Remembering what God has done and trusting Him to bring it all to completion
Men and women in the Bible made it a practice to remember God’s mighty acts. In Genesis 28, Jacob set a stone upright as a monument to his heavenly vision of the Lord. In Joshua 4, the Israelites constructed a memorial so that future generations might recall God’s miraculous leading. And Jesus, during the Last Supper, took bread, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
For Wycliffe, an annual day of worldwide prayer serves as a corporate reminder of God’s hand in the past, present, and future of Bible translation. Today—November 11, 2011—Wycliffe staff working in almost 100 countries will pause to pray for Bibleless peoples and translation work in progress around the world. It’s also an occasion to praise God for blessing this time in history with what is now the greatest acceleration of Bible translation that the world has ever known.
Every completed Bible translation is, in its own way, a memorial, a reminder of God’s faithfulness. In 1932, William Cameron Townsend completed the translated Cakchiquel New Testament to reach one of many minority people groups in Guatemala. Now, the last four Wycliffe-supported translations of the New Testament in Guatemala are scheduled for publication this year.
We celebrate this progress, and yet the mission to urgently reach the remaining Bibleless peoples in all the major regions of the world continues. Thank you for your prayerful role in this task. Our hope is that these 40 Days of Prayer served as a reminder of the more than 2,000 language groups still waiting, and also as a powerful prayer tool for advancing God’s Word to these, the last languages.
- Join us in prayer on this special day! Go to www.wycliffe.org/DOP2011.aspx to access selected prayer requests. Intercede with us today, for the work of Bible translation.
- Ask God to prepare the hearts of attendees for this day of unity in praise, prayer, and thanksgiving.
- Pray that God will move mightily in response to our prayers!
More than 2,000 Bibleless language groups are still waiting.
No generation prior to this one has been better acquainted with the idea of global community. Thanks to today’s technology, we can communicate across oceans in an instant via email, satellite phone connections, and social networking systems like Facebook and Twitter. Continuous news coverage keeps us ever-aware of global events, and information flows at a staggering pace. The borders of our world are quickly shrinking and, as stewards of this season in history, we must respond to these realities.
We must also respond to the reality of God’s character and plan. We know from Scripture that God’s plan for eternity is a wonderful mosaic of people—“a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, NLT). Wycliffe’s founder, Cameron Townsend, believed that every person on earth deserves to have access to God’s Word. We honor this core belief and God’s plan for His Kingdom when we follow Jesus’ example of moving across cultural boundaries. The work is not done. Yes, our world is more connected today than ever before, but millions of people are still waiting to hear the truth of God’s Word in their own language for the first time. Remember them today, and the vision and mission of Bible translation.
- Pray that the Lord will create a hunger and thirst for Himself in those who have not yet heard. Pray that He will create a desire for His Word among those who have trusted in Him but lack the Scriptures in appropriate forms in their language.
- Pray for workers to be called and sent to each group. Pray that God will call skilled and passionate mother-tongue translators and advocates from within groups needing the Scriptures.
- Pray for unity among churches, mission partners and individual believers working to share the gospel and the Scriptures with the group. Pray for fruit produced by the Holy Spirit.
Truly, the need is great. Take a moment to watch this video as a reminder of the need to reach the last languages with God’s Word.
Resource: Wycliffe Pray Today Blog
Making a difference for Bible translation
With a mission and vision as big as Bible translation for every people group on earth that needs it, what can one person do to make a difference?
A few months ago, Wycliffe USA’s Prayer Ministries Department received a visit from a very special guest, a man named Richard Smalley. On a trip to Orlando, Florida, Richard stopped by to see the headquarters of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA and visit a team of people that he had never met, but was closely connected to. Richard said, “One time I called Prayer Ministries, and they said, ‘Everyone here knows you.’”
In 1990, Richard came across a magazine with a Wycliffe ad on the back, promoting the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project. It invited Christians to contact Wycliffe to receive the name of a Bibleless people group to pray for, and to stand as an intercessor until a Bible translation program began for that people group. Richard asked Wycliffe for a couple of names and began praying that year. Later, God led him to sign up for more. “God burdened my heart to pray for them,” Richard said. “They were in the jungles, and there was no other way to reach them.”
On average, prayer partners with the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project pray for one to three language groups. Today, Richard Smalley—still a dedicated intercessor after more than 20 years—prays for about 700 people groups. A custodian from Harrison, New York, Richard spends two hours a day before work going through his list of Bibleless peoples asking God to “bring the translations forth.” He said, “Even before I start praying I begin with a special prayer…praising God and thanking God, asking Him to hear the prayers. It’s amazing what He can do.”
What does it mean to have God’s Word in a language you can understand?
Discovery Trip 2008 - South East Asia
Lives change when people meet Jesus. That is one of the most significant purposes of Bible translation. The translated Word of God is key to introducing people of other languages and cultures to the One and only true Savior—Jesus Christ. In Christ we find our freedom and our new identity.
Here are just a few of the many responses to receiving the translated Word of God:
In South America, a Quechua Bible translator of Peru said, “Getting our spiritual food from the Spanish Bible is like trying to eat soup with a fork. We can get a little taste, but cannot get nourished. Using the Quechua Scriptures is like eating soup with a spoon—we can really get well-nourished.”
In Africa, Dereje Tilahun, currently a Scripture use worker, shared his desire to see the Bible made available to all the peoples of Ethiopia. Dereje said, “There are more than 80 languages in Ethiopia, and only 8 have the [whole] Bible!…We have to bring the Bible in their own language. When it is in their mother tongue, they can understand it. They can love it.” An Ethiopian himself, Dereje greatly values the Bible in his own language, Amharic. “The Bible is my life,” he said. “I cannot live without the Bible.”
A new reader in a minority group in Asia told her friend, “When we read the Bible in our language for the first time in our lives, it made us feel so encouraged that there is nothing to compare it to. Since we were small children until now—in our whole lives—we have never seen our language written down. But now we can read the Bible in our language, and read stories in our language and sing praises to God in our language.”
The Word in practice—putting the translated Scriptures to use
Translating the Bible is just the one step towards changed lives. As the translated Word becomes accessible, the broad work of engaging individuals and communities with newly completed Scripture begins.
The process of promoting the translated Word of God and equipping the local community to use it can be challenging. People must be informed of its availability, supplied with the resources to use it well, and encouraged to apply it to their everyday lives.
Scripture-use workers may enlist any number of ways to promote a finished translation—through radio broadcasts, videos and films, and other media. Scripture-inspired dramas, songs, and other artistic creations help awaken people to the truth of the Word. Other projects might also include the development of children’s materials to introduce the Bible to young people; the production of training tools to aid Bible teachers and pastors as they instruct others; and the formation of Bible studies to encourage daily practice and application of the Word.
These endeavors lead to a more finished product of the whole translation work—changed lives, deeper churches, youth ministries, Sunday schools, women’s fellowships, counseling, and so much more.
- Praise God that through the efforts of Scripture-use workers, people understand that they can relate to God in their own language.
- Pray for more Scripture-use workers to help with the immense task ahead; ask God to call people who enjoy planting the Word and seeing the fruit of their labor.
- Pray for wisdom and strength for these workers as they seek to connect people to God’s Word and its relevancy to their lives.
Watch what Scripture-use workers say about how people respond to Scripture in their heart language.
Resource: Wycliffe Pray Today Blog
Working in Sensitive Areas
Conducting work in potentially unsafe locations
Many of the world’s remaining translation needs are located in nations considered “hard to reach.” Often, these language communities are unnamed for fear of jeopardizing the safety of colleagues and their work. Workers need to be prudent in the way they live and in what they communicate about what they do. In some places spiritual opposition is a constant factor to be dealt with. For many, the logistical, spiritual, and emotional support from colleagues at home and on the field, from churches, and from families is a lifeline.
- Pray that those who provide support, in whatever form, will remain faithful to their role in the ministry to these faithful workers.
- Ask for God’s wisdom for those who are living and working in sensitive areas as they communicate about their work.
- Pray that they will be protected from spiritual attack, and that they will maintain good physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
- Pray especially that they will stand firm in their faith and knowledge of God as Job did when he said, ” I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you” (Job 42:2, NLT).
Learn more about how to pray for missionaries on the field.
Here’s the list of the The Twenty, “hard to reach” nations:
1. Papua New Guinea
6. Democratic Republic of the Congo
11. Viet Nam
16. Central African Republic
Resource: Wycliffe Pray Today Blog
a life in the field
Leaving home and living abroad.
Not only are there challenges just to get ready to go on an overseas work assignment, but Bible translation workers in all types of roles often face the challenges of adjusting to new assignments, locations and cultures multiple times in their careers. Staying ahead of today’s fast-paced world seems to lead to more changes in a lifetime than ever before. As you pray through this list of common challenges to life on the field for translation workers, try to put yourself in their place and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind other challenges for which they might need prayer.
- Pray for God’s protection over missionaries’ physical and spiritual health and that of their family, friends, and colleagues. Ask God to bring good Christian fellowship and support whenever possible.
- Pray that they will find appropriate housing at a reasonable cost and God’s provision of vehicles needed for transportation. Thank the Lord for colleagues and others in some locations who can help newcomers get settled.
- Pray for productive language learning as well as comfort with using the language and relating to the culture in everyday life.
- Pray for children as they adjust to new school situations and develop relationships.Pray also for the ones who remain in their home countries or attend school away from their parents.
Watch this video to see how Chris and Christie Winkler adjust to life in Nigeria while serving with Wycliffe.
Watch the first video of this series to learn more about the Winklers as they made preparations to leave for the field.
Resource: Wycliffe Pray Today Blog