ܝܫܘܥ (Syriac)

இயேசு (Tamil)

เยซู (Thai)

Ісус (Ukrainian)

Giêsu (Vietnamese)

uJesu (Zulu)

This Christmas Day the Wycliffe UK & Ireland prayer guide asks us to:

  • Thank God for the birth of Jesus. Also thank God that many more people can read about the birth of Jesus through the translated New Testaments that have been launched during the past year.

As you read and hear the familiar Christmas accounts in the Bible this week, ask God how he might want you to be involved in helping the name of Jesus to be translated into new languages and be known by the speakers of those languages.

 

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In my article in the current Presbyterian Herald reflecting on my 28 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators, I wrote:

Wycliffe is working towards #endbiblepoverty – and I would love to see our Church embracing this as a core strategic aim as we strive to be people of global concern.

picture1

Wycliffe Bible Translators values the partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI). Browsing the PCI website recently and via the Mission Partners page, I came upon this

Wycliffe Bible Translators believe that the Bible is the best way for people to come to know and understand who God is. Their vision is that by working with churches, organisations and individuals from around the world, all people will have access to God’s Word in a language that they truly understand.


Worldwide there are around 160 million people speaking up to 1,800 languages who do not have access to the story of God’s love for his people – the story of the Bible – in the language that they understand the best, their heart language.

Together with agencies involved in Bible distribution and in Christian broadcasting, agencies such as Wycliffe play a vital role in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church.

PCI have identified Wycliffe Bible Translators as one of the Specialist Service Agencies that are doing what no one church or denomination can easily do. As such they are playing a vital role in the building of God’s Kingdom around the world.

To this end, PCI commends the work of Wycliffe and would encourage congregations to support them in any way they can.

And then the website page helps congregations by supplying our contact details.
Calling all PCI churches, please get in touch!

Contact Details:

Wycliffe Bible Translators
The Mount
2 Woodstock Link
Belfast BT6 8DD
N. Ireland

T: +44 (0)28 9073 5854W: www.wycliffe.org.uk

In the meantime, take a look at this video, use it in your church, pray for those with no Scripture in their heart languages – just click in the space below.

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Refugees from South Sudan look at a photo montage depicting the conflict in their country on a calendar at the Kyangwali refugee settlement in Hoima district in Uganda

Refugees from South Sudan look at a photo montage depicting the conflict in their country at a refugee settlement in Uganda

This past week, members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland who read Prayerline have been praying for South Sudan – please join them and learn more of the tragedy facing one of newest African nations…

south-sudan-200x250The United Nations has warned that the world’s newest nation is “at risk of outright ethnic war, and of genocide being committed”.  South Sudan, which became independent from Sudan in July 2011, has struggled to achieve stable government due to ethnic and political divisions between the country’s two major ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer.  Civil war broke out in the country in December 2013, and since then tens of thousands of people have been killed and around 2.4 million people driven from their homes. Despite a peace agreement signed in August last year, violence broke out in the capital Juba in July and has spread to other parts of the country.

After almost three years, the devastating economic and humanitarian effects of the war are deepening across the whole country.  An estimated 4.3 million people are now in need to food aid, as harvests have been disturbed for yet another year, and the economic downturn in the country is continuing, with inflation now at 700%.

Pray for peace in South Sudan.  Pray that the warring political factions will have the will to work for a lasting peace and that an outright ethnic war and further acts of genocide will be avoided.

Pray for those suffering displacement from their homes and who are in need of humanitarian relief, especially those facing food shortages.  Pray that each person will receive the assistance they need.

Pray for work of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS), as they continue encouraging peace and good relations between communities, and for wisdom and guidance for its leadership team seeking to lead the church during such difficult times.

Pray too for our partners Christian Aid and Tearfund who are working daily in South Sudan providing humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Text from PCI Prayerline: Published Wednesday, 16th November 2016

Read full text and more on the PCI website

For more information on the work of Christian Aid and Tearfund in South Sudan go to:
Christian Aid – South Sudan  |  Tearfund – South Sudan

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On Sunday 28 August 2016 at 10.30 am, I had the privilege of speaking at Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church in Belfast as they sent Wycliffe UK member Clare Orr back to Senegal. Here is an edited version of what I said…

office-world-map-old

Back in the days when the Wycliffe office was on the Beersbridge Road, we had a world map on the wall. And on the map we had a piece of paper with some verses from Matthew chapter 9.

Clare’s Dad has already read Matthew 9: 35-38 for us. In NIV, it is entitled The Workers Are Few.

We had the last verse on the office map, the words Jesus spoke to his disciples: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Just before this, Matthew tells us that Jesus had compassion on the crowds: “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

In a way this passage sums up what we’re doing here this morning. You’re sending – or perhaps more accurately, re-sending – Newtownbreda’s worker Clare back to the harvest field where she has worked before – and where Jesus still has compassion on people who are harassed and helpless; people who need a shepherd; people who need to hear the good news of the gospel; people who need to find Jesus as their shepherd..

And by the way, there are people around us here at home, or maybe even sitting here in church this morning, who are harassed and helpless who need to find Jesus as their shepherd.

The verse on the world map was both an encouragement and a challenge to us working in the Wycliffe office.

  • We were so encouraged every time we produced Wycliffe News and read the updates from around 50 people from Ireland working around the world in Bible translation and literacy and many other roles
  • We were challenged by Jesus’ words because we knew that there were still many millions of people yet to hear the good news in their heart languages

It was such a joy when Clare walked into the office one morning back in late 2012… We thought she was there for a bit of a chat. But no, Clare came straight out and said, “I want to join Wycliffe. What do I have to do?” So we told her; she applied in early 2013 and was accepted in spring 2013; started training in August 2013; and in February 2014, she went to Senegal.

This morning, together, we are sending Clare back to Senegal…

Clare with an Ebola poster

Because what she is doing there is important!

Do you remember the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014? Do you remember the Ebola prevention posters that Clare and her Senegalese colleagues produced in – I can’t remember how many languages… Those posters – produced because Clare was there working in literacy development – helped to save lives by giving people information about how to avoid Ebola in a language they could understand.

There are lots of ways in which literacy helps people – and it is a very important part of what Wycliffe does. But our main aim is that people can have access to the Bible in the language of their hearts.

So why is literacy crucial?

There’s an old Wycliffe saying that Bible translation without literacy is like a tin of beans without a tin opener. If you can’t get the tin open, you can’t eat the beans.

Yesterday morning I searched the kitchen cupboards in vain to find a tin of beans. So I’ve had to make do with a tin of Cream of Tomato Soup with a hint of basil. You need a tin opener to get access to and enjoy the soup.

tin-of-soup

It’s a little parable… If the Bible is translated into your language, but you can’t read – how do you access and enjoy and be challenged by God’s word?

Actually with modern tins, you don’t actually need a tin opener. You have this little pull thingy. Perhaps you could say that the little pull thingy is literacy. Clare, and literacy specialists like her, provide little pull thingies 🙂 If only it were so simple…

Be assured that our prayers and best wishes go with you, Clare, in the weeks ahead.

Jesus still has compassion on those who do not know him. Jesus still says to his disciples, to us…

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

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Every fourth week, I write a 200 word prayer post for Prayerline which is published weekly by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland‘s Council for Global Mission: this is what I sent this week.

On Sunday afternoon we had a picnic beside Strangford Lough. On Monday morning as I write this, summer rain beats steadily on the Wycliffe office roof. This week we want to offer you a Wycliffe Prayer Goody Bag which you can use this summer – rain, hail or heatwave!

Prayer Goody Bags

Prayer Goody Bags

Prayer Goody Bags provide video, audio and written resources to inform, enthuse and give plenty of inspiration for prayer. One of the prayer themes is Encountering God’s word.

“It’s not enough to translate the Bible. It’s not enough to distribute the Bible. Our desire is to see real Scripture engagement: people encountering God’s word in life changing ways”

This Prayer Goody Bag will enable you to pray for Scripture song writing workshops, AIDS education literature, trauma healing workshops, Jesus Film production, and multi-lingual education initiatives.

As we pray that language groups around the world will encounter God through his word for perhaps the first time, let’s also pray for PCI congregations around Ireland – that engaging with God’s word will inspire every one of us to be a community of global concern from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.

You can find the Prayer Goody Bags at https://www.wycliffe.org.uk/goodybags

Here is the prayer menu of more Goody Bags to explore and lead you individually or as a group to pray:

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“Wycliffe Bible Translators are vital in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church, so to this end I would like to encourage congregations to support them in any way they can,” said Dr. McNie in a news release from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

On Monday morning 25 January 2016, the Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, joined us in the Belfast office of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland. Ian met five of the staff over tea and scones, then spent most of his time in conversation with the Church Engagement Team – see below.

John Hamilton, Ricky Ferguson, Marlene Ferguson and Rev Dr Ian McNie

In a wide ranging conversation, we presented the biblical basis for Bible translation: debated current Scripture access statistics; discussed how together we might address the issue of Bible poverty in today’s world; and answered Ian’s perceptive questions.

As of October 1st 2015, estimates suggest between 165 and 180 million people speaking up to 1,800 languages are understood to ‘likely need Bible translation to begin’

For example from his knowledge of East Africa, he was interested to know whether the Turkana people from the north of Kenya yet have Scripture in their heart language. Having consulted The Ethnologue, we were able to assure him that the Turkana New Testament was completed and published in 1986.

We were also pleased to show him photographs of 22 Presbyterians supported by their home congregations throughout Ireland. They are working in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe engaged in a wide range of Bible translation, linguistics, literacy, Scripture engagement, IT and administrative roles.

As he left us for other engagements, Ian received an invitation to First Steps on Saturday 6 February 2016 at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church. I wonder if his schedule will allow a brief drop-in..?

Below is the full text of the PCI news release on 28 January 2016

The Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, visited and encouraged those who work in the Belfast branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland earlier this week.

Wycliffe Bible Translators believe that the Bible is the best way for people to discover and understand who God is. Their vision is that by working with churches, organizations and individuals from across the world, all people will be able to access the Word of God in their own language.

Located in east Belfast, the Moderator had the opportunity to talk with those involved in Bible translation locally. He heard about their work and meeting the staff and volunteers, discovered first hand what it means to translate God’s word into another language.

“I discovered that around 180 million people, speaking at least 1,800 languages, need a Bible in the language they understand best. Without this incredible work taking place those people will never be able to read the story of God’s love for themselves.

“Wycliffe Bible Translators are vital in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church, so to this end I would like to encourage congregations to support them in any way they can,” said Dr. McNie.

Along with other agencies involved in Bible distribution and Christian broadcasting, Wycliffe Bible Translators play a crucial role in supporting the life and witness of the worldwide church. Of the 6,887 languages in the world today, only 554 have a complete Bible.

As a result, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has identified Wycliffe Bible Translators as a Specialist Service Agency. This special relationship with PCI recognises the fact that the valuable service Wycliffe is doing is something that no one church or denomination can easily do.

John Hamilton, of Wycliffe Bible Translators in Belfast said, “We had an enjoyable and encouraging time with the Moderator. He already knew a lot about Bible translation, but also confessed that the visit had widened his perspective.

“We told him how much Wycliffe values the partnership with PCI and that together we can work to alleviate the Bible poverty that still exists in the world. Our staff would be delighted to visit congregations to tell them more about Wycliffe’s work and to encourage them in their global mission.”

To find out more about the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators visit their website (www.wycliffe.org.uk/) or contact the Belfast office at 028 9073 5854

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Kenny Woodrow, myself and the Moderator Michael Barry with Bill Bailie behind the camera

 

On Tuesday morning 9 September 2014, the current Presbyterian Moderator Michael Barry visited the Belfast office of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland. As one of the SSA partners of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, we like to invite Moderators along to get a fresh insight into what goes on in Bible translation and to meet and chat to some of our local staff.

Whatever we were talking about, Kenny and Michael look quite happy; I’m obviously chewing something nasty…

It was good to help Michael get a better understanding of what Wycliffe Bible Translators is all about – and we certainly discussed how to develop the SSA partnership. A visual presentation gave lots of opportunity for questions and discussion and the Moderator quizzed us on how Bible translation was done and the statistics of which languages have and don’t have availability to the Scriptures in their heart languages.

One of the issues raised was that of Bible poverty. While PCI as a church gives generously to relief and development projects – as we should – we wondered how much the denomination as a whole is aware of the need to resource the alleviation of Bible poverty though the complementary work of Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Bible Societies north and south in Ireland, FEBA Radio and SAT7 television.

We also talked about the possibility of Michael visiting a Bible translation project during his Moderatorial visit to Kenya this autumn – another wee task to get sorted out soon. The possible language project is Samburu which would be reasonably accessible when the Moderator’s party visits Stephen and Angelina Cowan in Tuum.

Some Samburu people in traditional dress

Some Samburu people in traditional dress

During the visit Dr Barry met several Wycliffe people:

  • Kenny Woodrow is assigned to a communications role with Uganda Tanzania branch but working remotely from a desk in the Beersbridge Road office.
  • Bill Bailie, one of our invaluable volunteers, was present along with Alistair Bill, vice chair of our Wycliffe N. Ireland Council.

As always with these visits, it re-emphasised the idea that mission is all about partnership and we pray that God will bless our partnership with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and with the other SSAs – and that these partnerships will be mutually beneficial.

This is the first of the three significant events in September that I referred to at the end of a previous blog here.

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