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Archive for June, 2010

I’m ready, I think. For the Consultant Seminar that starts tomorrow. There are 14 consultants coming from out of town who will join around 13 of us from here in the office to have sessions until a week from Friday. It’s a very important time in the life of my Text Production Department–the most important in terms of making us more efficient and effective in our work that we do throughout the year.

What will we talk about during the 7 days we’ll have together? Well, the last 4 days will be spent mostly in listening to a guest professor lecture us on orthography issues. Dr. Ettien Koffi, born in the Ivory Coast, will come from Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota to teach us from the field of his expertise.

The rest of the seminar will be spent on department-internal matters. We’ll give a couple of sessions to learning how to minister better in this unique cross-cultural work. In addition to being taught by Dr. Connie Champeon, the head of linguistics and literacy, we’ll also enjoy learning from a missionary in India and another in Chad, Africa. A couple other sessions will be given to learning how to develop Scripture Use material, a vital aspect of our ministry that hasn’t received much “official” attention yet. We’ve been doing this work already, but we haven’t formalized it into a system yet.

I’ll be leading parts or all of 10 sessions. One key session is tomorrow when I’ll be guiding us in establishing an integrated system for our projects. We need this on two levels. First, we need to give guidance to our translators as to how to make the most of all the translation helps that we have created or are creating. Of course, this system will also help us as we make these helps, lest we repeat work we’ve already done. Second, we need to give our projects a plan as to how they can complete the work in a timely way. We’ve created a “tracking spreadsheet” that will work through all the numbers and dates. Once we enter a few items, it will show us and the language group how long it will take them to complete the project. This will be extremely important as an encouragement for the translators and committees to work harder. They may think they know when the project will be completed, but until they see the actual calculations based on their current pace.

Please pray for God’s blessing upon all the sessions. I’ve already seen Him answer prayers as I have been preparing. Thanks for praying.

On a deputation note… I drove around 1,000 miles this past weekend, and came back safely. I had good meetings at Bible Baptist Church in Dayton, OH, and at Victory Baptist Church in Whiteland, IN. My next meeting is on July 11 at First Baptist Church in Sterling Heights, MI. Though I haven’t been able to give hardly any time to deputation over the past few weeks, I’m thankful that I just heard from a church in PA that they would like me to come back for their missions conference in mid October. And this is after hearing two weeks ago from a church that canceled their meeting for the same weekend. God’s timing is perfect!

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The Haitian Creole OT workshop went much better the second week than the first. We didn’t get through as many chapters as I wanted, but we did experience many answers to prayer. Thanks for praying! Most importantly, the Lord helped us to be Christlike and cooperative as we tried to figure out the best way to translate God’s Word into Haitian Creole. He also gave us wisdom in understanding the Hebrew and in knowing what the best possibilities are in Creole. As I said, I wish we could have covered all 34 chapters that were ready to be checked, but at least we did do 28 of them. I really enjoyed going through some of the Psalms and looking at them in Hebrew, some for the first time. What a blessing to be able to study God’s Word in this way as my occupation! And what a privilege to help with the translation/preservation of God’s Word into another language!

After a few weeks of break, I had another deputation meeting last night. It was a blessing to reunite with Dr. Koenig and the believers at Grace Baptist Church in Angola, IN. I presented my ministry to Cameroon back in 1998 at Grace when I was seeking support for a short-term ministry. Twelve years later, I got to present my new ministry. One of the blessings of an Indiana farming community is that the people are not very transitory, so I was able to renew acquaintance with former friends. Since it’s only 2 hours from Grand Rapids, I hope I can stop by to see them again in the future.

Now I have 7 days of a breather before things get stressful again at the Consultant Seminar in early July. Please pray for wisdom as I prepare. I am leading a number of the sessions but haven’t had much time to gather my thoughts together.

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The Lord has really answered prayers concerning the various events of this week. I met with 7 other co-workers to figure out what we can do to help the Sango Bible revision project overcome the current obstacles. Though I read many pages for the meeting and wrote a 10-page report about my findings, there was still much to learn. Some of the BI missionaries have lived the Sango project, so to speak–two BI couples lived in the Central African Republic as full-time missionaries.

The project has dynamics that are similar to the version debate in the U.S. (and abroad), but it also has some unique elements because of the nature of missionary translation. This project goes all the way back to the beginning of BMM and beyond. The founder of BMM, William Haas, ran into this language in the 1910s during his mission trips into the French Equitorial Africa. After spending a few years there, he returned to America, founded BMM, and recruited missionaries to go back with him. Years later (1966), the Bible was published in Sango. For many this is the only Bible they’ve ever known, and it’s the only piece of literature they’ve ever read from. But since Sango is experiencing language change, as all languages do, the orthography of the 1966 Bible no longer reflects the Sango spoken today. But as in the US with the KJV, many are resisting the changes, especially in regard to the Sango orthography revisions that we are trying to implement in the Bible revision. Please pray for wisdom and for a heart of cooperation among the Sango people! They need a Bible that speaks to them in their Sango of today.

The Lord also answered prayers in regard to my meeting concerning Scripture Use. I met with a subdepartment head in my department to start laying the foundation for this other subdepartment. We still have much to cover, but I’m thankful for the ground that was laid on Thurs. I praise the Lord for how He answered prayers in helping both meetings to be characterized by a spirit of teamwork and Christlikeness. Your prayers were very evident!

The Lord is also showing His presence in the Haitian Creole OT workshop, though not exactly as I desired, to tell you the truth. He has been helping us improve the quality of the translation (which was already well-done by the translator), but so far the pace has been quite slow. So far we have finished Gen. 7:1-17:12. We need to cover all the way through Gen 25 as well as Psa 11-25. Please pray for us to know how to move more quickly next week. Yes, I want to make sure the translation is accurate, but I also want the Haitians to receive their Bible in 2020 or soon after.

Here are some specific ways that you can pray:

  • Wisdom in knowing what the Hebrew is saying
  • Wisdom in knowing how to render that in Haitian Creole
  • Good communication amongst the team
  • A spirit of cooperation and Christlikeness

I include the last one because you might be able to imagine how difficult it can be for one consultant to defer to another, when the feelings about what a passage says can be quite strong. And it’s not always easy for the translator either, because he has spent so many hours trying to word things just right. We need grace to defer to one another and accept that someone else may have a better solution.

Lastly, praise the Lord that my support went up again this week. Another supporter decided to increase their monthly amount. It doesn’t change my percentage at all (66%), but receiving $25 per month more does help with the bottom line figure that I need to raise. Praise God for His provision!

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Increased Support

This morning I prayed that God would move in the heart of a current supporter to increase their support. I had no idea He would answer that prayer today! A couple informed me by email that they are planning on increasing their support for me. That brings me up to 66%! Praise the Lord! I don’t have hardly any time right now to devote to deputatoin activities, so it’s such a blessing to see how the Lord is working in other ways.

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Daniel Telfort, the translator for the Haitian Creole OT, will be arriving in Grand Rapids tomorrow. We begin a two-week workshop on the translation on Monday. Currently, he has sent us 28 chapters to work on. He has translated 6 others and hopes to get those backtranslated into French for me to read. That will give us 34 chapters to check in two weeks. In December we were able to check 4 Psalms in one day, so with 10 days for this workshop, we should be able to get the work done. But we will definitely need prayer!

We were supposd to cover 26 more chapters in Genesis, but the earthquake put a large crack in those plans. This project has a stylist to check the flow of the Haitian Creole. His wife died in the earthquake, so that really set things back. He is supposed to check the work before it can be backtranslated. We’ve had to reorder the steps a little so we could get the translation ready for next week’s workshop. The chapters have been trickling in for the past few weeks. Hopefully the remainder will come today or tomorrow.

I’ve been able to work through 22 chapters, so there still remains much to be done in my own preparation. I’ll probably be working on the material over the weekend and in the evenings to stay on top of things. I probably also need to have a few devotionals ready, since we start each day with one.

In the midst of the workshop, I have a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Sango Bible revision, so that we can figure out how to overcome various obstacles we’ve faced. (I’ll be preparing for that today.) On Thursday, I meet with someone in my department to begin developping our Scripture Use sub-department. We are just laying the foundation structure-wise (though we have already been doing many activities in this area), so the meeting is very important. Please pray!

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I’m currently preparing for the Haitian Creole OT workshop that begins next week. I have been working through Psalm 12 for the past hour, and I came across vv. 6-7 which are often used in support of the preservation of Scripture. I’ve always questioned using those verses for this doctrine, though I firmly believe in the preservation of Scripture. I had my doubts about the verse, mainly because the whole theme of the psalm focuses on the preservation of God’s people from the wicked, not the preservation of God’s words from error.

As I examined the Hebrew, I noticed a few things that confirm my suspicions: 1) the objects of the verbs in v. 7 are “them” and “him.” The second could refer back to “words” in v. 6, if we look at the English only, but the second couldn’t refer back to the words, whether you look at English or Hebrew, because the noun is singular, while “words” is plural. 2) the second consideration makes an even stronger case against the Bible preservation interpretation–the gender of the objects in v. 7 is masculine, but “words” in Hebrew in v. 6 is feminine. Thus, the connection between the objects in v. 7 and “words” in v. 6 was never intended in David’s mind.

Rather, David is comforting God’s people by assuring them that God will protect His people from evil men. In v. 5, the Lord says, “I will arise” and “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.” The psalmist praises the Lord for His promises that are pure and refined. His words can be trusted! Then he comforts the reader by assuring him/her that God will keep and preserve the godly person from this wicked generation.

It’s very important to get the right doctrine from the right texts, and not to rob a text of the comfort that God intended it to give by incorrectly linking it to the wrong truth.

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