Posts Tagged ‘Bible translation conference’

In October 2013, I and a few co-workers were able to attend the Bible Translation conference in Dallas, TX. The plenary speaker, Lourens de Vries, was at one time a missionary Bible translator in Indonesia before becoming the chair of the linguistics department at the Free University of Amsterdam. In Indonesia, he worked among the Korowai people in Kombai.

He noted that when he first arrived, the people had no universal term for “humans.” Instead, they segregated people (in their very limited scope of existence) into three types: persons, demons, and witches. The word for persons was “yanop” and applied only to the Korowai people (and presumably other dark-skinned people who looked like them). White people were identified with the “demon” word, because we resembled the demons who the Korowai saw haunting people at night. These night visitors had putrified, whitish flesh falling off their bones. When the white missionaries arrived, they seemed to resemble those demons. How flattering! And if you weren’t in these two categories, then you must be a witch, someone who helped chase away the demons.

It wasn’t until the gospel began to do a work that people’s thinking was transformed (which is what always happens when the gospel powerfully enters hearts!). The people’s thinking began to adjust to the Scripture’s understanding of humankind. No longer were only the Korowai “yanop,” but now the foreigners were too. Of course, this paved the way for Bible translation, making it much easier to translate verses that speak of God’s love for all people and of Christ’s death to make provision for everyone’s salvation. De Vries commented on the importance of church planting making Bible translation much easier. This is not the ministry philosophy that other organizations always follow, but it is the one that Bibles International always adheres to. Either church planting work must precede our Bible translation work, or it must go alongside it.

On another note, Ken Ham will be debating Bill Nye “the Science Guy” this evening. Live streaming can be found here: http://debatelive.org/. Though I doubt Dr. Ham will change Dr. Nye’s thinking or cause the deception of evolution to crumble, this debate may cause believers and unbelievers to question the premises of evolution and be pointed to the truths of Scripture regarding God’s creation. Evolution has a strong hold upon the minds of the majority of people, and it’s presence is even evident among believers who incorrectly hold to theistic evolution. Let’s pray for God to exalt Truth this evening!

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As expected this month has been filled with activities, but it has also been full of God’s blessings. The month began with me doing a Dendi OT workshop in Benin. By the end of the week I was heading to Niger to fly to France on my way to the US. I haven’t said much about my time in France yet. My trip to Africa included a 5-day stop in France and then a one-day stop on the way back. The first stint was the most interesting. I was able to do a Paris tour on a boat on the Seine River with a friend. I’m afraid I was too focused on taking pictures that I didn’t keep up with all that the guide said, but I picked up on some things here and there. I was so jetlagged that I took a nap along the shores of the Seine before continuing on. We had dinner at a cool restaurant along one of the busy streets before heading to our respective places for the night.

The following day we enjoyed touring the chateau at Versailles. We lost a lot of time at the beginning since we had a hard time figuring out where to find each other. It’s hard to do things without a cell phone (mine didn’t work, though I called to get it unlocked!). But at least we were able to spend a few hours there. The opulence was overwhelming, but so was the paganism. The French kings decorated certain rooms in honor of Greek gods.

My time in northern France went much more smoothly, since I was with a friend who knew her way around. We spent a day touring Rouen, walking along its old streets and learning about Joan of Arc. Then we had coffee with friends at a quaint little coffee shop. Very fun! On Saturday we visited the beaches of Normandy. It was very moving to see the beaches and cliffs (see picture) that the soldiers were on in 1944. We also toured the cemetery where many were laid to rest. The tour guide gave us snippets into the stories of some buried there–the youngest soldier, a journalist, a “donut dolly,” etc. We even got to see Point du Hoc, which is basically an untouched battlefield. The large craters from the bombs are still mostly unfilled (except from the erosion through the years). Very moving!


A highlight of the time in northern France was getting to meet various Christians as we ate together and then as we worshiped together. I got to preach in French that Sunday morning. It was a great joy! I was pleased to see so many in attendance (around 60), but I was surprised that most were born outside of France–a very international membership (the majority from Africa).

On my second time through France on the Africa trip, I spent time with Tim Bixby and his family. I also got to distribute tracts near an international market. Then I toured the Musée de l’Armée. I got to see where Napeleon was buried. I also enjoyed seeing the armory used in years gone by. Oh, and I crashed on the lawn in front of that museum after the tour, since I didn’t get much sleep during the overnight trip from Africa. I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship with the Bixbys before heading to the US the next morning.

A few days after I returned to the US, I jumped on yet another plane to attend a Bible translation conference in Dallas, Texas. The Lord gave me the perspective to focus on the commonalities of those in attendance, though we are from different denominations and have differing translation and ministry philosophies. Most there are born again believers, and probably all are sincere in their desire to help people. They are also wrestling with the same issues that we are at BI. I learned much from the various sessions, made new friends, and found out about valuable resources. It was so much more profitable than I thought it would be! I’ll share one tidbit. I was taught that the OT text is not simply oral text that has been written down. Though the Hebrews had a tradition of the learned reciting the Scriptures repeatedly and the learners saying it back until it became ingrained in their memories, it doesn’t mean that the text evidences being the product of an oral culture. It’s a much more complex situation than that! It was truly intended to be written text from the beginning.

I returned to Michigan for a few days and was able to do prepare for my time at Bob Jones University. I was excited to be back at my alma mater, but I was also quite nervous about speaking in chapel on the following Monday and Tuesday. But thanks to the prayers of many, I had a great calm as I spoke in front of over 3,000 people, and I was able to share the message the Lord had laid on my heart. It was very cool to have been the chapel speaker, because that gave me an immediate in-road into the lives of many students. I could just strike up a conversation with them, since they already knew who I was. I was quite encouraged by the positive comments I heard and by the students’ interest in my ministry. I hardly had a dull moment at the BI booth! That’s also due to the fact that I spoke in 6 different classes (1 Greek, 2 NT, 2 French, and 1 speech pathology), as well as my mom’s homemade cookies at my booth! Time will tell how the Lord waters the thoughts I was able to plant in the students’ minds, as I tried to get them to think about the many roles needed to fulfill the ministry of Bible translation.

I returned to Michigan on Friday and immediately had to prepare for a meeting at the office. I have another meeting tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise, I’m spending most of the rest of the time preparing for the upcoming PNG trip. I leave on Thursday. The translators didn’t send me the text in the right format, so they are scrambling to get that fixed. So far, I’ve only received two chapters of text. Pray I can receive lots more by tomorrow, as I have slated Tues and Wed to prepare. I usually spend a couple of weeks doing prep, but I have only 2 days left for that before I leave. It’s going to be a grueling trip! Pray for strength as this is the fourth trip since early September!

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