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.


A long journey

In May, I had the privilege of going to Asia for the first time. I attended Wycliffe’s global conference along with 500 people from 67 nations — a picture of the breadth of the global Bible translation movement. We saw some excellent examples of servant leadership, spiritual authority and unity among a very diverse and divergent collection of opinionated leaders. The highlights for me were the opportunity to meet with 21 Canadian leaders who attended, and the opportunity to play hookey.

Yes, you read that right. I had a chance to get away from the meetings twice to visit with two language projects, one of which is in its twentieth year. In a small urban house, we met a young American named Amber and a remarkable mother-tongue translation couple who have been the one constant on this project. The following is their story.

In the early ’90s, Duang Tip found himself assisting a Bible translation project. While it wasn’t his heart language, it was a more widely-used dialect with similarities to his own. His expatriate mentor noted his ability and suggested he translate the New Testament into his own related language, spoken by about 20,000+ people just in Thailand. Duang Tip knew enough about the translation process to count the cost. He prayed for three months before committing to the challenge.

Duang Tip and Dawk KaewThe project never seemed to go smoothly. For years, the team struggled as each stage in the work took longer than it should. An attempt was made at one point to speed the work with a larger team, but that just added to personal tensions. Finally their language program coordinator made the difficult decision to slim the team down to four. As Amber and her Thai husband Upai worked alongside Duang Tip and Dawk Kaew, the project began to pick up steam. At this date Luke, Acts, Philemon, Titus, 1 & 2 Timothy are completed. Seven books are awaiting consultant checking.  Six books are going through the Team Checking and Community Checking stages. In short, the end of the New Testament project is finally within sight.

So, what’s next? Retirement? Duang Tip can’t imagine that. His people need the Old Testament.

[Reprinted from wycliffeusa.wordpress.com]

By Roy Eyre, president of Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada

Those of us who are not directly involved in translating the Bible will never completely understand or appreciate the linguistic challenges our translators face day by day.

That includes me.

I am giving my professional life to the Bible translation cause. But I am an administrator, not a linguist. As a result, I approach the challenge of translation from a unique vantage point. I look at this topic as a father—and pastor of my own family. I look at it as an elder—concerned with right doctrine. And I look at it as someone who cares deeply for God’s Word—wanting everyone around the world to be able to have access to it in their own language.

Still, I can share some general insights on the matter.

One fundamental truth about translation is that there are no two languages that have an exact cross-over of vocabulary. Most Christians in North America have heard in church at one point or another that our English word, “love,” in our Bibles doesn’t capture the meaning behind the four Greek words in Scripture: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Take a moment to consider the implications of using éros instead of philía in a translation. Sexual connotations would certainly be a stumbling block when “brotherly love” was intended.

English is a handy language in its use of generic words like “love.” However, many languages have far more specific words. I remember a previous Word Alive story that explained that there are more than twenty different Inuit words that English attempts to encapsulate in the word “snow.”

But other languages have a more limited vocabulary. Wycliffe’s Ken and Mendy Nehrbass are Bible translation consultants on an island in Vanuatu, in the middle of the South Pacific. Ken once tried to convey to me the difficulty of translation into the Southwest Tanna language:

“Translated Genesis 2–4 yesterday. You’d think that the difficulty with translating would be that there are so many ways to say something—how do you narrow it down? But every chapter of the Bible presents the opposite problem for a language like SW Tanna: there’s no way to say it! Like [in Gen. 4:15], “if anyone kills Cain, he will be avenged seven times.” ([In SW Tanna, there is] no word for ‘avenge,’ no number above five, and no way to say ‘x number of times.’)”

Our translators face a difficult and complex task daily. Even the “simple” verses can trip them up. We in English-speaking countries—home to 85 percent of all Bible resources—have a difficult time visualizing the challenges. So let’s pray for translators like the Nehrbasses, working in isolated locations and struggling at times with a few other consultants to find the best solutions in each unique language.

How did Ken and Mendy end up solving their dilemma? They leaned upon their biblical, translation, and linguistics training; Wycliffe’s translation practices based on more than a half century of experience; insights into the local language and culture from the Southwest Tanna people; and, no doubt, much prayer.

Recognizing that conveying the meaning of God’s Words is an ultimate goal, they chose the following:

Nɨkam. Tukmə yermamə kɨrik rhopni ik, tukrɨrəh narpɨnien ehuə rapita narpɨnien yame nakawəh.

In English, this translation conveys the idea that if someone killed Cain, he’d receive a larger punishment than the punishment he meted out to Cain.

The manuscript of the New Testament is currently being printed, and the Southwest Tanna will soon have God’s Word in a form they can understand.

I may never know everything that translators, like Ken and Mendy, face. But I do know this: Wycliffe Canada is just as committed in 2012 to accurate, clear, and natural translation for every remaining language as we were sixty years ago when our personnel first started serving in this amazing and life-changing work.

—Roy’s post originally appeared in Wycliffe Canada’s Word Alive magazine. Read the rest of this issue on their website at http://www.wycliffe.ca/wordalive/#/2

—Read or watch more on Ken and Mendy Nehrbass’s work in Vanuatu at http://www.cbn.com/700club/guests/bios/Nehrbass_112707.aspx and http://www.nehrbass.info/

I’m not a Bible translator, though I’ve often thought I’d be a pretty good one. My wife Becky would be a great translator. After all, she studied Chemical Engineering; she’s an analyst and problem solver. As a graphic designer, I’m a problem solver as well. Wouldn’t Bible translation be an ideal vocation for us? Twice we’ve asked ourselves that question and taken the time to research and talk to God about His calling on us. Yet he has never opened that door to us.

Instead, we’ve learned to live vicariously, finding joy and satisfaction in the success of others. As a family serving Bible translation from North America but wanting to have a global impact, my wife and I have made a deep investment in the Southwest Tanna language project in Vanuatu, a chain of islands in the South Pacific. Since it began about twelve years ago, we have donated and prayed for this project and tried to care for our friends Ken and Mendy Nehrbass, an American couple consulting on the project. I also had the privilege of applying my graphic skills to design the cover for the first scriptures ever printed in that language.

My favourite Christmas gift in 2010 came in a small envelope from Vanuatu. I pulled out a Christmas card signed by eleven people, the Southwest Tanna translation team. It included a short bio and photo of each member. There we were introduced to incredible people like Jakob Willie, Tom Makua and Chief Jenry Nasey – those who have invested their time, blood, sweat and tears into seeing God’s Word in their own language.

They celebrated and dedicated their New Testament on May 31.


My favourite shot is of Chief Jenry, one of the translators, holding one of the first copies off the truck. He said that he is so overwhelmed to hold God’s Word in his hands — all the hard work can finally reach the hands of those in his language. He said his heart was so filled with peace and joy and excitement that his tears fell down his cheeks.

You won’t see me in these pictures, because my body remained 10,000 km away from Vanuatu that day. Instead of being there in person, I spent the day with a number of young people on their way to membership in Wycliffe Canada. Those men and women represent the future. Who knows how many translation projects and literacy programs they will start? I think I made the right choice… I think.

Nevertheless, I have a personal goal this year to attend a ceremony that launches a New Testament, completed with help by a Canadian translator. So I didn’t make it to this one, but I have in my hands a copy of the Buamu New Testament, hot off the press, with a dedication service in Burkina Faso scheduled for October that I plan to attend.

I love my job. Being part of an organization that impacts people all over the world, most of whom I’ll never see, gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction. And who knows? Maybe my next job will be Bible translation.

He set his face

[Republished from thebackrowleader.com]

A few weeks ago, a little phrase from Luke 9:51 (ESV) jumped out at me, and I’ve been reflecting on it this Easter week:

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

Jesus set his face, resolutely determined to go to Jerusalem. Of course, this was no vacation trip he was planning. He spoke often to his disciples in those days about how the Son of Man was going to be lifted up, the shepherd was going to be struck down and the Son of Man betrayed into the hands of sinners. He fully knew the pain and sacrifice that was going to be required of him; he’d known it since he came to earth. But as the moment grew closer, both his anxiety and his courage grew. Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the moment close at hand, Matthew described Jesus as anguished and distressed, his soul crushed with grief to the point of death.

In that moment, I see the distinct humanness of Jesus. As Hebrews says, he was tempted in all ways as we are. Can’t you relate to a moment like that? Perhaps not to the same degree, but a time when you absolutely dreaded what you were going to have to do? As the moment grows close, your steps get heavy, your breathing laboured as if you’re carrying a huge weight. At some point, you face a moment of decision. Will you shrink from your responsibility or set your face and move forward?

I remember the first time I needed to speak in public. I was a grade 4 student in Atlanta, and we were in the middle of a mock election. As campaign chair for a candidate, I had to give a speech to a group of students. I dreaded that thought. If I absolutely had to, I resolved to only do it in front of people I knew. Instead, I was selected to speak to a group of students in another class. I remember waiting in a little room between the classrooms, balling because I didn’t want to do it and looking desperately for someone else to appeal to. Embarrassed by my tears. Wanting to quit. Finally I screwed up my courage and summoned enough resolve to do it. It seems funny now, given the role I’m in today, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had run away from that decision point.

I’ve never faced a situation bad enough to create a physiological reaction like sweating blood, but in some small way, I can relate to Jesus’ Gethsemane moment. It’s worth looking at how he approached it.

First, he begged God for a way out, three times. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask if there can be some other way. The point is that Jesus didn’t go in the direction of defiance and refusal. When I face a difficult decision or task, I find incredible strength in sharing it with God, even if my prayers are repetitive or lack words.

Second, he sought companionship. Though he knew they would soon abandon him, he brought his closest friends along to pray with him. Like the disciples, our friends may not be able to relate to our crisis, but even having them near is some level of comfort. I often think of Job’s friends in moments like that. To their huge credit, they got together and sat with him during his misery. Seven days they sat in silence. The only mistake they made was in opening their mouths.

Then Jesus surrendered to a greater authority. He knew he’d been heard, and he gave himself up to the greater plan. Having made his decision, he didn’t shrink or pull back from it; he turned to face it. I love the way he collected himself, pulled his disciples to their feet and faced his betrayer. “The time has come,” he said. No longer did he have any doubt about what he needed to do. He found tremendous courage once he got up from his knees.

Isaiah described this “Good Friday” hundreds of years before that moment (Isaiah 50:5-7 NLT):

The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
and I have listened.
I have not rebelled or turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me
and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face
from mockery and spitting.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame.

That’s my Saviour, Redeemer, Rescuer and Passover Lamb! And that’s my model for leadership.

EyreMail March 2012


EyreMail Dec11

EyreMail Dec11

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