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by Vladimir Burnashev

Aug 11--A Trip Transformed-2It was the dead of night and -400C when the road suddenly turned sharply. Our truck skidded, flipped over and came to rest on its side in the deep, frozen snow.

My four companions and I scrambled out without any serious injury and for the next six hours we sought assistance. Eventually we located a village where there were tractor drivers who thought they could help us. With two tractors and after numerous attempts the truck was eventually pulled upright. But we couldn’t make it move. So it was hitched up to one of the tractors and towed into the village.

My name is Vova and I was born and brought up in Siberia. My people group, the Yakut, live in Eastern Siberia, and my home is a village just outside the city of Yakutsk, the coldest city on earth. My wife and I are members of Wycliffe Russia.

One freezing winter’s day in February 2014 I had said goodbye to my wife and son, and boarded the four-wheel drive all-terrain truck with four Christian brothers, and boxes of Bible stories in my native Yakut language, expecting to be away for a month.  We had planned to take audio and video materials as well, but just before we left, while we were loading the truck, they were stolen from right out of the church. That was the first massive setback. We had therefore left with just printed literature, planning to talk about God “live”.Aug 11--A Trip Transformed-2

The accident with the truck was the second massive setback. Here we were in a village of a mere 650 people with a broken-down truck, still a seven-day road-trip away from our intended destination.

Local men found a garage where we could all work, out of the cold. While repairing the truck together, we talked about God. They asked a lot of good, serious questions, and gladly accepted copies of the Yakut New Testament, the Book of Genesis,  and other Scripture portions that we had in Yakut. These men were fascinated by our Yakut literature because their knowledge of Russian was extremely poor and they had very little material in their native Yakut language. There were no Russian-speaking people in the village, and the last time these Yakut men had spoken Russian was long ago, when they had served in the Russian army.

The four men who were travelling with me were good mechanics, able to make the necessary repairs.  Only I do not know how to repair a truck, so I went to the village school, gathered the teachers together, shared the Yakut Scriptures with them and talked about God.

Aug 11--A Trip Transformed-3The teachers were so enthralled that they asked me to repeat the discussion, this time with the high school students. I brought to the school as much literature as I could carry away from the garage, and I presented it to the staff and students. I told them that whoever wanted more could come to the garage to get it. I then went off to speak with the village leaders. When I returned to the garage, I found that there had been a phone call from the school, asking the men to take them more boxes full of books.

Our intention had been to travel to the most remote regions of the far north, as my companions had previously, since they believed the people living there were the ones most cut off from the rest of the world and from God. When our unexpected hosts heard that this was the seventh such outreach trip, they were offended – but in a good, respectful way! Why had the team’s truck passed them by those six earlier times? Why had no one ever come to visit them and tell them about the Creator, especially in their native language?

We will be returning to this village, and others like it. We hope that next time it won’t take an overturned truck to get us there!

Photos by Vladimir Burnashev.

This story was written for the Wycliffe News Network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Craig Combs

Tatyana Lar, Nenets poet and songwriter, performs her work in a style intended both to celebrate the cultural values of her own people and—for those in whom the Spirit is at work—to draw her listeners toward a relationship with their Creator and Savior.

In pieces like “Numd hynumd” (Pray to God), she sings of the blessings that come from prayerful dependency on God: “If your heart is sleeping, you will never understand the meaning of life. If your heart goes after evil, the real meaning and beauty of life will always be closed to you. Instead, be like a flower; turn towards light and lift your hands up to God. Then you’ll be strong, happy, and start to grow as a flower.”

The lyrics of the song reflect Tatyana’s own journey and offer a gentle invitation to join her on it.

A closed book

Tatyana Lar (Photo courtesy of Roslyn Nicolle)

Tatyana Lar (Photo courtesy of Roslyn Nicolle)

Tatyana had no interest in anything ‘Christian’ until her eldest daughter and a close friend both began to encourage her to attend church in Salekhard, Russia—a town situated on the Arctic Circle and accessible from the tundra and forests where her people follow the migration patterns of their reindeer herds. Wanting to support her daughter, she began to attend services at the Good News Church.

Soon after, she was asked to help with translation of the Gospel of Mark into Nenets. As she was exposed to the translated Scripture, she discovered how obscure the Bible was to her and how very difficult the translation process was as a result. But this wasn’t a case of linguistic confusion—Tatyana realized her struggle stemmed from her unbelief.

“If you don’t believe, it’s not an understandable book for you and stays as a closed book,” she says. “I read and I didn’t get it; I didn’t see anything amazing or exciting there. And it wasn’t understandable.”

The prayers that opened the book

In the meantime, Eunsub Song, a Korean who serves as the exegetical advisor to the Nenets translation project—and who had asked Tatyana to participate—was praying regularly for her. Eunsub also enlisted the prayers of her friends around the world.

Tatyana is quick to acknowledge these prayers as a turning point.

Nenets Gospel of Mark (Photo by Marc Ewell)

Nenets Gospel of Mark (Photo by Marc Ewell)

“For me, this book was opened thanks to prayer, thanks to Eunsub, and all those people who prayed at that time.”

Suddenly the Scriptures came alive to her. She realized what a close friend had been saying was true, that the message was “amazing”—and moving.

“When I read my translation … in some places as I read, tears were just running by themselves,” she shares. “When I read the translation I made, all of it went inside me.”

While admitting that the translation process remains a challenge, she now realizes how meaningful prayer is. “As you pray, that’s how the work succeeds.”

Caught in the middle

Tatyana has a deep regard and concern for her people. She sees how, like the months-long darkness that overtakes this Arctic region each year, a kind of cultural and economic darkness threatens to overwhelm their fragile lifestyle. Oil companies clutter the tundra with their derricks and pipelines. Fish stocks are decreasing in the rivers. Reindeer migration patterns are increasingly hindered. She also sees many Nenets being complicit in all this. And she wants to do something about it.

Having experienced the transforming power of God in her own life, she wants her songs to both reflect that change of heart and provoke others to embrace Jesus, too. In Him she sees the only hope for the redemption of her people, their culture and livelihood.

Tatyana describes one song, titled “Yalyakoko” (Little Sun), written with this hope in mind. In Nenets, yalya can mean “light” or “sun,” an image that can also symbolize the hope that Jesus brings. “Without sun, we couldn’t live here on the earth. If there were not sun, it would be dark,” she explains. “The same way, if there wasn’t God, we also wouldn’t see anything. We would go blind.”

A song to empty hearts

Through songs like “Pray to God,” Tatyana encourages her fellow Nenets to welcome God into the center of their hearts. She wrote this song, in particular, to address the spiritual needs of Nenets youth. They have “emptiness in the heart,” she says, which “can only be filled by God.”

She hopes that its lyrics will point the Nenets to truth—that they will “fill up their inner being, their soul, their heart, with God, so that God would always live inside of them. Then the life also will be wonderful and beautiful. Like blossoming, they will grow spiritually.”

This story was written for the Wycliffe News Network.

 

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Atara Koffi is a translator for the Akebu people in Togo, Africa. Though his family was heavily involved in traditional, pagan religion, Atara learned about Jesus and became a Christian early on. Now he wants his family and community to know the truth of the Gospel like he does. This is his testimony.

“I am from a family that doesn’t know Christ. My grandfather was one of the greatest fetish priests in the Akebu region. People came from various parts of our land and beyond to consult him. Some of the things that lead the Akebu to believe and devote themselves to the traditional gods are the fear of the invisible and of witches and wizards.

Atara

Photo by Marianne Harvey

“When I was very young, I stayed with my grandfather and participated in his practices. Though a fetish priest, he allowed me to attend the local Catholic church. I attended church, but still continued with the traditional religion. I was going to church without having a personal relationship with the Lord.

“At school, I passed all exams without much difficulty until I reached the last class in high school. I took the same exam many times without success. Then one day a colleague came to me and shared the Gospel with me. He encouraged me to accept Jesus as my personal Savior. I accepted, gave my life to the Lord, and passed the exam that same year. I joined a local church and got baptized some months later. I have been a Christian since then.”

Why Bible translation?

“After my conversion I was asked to stand by the preachers of the church to translate their preaching into our local language, Akebu. I used to do it with a great joy and devotion. Through that service I could see the importance of language in the communication of the Word of God. I also came to understand that many people in my church and in other churches in my Akebu region did not understand the message at all when it was not translated. Then one day the leader of an evangelistic group I was working with called me and said, ‘My brother, I wish you were trained to translate the Bible into your language!’ That started my desire to translate the Scriptures for my people.

“I was sent some years later to be trained as a Bible translator. I have chosen to devote myself to Bible translation because the Bible in the Akebu language will have more impact on my people. Non-Christians will come to Christ through their contact with the saving Word of God in our language, and Christians will be strengthened in their relationship with God, for they will know Him personally.”

Atara and many other translators need our support this summer, when giving tends to drop and their work is harder to sustain. You can help the Akebu translation keep moving forward by supporting Wycliffe’s summer campaign

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In case you missed some of what we shared about the Americas area these last three weeks, here are some highlights:

“From Panama…”

“From Panama…”

-On our first day we learned many delightful facts about the Americas area from our awesome infographic.

-We were encouraged by the great lengths that people like Jerry Brown and his sons go to so they can have Scripture in their language.

-We met Kyle and found out how information technology plays a massive role in Bible translation.

-And we learned how impactful it is for people like the Kaiwá and the Dâw when they finally receive Scripture in their language.

 

Stay tuned for the next three weeks as we focus on Europe!

“…to Russia.”

“…to Russia.”

 

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Learn about a wonderful translation project.

Estimates suggest that at least one hundred thousand people speak Mexican Sign Language (LSM), but only one-percent have ever attended a church service where their language was spoken. And there are only a few dozen small Deaf churches or churches with outreaches to the Deaf throughout the country of Mexico.

The vast majority of Deaf Mexicans, whether they attend church or not, currently have no practical access to God’s Word, but the LSM translation team reports that Deaf Mexicans have responded quite positively to the books of the Bible that have been translated so far.

Mexican Sign Language2The primary goal of the Mexican Sign Language translation project, which began full-time work in 1999, is to reach Deaf Mexicans with the Gospel and to facilitate the growth of an indigenous Deaf Mexican church by translating and widely distributing the entire Bible in LSM.

Another major goal is to enable Deaf Mexican children and adults—as well as interpreters, parents, and teachers of the Deaf—to gain more fluency in LSM. This will permit Deaf Mexicans to understand the LSM Scriptures better and have a higher overall quality of life.

You can help bring Scripture to people like the Deaf of Mexico in the language they understand best. Go to www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign to learn how.

 

 

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By Melissa Paredes

Countdown to ZeroOur goal is zero: Zero languages without Scripture, zero people without access to God’s Word in the language they understand best, zero communities waiting to hear God speak their language.

In Papua New Guinea—a country with the second highest translation need in the world—over 830 languages are spoken today, and about 450 of those have no Scripture at all. But on June 8, 2014, the Arop-Lokep language in Papua New Guinea dedicated their New Testament, joining the number of languages with access to Scripture. That’s one less language without God’s Word in their heart language.Countdown to Zero2

The day was filled with celebration. Traditional dress, music, and dancing were all important parts of the day, and joyful smiles reflected the excitement people felt. After all, they had waited a very long time for this day when the Bible would finally be distributed in the language they understand best.

“Before, it was in Tok Pisin and English. Now it is in our heart language and it is more clear to us,” said Hiskel, an Arop-Lokep speaker attending the celebration. “We can see and read it in our language. We are all very happy that they made this Bible in our heart language.”

And now future generations will be able to see it in their language too.

Countdown to Zero3“The spiritual impact of this Bible translation will be reflected in eternity,” said Jeff and Sissie D’Jernes, who co-translated the Arop-Lokep New Testament. They’re right. Because the Arop-Lokep people can now read the Bible in their own language, future generations will be able to know, serve, and love a God Who doesn’t just speak and care about the major languages of the world, but also the minority languages like theirs.

The countdown continues. With each Scripture celebration, the number of languages stillCountdown to Zero4 waiting for access to God’s Word decreases. And one day all languages will know what the Arop-Lokep people know—that God speaks their heart language and knows them intimately.

 

 

To see a video of the Arop-Lokep Scripture dedication, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7dtwbK-0RE. To learn more about what God is doing in Papua New Guinea, visit http://thepngexperience.wordpress.com/.

 

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My Language, But Not YoursCommunicating between different language communities can be difficult. Unless a mutual language is spoken—often a language of wider communication such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, or French—language barriers can be seemingly insurmountable.

These barriers are something that people in South Tanna, Vanuatu, face every day.

Most people in South Tanna are taught in English and French at school. But since most do not continue attending school after year six, their understanding of those languages quickly fades. So using the Bible in those languages is not an option.

The Bible is also available in Bislama, the language people use to communicate when someone doesn’t know their language. But most people only know Bislama well enough to carry on basic conversations, not heart-level discussions.

The people in South Tanna speak Nafe. That’s their heart language—the language that they speak in their homes, in their gardens, and as they are working.

The Nafe language needs its own Bible translation. And this summer, they’re finally receiving it. On June 13, the Nafe New Testament was dedicated!

You can help bring Scripture to people like the Nafe in the language they understand best. Go to www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign to learn how.

Read more about the Nafe language here.

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This story was originally published at Wycliffe.net.

by Karen Weaver, Tim Scott

Papua New Guinea

 

13 09 24 p3Linguistics captivated Luai during her studies at Keravat National High School. Although she wanted to study advanced linguistics at the university level, she put that dream aside when she got married and began working at a bank.

Several years later, Luai’s pastor needed a representative from the Nalik language area to attend the New Ireland Translation Institute (NITI). He encouraged Luai to attend. Going to NITI rekindled Luai’s interest in linguistics and initiated her involvement in translating the Nalik New Testament.

Initially Luai’s husband did not show any interest in her work with the Nalik translation, but he now supports her. This is a great encouragement to Luai.

Further encouragement came through an unexpected visitor. A lady came to the village and noticed that Luai’s home was disorderly and that she hadn’t raked the yard. When Luai explained that she spends many hours translating the New Testament and has little time for her own work, this visitor offered to send her daughter to help with housework. Luai testifies, “Her daughter has been a big help to me.”

13 09 24 p1Later, Luai heard that this same woman had become ill, so she went to visit her. While there, a group gathered in the house. Luai used the opportunity to check a portion of the translation with these people to see if the meaning was clear to them and if it sounded natural. As she left, her new friend requested, “Please come back again and check more Scripture in my house.” When Luai asked why, her friend explained, “I don’t have a Bible. I sometimes go to church and listen to sermons, but I have never read the Bible for myself.”

Following her request, Luai has returned several times. The group of listeners has expanded to include several students from a local trade school. Luai testifies, “I praise God who chose me to translate the Bible into my own language. As I translate I see God and my eyes are opened. He has given many promises to those who follow him. He is faithful!”

Photos by Tim Scott

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This story is an excerpt from The Finish Line monthly downloads. The Finish Line is a guide to praying for translation projects within three years of completion.

 

Motivated By Scripture—Southeast Asia 

Having access to God’s Word in a community’s heart language is important, but people also need to be able to understand how to use the Bible and apply its teachings to their daily lives. That’s why Scripture use workshops are so important—to equip people in reading and studying the Bible for further understanding. In one community, a workshop was to begin after the Sunday morning service. Five hundred worshipers crowded into the morning service because they were so excited about the workshop in the upcoming days!???????????????????????????????????????????? One of the attendees was seventy years old. She walked a total of four hours every day, to and from her home in the mountains, so that she could attend the workshop! Then she’d head home each evening to look after her husband, who was paralyzed from a stroke. What a beautiful testimony of a woman who is motivated to learn more about the Scriptures!

 

Want to read more stories about lives changed through Scripture, or learn how to pray for people waiting for a Bible in their heart language? Sign up to receive The Finish Line monthly downloads today!

 

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Russel is a Bible translator for his own language, Majukayong, in the Philippines. He’s been working on the project for over twelve years, having joined the team back in 2002. Although Russel is a shy man by nature, he knew that sharing God’s Word with his people was important. So he would bring home drafted portions of the New Testament they were translating into his mother tongue, and gather his neighbors together to read and discuss the flow of the translated text in their own language.

???????????????????????????????As Russel continued to hold these gatherings, they eventually developed into a Bible study. And as time went on, the group began to multiply. God’s Word in their heart language was making a difference as more people became interested in what the Bible said, and it was visibly spreading across their community as more and more people joined the group.

In 2005 a church was built and Russel was commissioned as pastor to the new congregation. Now he is no longer known as a shy man, but rather as a passionate preacher of the Scriptures to the Majukayong community. Russel is also the first pastor in the community to use the translated Scripture in their heart language!

But more people need access to the Bible in Majukayong. In a community that has long practiced revenge killing, legalistic rituals, and animistic practices, Russel and the translation team believe that God’s Word in the heart language has the power to transform lives. For those who already believe, there is a desire to ???????????????????????????????understand the Scriptures for themselves, without relying on pastors from other communities to interpret the Scripture from another language.

You can help print Bibles for the Majukayong community and make a difference in this community through the gift of God’s Word in their heart language.

Go to www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign to learn how!

 

 

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