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,
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through the voices of children,
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beyond the gates,
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amidst welcoming youth,
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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!

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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.)

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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!

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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!

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

Skittles & Translation

 

Skittles 1 (2) Skittles 2

From the very beginning of our journey to missions, we knew we wanted to somehow involve our entire family.  So, when we had the opportunity last fall to start sharing with other believers the needs of the Bibleless, I began searching for a way to involve the kids.  I was so excited when I came across another Wycliffe missionary family’s blog and how their kids did a quick presentation using Skittles.  I contacted the other family, the Tolivers, and requested permission to copycat their original idea.

Then, we had fun counting and practicing….

Skittles Prepcounting Skittles hundreds
practice 1 practice2

At first, as we were sorting and counting, the most difficult part was keeping the kids from eating the Skittles.  We would jokingly say, “Don’t eat a language!”   Of course, after taking all of the effort of working together to carefully count the Skittles, the kids quickly learned the importance of not dropping, eating, or misplacing a ‘language’.

While I think our copycats gave a great visual for the need for Bible translation, the Toliver kids did an excellent job!  They recently remade the original video and it looks very professionally done.  Go check it out!

Skittles & Translation from RBennett on Vimeo.

 

Out of a known 6,800 languages spoken in the world today, only 471 language groups have the entire Bible translated into the language that they understand best.  Over 2,000  languages have a need for Bible translation to begin.   That means there are close to 350 billion people around the world today that have NO Bible available in their heart language(Stats were taken form the 2011 worldwide status of Bible translation.)  Won’t you join us in reaching the Bibleless with the gospel of Christ?

Take the Bible Stack Challenge

“Grab your Bibles!”

The kids eagerly run throughout the house, gathering as many Bibles as they can find.  They start to stack them on the table and I quickly realize that they will soon hit the light that hangs just above.

Collecting

They move them to the floor and start to sort and stack them by size.

Sorting

 

stacking

 

As I hear their voices discuss the best way to organize the Bibles and watch as they arrange and rearrange, with the stack growing higher, I see…

 

  • my husband’s first Bible that he received.  I know it has a handwritten message from his mom inside the front cover.
  • my very worn daily Bible.
  • the Word and Song Bible that we first bought for our oldest child when she was a toddler.  She would listen to the CD, follow along in the Bible by looking at the pictures, and then get up and dance so joyfully to the songs that accompanied it.
  • several bindings taped multiple times from being well loved.
  • our littlest ones’ handled first picture Bible.
  • the 5 small matching Bibles that I ordered for use during Bible time in the mornings with the kids.
  • various versions of Bibles – NIV, ESV, NKJ, NASB.
  • a Greek New Testament and a Hebrew Old Testament.

counting measuring

 

 

After gathering, sorting, stacking, and counting, we realized that we have over 35 Bibles.  35 Bibles for 7 people!?  Really?   (And that does not even count the access we have to the Bible through sites like BibleGateway and through downloads on our phones.)  Wow!

 

While taking photos, one Bible in particular stands out.  It’s title (on the bottom in this photo) is this…

Gods Word for Me

God’s Word for Me.  God’s Word for Me!   Thank You, Lord for sending Your Son and for giving us Your powerful, living, and active Word that penetrates my soul, awakens me to my sins, transforms me, comforts me, directs me in Your Truth, and is as life to me.  It was through reading His Word for me that I fell in love with Christ – which is probably why it brings me so much joy when I see this…

reading

Yes, God’s Word is for me…but it isn’t only for me, for my family, for our neighbors, for our friends and church family, for believers here in the United States where access to God’s living Word is in abundance.

God’s Word is also for THEM.

– for the 2,000+ languages without any portion of the Bible – not even one verse.
– for the 340 million people within those 2,000 languages where Bible translation projects have not yet begun.
– for those who don’t have one Bible, one portion, or even a single verse to share with their children.
– for those still waiting for knowledge of the One and Only Savior.

We are so blessed to be able to read God’s Word in our own language and to have it available so readily, but my heart is heavy as I read these statistics.  I am challenged to not take God’s Word for granted, but to yield the sword daily.  And, I am once again reassured of our journey to be missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, whose goal is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language that they understand best.

 

family Bible stack

1 Peter 1:18-25
(emphasis mine)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever
.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.

Won’t you take the challenge, too?

challenge

REACH|11 Meals With Missionaries

What do Skittles and God’s Word have in common? 
Sign up for Meals with Missionaries to find out!

Skittles 1Skittles 2 

We’d love to meet with you on one of the following dates….
Saturday, October 8th @ 5:30 pm
Thursday, October 13th @ 6:30 pm
Saturday, October 15th @ 5:00 pm

And, don’t forget to check out all the other activities for REACH|11!

Isaiah 41:10

Seeds Family Worship has a song called ‘Do Not Fear’ based on Isaiah 41:10 from their Seeds of Courage CD.  I have been singing it for several weeks – and I think I will continue to sing it in order to ingrain this promise from God’s Word!

So do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In my previous posts Come Follow Me, Part 1 and Come Follow Me, Part 2, I shared how God has shown Himself faithful in the past and what we believe is His call to us for the future.  If you have read these, then you are aware that our family embarked on the application process to be missionaries.    Well, months later, after much prayer, reflection, interviews, and some shaky knees, we have received word that we have been accepted as members to Wycliffe Bible Translators!

Wycliffe’s vision is to see God’s Word accessible to all people in the language that they understand best so that everyone has an opportunity to have an intimate and life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our future assignment: No, we are not gifted as translators!  However, my husband will have the opportunity to use his skills in software development to assist in the process of translating the gospel into the many heart languages of unreached people groups.  He will be working with a team to develop specialist computer software for use by Bible translators and language workers worldwide. This will allow for faster, more accurate, and more meaningful Bible translations.

Our next steps:  Training!  In addition to our current family responsibilities and jobs, we will be taking missions training for the next year – a Perspectives course and online Wycliffe training as a couple, onsite training at Wycliffe headquarters as a family, and SIL training for my husband in the upcoming summer.   Partnership Development!  We will also be seeking much needed prayer and financial support.

Our needs:
– For God to raise up a team of ministry partners –both prayer and financial supporters
– That in the midst of missions training and our ongoing family roles, we would have spiritual protection, strength, endurance, and wisdom
– For trust in Christ alone, a continued sense of calling, and an abiding peace as we face uncertainties and meet transitions
– For growth in prayer as a couple and family
– For diligence (especially when tired) in training, disciplining, and discipling the children

Honestly, I keep having to fight my knee jerk reaction to pull back, scream no, and hold on tight to where we are and to what we have in an effort to protect myself and our children – for my desire for stability, comfort in the known, and for being the overseer of MY time, MY resources, MY energy, etc.   In reality though, that is faulty thinking – to think that I am in control.  Everything we currently have has come from HIM.  Everything we need in the future comes from HIM.  If this is truly what God desires for our family, who am I to say no and to question if HE will provide yet again?   I know that HE will provide all things in all situations – within the known and in the unforeseen – time, energy, resources, wisdom for decisions, and prayer support.

For my Lord will uphold me with His righteous right hand.  It is there, in Christ alone, that I find strength, rest, peace, and security.