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Archive for February, 2008

Preaching at Home

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach to the people of Westside Baptist Church, the church in Grand Rapids where I am a watchcare member.  Though I’ve been struggling to get over an infection in my lungs, I’m thankful that the Lord sustained my voice and stiffled my cough during both AM and PM services.  I could really sense the Lord’s enabling presence as I preached.  I was able to show my DVD during the evening service and to talk about the biblical basis for a translation ministry.  It was a joy to present my ministry to these dear believers with whom I have entered into a covenant.

Please pray for this small, struggling church plant.  We have only around 12-15 regular attenders.  We know that there are unbelievers in Grand Rapids who need the gospel.  We’ve found some; now we need the Lord to open their hearts to the Truth and then lead them to our church. 

We also know that there are believers in the area who are in compromising churches and who know they need to leave but don’t know of any good alternatives.  Pray that they will find us or another good church in the area.  There are many churches in Grand Rapids, but few preach the Truth without compromise.  Men like Rob Bell are attracting the crowds, even though they preach falsehood (read his Velvet Elvis to find out his heretical view of the Trinity).  Sadly, believers are leaving fundamental churches for these churches.  Pray that God will show believers the Truth.  Pray also for Pastor Sam and Jill Hendrickson as they pour their lives into Westside Baptist Church (www.westsidebaptist.info). 

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I’ve been praying and longing for an opportunity to give the gospel here at MSU.  Other than a brief conversation with a classmate on the first day of class, the Lord did not give me an opportunity for the first month.  But just last week I had a great opportunity to speak to a classmate about the gospel.  In fact, I talked to her for a little over an hour, while another Christian student listened in.  This classmate was interested in our translation work in the Old Testament.  She is a Jew, so she wondered why we would want to translate the Old Testament into Haitian Creole (I told her earlier about my upcoming trips to Haiti).  The Lord gave me real liberty to share with her the fulfillment found in a relationship with Christ, because only He can deal with our sin problem sufficiently. Yesterday I was surprised–and pleased–when my Syntax professor used the following examples to demonstrate a concept he was teaching:

  • Yesu akibahwele bandu boha  = Jesus died for all people.
  • Yesu akihwele kuGolgota = Jesus died at Golgotha. 

(For the linguistically oriented readers, the professor was teaching the concept of argument structure and valency changing morphology.)  I had heard the professor speak about how people have come to pray for his wife, who is going through cancer treatments, so I began to think that he was a born-again believer.  I asked him about those examples after class.  He commented that many avoid using those examples so as not to offend people, but he freely uses them in class and in writing because the examples are well-known and classic.  But he also told me that he is Catholic.  At least the Lord is using him as a tool to give the gospel! 

I was able to speak to another student today at lunch, though not one that I am in class with.  He asked if he could share the table where I was eating by myself.  The conversation quickly moved to religious issues.  He is a Janist.  After asking him about how Janism deals with the sin problem, I was able to explain to him the perfect harmony that exists in Christianity between justice and mercy.  After we finished lunch, he thanked me for the conversation, because he said it was “the best one he’s ever had at lunch.”  I invited him to join me again in the future if he sees me sitting by myself.  (I eat on campus every Tuesday.) 

Praise the Lord for answering prayers to be a witness to Christ at MSU!

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A Winter’s Welcome

This is my first winter back in the cold North after being away for basically 17 years, and I would say that I have been given a cold welcome back.  Grand Rapids has been particularly “welcoming” because of the lake-effect snow.  I hardly ever get into my car without having to clean the snow off at least once a day and sometimes multiple times in one day.  I’ve been a little frustrated at the fact that I see rust spots already developing on my Camry.  I’ve since found a place where I can spray the salt off once or twice a week. Traveling has also been quite interesting.  Thankfully, I haven’t been late to my linguistics classes yet, at least, not because of weather.  Two weekends ago I traveled to Bible Baptist Church in Wakarusa, IN.  Thankfully, I had no problem getting there on Saturday night, but it was quite interesting on Sunday.  The temperature was near zero (below zero with the wind chill), and the wind was gusting up to 40 mph.  As I drove to church, there were times when I couldn’t see anything in front of me.  I slid through one or two intersections when I should have been stopping at the stop sign.  I was very thankful when I finally arrived at church.  This past weekend was also very interesting.  I presented my ministry at Maranatha Baptist Church in Clarkston, MI.  The cold temperatures through Saturday night left very icy conditions the next morning.  The church is at the end of a gravel road, and gravel roads don’t do too well with icy conditions.  It took me two tries before I was able to get up the small hill, and the whole time my car was swerving back and forth. 

But in spite of the difficult weather conditions, I had two very good meetings.  In Wakarusa, I taught a combined SS, gave a short word in the AM service, and then presented my ministry in the PM service.  I greatly enjoyed the time with Pastor Harper and his people.  I loved getting to know Ed Myer’s parents, since I stayed Sat night with them. (I drove to Lansing Sun night and stayed there to be ready for school the next day.)  I’m thankful for how the Lord answered prayers in helping me to preach the Word and present my ministry clearly. 

I also had a great time in Clarkston with Pastor Glenn Currie and his people.  Because of the weather, they combined the SS classes, so I taught a packed room of adults.  We had a great time in the Word.  The Lord greatly blessed my preaching in the AM service.  Then I gave a short devotional at the missions committee’s potluck.  I had a great time of fellowship with these dedicated believers.  I could definitely sense the Lord’s enabling presence as I preached.  It was one of those days that is hard to replicate.  Praise God for His grace! 

Next Sunday I’ll be preaching at my own church in Grand Rapids, since the pastor and his wife will be in Israel.  I’m looking forward to ministering the Word twice to “my own people.”  Please pray for God’s direction as I prepare and for His enabling as I preach.  Thank you for your prayers!

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In my office

I’ve been wanting to give you (well, at least the interested ones) a taste of the linguistics courses that I’m taking.  I could have put this post in my “Translator’s Page,” but I decided to go ahead and put it here.  Linguistics is the science of language.  Consequently, it uses very scientific terms to describe linguistic phenomena.  The terms are quite complicated (I guess, to justify spending so much for the linguistics education!), but the concepts they represent are sometimes quite simple. 

Today in Morphology we talked about allomorphs.  Allomorphs are simply parts of a word (i.e., morphemes) that have the same underlying part (i.e., morpheme) but different pronunciation (I guess those complicated terms are needed, since it’s really hard for me to explain things without them!).  We looked at Luganda words (a Bantu language spoken in Uganda) to determine what the allomorphs are.  We were looking particularly at the affix that indicates causation (there I go, using complicated terminology).  We also looked at words in Turkish and Swahili to determine what each morpheme represents.  The professor noted that letters of affixes (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, infixes, circumfixes–English doesn’t have the last two, for the most part) often assimilate to the phonetic shape (i.e., sound) of the letters in the stem (i.e., main word). 

In Phonetics/Phonology, we have also been discussing how the phonetic environment of an affix affects how it is pronounced.  For example, the affix for “impossible” is actually “in-“, but because of the way we articulate “p” (with our lips), the “n” assimilates to a sound made by the lips.  Try saying “inpossible” and you see why we prefer “impossible.”  But lest we think our tongue always takes the easier route, we need to keep in mind what is called “transparency.”  In other words, ease of perception actually trumps ease of articulation.  If a word so changes that it becomes impossible to understand, it is no good.  So, some words, like “unfulfilled”, don’t change (to something like “umfulfilled”) because of this reason.

The textbook for this class marvelled at the way evolution changed our vocal tract in such a way that we can make such a larger range of sounds than animals make.  As believers, we marvel at our Creator’s ability to create our vocal tract with this ability and then to mix man’s languages so greatly that an incredible variety of sounds exists in each language.  We have studied all the various phonetic sounds, but thankfully, we have to memorize only the English ones.  The morphology was just trying to pronounce a sound that occurs in some languages but was having a hard time doing it.  Though we all have the same “equipment,” we basically only use it the way in which our language requires. 

In Syntax, we’ve been discussing the constituents of a sentence.  A constituent is a grammatical unit of a sentence.  We’ve been studying how the various constituents of a sentence function together and what the hierarchy of them is (e.g., which ones can be separated more easily, which modify which, etc.).  I’m not exactly sure how this will be applied to “real life” (i.e., translation work), but it has been interesting.  The professor is very good at leading us along, so I’m looking forward to where this leads out. I hope to figure out ways to apply what I’m learning to translation work, but I’m not quite there yet.  I think some of my future courses will help connect the dots better.  Of course, since I also oversee the linguistics aspects of our ministry, none of this material is without significance (well, almost none of it!). 

Check out recent pictures at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=27028&id=613716245 and http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=26509&id=613716245.

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