Archive for April, 2011

Future Support Increases!

Worthington Baptist Church in Worthington, PA, voted recently to begin supporting me in 2012! I’m thankful for this new partnership with Pastor Simpson and his church. The history that connects me to this church began around 2003, when Pastor Simpson heard Dr. Hantz Bernard speak on the ministry of Bibles International at a church conference. Pastor Simpson gained a burden for our ministry, and that has continued to this day. I connected with Pastor Simpson in Nov ’08. I presented at his church in Sept ’09. We met again as I was passing through the area in Sept ’10 and set up a meeting for Apr ’11. The relationship came to a satisfying conclusion just a few days ago!

While I’m announcing future increases, I’ll also announce that a current supporting church, Ashley Baptist Church in Belding, MI, will be doubling their support in September. Praise the Lord for this increase as well! God has so graciously taken care of all my needs, as He promised.

I leave tomorrow for a week of meetings in eastern PA and then MD. I’ll be driving all evening on Fri and then all day on Sat, so I’d appreciate your prayers for safety, good fellowship with the Lord, and solid witnessing opportunities with the unbelievers that I meet along the way. I look forward to speaking at Victory Baptist Church in Reading, PA, this Sunday morning (SS and AM). I first met Pastor John Conover in Oct ’08. At that time he expressed his desire to have a part in Bible translation, but we weren’t able to get a meeting scheduled until May ’11. Pray for the Lord to give Pastor Conover’s people the same burden that he has.

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Though Christmas celebration in the US eclipses Easter celebration, the latter is truly the most blessed time of year in regard to its importance for the Christian faith. Some have (intentionally or unintentionally) disparaged the celebration of Easter by calling into question its origin, particularly its supposed connections to pagan festivals, beginning in the 4th century. For a helpful article that dispels such notions, see an Answers in Genesis article here.

Clearly, the early church began remembering the day of the Lord’s resurrection immediately after the Lord ascended back to heaven. Irenaeus (late second century) and other church fathers discussed differences among church leaders on what day to observe Easter, but they had clearly already begun doing so. At the Council of Nicea in AD 325, the church became united in choosing one date for its observance.

Hopefully, these thoughts will chase away doubts in anyone’s heart about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christ’s resurrection on what has been established as “Easter Sunday.” May the Lord enable us to give Him glory without hesitation this weekend for accomplishing the greatest miracle of all time–the resurrection of the Lord of glory!

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Walnut Creek Baptist Church, pastored by Fred Ayers, in Erie, PA, voted last night to take me on for support! I greatly enjoyed my fellowship with them when I stayed at their missionary lodge in late March and early April. I presented my ministry on March 30 but stayed in Erie for about 2 weeks. I’m encouraged to be partnered up with a church that has such life and is experiencing the Lord’s blessing. God is good! I could really get used to two support increases in one week for the rest of my deputation experience. 🙂

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Faith Baptist Church, pastored by Tim Collard, in Pekin, IL, voted last week to take me on for support, bringing my support level up to 75%! I look forward to many years of partnership with this solid church. The people encouraged me greatly when I was there for a second visit on March 27, evidencing their continued burden for my Bible translation ministry. My first meeting was in September 2008, and they’ve had my ministry on their hearts ever since. Praise the Lord for answering prayers in that way. On a personal note, I’m also thankful I now have a good “excuse” to return to Pekin, since it’s where my parents grew up, met, and were married!

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Because of next Sunday’s meeting cancellation, I was able to return to Grand Rapids on Monday. I was already planning on returning for the week before and after Easter, since I couldn’t get a meeting on Easter, but now I have three weeks to be back in Grand Rapids.

This first week has been quite busy, as we have a Bible exhibit of ancient and rare Bibles here in the office. Tours began on Tuesday morning, the morning I arrived in the office, and continue until Saturday at lunch. On Wednesday I was recruited to be one of the main tour guides (as well as the event photographer) and gave three tours yesterday. I’ll probably do more today, especially since the office is open for tours until 8pm. The office will also be open on Saturday from 8am to 12pm. It’s been a privilege to get the various Bible facts cemented in my mind as I prepare for the tour.

Seeing these ancient texts (including an original 1611 King James Bible) and learning the stories surrounding their production has also had a profound impact upon me. The curator of the exhibit, Mike Grant, points out in his short presentation that the production of Bible translations always involves great sacrifice, some even having to give the ultimate sacrifice. But the constant refrain in his talk and in the various displays is that the sacrifice was well worth it! God’s Word is more to be desired than gold, than much fine gold, and sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. Knowing the integral part that God’s Word plays in the furtherance of Christ’s church naturally leads believers to do all they can to gain access to the Word. I’m thankful that I’m part of that heritage through the BI ministry!

After Mike finishes his talk, our Projects Manager, Bob Thompson, presents the ministry of Bibles International to the people. His stories about the effect of our translations are moving. I especially relished hearing his story about the 1500-people standing ovation that our Simte NT received when it was first unveiled to the Simte churches last year. It makes me want to be in Bible translation even more!

Though much has been accomplished, much remains to be done! That’s why BI exists! Anna Beth Wivell, a consultant on deputation to go to Chad, Africa, recently compiled the statistics on the need for Bible translation in Chad. Her sources did their reports between 1969 and 2007, so some numbers are quite out of date, and others are only slightly old. The sources note that there are 6.6 million people in Chad, though the 2010 population number is 10.8 million. But the following percentages are probably still pretty accurate for today’s situation.

  • 25% have a whole Bible
  • 29% have only a NT
  • 6% have only portions
  • 40% have no Scriptures at all

The 40% with nothing represents 2.7 million people, or 89 of the 129 languages in Chad! Some of those languages have over 100,000 speakers. Kanuri has 461,000 speakers. Please pray for the Kanembu, as well as the Dazaga, Maba, Musey, Naba, and many others. Pray for BI to know how to meet these needs.

And please come to the BI office this week to visit, if you are in the area! You won’t be disappointed!

On a deputation note, the return visits to Union Baptist Church in Kittanning, PA, and to Worthington Baptist Church in Worthington, PA, were a great blessing. I returned to these churches because the pastors and many of their people have a heart for my ministry. Pray that the Lord would now enable them to partner with me.

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Manipuri Bible

On April 24, 2009, I mentioned some statistics concerning the Manipuri Bible project in northeast India. Here’s what I said:

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).

I wrote those words when we were still trying to complete the project. But now I write to you after the dedication of the Manipuri Bible, which took place in late February. This Bible was written in the Bengali script (see BI’s Facebook page for pictures), so it took more time to complete it. Normally, our text editor can enter corrections into the text himself. But since this language was written in a very unusual script (for those who use the Latin script), it required the translator to fly to Grand Rapids to spend weeks working with the text editor to prepare the translation for publication.

And now it’s been published! I’m highlighting this project simply to point out that though many of our projects help language groups in the thousands, some provide Scriptures for speakers numbering over a million. 1.3 million people! And only 20,000 Christians! What need! What potential! Pray for its effective use.

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Unwarranted adjustments

I’m working through the Haitian Creole translation of Genesis in preparation for the workshop that will begin next month. I came across a good example of how others encourage adjusting the text in an effort to “help” the passage make more sense. The verse is Genesis 49:11:

He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine;

He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes. (Gen 49:11 NAU)

Here’s what the United Bible Society’s Translator’s Handbook recommends for the second half of the verse:

Even in areas where wine and grapes are known, these two lines may require considerable adjustment if the reader is to understand their meaning. This may be done in the text or in a footnote. If the adjustment is made in the text, there are two ways that may be followed. Since both lines say the same thing in different words, translators may wish to reduce the two lines to one. For example, “Wine will be so plentiful he [you] can wash his [your] clothes in it,” “You will be able to wash your clothes in wine, because you have so much and it is going to waste,” or “He will make more wine from his grapevines than people can drink, so he will take some and wash his clothes in it.” If the two lines are kept, we may say, for example, “Since wine will flow like water, he [you] can wash his [your] clothes in it, wash his [your] finest clothing in the red juice of the grapes.”

In areas where grapes and wine production are unknown, it may be possible to substitute a local fermented drink. For example, if the two lines are reduced to one, we may use the example above and substitute palm wine or a drink made from other sources.

They recommend reducing the two lines to one, thus altering the poetic form of the verse. In certain areas of the world, they recommend that the translator substitute another drink for “wine”, thus uprooting the text from its historical moorings. At Bibles International, we never recommend such adjustments!

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