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coverIn 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!*

bob and bramletts

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.

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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 Word UnderstoodThe “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.’”The Word Understood2

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!

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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.”

John WycliffeIf 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.

John Wycliffe2Because 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.

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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.

 

Longing to Hear–Tanzania

Luka Musomba was seventy-seven years old when he heard the Word of God read in his heart language of Ndali for the first time. After listening, he shared, “I am happy that I can hear the Word of God easily in my language, which I understand better than when I was hearing God’s message in the Nyakyusa language. There were words I didn’t understand deeply like I do in my language. Now I understand more and I don’t need another person to explain to me. I have been longing to hear the Word of God for the first time through my language of Ndali rather than another language.” Some people wait many years to hear God speak the language of their heart, but when that moment comes, hearing the Bible for the first time is a beautiful thing!Finish Line

 

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

 

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By Katie Kuykendall

Photo courtesy of Nancy Sullivan

Photo courtesy of Nancy Sullivan

In December of 2013, Godefroy Sossou, a Bible translator for the Akaarakaa Project,* sat down to meet with several Christians from a Nigerian village, including speakers of the Saxwe language. The Saxwe people group is one of three languages included in the project. As is customary, everyone introduced themselves before the meeting began.

“When I announced that I was a Bible translator, there was great joy among all those who were present, and especially the Saxwe Christians,” Godefroy said.

Unbeknownst to Godefroy, he was an answer to prayer. Because the Saxwe population is fairly large—about 170,000 people—some of the Christians from the community in Nigeria wanted to create a Saxwe district church. But church leaders in Nigeria were opposed to the idea, arguing that there is no Bible in Saxwe. Very disappointed, the Saxwe people began praying that God would help them get a Bible translation in their language.

Now face to face with their Bible translator, the Saxwe were overjoyed that their prayers had been answered, and much sooner than they anticipated!

The Need

Nigeria is home to more than five hundred languages, over half of which have no Scripture. Wycliffe USA is sponsoring thirteen projects there this year. There is a longing for God’s Word in Nigeria, and God is clearly at work in the hearts of many throughout the country. In the face of devastating oppression, conflict, radical religious beliefs, and other challenges, we are encouraged by the Saxwe speakers and many others who desire to see God reach their communities through Bible translation.

Our hearts break for those who continue to be affected by radical groups throughout Nigeria. The need for Bible translation is clear—only the power of the Gospel in a language they can understand can truly transform hearts for good.

Will you join us in praying for Nigeria?

  • Pray for God’s protection, comfort, and healing for all those affected by the actions of radical groups in Nigeria.
  • Pray for God’s favor over Bible translation projects currently underway throughout the country. Ask God to provide the personnel and resources necessary to speed the process so that more people can experience Scripture in their language.
  • Ask God to prepare the hearts of the Nigerians who have not yet heard His life-changing message in their language, and to create a desire for Bible translation in more regions of Nigeria.
  • Pray for the protection of the local believers and expatriate personnel who are dedicated to Bible translation despite potential dangers.

 

*The Akaarakaa Project is based in Togo and Benin, where the majority of Saxwe speakers are located. The goal of the project is to translate the “JESUS” film and Genesis film.

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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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