One Thing

Chris recently attended the Mobile Ministry Forum 2015 Consultation. This photo and the story show below made quite an impact on him and those attending the meeting. In the face of some extremely challenging circumstances, God is using technology to spread the good news. The Gospel is being heard, seen, and read on mobile devices…and shared rapidly via Bluetooth and microSD cards.

Displaced Iraqi Christians Identify Their Most Treasured Material Possession

ERBIL, IRAQ – DECEMBER 13: (Editor’s note: Image has been processed using a digital filter) A Iraqi Christian, who asked not to be named, poses for a photograph in her tented home erected in the grounds of Mazar Mar Eillia (Mar Elia) Catholic Church, that has now become home to hundreds of fellow Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee their homes – many with less than an hour to do so – as the Islamic State advanced earlier this year, on December 13, 2014 in Erbil, Iraq. Asked, after her family what was the one thing she could not leave behind as ISIL advanced on her home, the student from Qaraqosh said her mobile phone. Although the autonomous Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq was already a refuge for an estimated 250,000 Syrian refugees, since the Islamic State began its onslaught on Iraq in June, Kurdistan has also taken in a more than one and a half million displaced people. Many have been placed in purpose-built refugee camps but the huge numbers mean thousands of others are forced to live in un-finished buildings or inadequate, makeshift shelters and as winter in the region closes in, there are growing concerns for the welfare of the refugees who, while their homes are still in ISIL controlled territory, have no realistic prospect of returning to them. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Meeting of the Mobile Minds

Payap University - Linguistics InstituteWycliffe has recognized that, even in the developing world, mobile computing is becoming more prevalent. We want to determine the most productive ways we can apply mobile app development to aid the Bible translation process. However, it takes dedicated time to assemble the data and people together to determine the correct course of action.

Our leadership decided it was time for this to happen. So, we began by gathering input from domain specialists and people working in the field. We wanted to know what mobile apps are currently being used or in the process of being developed. We also asked people to suggest ideas for mobile apps in the different areas related to our work: Bible translation, literacy, anthropology, cultural learning, linguistics, and ethnocentric arts.

The next step was to have a meeting of technical leaders with experience in mobile apps. Thanks to a generous gift by Every Tribe, Every Nation, we were able to meet together in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the end of September 2014. This meeting was comprised of developers from the language software group (including Chris) along with other Wycliffe missionaries in the field who were already developing mobile apps. These missionaries in the field have various primary ministry responsibilities, but they also have a background in programming and are doing extra work to meet a need where they are serving. Initial efforts at developing mobile apps have mostly been focused on scripture and dictionary publication. The mobile developers were able to compare experiences and learn from each other, process the data collected, and make plans for what Wycliffe should focus onin the near future. This meeting also helped build relationships among all these developers and find opportunities to work together.

As a result of these meetings, we have a better understanding of where we are currently and the next steps to take as we move forward. In the coming year, Chris will be helping with the completion and integration of several of the scripture and dictionary publication applications. After that, there is now a pipeline of mobile apps to work on. We are excited to see how God will bring about fruit from these meetings. We look forward to seeing the appropriate use of mobile apps to help those who receive the scripture in their heart language to engage with it and grow.

Note: This was originally included in our Winter 2015 Newsletter.

Mobile Devices

All the devices
brought by 11 people
to the mobile meeting
in Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

 

Why Another Bible App?

Bible AppsWhy should Wycliffe create yet another Bible App? One would think that existing Bible Apps could be used. Similar to the challenges with the publication of printed Bibles, there are cultural aspects of a Bible App (color, layout, usability, etc) that can be significant and affect the acceptability of an App within a culture.

There are also substantial technical challenges to overcome:

  • Distribute Apps without internet access
    • Use microSD, Bluetooth, and Hotspot–think viral!
  • Bundle text, audio, and custom font into a single App
  • Display complex scripts
    • many minority languages need special character support that isn’t supported by the OS
  • Support older devices
    • Some Bible Apps only support Android 4.0 and up.  There are still phone used and sold that are made with older hardware and run Android 2.3.
  • Protect sensitive users
    • No GPS location captured or network access required
  • Search using special character input
  • Publish incrementally

Actually, we are not creating another Bible app. Scripture App Builder will be used to generate many Bible apps. Each one will be specific to a language and can be published to an App Store and found when someone is searching for their language!

Note: This was originally included in our Winter 2015 Newsletter.  Some of the content was expanded.

Your Prayers Help People Get the Bible

I was at Panera after meeting a friend. I saw this post on Facebook, I watched the video and wow … the tears began welling up.




Please, please, please … take a moment and watch the video. We often underestimate the power of prayer to change the world around us. But as the examples in this video show, our prayers can help change people’s lives in significant ways. And just by praying, you can help people get a Bible translation in their language.

Your Prayers Help People Get the Bible from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

A Glimpse of Worship

Won’t you journey with me to Panama City, Panama
to catch a glimpse of a Kuna worship service?panama

Watch your step as we’ll be traveling down a steep hill,
RH Hill 1
KH Hill 1

past closely lined homes with bright eyed youngsters peering out the windows,
TB Hill 1
TB Hill 2
TB Hill 4

through the voices of children,
TB Hill 5

beyond the gates,
TB Hill 6

amidst welcoming youth,
TB Hill 7

and into the church, ready to lift our voices alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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With one heart and voice, a unity in Christ Jesus, we worship the One True God together…KF Kuna-Church

and hear His Word,
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spoken in their heart language ~ Kuna.
Bible

In the middle of preaching on the importance of God’s Word, the electricity flickers out… but darkness does not deter this local pastor.

Light starts to shine forth…RH Preaching by Cell Phone Light

Accompanied only by the lights from cell phones,
he continues to preach (adjusting the symbolism to fit the situation at hand)– Psalm 119 105 ‘Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.’
(Scripture from Psalm 119:105, part of the Old Testament that has just recently been
translated, published, and dedicated for their people.)

Upon the end of the sermon, we are welcomed warmly by the body with hand shakes and hugs.
And the sweet, sweet Kuna greeting of “Bab be bendake”  – ‘God bless you.’
(You pronounce it somewhat like: bob bay ben dock ay.)

Then (while still surrounded by a physical darkness)
boxes that are filled with the completed Kuna BiblesIMG_4521

…are opened for the people.RH Bibles by Cell Phone Light

May God’s Holy Word shine brightly in the hearts and minds of the Kuna.
May His Word truly be a lamp to their feet and a light for their path!
Praise God that the Kuna now have the entirety of God’s Word in their own heart language!

____________________________________________

Did you know that Kuna is only the 531st language group (of close to 7,000)  with the blessing and privilege of having access to both the Old and New Testaments?   This particular Kuna congregation is just one of many in the Panama City area.  There are approximately an additional thirty Kuna churches on the nearby San Blas islands.  Kuna pastors, leaders, and families now have access to ALL of God’s Word in their heart language!   We look forward to hearing how God’s Holy Spirit will continue to work through His Word in the lives of the Kuna people.

Why is it so important to translate Scripture into all of these languages?
https://www.wycliffe.org/about/why

Bible Dedication Highlights

Waiting …
DS Waiting for the Kuna Bible

no more!
RH Kuna Bible

… this is a historical day.
You’ve got the full counsel of God.

~Keith Forster (translator who worked on the Kuna Scriptures)

The Kuna people, along with translators Keith and Wilma Forster, recently celebrated the dedication of the entire Bible into their San Blas dialect.  Three Scripture dedications were held – two on the San Blas Islands and one in Panama City, Panama.  We were privileged to be able to attend the dedication celebration on the mainland with a handful of other stateside Wycliffe members and staff.

As I glanced around at the many Kuna in attendance, I noticed a large number of women and children.  Who could miss the women?  They were beautifully dressed in their lovely traditional clothing made with hues of red, yellow, orange, black, and white – some with their intricate handiwork ‘molas’ sewn on.  Many were also adorned with red head scarves and their delicately created bead bracelets on their arms and legs.  These were the mothers, grandmothers, (and future mothers) who would prepare the next generation to know Him. Women who, although live in another culture and speak a different language from me, are similar to me in that they now have all of God’s Word readily available to them to read, memorize, teach from, share, and pass on to their children!

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IMG_4478 RH hand of child
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I found myself praying for the women and children surrounding me – that they would take the precious gift they have been given and use it, that their children would witness the change in their lives, and grow up knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  (A prayer I’d pray for myself and other moms I know as well.)
Yes, the Kuna now have the full counsel of God.  May they (and we) pass it on to the next generation!

Here are a few highlights from the Bible Dedication.

The dedication began with worshipping Christ through singing!
(We, surprisingly, recognized many of the tunes.  In Kuna, they sang ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, ‘How Great Thou Art’, etc.)

RH Singers
music DSC_7638 (2)

Eagerness for the arrival and presentation of God’s Word…
(One Wycliffe attendee compared it to the anticipation felt by a groom awaiting to see his bride walk down the aisle.)

RH 01540

Silence being broken with the sounding of a shofar and Scripture carried forth…
shofar KF shofarRH Entering

Giving thanks to God and praying over His people and His Word…

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Children reading from the Scriptures in the Kuna language!
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The Kuna people now have access to  ALL of Scripture in their own heart language!

RH Bibles  RH Bibles 2IMG_4483 (2)

Praising God for the Work of His Hand…

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Keith and Wilma Forster
(Wycliffe missionaries who dedicated over 40 years in Panama
to revise an earlier New Testament translation and
to translate the Old Testament into the Kuna’s heart language!)

Keith’s thoughts on passing the torch to the Kuna and leaving it all in God’s powerful hands to work His Will…

… And I look around that crowd today and I see … the lives that have been touched and transformed by the Scriptures… And my prayer is ‘God, would You raise up sufficient leaders … shepherds to watch and minister to those flocks, to cause them to grow in Yourself, to keep them on track.’… My translation team – He who began a good work in them will complete it in their day.  You know, and that’s the big thing …The point is this – that God has raised up this thing. We’ve given them tools. We’ve given them the leadership… And so, we’re looking to God to carry it on.

Wilma’s reflections…

I think, today, for me, what was really amazing… When we first came here in 1971, the Kuna church was very, very small and there was only one of them. And as I looked around that huge group of people… just to see how God has been at workit feels like the time has come for the Kuna church to just explode.

Prayers of the Forsters as expressed in their update to partners:

Now the Kuna have God’s Word in its entirety. Please pray earnestly that the initial enthusiasm for the coming of the Word will not peter out. Pray that Kuna hearts will grow deep in their knowledge of the Word and of God’s claim on their lives.

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Please continue to pray for the transforming power of the Word of God
in the lives of Kuna men, women, and children…
that pastors would use and handle Scripture correctly,
that hearts and minds would be changed,
that the next generation of Kuna would know Him,
and that God would be glorified!

Waiting For WeSay for Linux

Sleeping Coconuts Book CoverToday we had a special treat in the software development office. We got to hear from John Nystrom who is a translation consultant for an 11 language cluster project in Papua New Guinea (PNG). He and his colleagues were the ones that pioneered language cluster project is dramatically improving the quality and effectiveness of translation. He and his wife have written a book (Sleeping Coconuts) about the incredible way that God used a tsunami to change the face of Bible translation in PNG (and all over Wycliffe).
The translation projects get together 5 times a year for a month long workshop to work on a section of scripture. They gain so much from hearing the feedback that the other teams receive that they won’t go back to working separately. The consultants have asked to make sure that they really want to spend almost half a year away from their families in order to be able to work together. The response from all of the translators is that it is invaluable to their efforts.
He was also sharing about some of the technical challenges in PNG. They are currently using Windows and have a horrible issue with viruses. They don’t have good network connections so they rely on flash drives to transfer data. When you purchase a flash drive in PNG, it comes pre-loaded with viruses! It might be pirated music or software, but you cannot get a flash drive without Windows viruses on it. They have repeatedly attempted to train the national translators on how to keep their computers clean, but they just get a blank stare back from them (either they don’t understand or they have just been culturally insulted–it is not clear).
They long to be able to switch to Linux, but they are waiting for an updated version of WeSay to be available on Linux. The good news is that we are on the home stretch. Please pray for our team as we complete the work on WeSay for Linux.

NIV 1984 Archive

NIV Study Bible  I came to faith in Christ in middle school through the ministry of Youth for Christ.  I remember asking for an NIV Study Bible for my birthday (which I think surprised my parents at the time).  The 1984 edition had just recently came out.  So this version is the “heart language” of the scripture that I know.  On February 28, 2013, it was a day of morning for me and others when Biblica removed the 1984 edition from all websites and digital apps.

As technologies have changed, I am more digital and now read the Bible mostly in digital format.  Thankfully, I had purchased the 1984 edition from Laridian many years ago and will continue to have access to it through PocketBible.  However, there are other friends who did not have a digital copy and had relied on biblegateway.com and other on-line resource for digital access to the scriptures.

Thanks to the Internet Archive, we still have access to the text of the NIV 1984!  You can’t search through it, but you can browse to the passage that you want.  I have made a short URL to the biblegateway page which lists all the books of the NIV 1984 edition.  Enjoy!

http://bit.ly/niv1984archive

We Never Walk Alone

Commissioning Day – February 24, 2013

A day full of tears, full of prayers, and an outpouring of love from the body of Christ…

prayers

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

~Never Once by Matt Redman

 

prayers2

Our hearts are full of thankfulness to our amazing God who never has us walk alone.

Not Because of Who I Am

Over the past year, our family has been involved in sharing how God is working to bring His Word to the nations– through the work of Wycliffe and the Bible translation process.

wycliffe table

After a recent presentation, I was taken a little off guard by a question in regards to missions and our upcoming move. The question was worded similar to this…

“What is it about you that you are able to just get up and change the direction of your life?  What is it that you’ve got?  What does it take to do something like this?”

I smiled awkwardly, fumbled with my answer, and then finally said the first thing that had come to my mind, “There is nothing special about me.”  We talked a little bit more, but as with most conversations I walk away from, I realized what I should have said – much after the fact.

My more elaborate answer should have resembled the following…

There is nothing special about me.  It is all about Jesus.  It takes intimately knowing the One who has called you.  It takes trust that has built up over multiple times of finding Him faithful.  In order to step out in faith – whether to reach out to an unsaved neighbor, to move your family to the inner city to minister within community, to moving across the country to further the Gospel, or crossing the ocean to bring the Good News to those who have never heard – you must trust that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever and that He will continue to be faithful and true. It takes reminding yourself of Who you serve – the King of kings and Lord of lords, who loved us so much that he died for us and took away our sins.  I, this weak and sinful vessel, go and follow His call, not because of who I am, but because of who my Savior is.

God will still make a great name for himself among the nations. God involves us in His mission not because He needs us but because He loves us and in His mercy He has invited us to be involved in His sovereign design for the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
~ David Platt, Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions, Together for the Gospel 2012

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