Archive for the ‘Wycliffe’ Category

Consolidating blogs

I’m finding four blogs a little much to keep up with. So Becky and I are merging our two ministry blogs over to Wycliffe Canada’s website. Bookmark wycliffe.ca/m?TeamEyre. Better yet, click “follow” and keep up with all of our updates.

On the new site, note our new Partnership page.

For the record, my other blogs:


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Head back and eyes fixed

Just before our family moved to Calgary from Orlando, I joined a group of Wycliffe USA colleagues in a 5K race to benefit a local children’s home. I was not a runner and wasn’t in running shape, but I I jogged a few times to prepare, and that Saturday morning I felt like I was in decent shape for a race of this length. The race began, and I tried to tie myself to some of the better runners on our team for motivation. It didn’t take long before I fell behind. One of those ahead of me was Forrest Flaniken. In addition to his day job as senior vice president, the job he worked two doors down from me in the Offices of the President, I knew he was a grey-haired triathlete. And for some reason, I decided that day that a guy 13 years older than me wasn’t going to beat me.

The problem is that he had set a pretty good pace. Pretty soon he was getting smaller as he gained ground on me. For four kilometers, I stayed in his rear view mirror, and in the final kilometer, I summoned the energy to begin closing the gap. As we rounded the final corner and had a clear view of the finish line, I caught up. I slapped him on the back and yelled, “Come on, Forrest!” We both began to sprint as fast as we could, our heads back and eyes fixed on the finish line.

That’s my memory of Forrest. He had his eyes fixed on the finish line and committed his life to getting the Bible into every language. He didn’t do it as a Bible translator, but as an administrator, controller and finance director. In 1991, Forrest stepped out of a good job with a good company. He was director of finance and administration at an oil company, but something was missing. Last week he spoke at Wycliffe USA’s chapel service about how that decision to pursue a new career started with his discontent. “As much as I enjoyed my job, there was a piece of me that wasn’t satisfied.” He realized, “I have a different goal than a lot of people in this company.” He subsequently spent the last 21 years applying his skills in multiple roles with Wycliffe, one of the biggest of which was spearheading Wycliffe USA’s move from California to Florida.

One thing I appreciate about Forrest is that he approached his life as a coach. He asked good questions, and he invested in young men and young leaders. Beyond his role at Wycliffe, he raised three boys to follow Christ, coached Little League and taught at a local university. That shows some of his heart: to invest in those he would leave behind, including his three boys.

He left us on October 14. I can’t find the photo, but that moment is forever captured in my mind. He finished with head back and eyes fixed.

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I recently participated in an Open House at our Atlantic Centre near Amherst, Nova Scotia. As we all sat by a campfire afterwards, I spoke with Sharon, a Jamaican lady who is a longtime friend of Wycliffe. She told me she resonated with my points about the power of the mother tongue. She said even the Hawaiian Pidgin New Testament (Da Jesus Book) spoke to her deeper in her soul than English. “It hits me right here,” she said, pointing at her heart.

I asked her if she had seen the Patois New Testament, which was completed last year. “There’s a New Testament in my language?!! Where can I get a copy?” she exclaimed. “I want to send one to my family in Jamaica.” As multicultural as Canada is, I didn’t expect to hear stories about the impact of the mother tongue, right here in Canada. But why shouldn’t I? After all, last week my counterpart in Wycliffe UK attended the launch of the Jamaican New Testament in London. Eddie Arthur’s blog post about that experience is worth reading.

He notes that a lot of people have been questioning whether the Patois is a legitimate language. “The thing that really struck me was that without exception, every speaker at the event felt a need to defend the production of the New Testament in Jamaican.” The Hawaiian Pidgin received similar criticism. After all, to English-as-a-first-language speakers, both seem like sometimes-humourous variations of English. For instance, John 3:16:

“Is jus cause God did love de whole a wi why him sen him ONE Son fi come dead fi wi, so dat all a de people dem who believe seh Him real woan dead but wi live fieva.” (Jamaican)

“God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foeva.” (Hawaiian Pidgin)

If we can understand it when we read it, it can’t be another language, can it? For me, Sharon slammed the door on that line of thought. The Scriptures don’t speak to her the same way in her second language.

Arthur concludes,

…the story of the Jamaican language is the story of all minority languages. Whether you are in the West Indies, West Africa or East Asia, there is always an educated elite insisting that minority languages should be suppressed in favour of English, French, Arabic, Chinese or what-have-you.

So let’s celebrate with the minority today. Jamaicans are equals with us. God speaks their language.

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Adventure Racing

Happy and healthy: the Fall 2012 Race to 2025 Classic competitors before the ankle and knee sprains began.






After all my training involved hiking with a 6-year-old attached to my hand, I really enjoyed the chance to hike at full speed. The hike was longer but no more difficult than the ones Kaitlyn handled.



First time canoeing white water. We hit bottom on one water ledge, but had enough speed that we didn’t get stuck.





This was the easy stretch. I went down once but managed not to go over the handlebars.





First time doing real rock climbing. The holds aren’t as obvious. Think I’d like to try it again sometime.










How do you say “cold” in Urdu? The race ended with Pakistani food and chai while we learned a new language.






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I finished the Race

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

I joked before I began that my two goals for the Race to 2025 were: 1) don’t get airlifted off the mountain and 2) don’t ruin my witness. I think I succeeded on both counts. I finished the race, and I kept my faith. Okay, it’s a pretty bad misuse of 2 Tim 4:7, but the verse seems appropriate. So does 1 Cor 9:27, the passage about beating your body like so you can win the prize.

You wouldn’t know it from the weary way we crossed the finish line as the sixth team out of seven, but we made the medal stand. Let me explain. Before we start, one word about adventure races. The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep track of the flagging: the little coloured pieces of ribbon tied to trees that mark the route. That bit of information is relevant for the rest of this story.

Day one consisted of hiking and canoeing: 13 km of bushwacking through woods, trekking across a ridge and stumbling down, down, down to a river below, followed by 14 km of canoeing. Team Bamale ranged between positions 1-4 at the early stages. By the time we finished our ridge trek and began the steep descent, we were in second. That’s when we began losing the flagging and ended up blazing a trail in the general direction we knew we needed to go. We were second to the canoes, only to find that we’d missed a challenge, which required us to backtrack.

River canoeing was a real treat to our sore feet.  With the dire warnings of the night before and the knowledge that two canoes in the previous week’s advanced race had tipped, we began cautiously. But soon we were seeking out the white water. At one point, we were surprised by a ledge blocking two thirds of the river. Too late to avoid it, we charged at it and made it down the small, broad waterfall with a grinding crunch on the rocks beneath. The trick with ledges is that you don’t want to get stuck there; the cascading water pulls you back and floods your canoe. Three groups fell victim to that ambush. In fact, one canoe found a way to tip three times that afternoon.

So, Team Bamale began day two in third place, but quickly lost a spot to a peloton from Team Kenswei Nsei who raced past our mountain bikes. The next stage involved a gentle walk on a well-worn path. But just as we were lulled into thinking we had an easy hike, the trail suddenly veered straight up the mountain. After a number of nasty ascents we found Team Kenswei Nsei resting on a ridge, one team member elevating the ankle he’d twisted the day before. They were glad to see us, they said, because no one else had been up that trail — before or after. We concluded that two of the first four teams had made a wrong turn and sure hoped it wasn’t us. Surely we were on the right trail, because the flagging was bright, new and clear. That’s important, because you really don’t want to follow faded flagging.

Teaming up, we slowed our pace to suit their injured team member. But things didn’t feel right, so as we neared the summit, we pulled out our radio to find out where everyone else was. Of course, they were in the right place, and we were 90 minutes beyond the turnoff. We were following the trail from the advanced race.

Thanks to Kevin Derksen, who took this photo a week before us from the same spot we stood on.

We all sat down and took a long break. Suddenly out of the race, we all faced internal debates. We could just quit. Or get mad. Or enjoy ourselves. That was when one of the Kenswei Nsei stepped up. He picked up his injured teammate and started carrying him down the mountain. He began to sing, “What if I stumble, what if I fall…” and entertained us all the way back from our detour.
From that point, we enjoyed ourselves at every stage. We took our time with the caving and the challenge of tying ropes from memory in pure blackness. We took the full amount of time to enjoy the rock climbing and tyrolean traverse across a gorge. And we took a relaxed approach to the linguistic challenges, getting to know the Pakistani villagers rather than just getting through our vocabulary acquisition.
Imagine our surprise when we didn’t finish sixth. Or fifth. Or fourth. Yes, we finished third. Apparently, our lead from the day before held up to a two-and-a-half hour detour. We ended up with better scenery, better stories and more laughs than any of the other teams. The prize was worth less than the experience itself.
I finished the race and kept the faith.

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Race to 2025For a year and a half, I’ve talked about joining the Race to 2025. I missed last year, because that was the week of our move to Calgary. I skipped February because my Orlando blood hadn’t thickened enough. This week I finally committed. No more excuses. I’m in.

I’m interested in this race in particular because it’s raising awareness and funds for a cluster of languages in Cameroon that don’t have the Scriptures. Treating related languages as a cluster, where translation can be streamlined by working on nine at once, is an exciting development that’s speeding the pace of Bible translation. So I relish the chance to personally be involved in raising funds for the Bambalang and its eight language cousins.

Even more exciting, I’m planning a trip to visit this Ndop language cluster in November. We have five Canadian staff working among those languages right now, and it will be my privilege to see their work firsthand.

Will you join me? Our goal is to raise at least $50,000 for the Ndop project through the Race. You can participate in translation work for the Ndop languages by sponsoring our team.

Not convinced? Check out this video.

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