By Bill Gardner with Richard Gretsky
For over 30 years, William and his wife, Lori, have worked as linguists with Wycliffe. During that time, they’ve lived in the Philippines, Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Kenya, and will soon be heading to Canada to teach at the Canada Institute of Linguistics.
I often tell folks I meet: “I studied electrical engineering, and it led me directly into Bible translation.” After they chuckle, I go on to say that I am only half joking. Although the two fields aren’t normally thought of as compatible, the skills I learned in engineering, e.g. how to analyze systems and use computers, have benefited me greatly in my work with Wycliffe.
If you can think like an engineer, you can think like a linguist.
In engineering, I was taught to think in extremely precise, regimented and highly technical ways. This is also necessary for linguistic work.
Linguistics is all about analyzing the various systems in languages: the phonology (sound system), morphosyntax (grammatical system), semantics and pragmatics (meaning systems) and sociolinguistics (social system). These are all crucial elements for effective Bible translation and Scripture engagement. For people to be able to learn to read the Bible in their own language, Wycliffe’s teams need to analyze the sound system and the sociolinguistic context, and develop an orthography (writing system) for that language. Teams also need to understand the semantics and morphosyntax of the language in order to develop dictionaries and make decisions on how to translate key terms.
You might be surprised how far computer skills can take you.
Back when I studied computers in college, we were still using punch cards (things have come a long way since then!), but the computing skills I learned as an engineering student have continued to serve me well. I regularly use wonderful programs that help perform tasks like analyzing the sound system of a language and translating the Bible into another language. And now people can consult halfway around the world by email and programs like Skype. This technology greatly facilitates the work of Bible translation.
So, although Bible translation wasn’t what I had in mind when I got my education, my training in analyzing systems and in using computers was a big part of what enabled me to work with Wycliffe.
I had no idea that I could use my electrical engineering skills to excel at Bible translation, but I have been able to. How might your skills be useful in Bible translation?
*There are many kinds of roles in Bible translation, including engineers. To learn more, check out the jobs on our career page: https://www.wycliffe.org/go/career.
Posted in Bible translation, Features, Missionary Spotlight | Tagged Africa, Asia, Bible translation, Bible translation and linguistics, bible translators, linguistics jobs, long term missions, minority language development, minority language education, Minority languages, missions, missions after college, mother tongue, overseas missions, personnel, production, serve in missions, service, service opportunities, story, why we pray | Leave a Comment »
In the late 1980s, John and Bonnie Nystrom came alongside several men from Arop village in Papua New Guinea to translate the Bible into the local language. But a decade later, a massive tsunami took the lives of many in Arop village, including one of the translators.
Wycliffe Bible Translators is proud to present this short film about the Nystrom family and the sacrifice, teamwork and faith of the Aitape West Translation Project team in the face of tragedy. We encourage you to set aside an evening to watch it with your family, or share it with your church and other members of your community. Grab a cup of coffee or some popcorn and enjoy this film together! And don’t forget to download the accompanying discussion questions so your group can further engage with the Arop story.
Visit wycliffe.org/arop for more information about the film and translation project.
Posted in Bible translation, Events, Features, Missionary Spotlight, Videos | Tagged Aitape West, Arop, Bible, Bible translation, Bonnie, Bonnie Nystrom, documentary, download, film, John, John Nystrom, language, Nystrom, Papua New Guinea, project, Sacrifice, Scripture, short, Team, teamwork, tragedy, transformation, Translation, tsunami, video, village, watch, Wycliffe, Wycliffe Bible, Wycliffe Bible Translators | 1 Comment »
By Melissa Paredes
Over the next few days, Wycliffe has a lot of reasons to celebrate!
September 30 is Bible Translation Day, which the U.S. Congress set in place in 1966. For almost 50 years we’ve been celebrating this opportunity to honor the work of Bible translation around the world. To learn more about Bible Translation Day, read the history here.
October 2 we’re hosting a Scripture celebration at our Orlando headquarters, rejoicing with 19 languages that have received God’s Word in their heart language this year. We’ll share photos and updates on our Facebook and Twitter accounts that day, and we’ll blog about the experience on October 3.
These two days are definitely worthy of excitement, and we want you to join us! That’s why we’re offering free admission to Wycliffe’s Discovery Center from September 29 to October 3. During your visit you’ll encounter people, languages and cultures, and you’ll see firsthand the impact that Bible translation is having around the world. Bring your kids, friends, family, neighbors or anyone you know who is looking for a fun, free day spent together in Orlando.
So join us this week in celebrating what God has done throughout history and what he is doing today. His name is being spread throughout the world, and hopefully one day soon all peoples will know that he speaks their language too.
To see pictures from the Scripture celebration, or to stay updated on what’s happening with Wycliffe’s work around the world, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Posted in Bible translation, Events | Tagged admission, Bible, Bible translation, bible translation day, celebrate, Celebration, discovery center, event, free, God, God's Word, heart, language, museum, reasons, Scripture, September 30, translate, Translation, Translator, Wycliffe, Wycliffe Bible, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, Wycliffe USA | Leave a Comment »
It’s always exciting to see that moment when something clicks with kids about the importance of Bible translation. So when Wycliffe received a letter from nine-year-old Alena about “From Akebu to Zapotec,” a book that talks about Bibleless people groups from around the world, we couldn’t have been more thrilled!
Alena addressed the author, artist and researcher of the book, writing, “Thank you for writing the book, From Akebu to Zapotec. My family has had your book for several years. I enjoy reading it. My name is Alena. I am nine years old. I love to draw people. My mom thinks I am very gifted. Here are some pictures that I drew. I am tall. I have greenish-brown eyes, olive skin and brown hair. My dreams are to be an artist, a missionary and a mom. Can I join you in illustrating the next book of Bibleless peoples? If not soon, maybe one day.”
What an encouragement it was to hear from Alena and receive the beautiful pictures she sent us. But perhaps the most exciting part was the timing of Alena’s letter. Little did she know that when we received her letter, we were in the final stages of creating an updated version of the book. In this edition, kids will travel with Kate, a Wycliffe missionary kid, and her best friend, Mack. Alena played a special role for us by reading through the new book and letting us know what she thought.
“I love the book and all of the people in it,” Alena wrote. “I especially like the way the illustrator was able to put his drawings over real pictures. Kate and Mack are so cute! I learned a lot about different languages and countries by reading this book. I hope everyone in these countries gets the Bible in their heart language. Melissa and Ben are both very talented. I would not change a thing. I love the last picture that shows everyone and their place in the world. I can’t wait to have a copy of it!”
“Around the World with Kate & Mack: A Look at Languages from A to Z” shows today’s kids how God is working all over the globe. They’ll meet kids from other countries, learn about their language and culture, and find out if they have any of the Bible in their own language.
So keep your eyes open for the book, which becomes available in October. You won’t want to miss out!
Posted in Bible translation, Features, News | Tagged a to z, a-z, activities, activity, Alena, around, Bible translation, Bibleless, book, children, introducing, kate, kids, language, lesson, letter, mack, new, Scripture, shop, Translation, village, world, Wycliffe Bible Translators | Leave a Comment »
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 »