Carol and I were expecting our third child, when we were notified that our health insurance company was declaring bankruptcy and there would be no coverage for his birth.
This was a financial blow, but one we could manage. We worked out a plan with the hospital and doctor.
However, Ryan was born with meconium ileus and required emergency surgery on day three, followed by extensive hospital stays and multiple surgeries during the first fourteen months of his life.
The first hospital bill was staggering, not something we could manage. Life seemed out of control.
But God used His Word to awaken me to His sovereign care:
I realized that God was in control at a time when from the standpoint of man everything was out of control. Reading Genesis 6:1-8:22, I’m certain that Noah had moments wondering if God was in control.
I laughed reading Genesis 8:1. After a 40-day deluge and 150 days bobbing about on the surface of the flood, God remembered Noah.
How did God remember Noah? He remembered by causing the winds to blow over the flood waters for another 150 days. I believe Noah would agree with me.
Life seemed out of control but God had everything in hand. He was ruling over our circumstances during a flood of uncertainty. I learned to trust God and lean on His promises. His strength and peace were our daily portion.
How does Scripture impact your life as a pastor?
The Word of God is essential to my life and ministry. I need to hear from God for my own spiritual growth. God needs to speak to me from the Scriptures before I stand and speak to God’s people.
If I desire to see God’s people grow in faith and hope, set apart in holiness, and equipped for serving others, then I must preach and teach God’s Word.
God testifies concerning the whole of Scripture:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV
I find great joy in helping people:
Understand what the Bible teaches,
Trust what it promises, and
Obey what it commands.
Why do you support the work of Bible translation?
Bible translation confirms what God’s Word teaches:
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.
— Romans 10:17, NASB
As a young man, I read ‘Translation Treasures’ printed by Wycliffe Bible Translators. I remember the reports of people hearing the Scriptures for the first time in their own language and weeping for joy that God spoke their language too.
I had the privilege of hearing first-hand reports of God’s work among the Dani people of Irian Jaya,theZapotec of Mexico, and the Himalayan peoples of Nepal.
God continues to call laborers like Michael and Rachel to equip and empower Bibleless peoples to translate God’s Word into their own languages until men and women of every tribe, tongue, and nation hear the message of Christ in a way they can understand. Praise God!”
Join our team!
When you partner with us in our Wycliffe ministry, you help:
Equip believers around the world with God’s Word
Lift up marginalized communities and transform hearts for eternity
Grow the Kingdom of God and empower churches for discipleship
Prior to Bible translation beginning in the Siwu language, the Akpafu and Lolobi communities were separated. The division was generations old: 200 years. No one could remember how it started.
It was only by God’s grace that local organizers had the foresight to recognize that the Bible was for both communities, not just one. The committee chose a chair from one group and a vice-chair from the other.
And that mattered, because when that New Testament was dedicated in 2009 something extraordinary happened.
Two separate Siwu-speaking communities, the Akpafu and the Lolobi, came together for a dedication, after 200 years apart.
Translating the New Testament brought peace between peoples.
Can you imagine being Akpafu or Lolobi and reading Ephesians 2 for the first time in this moment? For He himself is our peace, who has made two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.
Bible translation brought reconciliation: man to man and man to God. And the Siwu translation team continues, hard at work on completing the Old Testament.
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
As several Ndokwa people walked down the streets of their community in Nigeria, they heard an unfamiliar sound.
A man was reading aloud from John 1:1. The voice captured their attention. They recognized his words as Scripture, but something was different. Normally they heard the Bible read in another language that’s spoken in the region. But this man was reading in Ndokwa, their own language. Curious, the people stopped to find out what was going on.
An Ndokwa Bible translator was reading a draft of the Gospel of John to a group of people and asked for feedback. He wanted to ensure the meaning of the text was understood clearly by Ndokwa speakers. As he read, the Scripture attracted others who joined the discussion.
Some children who were listening began to ask the translator questions about what he was reading. Meanwhile the adults were delighted to discover that God’s Word was being translated into their language. “When will it be finished?” they asked.
Others have also responded with joy. On a different occasion, a young woman’s eyes lit up as she listened to a portion of the Gospel of Luke in her language.
“Is this in the Bible?” she asked. The Ndokwa translator who was reading Scripture to the woman and her daughter nodded.
The woman couldn’t remember hearing the story before. Although she was familiar with Scripture, this was the first time she was hearing it in her language. It seemed as if the Bible was coming home to her heart. After listening to the portions of God’s Word in Ndokwa, both mother and daughter decided to follow Christ!
As God’s Word is made available in Ndokwa, many people — including this woman and her daughter — are discovering the joy of the Lord for the first time.
More people have a complete Bible in their language – now 704 languages. Like the speakers of the Huichol language in Mexico. One Huichol speaker said: ‘We are so happy that we now have the complete Bible, the Old and New Testaments.’
More people have the New Testament in their language – now 1,551 languages. Like the speakers of Samburu in Kenya. Julia, a Samburu woman, said: ‘Today is a day of happiness for Samburus, because we now have our own Bible.’
More people have some portions of the Bible – now 1,160 languages. Like the speakers of Ashe in Nigeria. Ashe Chief, Bisa, said: ‘I never imagined that one day I would hear Scripture being read in the Ashe language.’
More people have translation projects at work in their languages – now 2,731 languages. Like the Ceren people who live in a part of Asia hostile to the gospel. First steps towards Bible translation have been completed with the official acceptance of the Ceren alphabet. A Ceren leader said: ‘Where many do not care about us and do not see us, you have cared, you have seen. Thank you!’
Toward a future where everyone has the Bible in a language they can understand.
This exciting progress shows acceleration in Bible translation around the world. God is working through people like you praying and giving. Your giving facilitates local translators to be trained; availability of computers and reliable energy supplies; as well as enabling specialists like us to develop needed translation tools and resources for translation projects across the globe.
Transformative progress has also been made in the number of new Bible translation projects beginning. There are currently over 2,700 active Bible translation projects around the world. We are on the brink of historic change.
With your help, in the next 10-15 years we will see:
95% of people having the Bible in their language (currently 80%)
99% of people with the New Testament in their language (currently 90%)
100% of people having access to some Scripture in a language that speaks to them effectively (currently 255 million people have no Scripture)
This represents a key milestone in world history – one that your praying and giving plays an essential part in achieving.
The Ellomwe people in Malawi recently received the Bible in their language. Hundreds of people danced and sang to celebrate the completion of the Ellomwe Bible.
‘I am grateful to God that I can witness this in my lifetime.’
Ellomwe Chief Nazombe
In the coming years, it is our prayer that many more people will be able to say they are grateful to God for seeing their people have the Bible in their language during their lifetime. And we are eager to be part of this effort.
In the New Year, we are resolute in our purpose and call to Bible translation. We are steadfastly working toward our ministry goal.
We need those who will join us in our resolve. And we are determined to begin our ministry by Spring 2021. Would you affirm our call to Bible translation by joining our ministry team of prayer and financial partners? Learn more.
We need those who will join with us in God’s work around the world. Would you join our ministry team as a prayer and regular financial partner? Will you help us make a difference in people’s lives today?
As we reflect on ‘partnership’, another word comes to mind: Koinonia. It isn’t an English word but comes from Ancient Greek. You may have encountered it at church or in Sunday school. We once attended a class called Koinonia, with the name used to emphasize Christian fellowship. But koinonia is a bit bigger than this.
Here are some of the ways that koinonia is used in the New Testament.
It is used to talk about the fellowship of believers and our relationship with God. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship (koinonia) with us. And our fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).
It is also used in relation to believers sharing the Gospel. Paul talks about our partnership together in the faith. Paul writes to Philemon: I pray that your partnership (koinonia) with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ (Philemon 6).
As we look forward to serving in our assignment, we are eager to enjoy fellowship and partnership with all of you in the ministry of the Gospel. We use the word ‘partnership’ to emphasize the two-way relationship we have with you. We encourage one another, teach one another, and share with one another. As Paul writes, may this deepen our understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.
In our work with Wycliffe Bible Translators, it is our desire to advance the cause of Scripture access among minority language communities. But we also want to engage with the English-speaking church in North America about the importance of Bible translation, including how the study of language and linguistics can improve our understanding of the Biblical languages. This is true for students, pastors, and scholars, but it applies to everyone involved in the life of the church.
My grandfather was the first in his family to go to college. He felt the calling, left the farm, and traveled all the way from rural New York to Chicago to study at Moody Bible Institute and become a pastor. That one act changed everything. Nearly all of us can probably point to the first person in our families who made that decision, a college education, often to the disapproval of the rest of their family. But the opportunities that followed, both for that person and also for their children and grandchildren, probably made all the difference for them and their family—for you and your family. For my part, my upstate New York father then also attended college & seminary and married a Canadian from Texas. I was able to study biblical Greek and linguistics and now here I am before you now, preparing to serve the Bibleless around the world.
The way a college education in America can transform the trajectory of a family is a very small version of the way a Bible translation project can transform the trajectory of an entire people group.
Let me tell you about five ways that Bible translation ripples out beyond our immediate expectations and impacts communities in substantive and practical ways, across all aspects of life.
Bible translation enriches people’s hearts and minds
When people hear God’s word spoken to them in their own language, they stand alert. They pay attention. They nod their heads, they clap their hands & they understand what is being spoken to them. From the smallest child to the oldest adult, they hear and know God’s voice. For many minority-languages communities, the only Bible they have access to is in a foreign language. For this reason, the people cannot understand what they hear. But when they hear it or read it in their own language, they say: True! God is speaking to us in our own language!
This is a relief to pastors who are trying to teach their people. Some pastors can read the Bible in English, but they cannot interpret it for their people. Yet when it is in their own language, they interpret it easily. Upon receiving the Scriptures in his own language, one pastor declared this: “God is not far from us. God is not a foreigner anymore. He can talk directly to us.”
Thuso Sithole, a speaker of the Kalanga language in Botswana says of his own experience with Scripture in his own langugae:
“I’ve been reading the Bible English and Setswana, but the moment I read in my own language, that’s when I felt God… God is really present. God is with me. I always feel God closer to me when I read the Kalanga Bible. When I want to feel the angels, when I want to feel God, I just read the Kalanga Bible.”
Bible translation brings educational and economic transformation
Wycliffe Bible Translators cares about Scripture being used by its audience. And Scripture use often assume literacy. This inevitably results in the creation of primary education resources in the language. Wycliffe has learned through practical experience over the decades that first language education is a powerful tool for community empowerment, one that gives the local church opportunity to minister to those around them. Community-driven, local education in a person’s own language stands apart from the traditional, expensive schools perhaps a village or two over in the language of wider communication.
The Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation was founded in the 1970s. It was grounded in Wycliffe’s approach to using local languages and focused on the broader purposes of literacy and education in a goal-oriented manner. Clinton Robinson (2007) described its efforts in this way:
The result was a program that combined adult literacy with women’s groups, income generation, and within a rights-based approach to poverty reduction, in 22 language groups. In preparing the project design, the emphasis shifted to the socio-economic goals and outputs, even though the use of the local language was the means of communication and learning. A particular feature was the translation of a summary of the national constitution [of Ghana] into 24 languages, resulting in access to this document for the first time for many in those [language] groups.
The project had very functional goals: economic and social empowerment of minority language communities, but the individuals themselves who benefited from the efforts emphasized the simple pleasures of literacy that we in the West take for granted. One of the most common responses from adults in the literacy programs was: “We can now write and read our own language and write our children’s names.” These are not the kinds of objectives that governments and non-profits write down in their lists of result outcomes, but they nevertheless speak to the ways that one’s own language strengthens the most important bonds in a family and in a community. A 2004 report on the Ghana project observed:
A principle value of literacy and motivation for taking part in literacy groups is the possibility to use one’s own language in written form and for learning purposes, thus putting to one side the barrier of having to learn and adopt someone else’s language and, to a certain extent, someone else’s culture and ways of thinking. This response (“We can now write in our own language”) may be taken as an expression of many different emotions, ranging from relief to pride, from cultural self-assertion to joy in learning.
This type of self-actualization also changed how people viewed languages of wider communication, such as English. Instead of viewing English either as some unattainable necessity or threat to cultural identity, mother-tongue literacy empowered minority language communities and provided opportunities for greater and more effective participation in the larger society. First language education makes second language education simpler and easier. In a comparison between comprehensive mother-tongue education and second language education in Ethiopia, students who were able to go through school in their mother-tongue did 30-50% better in their classes than those who learned in the national language Amharic or in English (Heugh 2009).
3. Bible translation brings social transformation
Having a written down language, having a published Bible, a published grammar and published dictionary can give an otherwise vulnerable language community a newfound sense of prestige in their nation. Reading makes public announcements easier: government emergencies, health crises, natural disasters can all be communicated more easily. Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many Bible translation teams have shifted their work to help spread medical information for their local communities.
The Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy, has been gathering hygiene and social distancing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), along with other material from the Cameroon government. The source material was in English and French. Now, CABTAL translators are producing booklets and audio recordings in about 40 local language communities where they were already serving. Bible translators in Togo are doing the same.
Reading makes medical care easier: people can read dosage for prescriptions; mothers can more easily take care of sick children. Beyond this immediate crisis, minority language communities with written texts are more likely to receive official recognition from government entities and NGO’s that entirely changes the way that their language community can engage with the world.
4. Bible translation brings greater connection to fractured communities
In the Siwu language project in Ghana, the New Testament is completed, and the translation team is working on the Old Testament now. But when that New Testament was dedicated in 2009 something extraordinary happened. Two separate Siwu-speaking communities came together for the dedication event. The Akpafu people and the Lolobi people. These two groups, who both speak Siwu, had been separated and divided for 200 years. Translating the New Testament literally brought peace between these peoples.
Can you imagine being Akpafu or Lolobi and reading Ephesians 2 for the time? For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.
God’s Word translated into the languages that people around the world understand best, gives people tools to changes their lives for the better. Rachel and I are excited to join this ongoing work of transforming lives through our own service with Wycliffe Bible Translators. But we need your help. I know that this is a difficult time right now for many, but we would love for you to partner with us. Consider going to Wycliffe dot org forward slash partner forward slash aubrey and join our team to serve the global church through Bible translation. Even $10 a month would go a long way in helping us reach out goal.