Archive for October, 2012

Heading to Africa

On Friday I’ll begin the trip to Africa, arriving in Chad on Saturday evening, Lord willing. I’ll be checking portions of the Old Testament in the Sara Madjingaye language. According to a 1993 census by Ethnologue, this language has 183,000 speakers. Based on my experience in southern Chad, I know that this language is one of the more predominant tribal languages. It’s also the one featured in BI’s trademark photo of the two Africans holding their NT for the first time. A very powerful photo!

We finished the Sara Madjingaye NT in 1986 and have been working on the OT ever since. Various reasons have delayed the work, most significantly the death of a Chadian consultant a few years ago. A year or two later, an American consultant arrived there with his family, and a single lady consultant will begin full-time work in Chad in December. So, we should be able to see the work progress better now. We have given priority to this project, since it is such a dominant language group, and we hope to finish the entire Bible by 2016. I’ll be checking 1 Kings and maybe some chapters in 2 Kings. The workshop will start next Tuesday and will go into the following week and end on Thursday.

I’ll have a few days in Ndjamena before heading to Benin via Niger. During those two days in Ndjamena, I hope to get more work done in preparation for the Dendi OT workshop in Benin. I should be able to finish preparations on 1  Samuel 25-31 and the first three chapters of 2 Samuel. The team would actually like us to cover through 2 Samuel and all of Esther, if possible. I’m not sure I can even get that amount of material ready before the workshop, let alone cover it in the workshop. We’ll see what the Lord does. According to my records only 25% of the OT has been finished. Ethnologue lists this language as having 32,00 speakers. The Joshua Project says that there are actually 128,000 in three different countries: Benin, Niger, and Nigeria. They also say that 99.93% of the Dendi are Muslim, so there’s a great need for the Word of God. We finished the NT in 1995. As far as we know, that was the first published Scripture that the Dendi had ever received. I look forward to seeing how the Lord has blessed it over the years!

Please pray for strength and wisdom as I’ll probably be working every evening and over the weekends to stay ahead of things to have enough material to cover in each workshop. Pray also for good health so that I am not held back in the work. Pray too for a good spirit among the personnel at the workshop, so that we can all work together as a team. There have been various church issues upsetting the Sara Madjingaye believers, but we don’t need this to enter into the workshop. We also want these things to be resolved for the good of Christ’s church in general.

Pray for my travel safety, both physical and spiritual. Pray for boldness and effectiveness in witnessing and other ministry opportunities. I don’t know if I’ll be asked to preach at all on this trip, but I’m taking some sermons just in case. I expect to be asked to preach at least in Chad. I look forward to seeing friends, including former students from my Cameroon days.

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Please pray for me as I’ll be preaching at my church here in Michigan tomorrow. I’ll also be teaching SS. The pastor had to leave suddenly to take care of family matters, so he asked me on Thurs night if I could preach. I’ll be delivering two messages I’ve preached before in my deputation travels.


Dear Family and Friends,

I’m slowly working my way through an abridged version of John Owen’s Sin & Temptation. His words can be both convicting and encouraging at the same time. In one spot he writes, Christ’s treasures of grace are unsearchable, His stores inexhaustible, His life full and eternal. Why then do we not grow and flourish with these resources? It is not lack of Christ’s gracious communication. Rather, it is because of the blockages that lust and sin make within us. That is all! Please PRAY with me that we would remove all blockages in order that Christ’s grace might have free course!


I believe that this year’s Consultant Seminar in August was the best we’ve had since I joined BI in 2007. The seminar began with lectures by a visiting Greek professor, who gave us greater insights into verbal aspect theory and other complex issues that help us better understand the original Greek text. We also had excellent sessions on Non-Print Media, Trial Editions, Skype workshops, and other topics. I led a session on First Bibles, in which I reminded the consultants that 2,252 languages still have no Scriptures but have a definite need. I was thankful to see that half of the 51 projects we have helped through the years have been “first Bibles.” The other projects would be for languages that have inadequate Scriptures, which is also a significant issue. At the seminar, I also presented a tool whereby we can better manage consultant availability and project needs, so that we are using our personnel more wisely. We consultants often have to work day and night during our workshops (and sometimes before the workshop too) just to be ready for the next day. But we cannot continue to run at that pace for long, lest we burn out. This new tool will better monitor consultant workload.


In September I visited four supporting churches in Quebec (and two others that are very interested in hearing about BI again). I PRAISE the Lord for enabling me to preach in French again after having not done so since August 2010. It was such a blessing to make new friendships and to strengthen old ones. I also took a five-day vacation while I was there. I enjoyed a variety of activities: hiking in a park, seeing historical sites, spending extra time with the Lord, and sleeping.


October is a significant month on BI’s calendar. On October 18 we will have our annual Harvest Dinner, in which we host over 700 friends. We look to the Lord to bless this event with a significant boost in fund raising. Please PRAY for success once again this year as we highlight our projects in the Americas and Caribbean. Also, please consider how the Lord might use you to help sponsor a project in this region or in other places where we work.

The day after the banquet I’ll taking a one-month trip to Chad and Benin. I’ll be checking one OT translation in each country. Please PRAY for my preparations. PRAY also for my safety as I travel. PRAY too that the Lord would give us undistracted times of work, especially considering the “political” turmoil going on in some of the Chadian churches.

This December I will not be traveling to Haiti, as I normally do. Instead, I’ll be taking a longer trip in 2013. I will tell you more about that in January. But I do look forward to Christmas and New Year’s in Greenville, SC. God bless you this holiday season!

For the Cause of Christ,


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I’m still slugging through the Sara Madjingaye translation of 1 Kings. It was especially slow going when I was in the section that describes the construction of the temple. But then things picked up when I got to the section on the various kings of Israel and Judah. It’s also getting easier to piece together the highly literal French backtranslation so that I can actually make sense out of it. Sometimes it involves reversing the order of words in a phrase, but I’m getting the hang of it! I’m in 1 Kings 20 now, so I have around 2 chapters remaining. Instead of moving on to 2 Kings when I finish with 1 Kings, I’m going to switch over to the Dendi translation that I’ll have to check in Benin. I can’t put that off until after I finish the workshop in Chad, because I’ll probably have only 2 days of down time in Chad before I have to fly to Benin. If I see that we are going to finish 1 Kings in Chad, I can begin working in the evenings during the first week of the workshop to get more material prepared. Regardless of how that first week goes, though, I’ll probably be working in the evenings. Often, questions come up during the workshops that I have to research in the evenings, or I have work emails to answer. It’ll be hard to keep up with my other responsibilities when I have two workshops back-to-back all day every day for four weeks! But the Lord will give grace! Thanks for your prayers.

Please pray for the Lord to resolve various issues that have arisen among the Sara Madjingaye churches. Some people are stirring up division, and it has already caused missionaries to have to relocate. Pray that the disturbances won’t affect the workshop, but that they will get resolved soon so that the righteous Sara Madjingaye believers who are still waiting for their Old Testament won’t have to wait any longer than necessary.

Pray also for BI’s upcoming Harvest Dinner on Oct. 18. We still need around 25% for sponsorship of the expenses. We like to get all of the expenses covered by sponsorship so that all money received at the banquet can go toward the projects being highlighted. The projects in the Americas and Caribbean are the focus this year, and the Tenek translator from Mexico will be the main speaker.

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I’m back in the USA, so I guess I need to update my blog, lest people wonder if I ever made it back from Quebec. I arrived back on Sept 19 AM and by Sept 20 AM I was on the BI roof. The original plans were that the roof replacement project would be completed by the time I got back (Don’t I plan well?! Actually, I planned the trip long before the roofing project was even considered.). But, since we didn’t recruit as many volunteers as we wanted to, as many of us BI staffers as possible had to get on the roof to complete the project. Our only other option was to hire workers, but we don’t have the money to do that. I ended up working on the roof for portions of Thurs, Fri, and Sat. Thankfully, I was also able to do some office work between tasks on the roof.

Once I was relieved of my duties on the roof, I took a quick trip to the Chicago area to welcome my new nephew into the world. It was pretty cool to hold Gage and to try to keep him calm and attract his attention with different sounds. I praise the Lord with my sister and her husband that God graciously granted them this healthy boy after their first baby died only 2.5 days after birth in 2010. I also enjoyed meeting up with my mom, who had been there for a total of 10 days. I also got to worship with my supporting church in Geneva, Calvary Baptist Church. I gave my report to them in the spring, but that was on a Wednesday night. So, it was good to see even more of the church people on Sunday morning.

At BI we are gearing up for our annual Harvest Dinner to be held on October 18. This year we will be featuring our projects in the Americas & Caribbean. I am the main consultant for one of those projects, the Haitian Creole OT, so I’m excited to see what the Lord will do through this banquet. We usually have over 700 guests, so a lot of planning and preparation has to be accomplished during these last three weeks. Much has already been done! I’m thankful that I’ve made some new friends near my house, so it looks like I will be able to fill one whole table for my “sponsored” table.

After morning break the rest of my day each day is spent preparing for the upcoming workshops. I’ve never had three workshops back to back, as I’ll have this fall. I will be checking 1 Samuel (and possibly portions of 2 Samuel) in Sara Madjingaye in Chad, and then 2 Kings and Esther in Dendi in Benin. In Haiti we’ll be checking various translation add-ons and doing quality checks to prepare Psalms and Proverbs to be printed with a lightly revised NT. The Haiti workshop won’t require as much pre-prep work, for which I’m very thankful. There’s enough question of how I’ll be able to get ready for the two workshops in Africa over the next few weeks, so I’m very thankful that the Haitian workshop is mostly just on-site work.

The Sara Madjingaye has some very interesting ways of expressing things, at least, they are quite interesting in the very literal French back-translation I received. The word for “in” is literally “ventre” (“stomach”). The preposition “on” is translated with “tête” (“head”). “Reign” is “mange village” (“eat the village”). These expressions may sound strange to us, but we must keep in mind that certain expressions in English also had more of a noun function and then became function words (e.g., the auxiliary verb “will”). The process is called “grammaticalization” and may explain what’s going on in Sara Madjingaye. At least, I have some experience with Chadian languages, so I wasn’t completely thrown off by these amusing literal translations! But I still greatly need the Lord’s wisdom and grace as I prepare!

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