Posts Tagged ‘work experience’

Finding work experience for a 16 year old language student seemed a big challenge at first – until my Granny mentioned Wycliffe Bible Translators. I knew that’s where I wanted to go. Having met Marlene Ferguson some years ago at Girl’s Brigade, I had a vague idea about the work of Wycliffe, but I knew my work experience was going to be insightful and inspiring…

This is how Rebekah from Carrickfergus started her guest blog about her three days with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland in the Belfast office a few weeks ago. There is a regular stream of A level languages students looking for related work experience each year. Invariably they find out more than they expected…

Click to find out more

Click to find out more

Nevertheless on the first morning, I was nervous about meeting the staff for the first time. I had no need to worry as I was warmly welcomed from the moment I walked in. After a quick introduction to the office and an information pack, Ricky wasted no time presenting an overview of the work of Wycliffe and why Bible translation is extremely necessary in 2017 and the future. I had a go at some introductory translation exercises, learnt statistics about Bible translation and was shocked to hear that of the 7,000 languages in the world, only 636 have a full Bible.

Before break, I heard about Ricky’s recent trip to Zambia where he attended a translation workshop. It was very interesting to hear what happens at a translation workshop.

One thing that struck me was that at break time every day the staff take time out to pray for the Wycliffe members from Ireland. It reminded me that no matter what we are doing within our day, we should always take time out to thank God for what he has done and ask him to help us with whatever we are doing.

Words for Life - Wycliffe UK's magazine

Wycliffe UK’s magazine

Later I talked to Alf Thompson about Wycliffe’s regional magazine Words for Life. I learnt about the process of putting the magazine together and the importance of being in communication with the rest of the world. Alfred’s job also showed me that lots of different people with lots of different skills play a part in Wycliffe Bible Translators. [You can order Words for Life magazine here. Editor]

Day one introduced me to the process of how a Bible is translated and I learnt about the Jesus Film Project. I knew that Bible translation isn’t an easy task, but I was becoming more aware of all the elements that have to be in place before a translation project can begin.

Day two was research day  [the reader can do some too! Links below. Editor]

  • I completed a back translation of Matthew 20 v 1-16 from Ulster Scots to Modern English.
  • I learned about the Arop people of Papua New Guinea and how Wycliffe members John and Bonnie Nystrom faced challenges and tragedy alongside the Arop people to get to where they are now with the Bible translation project.
  • I learnt some idioms from different African languages and read an article that showed me that one small word can change many people’s lives. [Intrigued? Read about that one little word, in fact, the difference one little vowel made. Editor]
  • One of the biggest things that stood out for me that day is the huge need for sign language translations of the Bible.
  • I completed my research day by watching a video of the New Testament dedication in Kimyal, West Papua, which made me realise how much we can take the Bible for granted at times. [Click Kimyal to see the video for yourself. Editor]

On my final day, I met two Guest Bible Scholars who told me about the volunteer work that they do from home and how that helps projects overseas. It helped make sense of all I had been told previously as I saw things fitting into place. Finally I talked to Kenny about the work of the Uganda and Tanzania Branch and why projects are started in specific areas.

Paratext: screenshot of software used by Guest Bible Scholars volunteers

Paratext: screenshot of software used by Guest Bible Scholars volunteers

My time at Wycliffe was very informative and it has made me think about what I can do with languages in the future. I was challenged by the need to have the Bible in ALL languages and I will be telling people about the work of Wycliffe for many years to come.   Rebekah

A big thank you to Rebekah for writing her guest blog and allowing me to post it here.

If you are reading this and you live in Ireland, you can find out much more about Bible translation this coming Saturday 25 February at the Wycliffe First Steps event in Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church, Glengormley. Click on the link to register or phone Ricky on the Belfast office number 028 9073 5854



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On 3 February, I posted A fascinating work experience with Wycliffe a blog written by Jack Nicholson about his three days in the Belfast office.

A celebration of DVD Scripture for sign languages in Ghana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria

A celebration of DVD Scripture for sign languages in Ghana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria

It got 5 views that day – and then day by day – 4 views, 3 views, 5 views, 0 views, 0 views, 1 view, 0 views, 5 views – until on 12 February an amazing 22 views!

Why the resurgence? Probably because the Wycliffe Bible Translators UK Facebook page shared the post on 11 February.

Of course that doesn’t count the number of views on Facebook and Twitter…

It’s a funny old thing this blogging. And I don’t know why I’m bothering to blog these thoughts and numbers.

Perhaps I have too much time on my hands in retirement… but I should let Jack know how his story has gone.

If you have bothered to read this far, why not check out these links to other fascinating experiences with Wycliffe: First Steps and Two Week Stint

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j-nicholsonWhen we got an e-mail from Jack Nicholson in 2016 asking to do work experience in the Belfast office of Wycliffe Bible Translators, we thought: “We can’t be that famous! Jack Nicholson?”

Turns out it wasn’t the star of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. It was the Jack Nicholson,  A level languages student from Kilkeel.

Like all our work experience students, Jack was invited to write a guest blog about his experiences over three days in January 2016.

Marlene Ferguson had been at a careers day in Jack’s school and he had also heard about Wycliffe at his church. So here goes…

As an avid language student, I was looking forward to see what happened in the Wycliffe office. In my naivety, Bible translation took place in the most distant, isolated ends of the earth. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed!

It struck me how many languages exist in the world, over 800 in Papua New Guinea alone, and how many, at least 1.5 billion people, do not have a Bible in the language which they understand best and are therefore unable to grasp the complete image of God and his plan. These thoughts were reinforced when I considered the widespread availability and variety of God’s word in our own country.

Contrary to my belief, Wycliffe members do not simply throw a dart at a map and book the next available tickets to that country. Nor do they charge into a village or town and carry out their plans without involving the local people.

I discovered that the process to begin a new translation project is meticulous, with an emphasis on prayer and financial support. I also got a taste of the joyful celebrations when a New Testament or a Bible is completed and dedicated.

A celebration of DVD Scripture for sign languages in Ghana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria

A celebration of DVD Scripture for sign languages in Ghana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria

Jack talked to Kenny Woodrow about his work in Uganda – Tanzania and discovered that artistic and many other skills are used in the Bible translation process.

This illustration shows art being used to convey the message of God creating the sun, moon and stars in the Kwoma visual language.

On day 2, Jack was introduced to back translations, sign language translation, how technology is used in the Bible translation process – and language cluster groups when talking to Ricky Ferguson about his trip to the Mongu Cluster in Zambia.

Words for Life - Wycliffe UK's magazine

Words for Life – Wycliffe UK’s magazine


After lunch, I joined Alf Thompson who works in communications for Wycliffe UK and Ireland. I heard about his job editing the Words for Life magazine. It was fascinating – and again, it reminded me of the importance of a diversity of skills and roles in Christian mission – as well as treating me to a sneak peek of the next Words for Life magazine!

Friday, my last day… and along came Olive Craig – a Guest Bible Scholar volunteer with  Wycliffe.  Olive showed me the importance of clarity when translating God’s Word to different people groups and also the importance of context in translation. Then, after a few challenging translation enigmas and idioms, Olive led me through the diligent, step-by-step method of the translation of the Bible followed by Wycliffe. The true intensity of Bible translation dawned on me when Olive opened up Paratext – a computer software programme designed specifically for Bible translation. She showed me her part in the overall translation process and how translators aim for Biblical translation to be clear, accurate and natural. I particularly enjoyed Olive’s visit, as I witnessed the practical approach of translation and the skills of so many being used to bring God’s word to others.

Paratext screenshot

Paratext screenshot

I thank God for giving me the chance to witness first-hand Wycliffe’s work in fulfilling his purposes to translate and communicate his word, the Bible, to all the languages of the world.

I retired from Wycliffe at the end of December 2016. One part of my work which I really enjoyed was helping students have a worthwhile work experience with us. So, thanks to Jack and to Ricky for giving me the opportunity to edit Jack’s blog and post it here.

Find out more about Wycliffe and Bible translation at First Steps events around the UK and Ireland.

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In July, our fifth A level language student of 2016 enjoyed work experience with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland. Tarah, from Newtownards, spent a day in the Belfast office and two days with Marlene Ferguson at Summer Madness. Here are some of her reflections…

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Wycliffe office for work experience. I had heard about the Bible translation work they do and, as I love languages, I found it fascinating. When I got there, I enjoyed learning about the process of Bible translation from locating the need for translation right up to actually producing a New Testament or Bible in a previously unwritten language.

Initially I wondered and was quite troubled by how Wycliffe choose which community they help with Bible translation as there are so many without it. I learnt that firstly God is in control. This seems obvious but when you are caught up in the whole experience it is easy to forget. Secondly, I learnt that usually someone in the community asks for a Bible and this is how Wycliffe gets involved.

Translation puzzle

Translation puzzle

Another thing I learnt from my day in the office was that Bible translation is not just about translating word for word, but about understanding the culture of the community. Translation has to be accurate, natural and relate to the culture.

Something that struck me about my experience in the office was that when working there all your colleagues are Christian. I found this interesting as this could only really happen within a missionary organisation and I imagine it has its benefits and problems.

As well as visiting the office I got the opportunity to help out at Summer Madness for two days! I was in the Pamper Zone where I painted a lot of nails and braided a lot of hair! While I was doing this I had the chance to chat to the girls who came in and find out a little about their background.

SM Pamper

The Pamper Zone at Summer Madness

Wycliffe shared this tent with other missionary organisations within MAP like Mission Africa and WEC. This allowed me to see another side to Wycliffe – promoting the mission work around Northern Ireland to let people know what the organisation does and how to get involved, as the missionaries need prayer and support from home. Summer Madness caters for roughly ages 12-18 and around this age they may be starting to think about mission opportunities after school, myself included! In the tent there was lots of information on the organisations and what they offered both short and long term. It was about planting a seed in their minds and letting them know about the opportunities out there.

This experience also helped me as I have been thinking about mission in the future and it has made me surer that it is something I want to do as I can see through Wycliffe that it does affect lives for the better and being able to understand the truths of the Bible is life changing. We have all been called to be missionaries wherever we are “go and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19.

I’d like to thank Wycliffe for giving me the opportunity to have work experience with them; I enjoyed it and learnt lots!

My thanks to Tarah for this guest blog about her work experience with us.

There are still at least 1,800 languages that don’t have a Bible.

Find out more about Bible translation and mission and the ways that you could become involved on our website.

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Our final work experience student of the year has spent three days in the Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland Belfast office learning a thing or two about what we do. Judith attends a school in Belfast where she studies languages – and here are her reactions…

What really surprised me during my time at the Wycliffe office in Belfast was that every skill can be used in helping to convey God’s word to people in their own language.

When I heard “Bible translators”, I automatically assumed that everyone working for Wycliffe had linguistic skills. However, that’s not the case. There are artists, teachers, lawyers and musicians; each person has a specific way of aiding this work. Before my work experience, I was completely ignorant of the fact that pictures need to be translated in order for them to be relevant to the particular people group. For example, a picture of a mansion isn’t going to have much bearing to someone living in a hut.

Paratext Bamunka Acts 2

Paratext: Acts 24 in the Bamunka language of NW Cameroon: this is the software that Judith writes about below

On my second day, I visited Michael and Miranda Jemphrey. I was so humbled by their willingness to have me in their home. Michael showed me the software that he uses as a translation consultant and explained the various things shown on the screen: an English translation, a French translation, a Greek translation and the translation that they are currently working on. They gave me such a better insight as to how people at home can aid the translators that are all over the world.

Through my three days at Wycliffe, I began to understand how truly blessed I am. Having the Bible in my heart language, and in various translations for me to choose from, is such a great privilege.

Kouya New Testament dedication T shirt (Côte d’Ivoire)

Kouya New Testament dedication tee shirt (Côte d’Ivoire) – the verse in Kouya is Hebrews 4:12

Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is alive and active”. God is active and so is His Word! Every person deserves the Bible in their own language. Why? Because God is the ultimate-linguist: He speaks every language and cares for every speaker of each language. No language is better than another. When the Bible is in a person’s heart language, they become more receptive; God is no longer such a remote, impersonal God. He is present and personal to the individual

My thanks to Judith for this guest blog about her work experience with us.

Judith also attended our First Steps day event on 6 February 2016 at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church Newtownabbey. To find out about more First Steps events and to register go to

There are still at least 1,800 languages that don’t have a Bible.

Find out more about Bible translation and mission and the ways that you could become involved on our website.

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Work experience time continues… this year we have the opportunity in Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland to host four A level languages students in the Belfast office. Last week Rachel, from a school in Ballymena, spent three days with us…  and here are some of her reflections…

During my three days of work experience in the Belfast office of Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland, I have learned so much of the work involved in Bible translation.

Bible translation statistics Oct 2015

Bible translation statistics Oct 2015

I was amazed to learn how many languages there are in the world – almost 7,000 – and how few of them have the Bible translated. It has really challenged me about how I think of the Bible as, here in N. Ireland, we have so many different versions that we can all too often take the Bible for granted. Yet there are so many people who are still waiting for the Bible to be translated in their language.

I had the privilege of being able to spend time with Dorothea Jeffrey and see her work on the Lig* project. It was amazing to be able to see a translation being checked and to see the work involved in doing that. On the computer I could see the text in the original Greek; the language it was being translated into; and then an English back translation to check the accuracy. It was a fascinating experience and I am very thankful to Dorothea for allowing me to be there.

Before my work experience I thought the only work Wycliffe was involved in is Bible translation. From speaking to the staff in the office I have learned that there are many people with different skills involved in the work of Wycliffe, not just translators. Literacy work among the people is very important as the so that people will now be able to read God’s word in their own language. Seeing the Bible in their mother tongue is important to them as it shows them God can speak their language.

I have really enjoyed my time with the Wycliffe team and they have encouraged me to consider future service in this area.

Revelation 7 v.9 ‘After this I looked and saw a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, tribe, people and language.’

Lig* is a pseudonym for this language

My thanks to Rachel for this guest blog about her work experience with us.


Dorothea Skype consulting

POSTSCRIPT: from Dorothea Jeffrey’s February Prayer & Praise:
I enjoyed First Steps, a Wycliffe event for enquirers on 6th February. We had about 14 enquirers present and there was quite a buzz! Some are 6th formers who have been doing work experience in the Belfast Wycliffe Office. I had one of them sitting in on the Lig* checking session with me this week. We are praying for five new Wycliffe members from Northern Ireland.”

A few Saturdays ago, Rachel joined us at First Steps on 6 February 2016 at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church Newtownabbey. To find out more about First Steps and to register go to

There are still at least 1,800 languages that don’t have a Bible.

Find out more about Bible translation and mission and the ways that you could become involved on our website.

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It’s work experience time of the year again… our opportunity in Wycliffe Bible Translators UK to offer useful experience for A level languages students. Last week Grace, from a school in Coleraine, spent two days with us in the Belfast office and here are her reactions…

I absolutely love languages, but sadly before my time at Wycliffe I thought French, German and Spanish were really the only ones I wanted to learn.

I thought that because of colonisation, French and Spanish meant that the majority of people could read the Bible in places like Ivory Coast and Ecuador if they wanted. Spending two days doing work experience at the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in Belfast helped me to realise that even though there is an official state language, many of the people have their own tribal languages which require translation. It is true that if educated people in Ivory Coast have a Bible in French, they will be able to read it, but having their own Bible in an indigenous language such as Kouya, which is their mother tongue, will let God’s Word speak to their hearts.

Before my work experience I also had the wrong view of what a Bible translator actually was – in my mind it was one pious individual going out into the middle of nowhere, flicking through a dictionary all day.

I think this is what I loved most about the work experience – finding out what it wasn’t like!

Firstly, the translators go where there is need and generally the church there wants the Bible in their own language and, secondly, they don’t have a dictionary to help them translate because many of these indigenous languages have never been written down!

The community work which Wycliffe is involved in with different people groups is just as important as the Bible translation in my opinion. While in the process of translating, they are teaching the people to read in their own language. For some of these people, having their language written down and being taught to them, makes them feel like it is adequate and they can go from praying in the official state language to speaking in their own mother tongue because “God can now speak my language”.

The finished product of having one Gospel, or the whole New Testament, printed in their own language is amazing. It could only come about because of years of work from members of the community and Wycliffe missionaries. I had the opportunity to watch a few videos of dedication ceremonies where people received the Bible and the joy on the people’s faces was so evident, it really touched me!

Whilst in the office, we also looked at some of the statistics about how many people have access to God’s Word in their own language. There are still a lot of people out there who are reaching out for a Bible which they can read in their own language. In my opinion it is something that every single person should have access to, no matter what minority they come from. The goal is that by 2025, work will have started in translating the Bible in all the languages that need a Bible of their own.

I praise and thank God for allowing me to see the work that is being done for Him both in the UK and all over the world. He has told us in Rev 7v9 that people of “every nation, tribe, people and language” will be in Heaven. Wycliffe are the people who are honouring God by helping people of every language hear God’s saving grace through translation of His Word.

My thanks to Grace for this guest blog about her work experience with us.

Grace has signed up for our First Steps day event on 6 February 2016 at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church Newtownabbey. To find out more and to register go to

There are still at least 1,800 languages that don’t have a Bible.

Find out more about Bible translation and mission and the ways that you could become involved on our website.

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