By Richard Gretsky
Some people think of missionaries as super-human—leaping the entire breadth of the Atlantic Ocean in one bound, leading entire countries to Jesus, all while dodging flights of arrows. But that’s not what they are. Most are pretty normal, actually; except that they’ve committed to roll up their sleeves, travel far from home, and serve however they can.
Such is the case with Bob and Nancy Schaefer.
They were both raised on dairy farms in the Ozarks, but didn’t meet until college. Then, in the summer of 1969, they got married and joined Wycliffe.
Assigned to Ghana in 1971—the same year their son Paul was born—they moved to the Farefare village of Zuarungu in April 1972. Later, they welcomed two more children into their family—one in 1974 and one in 1977.
Bob and Nancy acclimated quickly to a life of translation in the village, as the diligence necessary for it closely mirrored the “farmers’ hours” they experienced growing up in Missouri and Arkansas.
For forty-two years, the Schaefers passionately worked with local Ghanaian translators to provide Bibles for multiple people groups.
Their down-to-earth, diligent effort translating Scripture has paid great dividends for the local people: in 1986, the Schaefers and their local team finished the Farefare New Testament, followed by the Buli New Testatment in 1996, the Birifor New Testament in 2006, and the full Farefare Bible in 2008. They expect to finish the full Buli Bible in 2015.
To this day, they still live there (as does their son, who works with a neighboring people group) helping to translate the Scriptures. Since 1983, their job has slowly shifted from strictly translation to primarily serving as consultants for local translators—something they speak fondly of.
“You have to be prepared not to seek position for yourself, but rather to help others be in the position to do the work of Bible translation,” Bob said.
“In most of our work, more or less, we are offering shoulders to stand on,” Nancy added. “[And] the thing that stands out to me is absolutely how much you can learn from the people that you work with.”
With the help of those people, these selfless farmers-turned-translators have enabled many more people to access God’s Word in their own language. So when talking about missionaries’ success, this couple may not be super-human, but they’ve played a major role in leading people to Jesus, and that’s super enough for them.
Posted in Bible translation, Features, Missionary Spotlight | Tagged across, Africa, Americas, bible translator, faithful, farmer, ghana, Ghanaian, language, missionaries, missionary, pond, Scripture, simply, Translation, Translator, United States, Verse, Wycliffe, Wycliffe Bible, Wycliffe Bible Translators | Leave a Comment »
By Richard Gretsky
When Luke Shaver heard about the Race to 2025, a Wycliffe adventure race that promotes Bible translation and sheds light on the translation process, he jumped at the chance, and joined a team Wycliffe put together from various schools.
Within weeks the quartet stood at the finish line covered in snow, sweat and smiles. Luke knew he had to share this awesome experience with others.
After praying about the best way forward, Luke started “Voice for the Bibleless,” an on-campus club that raises Bible translation awareness and supports efforts to reach more languages with translation.
In 2014 many students from the club got involved in the Race to 2025, and another team is slated to participate this coming year. Luke is ecstatic that so many are getting involved and are spreading the news about Bible translation.
Meanwhile, Luke’s own adventure is just beginning. Upon graduating he plans to join Wycliffe and get linguistic training so he can enter a new race — the race to reach every language still waiting with their own Bible translation.
To see the race in action, check out this video!
Posted in Bible translation, Events | Tagged adventure, advocacy, Americas, Bible, Bible translation, education, funding, international missions, linguistics, overseas missions, personnel, serve in missions, service, service opportunities, story, support raising, unreached people groups | Leave a Comment »
In his book, “The Finish Line,” Wycliffe President and CEO Bob Creson shares story after story that will open your eyes to the incredible ways God is changing lives through Bible translation.
Stories include a Tennet man’s journey walking 1,000 miles to make sure his people group gets a Bible they can understand, and Lee and Tammi Bramlett’s amazing account of how one word brought a radical new understanding of God in Cameroon.
Join Bob Creson on a conference call on Monday, Sept. 29.
Bob will be speaking with Lee and Tammi Bramlett about the incredible impact of Bible translation among the Hdi people in northern Cameroon. There are two times available, and both of the calls are live so that you can ask questions.
You can also participate in our social media contest after the event to win a free, autographed copy of “The Finish Line.” Tune in to the conference call, and follow along via our Facebook page or tweet at us using the hashtag #FinishLineBook. The first person to answer each of our questions correctly wins their autographed copy of the book!*
Left to right: Lee Bramlett, Tammi Bramlett and Bob Creson
To join the call, choose a time that’s most convenient to you and dial in:
(855) 756-7520 ext. 25593 at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CST, 6 p.m. MST, 5 p.m. PST)
OR (855) 756-7520 ext. 25594 at 10 p.m. EST (9 p.m. CST, 8 p.m. MST, 7 p.m. PST)
*Your social media posts must be public in order to participate in the contest. Answers via Facebook must be in the comments on the question we post. Tweets should include “@wycliffe_usa” and the hashtag #FinishLineBook. Limit one free copy of “The Finsh Line” per person. If you win, we’ll ask you to send us your shipping information in a private message.
Posted in Bible translation, Events, Missionary Spotlight, News | Tagged Africa, Bible translation, bible translator, Bob, Bob Creson, book, Cameroon, conference call, contest, Creson, Date, event, finish, free, Hdi, hope, impact, invite, Joi, language, line, live, President Bob Creson, Save, Scripture, September, stories, The Finish Line, Translation, Translator, win, Wycliffe, Wycliffe Bible, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Wycliffe President | Leave a Comment »
The “Race to 2025” is a two-day event that bridges the adrenalin of adventure sport and Jesus’ extreme challenge to his church — to make disciples of all nations. During the race your team of four will compete against other teams in physical challenges and scenarios missionaries face overseas, including basic linguistics training and a remote “hidden village” encounter.
The race format is inspired by intense language survey trips that Wycliffe linguists sometimes take in beautiful remote regions worldwide. Prior to the race weekend, co-ed teams of four commit to raising $2,000 per team ($500 per racer). This is only a goal; if a team isn’t able to raise the full amount, they will still be able to compete in the race. The money raised goes to support Bible translation projects around the world, and cool prizes are awarded to the team that raises the most money, to the fastest team across the finish line, and more.
Each night, missionaries will engage participant’s hearts and minds with stories of serving God through the fascinating world of language and linguistics.
If this sounds like an opportunity for you or someone you know, we have upcoming races across the country throughout October.
Plains, Montana, Oct 10-12, 2014
Pottersville, New York, Oct 17-19, 2014
Hume, California, Oct 24-26, 2014
To register or learn more about the event, visit http://www.wycliffenextgen.com/page/race-to-2025-1.
Or if you want to see what the race is like, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n97vYBFv5Gs.
Posted in Events | Tagged Bible translation, language, Wycliffe Bible Translators | Leave a Comment »
By Melissa Paredes
Photos by Marc Ewell & Heather Pubols
Every language needs the Bible in a format that people can clearly understand, whether it’s oral storytelling, written text, audio recordings or video. While the number of languages still waiting for Bible translation is progressively decreasing, none of the Deaf communities around the world have a full Bible in their own respective languages. Some have books and some have portions, but most have nothing at all. Deaf people worldwide are still waiting for a full Bible that they can understand.
Japanese Sign Language is one of those languages. Although multiple Japanese Bible translations have been published, they cannot be used to reach the Deaf community. Many Japanese Deaf only learn written Japanese as a school subject, never hearing it spoken to learn it naturally; a translation must be done specifically for the Japanese Sign Language community.
The “JESUS” film is already available in Japanese Sign Language, but the Deaf community still needs more—they need access to the Scriptures in their own language, one that speaks directly to their hearts.
That’s why they’ve been working on a Japanese Sign Language Bible. Deaf signers are bringing the Scriptures to life on a video screen. They aren’t just translating the words from the Japanese Bible; they are creating an entirely new translation, and every draft is done through recorded video. The team then goes back — often multiple times — to ensure that the signed footage is presenting the Bible passage clearly, accurately and authentically.
Roughly 20 percent has already been completed, and while work on the JSL Bible is still ongoing, the team is beginning to see the results of their labor.
Mr. Ogata does IT work for the ViBi team. He’s a hard worker, putting in long hours to make all the equipment work, but he’s not easily excitable. On one particular day, though, he was ecstatic.
“Last week I was alone at the office and we got a Skype call,” Mr. Ogata shared. “ViBi had had a visitor from another part of Japan who was so excited about the Japanese Sign Language Bible. He took three full DVD sets with him, and one went to a gentleman on the coast (where the tsunami and nuclear meltdown wreaked havoc).
“Well, it was that gentleman who called. He’s from [a church that doesn’t allow the ViBi translation], and he was so excited. ‘I’ve been a Christian more than forty years, and could never understand the Bible. I just had to try and do what the pastor said. I knew I should read the Bible, but I never ‘got it.’ This is totally different. It’s so clear! Now I can really know what the Bible is saying.’”
That’s why Mr. Ogata and others on the ViBi team do what they do—for that moment of clarity when suddenly, everything clicks into place and the truth of the Scriptures is finally made clear. And what a beautiful thing it is when God’s Word speaks directly to hearts in the way they understand best. It’s definitely something worth feeling ecstatic about!
Posted in Bible translation, Technology | Tagged Bible, Bible translation, Deaf, film, Japan, Japanese, Japanese Sign Language, Jesus, Jesus Film, language, Scripture, Sign language, Understood, video, word, Wycliffe Bible, Wycliffe Bible Translator | Leave a Comment »
By Lindsay Benton
Lindsay is a recent Liberty University graduate and a former Wycliffe USA summer intern
Many of us have heard the story of Wycliffe founder William Cameron Townsend—also known as Uncle Cam—who traveled the villages of Guatemala attempting to sell Spanish Bibles in the early 1900s. Uncle Cam soon discovered that many Guatemalans couldn’t understand these Bibles, because their primary language was Cakchiquel, which had never been written down and didn’t have a translation of the Scriptures. This hit home for Uncle Cam. If the Guatemalan people could not understand the Bible in their primary language, then they could not read or hear about the grace of God in sending His son Jesus Christ to save sinners.
God put it on Uncle Cam’s heart to live among the people in Guatemala. He was compelled to learn Cakchiquel in hopes of one day translating the New Testament into it. But the process of learning the language, recording it in written form, and translating the Bible was not a short or easy process. Many words and passages in the English Bible, which Uncle Cam was familiar with, had different meanings in the Cakchiquel culture. This did not stop him from dedicating years of his life to build relationship with the people and encourage their understanding of the Bible. “You have to learn the language accurately,” said Uncle Cam. “You can’t hand a book to these tribes and say, ‘This is God’s Word,’ if it’s full of grammatical errors. You’ve got to do a good scientific job. And that takes years—to learn the language and then translate the New Testament.”
If people in Guatemala did not have Bibles in a language that spoke to their heart, then how many more people groups worldwide did not have a Bible in their heart language? As a result, Uncle Cam organized Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1943, years after he first arrived in Guatemala in 1917. His mission had transformed from selling Bibles to making them available in every language that needed a translation.
The name “Wycliffe” came from the reformation scholar and Oxford professor John Wycliffe. In the 14th century, Wycliffe rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church by translating the Bible in a language the common person could understand. His actions took courage because, at the time, the people of England could only receive the Bible through the priests or read it in the Greek, Hebrew, and Latin languages. The translation came from Latin because it was the only source available to him. Because he translated the Bible into the common language, John Wycliffe was ridiculed by the church even after his death. Religious leaders dug up his remains and burned them as a result of his devotion to Bible translation. One of Wycliffe’s supporters, John Hus, promoted the idea of common persons reading the Bible in a recognizable language. Huss was threatened by the Roman Catholic Church and later burned at the stake in 1415.
Because Wycliffe chose to make the Bible available to everyone, he was known for his English Bible translation across Europe. Like current missionaries who serve overseas, sacrificing time and energy while pouring into the lives of unreached people groups, God used men like John Wycliffe and William Cameron Townsend to affect generation upon generation through the power of God’s Word.
Today, Wycliffe has aided Bible translation projects in over two thousand languages. However, there are over nineteen hundred languages that still need a Bible translation project started. Will you join the team at Wycliffe and fulfill the need for Bible translations around the world by praying, going, or partnering with us financially? Help us reach these Bibleless people groups and spread the Word of God to all the nations.
This post is part of our Wycliffe 101 series. Click here to read the previous post, or here to start at the beginning.
Posted in Bible translation, Features | Tagged Bible translation, bible translator, Cakchiquel, Cameron Townsend, England, Guatemala, history, John Wycliffe, language, Latin, Scripture, series, Townsend, Translation, Uncle Cam, Verse, Wycliffe, Wycliffe 101, Wycliffe Bible | 1 Comment »
Thank you so much for following along with our summer highlight series! We covered translation projects and people groups from all over the Pacific, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa.
You have journeyed with us as we’ve learned more about people from cultures unlike our own and how they—like everyone else—truly deserve to have the Bible in their own language.
We encourage you to pray for those people, and for both the translation projects that have begun and those that are yet to be started. We challenge you to give of your financial resources to support them. And we will continue to offer you the unique opportunity to serve in Bible translation by using the gifts and talents that God has given you. Most of all, we want to thank you for following us and supporting Bible translation. We know that with your help, we can continue to help bring people all over the world the hope that comes from having God’s Word in their own language.
We’ll keep giving you project updates, fun posts and the wonderful stories of hope through our social media—so stay in touch via Facebook and Twitter!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Africa, Americas, Asia, Bible translation, Europe, give, language, Pacific, pray, serve, World Highlights, Wycliffe | Leave a Comment »