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Archive for April, 2009

I was able to go soulwinning with the teens at Calvary B/C in Geneva on Wed, but we weren’t able to give the gospel.  I asked the Lord to give me an opportunity today to give the gospel.  But I wondered how it would happen since I was going to be at a public library all day.  Well, the Lord allowed it to happen by leading me to do some reading on a picnic bench in a park area behind the library.  It’s such a beautiful day that I thought I’d take advantage of it.  Well, it turns out that another man was also doing the same thing. 

As I studied Spanish at my table, I began to wonder if he was reading Scripture.  I could hear pages turning and they had a distinct Scripture-page sound.  When I approached him, I saw that, sure enough, he was reading out of a little New Testament.  As we talked, it became clear to me that he was putting his dependence in his own efforts as well as in Jesus Christ.  I went through the whole gospel presentation with him, but he still focused on wanting to get things straightened out in his life first.  I will be visiting New Life Baptist Church here in Aurora in January 2010, so I told him about that church.  Please pray that Van would transfer all of his dependence to Jesus Christ.  Pray also that he would go to New Life.  He’s really searching for the Lord and for a good church.  And praise the Lord with me for answreing my prayer to have a solid gospel opportunity.  What a blessing! 

The gospel is also at work in India.  Though various persons brought the gospel to India throughout the centuries, I want to focus on William Carey, because he also did translation work.  He translated the NT for the Manipuri and published a NT for them in 1827.  We are also working with the Manipuri, but soon after the publication of the OT along with Carey’s NT in 1984, it was determined to begin a completely new translation.  BI officially adopted the project in 1990, and we are nearing the completion of the entire Bible. 

According to Suresh Singh, a BI consultant in India, there are 1.3 million speakers of Manipuri, of which 20,000 are believers (in various denominations).  These believers will soon have an accurate, complete translation of Scriptures.  It’s a blessing to continue the work that William Carey started. 

But though Carey worked with around 40 languages in India, he was not able to touch many of India’s other languages.  It is estimated that there are almost 500 distinct languages in India.  Of these only 60 have complete Bibles, and another 40 have only the New Testament.  What about those 40 that are waiting for the OT?  What about the 400 that have nothing at all? 

Another BI consultant in India, Jonathan Victor, let me know about a language group, Rathawi, that has over 300,000 speakers (as of 2006; the number is likely much higher today) and around 2,000 believers.  That’s one example of a language group that has nothing!  When are they going to receive their translation?  Currently, they have to be satisfied with hearing Scripture translated by their pastors at church.  Most, if not all, have no other access to Scriptures. 

Lest anyone think that the work of Bibles International is not necessary or coming to completion, let me assure you that there is still much work to be done.  Millions still wait!

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It’s so good to be back in the Chicago area with my fellow Bulls, Blackhawks, and Cubs fans (the Sox are purposely not included!).  I’ve also enjoyed reconnecting with friends from the past.  I’m at Calvary Baptist Church, pastored by Rick Weesner, and I’ve been able to fellowship with Jenni (Muth) Green, who went to school with me in Schaumburg.  Jenni’s husband is seeking the Lord’s will about entering full-time ministry.  I also met David and Laura Neal, friends from my Mt. Calvary days.  David is pastoring a new church in Harvard, IL.  I’ve also seen Derek Black.  He was quite a bit younger than me at Schaumburg, but now he’s a missionary going to Alaska with his family.  Most importantly, I was able to see my sister Lori last night.  She was able to come to hear my ministry presentation.  I’ll see her again later this week as I stay at her house. 

It’s been a great conference so far.  I really appreciate the work that the church is putting into the conference and how the Lord is blessing.  I taught the teens and college-aged students for SS and then the children for Children’s Church.  The pastor asked if I would be willing to teach the latter, and I said ‘yes.’  So I put something together over the weekend.  But then when I got here, the pastor said that the CC leader wanted me to do just a 5-10 minute thing.  When I was talking to this man between SS and CC, he got excited about my presentation and asked if I could still give it.  After scrambling around to get my computer and projector from my car in the rain and then having my notes printed  off (which I hadn’t looked at since Friday night), I was able to teach the kids about language, communication, and their relation to what God has called us as believers to do.  The Lord gave us a wonderful time together. 

My speaking responsibilities are over for this conference, so now I can just enjoy the other speakers.  On Thurs I head to my sister’s.

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The Haitian Creole OT workshop ended on Tuesday, and we were able to accomplish a good deal.  Thanks for praying.  In total, we finished Ruth, Song of Solomon, Genesis 1-5, and Psalms 1-2.  Here are a few issues we wrestled with: 

  • “An evening went by, and a morning came.”  This sentence is repeated 6 times in Genesis 1, and this is directly from the rough draft of the Haitian Creole OT.  The Hebrew says: “There was an evening and there was a morning.” The Creole translation gives the impression that evening began the day, maybe even the darkness that preceded the appearance of light.  But this is not the case.  The day began with the appearance of light.  The evening came and then the morning came.  As soon as the morning came, the first day was complete.  The appearance of the morning also signaled a new day and was actually part of that new day.  I proposed: ‘there was evening and morning—the first day’ or just ‘So the evening and the morning were the first day.’  Kidner suggests ‘evening came and morning came’ to avoid the impression that reckoning starts with the evening.  In the end, the translator decided that he would find a way to leave the sentence somewhat ambiguous while also avoiding giving the impression that the evening began each day.
  • In Psalm 2:3, the Hebrew says: “Let us tear apart their fetters, and let us cast off their cords from us!”  In Creole it is impossible to say “their fetters,” because the same word “yo” is used to indicate plural and third-person possession.  The result would be “chèn yo yo.”  So we had to leave only “yo” and leave it at that.

 

I’m thankful for what I was able to get done during the three days after the workshop.  I basically had to catch up from being away from the office for 6 months.  I was finally able to bring all of my financial records up to date.  But now I am getting ready to leave Grand Rapids again.  I won’t return until mid July.  But this trip will be different than the last, since I’ll see my sister and her hubby in Chicago, as well as my uncle and his new wife.  Then, I’ll be staying with my mom for the last half of the trip.  I’ll arrive in Greenville on May 18 and will be there until July 6. 

 

Tomorrow I head to Geneva, IL, for a missions conference at Calvary Baptist Church.  I’ll be speaking to the teens in SS and to the children in the AM service.  I present my ministry on Monday evening.  Please pray for effective ministry.  Pray also as I have much work still to do for the Children’s Church slot. 

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Ruth, Solomon, and Adam

The Lord really helped me as I preached my sermon on forgiveness last week in Philadelphia, and He kept me safe all the way back to Grand Rapids.  As soon as I got back, I had lunch and then jumped into consulting.  We were able to finish the rest of Ruth and all of the Song of Solomon, and we have begun Genesis.  It’s been a very busy week as we are in the workshop all day, but then I have to take care of personal matters in the evenings.  I’m trying to keep up with other issues amongst the consultants while also taking care of deputation matters.  We spent another 5 hours working this morning, but then I had to spend another hour and a half getting ready for Monday.  I’ve finally been able to work through all of the back-translations I’ve received.  But we may even get into material for which I don’t have back-translations.  If we have time, we will also work on Psalms 1-5. 

Here’s what we’ve been doing in this workshop.  I should be with what we do before the workshop.  We consultants work through the passages by studying the Hebrew and then examining the translation through the back-translation (a translation of the Creole translation).  Then at the workshop, we begin by having Daniel Telfort (the translator) give an oral back-translation of his own translation.  This lets us see if the written back-translation isn’t exactly accurate.  As he’s reading, we are following along in the Hebrew.  When he has finished, I ask questions about specific issues that I’ve already noted to determine his understanding of the Hebrew text and of how he translated it into Creole.  If the Hebrew text can be taken a few different ways, I might present the issue by asking him to choose between the options.  I want to determine if he understands the Hebrew text first.  Then I want to understand how the Creole can best express that.  Sometimes it takes a great deal of work to stay close to the Hebrew words while also clearly expressing the meaning in Creole. 

When I have finished asking my questions, Dr. Bernard asks his questions about the Hebrew and/or Creole.  He often uses his questions to teach both Daniel and me (since I’m being mentored to become a senior consultant).  Often, we get into pretty in-depth discussions amongst the three of us as we seek to arrive at the best translation.  As I said in my Briefings article (current issue), the discussions can go on for almost an hour for just a few words.  If we cannot arrive at a translation that we are comfortable with, we give Daniel our proposition and have him take it back to his translation team in Haiti. 

Here are some issues that we confronted in our work this week:

  1. In the OT, the word for ‘heavens’ can mean ‘firmament’, ‘sky’, or ‘the place where God dwells.’  The Creole work ‘syel’ (pronounced like the French ‘ciel’) comprehends all levels but cannot refer to one in distinction from another.  So Genesis 1:1 can’t have the plural form because it sounds absurd in Creole.  Also, when Genesis 1 speaks about the birds flying in the sky, it cannot distinguish that from the firmament where the stars are.
  2. In Genesis 1:14, Moses writes about the creation of ‘lights’ in the expanse of the heavens.  The plural of the Creole word (limyè) refers to a plurality of lamps.  Obviously, this is not the referent in Gen. 1.  But we wanted to distinguish the reference to light here from the reference earlier in Gen. 1.  We decided to translate it as ‘sources of light.’
  3. In Genesis 3:7, it says that the couple ‘sewed’ fig leaves together to cover themselves.  The Creole word for ‘sewed’ is ‘coud’, but it implies the modern-day instruments used for sewing.  Obviously, we cannot be anachronistic and put sewing needles into Adam’s and Eve’s hands.  We thought about using a more general word like ‘joined,’ but in the end we decided to let Daniel work on this with his stylists.
  4. Lest I give the impression that Creole is always deficient, I must point out one of its grammatical structures that surpasses English.  In Creole the definite article occurs after the noun, and it occurs after all modifiers of the noun.  So when there are complicated modifiers added to a noun, Creole has a nice way of making it clear that everything goes together. 

The workshop ends on Tuesday, so pray we accomplish much.  We are very thankful that we are going faster than hour pace at the first workshop in Dec (where we consulted on 5.5 chapters).

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What did I do during the day this week?  STUDY!  Ever since I arrived in Lansdale, PA, on Monday, I have been studying.  I arranged my schedule so that I would be studying this last week on the road in preparation for the Haitian Creole workshop next week.  I decided to save it for this week because I knew I would be able to use the Calvary Baptist Seminary library the whole week.  I spoke at the church on Wed and in the chapel on Thurs, so I needed to be here anyway.  I’m thankful for how well the two speaking times went, and I’m also thankful for the resources here at the library.  I definitely needed them! 

I had the task of working through the entire book of The Song of Songs.  I had never worked through it in Hebrew, so I knew it would be difficult for that reason.  Plus, I knew the Hebrew was complicated and I also was fully aware of how complex the interpretation of the book is.  I was definitely not mistaken about these issues!  It seemed that almost every verse had at least one extremely complex issue, and many verses had more than one.  For one verse, the Handbook on the Song of Songs strongly recommended adding a footnote to the effect that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.  I probably could have done that for a number of items in the book.  But thankfully, I was able to work through the entire book, finishing only 20 minutes before library closing on Friday afternoon.

Though the exact meaning of many items in the book are difficult to determine, the overall theme of the book is very easy to grasp.  I was confronted over and over again with the joys and delights of an exclusive marriage relationship.  These are the rewards that God offers to those who are committed to saving themselves for “the right one.”  Interpreters try to justify the book’s place in the canon by drawing parallels between Christ’s relationship with the church.  Regardless of whether or not this is an acceptable approach, it is clear that the literal message of the book is needed in today’s society that praises “bread eaten in secret” and being “ravished with a strange woman.” 

Today I had the privilege of developing a sermon the cross.  My text was Luke 23:34 where Christ’s cry for forgiveness is recorded.  I look forward to preaching it in Philadelphia tomorrow for the first time. 

After Sunday dinner I begin heading back to Michigan.  I’ll be staying the night in Findlay, OH, on Sunday night and then driving the rest of the way to Grand Rapids on Monday morning.  Please pray for safe travels. 

Pray also for the Lord to do a great work tomorrow as I magnify His forgiveness!  And pray for the workshop to be very productive next week and the following.  The Haitian translator is flying up to the US this time so that we don’t have to spend money for two tickets (one for me and one for Dr. Bernard).  I’m also very thankful for this arrangement, because I wasn’t looking forward to going to Haiti during this hotter time of the year and with my back brace.

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