Archive for June, 2009


I’ve been spending many hours preparing for the upcoming workshop in Togo, West Africa.  I found out that I didn’t need to worry about the Gospel of Mark, so I moved to Titus.  I’ve finished Titus and 1 Peter, and am now working on 2 Peter.  It was quite distressing when I first begin checking the back-translation in the epistles.  I was getting into quite a groove as I worked through Mark, since narrative usually doesn’t have complex sentence structures.  But when I looked at the first few verses of Titus, I was quickly brought to a snail’s pace.  Paul’s introductions are notoriously condensed and complex in Greek, but Kabiyé cannot always match the same structure.  Here’s a literal translation of the first three verses:

Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to (the) faith of the elect of God and (the) knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in (the) hope of eternal life, which the trustworthy God promised before eternal times, 3 but at the proper time manifested, (even) His word, in (the) proclamation with which I was entrusted according to (the) commandment of God our Savior,

Knowing how to translate this sentence into a different language becomes extremely difficult when that language doesn’t have the same prepositions and nouns as Greek does, which appears to be the case with Kabiyé.  When you lack these grammatical items, you have to restructure the phrases into finite sentences.  But that means you have to answer many questions as you do the restructuring.  How do you understand “according to the fact of the elect of God”?  What’s the connection to “the knowledge of the truth”?  In what way is this truth “according to godliness”?  Or does this phrase connect to knowledge?  Or does it connect to faith and knowledge?  Or does it connect to all three?  How should we understand “in the hope of eternal life” and its relation to v. 1?  And the list could go on…

I’m hoping that we can maintain some of the ambiguities in this sentence, since good translation doesn’t seek to remove these ambiguities.  But since I don’t know the options in Kabiyé, I need to be prepared for anything and then work through the possibilities with the translator.  Please pray for wisdom as I prepare and then wisdom as I work with the translator in French.  Again, this will be my first time to work with a translator by myself and my first time consulting in French.  His assistant will also be present, and maybe a missionary or two. 

Why go through such work to get the Scriptures into Kabiyé?  Why not just teach them French?  Usually this isn’t possible since many don’t speak French often enough to know the language well.  But they speak their own heart language, so they know it well.  Therefore, they can connect to God best through that language. 

We are nearing the completion of this NT translation, which will be accessible to at least 520,000-700,000 people, depending on which website you believe.  Kabiyé is one of two national languages in Togo, and it is the smaller one being spoken in the north.  Published material in Kabiyé includes magazines, newspapers, a dictionary, and a grammar.  According to Ethnologue, a book on health and one on culture/folklore have also been published.  Radio program and TV are also done in Kabiyé.  Another Bible society has completed the entire Bible, but apparently the conservative churches reject it for various reasons. 

Please pray for safety as I travel.  I leave on July 14 from the US.  I will arrive in Lomé, Togo, late in the night on July 15.  On July 16 I’ll ride by van up to northern Togo, which will take 6-8 hours.  Each morning I will be picked up at a guest house and ride by motorcycle to the workshop. 

Please pray also as I prepare messages and devotionals for preaching in French.  And pray that I would be able to strengthen the team as they continue their work in Togo.

Next week I’ll be at BMM’s annual family conference, so please pray for safety as I travel to Cleveland, OH, for that, and pray for the Lord to encourage and challenge me as I attend the various workshops and rub shoulders with other missionaries.  Pray that I would be an encouragement as well.

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I thought I was going to have 2 months in Grand Rapids to catch up on things, but it turns out that the Lord had me block of part of that time for a translation consulting workshop in Togo, West Africa.  Since our consultants are already stretched to the max, it was decided that I should do this workshop by myself.  I have done two workshops with the Haitian Creole OT, but those were with the oversight of Dr. Bernard.  This is my first opportunity to conduct the workshop by myself.  It’s also my first workshop in the NT.  Dr. Bernard feels that I am ready for such a task, if I prepare myself thoroughly before I go.  Please pray for that preparation to go well.  They sent us 12 translated books.  I won’t be able to get through all of them–not even half of them–but I would like to get through a number of them so that we don’t get too far behind.

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Not Just Hebrew and Greek

Lest you think that only people with a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew can help at Bibles International, you need to check out this picture album on Picasa:


Connie Champeon and Kristy Montgomery went to Chad, Africa, to strenghten the literacy program.  The Africans seemed to have a very good time playing such word-learning games as Go Fish and Hangman.  I’m encouraged that the believers will have an interest in learning how to read and will then read their Bibles more so that they can know God better.

(I won’t mention the fact that Connie has studied Greek and Kristy has studied Greek and is now working on Hebrew.  I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone with those facts, since they aren’t requirements for what they did in Chad. 🙂 )

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Some of you may remember a post a few months ago where I dispelled the false notion that I spend most of my waking hours sitting around watching sports.  I can assure you that nothing has changed.  I did watch bits and pieces of the NBA playoffs, but I’m getting tired of watching overly tatooed, overpaid, cry babies playing a sport that contributes very little of substance to our existence. 

So what exactly did I do last week?  Well, here are some highlights.  I sent out a thank-you to the church I visited the previous Sunday.  I correponded with the director about an article for the next Briefings, first in just giving feedback and later doing the editing myself.  I exchanged emails with a consultant about the possibility of teaching a Hebrew discourse analysis course in another country, and then we talked about it for almost an hour on Wed.  I exchanged multiple emails with consultants in India, helping them to finalize a list of footnotes and glossary items that we can put in our soon-to-be published Scriptures, and then we talked on the phone for 45 minutes on Friday.  I sent and received emails from another consultant who is putting together an online resource guide for our consultants. 

On Tues I drove to Statesville, NC, for a pastors’ fellowship.  This fellowship took the entire day as I tried to make contacts with NC pastors with the hopes of securing future deputation meetings.  On Wed I called some other pastors that I had already established relationships with.  Thankfully, two called back and we set up meetings for next spring!  That afternoon I spent some time preparing for that evening’s meeting.  On Thurs I spent about 2 hours meeting with the director and another manager via a teleconference.  Later in the day I skyped with a consultant who was finishing up a literacy workshop in India. 

I spent around 5 hours on Fri and another 2 hours on Sat helping with the footnotes and glossary project (which is still ongoing).  On Sat afternoon I spoke with a Burmese friend (and future adjuct consultant) about another Burmese guy who might be a potential consultant for us.  Then, I prepared for my two meetings on Sunday, and finally I drove down to Sumter, SC, for a men’s fellowship at one of those churches. 

So, I’d say I didn’t get to watch much sports last week! 

I had a good meeting at Temple B/C in Sumter, SC.  I spoke in SS and the AM service.  The pastor and I were ushers together at BJU, so it was good to renew contact.  I also enjoyed speaking with a former missionary couple who were celebrating 50 years of marriage.  I also had a good time at Northside B/C here in Greenville.  I’m glad I got to establish a relationship with Pastor Samargo. 

I still haven’t heard anything about an increase in my support, but I did hear of one new supporter who informed me that he mailed in the paperwork recently. 

My back is still sore at time, but it’s getting stronger.  I have found a way to not have to use the recliner for part of the evening.  I still wake up almost every night at around 3 or 4, but now I figured out how to get back to sleep relatively quickly without further pain.  Praise the Lord!  I’ve been going to the fitness center at BJU to strengthen it, and it seems to be helping.

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Lots of NC

I’ve been in NC often lately.  I had a meeting in Raleigh in the middle of May, and it seems like I keep getting back up into the state.  Last Wed I drove up to Connover to meet with a pastor for lunch.  Then I drove to Clayton for my meeting at Community B/C (the meeting went very well!).  I visited another pastor south of Raleigh on Thurs and then I wrapped up the week by spending it with a friend and her family in Wilson.  I was also able to meet her pastor on Thurs evening.  On Friday I got to go to the outer banks for the first time. 

We also visited the Wright Bros museum.  Though we honor the Wright bros for their significant accomplishment, I went away praising the Lord for His ability to create flying animals with just a word.  No trial tests.  No lives lost.  No thoughts of giving up.  Just a few words and instantly numerous species of birds appeared in all of their variegated glory.  What an amazing God! 

After driving back on Sat, I had to turn around and head back to the NC/SC border for a meeting at Gaffney (which also went very well!).  Then today I went to Statesville for a pastors’ fellowship.  I spent the entire day traveling and rubbing shoulders with NC pastors.  My eyes are definitely being opened to the regional differences amongst the independent Baptist pastors in this country!  Nuff said. 

Now I need to call these various pastors to set up meetings in NC for next April.  My schedule is slowly filling up.  I haven’t heard yet about any increase in support.  I checked my account today and the only item on there is a deduction for the DVDs they mailed to me. 

The Lord has provided 1/3 of the $300,000 we still needed for the 11 projects coming to completion.  Jehovah jireh! 

Pray for the Chad field.  The wife of the newly arrived consultant (they arrived less than a year ago) recovered from her bout with malaria, but it appears that the kids are having health difficulties.  So they are going to have to return to the states to be evaluated.  Since we already lost Ouya and another missionary couple that was working in a complementary BMM ministry, it’s tough to see them have to leave as well.  Plus, the other BI couple is leaving soon for furlough and the BI lady consultant is coming back towards the end of the year.  The field is really suffering over there.  Satan did all he could to keep the recently departed literacy team from going to Chad, but thankfully, they are there now doing the work.  We desperately need literacy to be strengthened there so the people can know how to read the Scriptures.  Please pray!

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… but the Lord directeth his steps.”  I marvel at the way the Lord orchestrates my schedule.  I set aside a month to be in Grand Rapids in Jan-Feb so that I could work on things at the office, but the Lord had me set that aside so that I could get into an accident and then recover.  I planned on being down here in SC so that I could visit the various churches in NC and SC, but the Lord knew that I also needed to be at home so that I could enjoy the comforts of home as I transition back into a back-braceless life.  I couldn’t fill two months in the summer (July and August) with deputation meetings, so I decided it would be a good time to prepare for two annual events at BI (staff retreat and consultant seminar) at the end of the summer.  But the Lord kept those months free so that I could also take a trip to Togo.  I just found out this morning that I will be sent to Togo to help with translation consulting.  Apparently, the translators have been working diligently and have 10 books ready for consultation.  I won’t be able to check all of them, but at least I can get some checked.  I look forward to getting back to the continent of Africa. 

In my immediate future (i.e., tomorrow), I will be heading to Tar Heel country.  I have a meeting at Clayton, and I plan on visiting a few other pastors in the area.  My current plan is to return on Friday evening. 

Over the past few days I’ve been working on an interesting project–at least, it’s interesting to me.  I prepared a worksheet that a consultant can go over with a translator as he prepares to translate the book of Ezra.  The worksheet includes a book introduction, a content summary, a list of difficult vocabulary, explanations of difficult passages, and a few other items.  Such a worksheet will give the translator all the information he needs (hopefully!) to make his work easier.  The list of vocabulary items is particularly helpful, because it explains what each Hebrew term means so that the translator can figure out which words to use in his language.  I organized the words according to semantic domain.  For example, Ezra has numerous words for government officials (king, governor, lieutenant, prince, lord, chief, ruler, counselor, judge, magistrate, elder, chancellor, scribe).  These are all in the same semantic domain of “government officials.”  The translator can then take these words and figure out what matches he has in his language.  This will be a difficult task for the translator (since two country’s governments are rarely the same, especially if those governments are separated by thousands of years and thousands of miles), but at least he can wrestle through those issues before he begins translating.  If he did it as he translated, he would need to constantly rethink his decisions as he came across new words that he hadn’t accounted for. 

I haven’t heard whether or not my support increased to 55% last month, but I am trusting in the Lord.  It usually takes a while for the new support to be processed through the BMM system.  Keep praying!

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