Archive for August, 2013

I decided to post my schedule for the rest of 2013 both so you can be praying for me and also so you can know why I may not be very timely about posting new material on my blog for a while. August has been full of blessings but also very busy. I’m thankful, though, for the busy-ness, because it helps this fleeting life go even more quickly so I am nearer to heaven!

Our annual meeting was filled with the Lord’s blessings. Pastor Ken Spink encouraged and challenged us to run the Christian race well, using Hebrews 12:1-4 as his text. I was able to minister to the MK teens two mornings, and that was fun. The entire BI staff was probably encouraged as much by the staff reports as by the preaching this year, primarily because two new managers presented themselves for the first time during the reports. It was a blessing to hear of Gary Walton’s (Stewardship Manager) and Joe Valentin’s (Projects Management Manager) excitement and energy as they talked about their vision for their departments. We also enjoyed hearing them and their wives trace God’s hand in leading them to join us. We were also blessed by the other testimonies that were given by other new staff members.

The Consultant Seminar had the feel of being more productive this year than in years past, because we broke up into small groups and actually began to produce a manual. Normally, we focus just on planning at our seminars, which is also very necessary, but this year we spent the time actually doing some work. We are working on a linguistics training manual for translators to help them analyze their language from a linguistics perspective. I think we have already produced 40 pages for this manual! We also benefited from the wisdom and experience of Dr. Mary Morgan, an international literacy and education consultant, and from Dr. Jill Zwyghuizen, one of our adjunct consultants who wrote her dissertation on time reference of verbs in biblical Hebrew poetry. I had 3 house guests, so hosting them and leading the seminar kept me quite busy for 10 days straight.

Now I’m gearing up for my trip to France and Africa. I’ll spend two days with a friend in Paris, who also does volunteer translation work for BI, and then I’ll spend 3 days in northern France with another friend. I look forward to seeing the beaches of Normandy and other historical sites, as well as enjoying good Christian fellowship with French believers and brushing up on my French.

On Sept 8 after preaching at a church in northern France, I’ll jump on a train and head back to Paris for my flight to Chad. On Monday I’ll ride down with a missionary to the workshop location in Sarh in southwestern Chad. I look forward to checking 2 Kings with the Sara Madjingaye team. We enjoyed working on 1 Kings together in Oct 2012, so I look forward to how the Lord will enable us to work together as a team again this year.

On Sept 20 I’ll take a bus back to the capital of Chad in order to make my early morning flight the next day to Niger. A missionary will pick me up in Niger when I arrive on the same morning of Sept 21. I’m not sure if we will immediately head for Benin or stay in Niger for a day. The workshop will begin the following Monday. I’ll be helping the Dendi OT team prepare 10 books for a trial edition. The workshop will end in the middle of the following week, and I’ll take a bus back to Niger to prepare for my late night Oct 3 departure for France and then the US.

Please pray for wisdom as I continue to prepare. Pray for grace to be a blessing in all the places where I’ll go. I’ll definitely need the Lord’s enabling grace as I preach in French in France and in Chad. Pray also for safety and good health as I’ll be in 4 different countries and eating all sorts of food.

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It was a blessing to hear the good reports from India about the distribution and use of our Chiru NTs, which we dedicated in 2010 (the project was started in 1996). I’m reading the reports about them, because we are considering adopting the OT project so that we can help them have a full Bible. The Chiru number only around 10,000 speakers, but there are 13 churches with 13 pastors, 2 evangelists, and 9 missionaries, so God is clearly at work. We printed around 6,000 copies of the NT, and 4,000 have already been sold and put into the hands of the Chiru. Sadly, God’s work among the Chiru does not have a long history. An American Baptist Missionary began preaching the gospel to this tribe in northeast India (Manipur state) around 1933 (William Petigru brought the gospel to this region in 1894). The churches went liberal quickly, but in 1936 God sent another Baptist missionary to these people. Apparently the Baptist church has continued well ever since then. And now that they have the NT in their language, they can truly thrive. I’m excited to hear how much stronger the Chiru church becomes because of the NT we helped them produce!

The whirlwind of activities begins next week for me. I’ll be going almost non-stop from next Tuesday, when the BI Annual Retreat begins, until Christmas. You can see my schedule in my “where am I?” page. Please pray for God to be glorified at the retreat as we hear devotionals from Pastor Ken Spinks. Pray also for me as I’ll be sharing devotionals on two mornings to the teens (MKs) who will be present. Pray too for the Consultant Seminar, which I lead, as it begins a week from today. We are looking forward to lots of linguistics! An international literacy consultant with SIL will give some presentations on how to apply discourse considerations in our target languages, how to teach nationals to write in their own language, and how to teach teachers to instruct their people on literacy. During the latter half of the week an adjunct consultant will be teaching us about time reference and aspect of Hebrew verbs in OT poetry. We’ll also be splitting up into small groups and begin creating a manual to teach our translators how to do a linguistic analysis of their language. I’m looking forward to a profitable seminar once again this year!

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Larry B. Jones presented a paper entitled “Volunteer Exegetical Checkers–addressing the growing translation consultant gap” at the Bible Translation 2009 conference in Dallas, TX. In this paper he cites statistics presented by Gordon Williams and other Seed Company staff in 2006 in support of the Seed Company’s National Consultant Intern project. The numbers are slightly outdated since they were given in 2006 (a recent post of mine gives more up-to-date numbers), but I still thought they would be good to post.

Wycliffe Bible Translators are the “big dog on the block” when it comes to doing Bible translation. In 2006 there were 338 translation consultants in Wycliffe, and they were working on 1,640 projects. They estimated that there were still 2,529 projects needing to be done. Wycliffe and others with the Forum for Bible Agencies (FOBA) established Vision 2025 in which a translation project would be started by 2025 for every language that needs a Bible translation. The Seed Company, therefore, was assessing how to meet the needs of these 2,500+ projects.

Before I give their report on their consultant availability to meet these needs, I want to cite the numbers they give that break down this 2,529 number for languages still needing a Bible translation. They break this number down into regions:

  • Americas: 104
  • Africa: 881
  • Asia: 931
  • Eurasia: 181
  • Pacific: 432

In Wycliffe where, as I said above, they are working on 1,640 projects, each consultant averages 4.85 projects per person. That’s a little higher than the number of projects each of us BI consultants works on. You may not think I am assessing things correctly, since we have 37 active projects and 15 active translation consultants. But only 7 of those consultants do full-time consulting (I don’t include myself in that number). So, it’s actually quite complicated to figure out how many projects can be distributed over our consultant pool.

Back to Jones’ paper… Though Wycliffe isn’t proposing that they meet all of the upcoming needs in Bible translation, Jones assessed the future situation in Wycliffe by noting the age of the current consultants. Of the 338 consultants, 307 gave their age information. Of the 307 who submitted information, 124 were over the age of 60. This means that it’s possible that 40% of their consultants will be retired by 2016. If I read the line graph in the paper correctly, it looks like only around 64 are 50 years old or younger, so around 80% of their consultants will retire by around 2025, the year that FOBA marks for the goal of getting translations started in all projects that need them. Yes, I know they have new consultants joining on each year, but I’m not sure the new consultants is more than the retiring consultants.

At BI 4 of our 15 translation consultants are over 60. Thankfully, we have 4 new translation consultants currently on deputation (not to mention 2 new literacy/linguistics consultants to join the 1 full-time literacy/linguistics consultant!). We praise the Lord for answering our prayer to send forth laborers into “our corner” of the harvest, but more are needed! Please keep praying so that we can help meet the needs of the millions who still wait for a good translation of the Word of God.

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