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Archive for July, 2012

Though there have been certain days in which MI had higher temperatures than SC, I noticed that usually the “feels like” for each put SC higher up in the hot scale. These days I’ve noticed that MI is around 10 degrees cooler than SC, so it’s definitely nice that I’m heading back home tomorrow, though I’ll miss seeing family and friends down here. I did enjoy seeing my niece Jaden’s first softball game last night, though the temperatures were above 90 at 7:30 pm. Today, though, all of my activities should be in the air conditioned indoors.

The Bible Translation course is wrapping up today. The students are actually sweating out the final exam right now, but I as an observer was able to leave. Instead of taking a final exam, I would like to write a few thoughts on the course. But I’ll save them for my “Translator’s Page”, since the thoughts will involve some technical vocab. But I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed Glenn Kerr’s class. I grew in my understanding of the task of translation and gained a greater appreciation for Glenn’s giftedness and experience as a consultant. He pointed out that if Bible translation continues at its current pace, the initial work of Bible translation will be completed in the next 50 years. I say “initial” because revision work is unending; but the first draft translations will be completed. We are currently living in the greatest period of Bible translation in the history of mankind, and it’s a privilege to be part of it.

The Missionary Linguistics Program is a great program at BJU, having a history that goes back about 40 years. There’s a Language Learning course (2 weeks),a Grammar in Use course (4 weeks), Phonetics and Phonology (4 weeks; concurrent with Grammar in Use), Field Methods and Literacy (2 weeks; prerequisites are the aforementioned 3 courses), Bible Translation (2 weeks), and Translation Technology (1 week). The program is excellent preparation for missionaries–all missionaries, not just those going to an area where the language is not written down. A missionary could come just for the two-week language learning course to gain the skills necessary to make language-learning so much easier. Or he/she could stay for the second two courses to learn how language sounds are produced in the mouth, how to hear them, how to decipher the grammar of the target language, etc. Missionaries today seem to think that they can avoid such courses, but then they often struggle through language learning and never really learn how to stop sounding so much like an American speaking a foreign language. Instead, they maintain a language barrier throughout their ministry. Yes, I am putting in a plug for the Missionary Linguistics Program. There’s nothing like it out there, since it combines skilled instruction from experienced professors and a biblically based, doctrinally sound approach to missions. I hope many can go in 2014 when it’s offered again!

Once I return to Grand Rapids, I’ll begin in earnest to prepare for the Consultant Seminar in late August. I’ll have basically two weeks to prepare, and there’s lots to be done. It’s my once-a-year opportunity to get most of the consultants into one room to deal with issues in my department. I’m looking forward to seeing these dedicated, skilled servants of the Lord, and moving the department forward.

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I was looking forward to being back with family and friends in SC these two weeks for the translation course at BJU, but I was dreading the heat and humidity of Greenville. However, I just checked the temperatures and noticed that it’s currently 6 degrees hotter in Grand Rapids right now. It’s supposed to reach 100 up there today! Wow! Sometimes it’s actually cooler in SC.

My flight down to SC afforded me some opportunities to get some reading done. In addition to doing some reading for this translation course, I also began some required reading for the August Consultant Seminar. The special speaker asked us to read Moisés Silva’s God, Language, and Scripture. It was a blessing to reflect on Silva’s comments about God’s powerful word at creation. I’ve observed in my life that it’s difficult for an “outsider” to appreciate the amount of work involved in a particular project until that outsider actually gets involved in a project. For example, you can’t appreciate the blood, sweat, and toil that goes into building a house until you build one. None of us can appreciate, then, what it takes to create a universe. So when we read that the Lord created the universe by just saying the words, we cannot fully appreciate it. But if we can consider the most involved project we’ve ever been a part of, think about all the tremendous effort that went into it, and then multiply that by billions, we can begin to approach a proper appreciation of the creative power of God’s simple words! And those powerful words are also written in the Bible and can turn rebels into saints!

Silva pointed out that though the language of Hebrew has great significance to us, it didn’t have international significance in OT times. Instead, Aramaic was the international language and that Abraham probably spoke some form of it when Abraham entered Canaan. Hebrew, then, could very well be a language whose parent is Aramaic, since the Hebrews most likely spoke a language of their neighbors and then modified it (through natural language change) as they used it in their little country.

I’ve enjoyed observing Glenn Kerr’s translation course at BJU. There are only two students, so we have a close circle of fellowship. In addition to teaching me more about Bible versions and the translation process, Glenn has also given me a heightened interest in trying to learn more from the cultures I visit during my travels. Today he spoke about how Africans build houses out of clay, a process that the peoples of biblical times would have engaged in. Glenn pointed out that much of what we see in these modern-day cultures in developing countries resembles what we read about in the Bible. So, there are lessons to be had all around me when I visit Africa and other places.

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I often get that question as I present my ministry at churches. I tell them that our goal is to finish it in 8-10 years and to complete the OT in 12-15 years. I like to point out that we completed the Falam Chin NT in 7 years, because the people had a heart to work, much like those who rebuilt the Temple in post-exilic Israel in the book of Ezra.

But I also explain that often our projects get delayed and are not able to be completed in as timely a manner as we would desire. What causes that? Well, a real-life illustration can give one example here. We are working with one language group where a particular church is central to the project’s progress. Just yesterday I found out that this church is going through a church split. Who knows how much this might slow down our translation project there?

Here are some other real-life illustrations to show how long our NT projects may take:

  • Togo: Kabiyé NT was dedicated earlier this year; it took 15 years to complete
  • Peru: Quechua NT was also dedicated earlier this year; it also took 15 years to complete
  • India: Inpui Naga NT was dedicated in June; it took 13 years to complete

In my role at BI, I hope to minimize delays that we experience with our projects, but as I stressed to someone at Bethel Baptist Church yesterday, the best resolution is more prayer. If we will simply pray for God to work in hearts and minimize delays, we can see these translations get into the people’s hands more quickly.

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I’ve fallen behind on blog posts, partly because of last week’s holiday. I haven’t been in the office since last Tuesday basically, though I did stop in briefly on Thursday after helping a co-worker pack his moving truck. I did get some projects done at home last week and am finally getting close to being fully settled into my new home that I moved into last August. Maybe I’ll get it all done before this August!

I really enjoyed getting back to Bethel Baptist Church in Schaumburg, IL, this past Sunday. I graduated from high school here, and my family were members of the church from 1984-1998. The church is going through a difficult time since they have been without a pastor for 1.5 years, but I was encouraged to see that the Lord was still at work. Bible studies had been started up, and a group of adults are going on a mission trip to Spain in a few weeks. And most importantly, the Word is still preached clearly. The church is definitely not without their Chief Shepherd.

I was thankful to reconnect with friends and meet new ones. I got to teach the singles in the 20s and 30s age bracket for Sunday school. This class, called Crossroads, has adopted me as their missionary to pray for. I’m thankful to be partnered with Brandon Lowery and his class in the cause of worldwide Bible translation! In the evening service I reported on the last 5 years of my ministry. It was encouraging to see many ask questions about my ministry after I gave my report and challenge, though the church people don’t typically ask questions in that format. It was a real encouragement to be back “home”!

I am getting new prayer cards produced and should have them in hand soon. I’ll be distributing them as I visit churches to report. I guess it was time to update since the picture on my current card is 7 years old! But I don’t think I’ve changed much. I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that when you compare the two cards.

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