A Glimpse of Worship

Won’t you journey with me to Panama City, Panama
to catch a glimpse of a Kuna worship service?panama

Watch your step as we’ll be traveling down a steep hill,
RH Hill 1
KH Hill 1

past closely lined homes with bright eyed youngsters peering out the windows,
TB Hill 1
TB Hill 2
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through the voices of children,
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beyond the gates,
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amidst welcoming youth,
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and into the church, ready to lift our voices alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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With one heart and voice, a unity in Christ Jesus, we worship the One True God together…KF Kuna-Church

and hear His Word,
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spoken in their heart language ~ Kuna.
Bible

In the middle of preaching on the importance of God’s Word, the electricity flickers out… but darkness does not deter this local pastor.

Light starts to shine forth…RH Preaching by Cell Phone Light

Accompanied only by the lights from cell phones,
he continues to preach (adjusting the symbolism to fit the situation at hand)– Psalm 119 105 ‘Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.’
(Scripture from Psalm 119:105, part of the Old Testament that has just recently been
translated, published, and dedicated for their people.)

Upon the end of the sermon, we are welcomed warmly by the body with hand shakes and hugs.
And the sweet, sweet Kuna greeting of “Bab be bendake”  – ‘God bless you.’
(You pronounce it somewhat like: bob bay ben dock ay.)

Then (while still surrounded by a physical darkness)
boxes that are filled with the completed Kuna BiblesIMG_4521

…are opened for the people.RH Bibles by Cell Phone Light

May God’s Holy Word shine brightly in the hearts and minds of the Kuna.
May His Word truly be a lamp to their feet and a light for their path!
Praise God that the Kuna now have the entirety of God’s Word in their own heart language!

____________________________________________

Did you know that Kuna is only the 531st language group (of close to 7,000)  with the blessing and privilege of having access to both the Old and New Testaments?   This particular Kuna congregation is just one of many in the Panama City area.  There are approximately an additional thirty Kuna churches on the nearby San Blas islands.  Kuna pastors, leaders, and families now have access to ALL of God’s Word in their heart language!   We look forward to hearing how God’s Holy Spirit will continue to work through His Word in the lives of the Kuna people.

Why is it so important to translate Scripture into all of these languages?
https://www.wycliffe.org/about/why

Bible Dedication Highlights

Waiting …
DS Waiting for the Kuna Bible

no more!
RH Kuna Bible

… this is a historical day.
You’ve got the full counsel of God.

~Keith Forster (translator who worked on the Kuna Scriptures)

The Kuna people, along with translators Keith and Wilma Forster, recently celebrated the dedication of the entire Bible into their San Blas dialect.  Three Scripture dedications were held – two on the San Blas Islands and one in Panama City, Panama.  We were privileged to be able to attend the dedication celebration on the mainland with a handful of other stateside Wycliffe members and staff.

As I glanced around at the many Kuna in attendance, I noticed a large number of women and children.  Who could miss the women?  They were beautifully dressed in their lovely traditional clothing made with hues of red, yellow, orange, black, and white – some with their intricate handiwork ‘molas’ sewn on.  Many were also adorned with red head scarves and their delicately created bead bracelets on their arms and legs.  These were the mothers, grandmothers, (and future mothers) who would prepare the next generation to know Him. Women who, although live in another culture and speak a different language from me, are similar to me in that they now have all of God’s Word readily available to them to read, memorize, teach from, share, and pass on to their children!

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IMG_4478 RH hand of child
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I found myself praying for the women and children surrounding me – that they would take the precious gift they have been given and use it, that their children would witness the change in their lives, and grow up knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  (A prayer I’d pray for myself and other moms I know as well.)
Yes, the Kuna now have the full counsel of God.  May they (and we) pass it on to the next generation!

Here are a few highlights from the Bible Dedication.

The dedication began with worshipping Christ through singing!
(We, surprisingly, recognized many of the tunes.  In Kuna, they sang ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, ‘How Great Thou Art’, etc.)

RH Singers
music DSC_7638 (2)

Eagerness for the arrival and presentation of God’s Word…
(One Wycliffe attendee compared it to the anticipation felt by a groom awaiting to see his bride walk down the aisle.)

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Silence being broken with the sounding of a shofar and Scripture carried forth…
shofar KF shofarRH Entering

Giving thanks to God and praying over His people and His Word…

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Children reading from the Scriptures in the Kuna language!
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The Kuna people now have access to  ALL of Scripture in their own heart language!

RH Bibles  RH Bibles 2IMG_4483 (2)

Praising God for the Work of His Hand…

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Keith and Wilma Forster
(Wycliffe missionaries who dedicated over 40 years in Panama
to revise an earlier New Testament translation and
to translate the Old Testament into the Kuna’s heart language!)

Keith’s thoughts on passing the torch to the Kuna and leaving it all in God’s powerful hands to work His Will…

… And I look around that crowd today and I see … the lives that have been touched and transformed by the Scriptures… And my prayer is ‘God, would You raise up sufficient leaders … shepherds to watch and minister to those flocks, to cause them to grow in Yourself, to keep them on track.’… My translation team – He who began a good work in them will complete it in their day.  You know, and that’s the big thing …The point is this – that God has raised up this thing. We’ve given them tools. We’ve given them the leadership… And so, we’re looking to God to carry it on.

Wilma’s reflections…

I think, today, for me, what was really amazing… When we first came here in 1971, the Kuna church was very, very small and there was only one of them. And as I looked around that huge group of people… just to see how God has been at workit feels like the time has come for the Kuna church to just explode.

Prayers of the Forsters as expressed in their update to partners:

Now the Kuna have God’s Word in its entirety. Please pray earnestly that the initial enthusiasm for the coming of the Word will not peter out. Pray that Kuna hearts will grow deep in their knowledge of the Word and of God’s claim on their lives.

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Please continue to pray for the transforming power of the Word of God
in the lives of Kuna men, women, and children…
that pastors would use and handle Scripture correctly,
that hearts and minds would be changed,
that the next generation of Kuna would know Him,
and that God would be glorified!

Waiting For WeSay for Linux

Sleeping Coconuts Book CoverToday we had a special treat in the software development office. We got to hear from John Nystrom who is a translation consultant for an 11 language cluster project in Papua New Guinea (PNG). He and his colleagues were the ones that pioneered language cluster project is dramatically improving the quality and effectiveness of translation. He and his wife have written a book (Sleeping Coconuts) about the incredible way that God used a tsunami to change the face of Bible translation in PNG (and all over Wycliffe).
The translation projects get together 5 times a year for a month long workshop to work on a section of scripture. They gain so much from hearing the feedback that the other teams receive that they won’t go back to working separately. The consultants have asked to make sure that they really want to spend almost half a year away from their families in order to be able to work together. The response from all of the translators is that it is invaluable to their efforts.
He was also sharing about some of the technical challenges in PNG. They are currently using Windows and have a horrible issue with viruses. They don’t have good network connections so they rely on flash drives to transfer data. When you purchase a flash drive in PNG, it comes pre-loaded with viruses! It might be pirated music or software, but you cannot get a flash drive without Windows viruses on it. They have repeatedly attempted to train the national translators on how to keep their computers clean, but they just get a blank stare back from them (either they don’t understand or they have just been culturally insulted–it is not clear).
They long to be able to switch to Linux, but they are waiting for an updated version of WeSay to be available on Linux. The good news is that we are on the home stretch. Please pray for our team as we complete the work on WeSay for Linux.

NIV 1984 Archive

NIV Study Bible  I came to faith in Christ in middle school through the ministry of Youth for Christ.  I remember asking for an NIV Study Bible for my birthday (which I think surprised my parents at the time).  The 1984 edition had just recently came out.  So this version is the “heart language” of the scripture that I know.  On February 28, 2013, it was a day of morning for me and others when Biblica removed the 1984 edition from all websites and digital apps.

As technologies have changed, I am more digital and now read the Bible mostly in digital format.  Thankfully, I had purchased the 1984 edition from Laridian many years ago and will continue to have access to it through PocketBible.  However, there are other friends who did not have a digital copy and had relied on biblegateway.com and other on-line resource for digital access to the scriptures.

Thanks to the Internet Archive, we still have access to the text of the NIV 1984!  You can’t search through it, but you can browse to the passage that you want.  I have made a short URL to the biblegateway page which lists all the books of the NIV 1984 edition.  Enjoy!

http://bit.ly/niv1984archive

We Never Walk Alone

Commissioning Day – February 24, 2013

A day full of tears, full of prayers, and an outpouring of love from the body of Christ…

prayers

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

~Never Once by Matt Redman

 

prayers2

Our hearts are full of thankfulness to our amazing God who never has us walk alone.

Not Because of Who I Am

Over the past year, our family has been involved in sharing how God is working to bring His Word to the nations– through the work of Wycliffe and the Bible translation process.

wycliffe table

After a recent presentation, I was taken a little off guard by a question in regards to missions and our upcoming move. The question was worded similar to this…

“What is it about you that you are able to just get up and change the direction of your life?  What is it that you’ve got?  What does it take to do something like this?”

I smiled awkwardly, fumbled with my answer, and then finally said the first thing that had come to my mind, “There is nothing special about me.”  We talked a little bit more, but as with most conversations I walk away from, I realized what I should have said – much after the fact.

My more elaborate answer should have resembled the following…

There is nothing special about me.  It is all about Jesus.  It takes intimately knowing the One who has called you.  It takes trust that has built up over multiple times of finding Him faithful.  In order to step out in faith – whether to reach out to an unsaved neighbor, to move your family to the inner city to minister within community, to moving across the country to further the Gospel, or crossing the ocean to bring the Good News to those who have never heard – you must trust that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever and that He will continue to be faithful and true. It takes reminding yourself of Who you serve – the King of kings and Lord of lords, who loved us so much that he died for us and took away our sins.  I, this weak and sinful vessel, go and follow His call, not because of who I am, but because of who my Savior is.

God will still make a great name for himself among the nations. God involves us in His mission not because He needs us but because He loves us and in His mercy He has invited us to be involved in His sovereign design for the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
~ David Platt, Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions, Together for the Gospel 2012

Skittles & Translation

 

Skittles 1 (2) Skittles 2

From the very beginning of our journey to missions, we knew we wanted to somehow involve our entire family.  So, when we had the opportunity last fall to start sharing with other believers the needs of the Bibleless, I began searching for a way to involve the kids.  I was so excited when I came across another Wycliffe missionary family’s blog and how their kids did a quick presentation using Skittles.  I contacted the other family, the Tolivers, and requested permission to copycat their original idea.

Then, we had fun counting and practicing….

Skittles Prepcounting Skittles hundreds
practice 1 practice2

At first, as we were sorting and counting, the most difficult part was keeping the kids from eating the Skittles.  We would jokingly say, “Don’t eat a language!”   Of course, after taking all of the effort of working together to carefully count the Skittles, the kids quickly learned the importance of not dropping, eating, or misplacing a ‘language’.

While I think our copycats gave a great visual for the need for Bible translation, the Toliver kids did an excellent job!  They recently remade the original video and it looks very professionally done.  Go check it out!

Skittles & Translation from RBennett on Vimeo.

 

Out of a known 6,800 languages spoken in the world today, only 471 language groups have the entire Bible translated into the language that they understand best.  Over 2,000  languages have a need for Bible translation to begin.   That means there are close to 350 billion people around the world today that have NO Bible available in their heart language(Stats were taken form the 2011 worldwide status of Bible translation.)  Won’t you join us in reaching the Bibleless with the gospel of Christ?

Hunger and Thirst

Yes, we hunger and thirst for technology.   If only we would have the same hunger and thirst for righteousness and be willing to stay up until 3 AM to get it…

Today was the pre-order date for the new iPhone 5.  Starting at midnight Pacific Time (3AM where we are), many people signed-up to receive the lastest and greatest phone from Apple.  The initial stock reserved for pre-orders sold out in one hour.

So who stayed up until 3AM (or got up early) to get the new iPhone 5?  I will admit that I did.  My justifications:

  1. My last day at Interactive Intelligence is 9/28 and I have to give up my current iPhone 4S.
  2. My Sprint contract (conveniently) expired on 9/6.
  3. Sprint service is not good in North Carolina where we will be going.
  4. I actually write software for iPhones.

With all those justifications, I still need to check my heart.  The pull of materialism is so strong.  But it is just a phone.  How can that hurt, right?

 The apostle Peter warns that Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT). He uses riches, consumerism/materialism and worldly prosperity to lure believers away from following Jesus, the true Provider, Protector and Sustainer. We, as believers, need to maintain Job’s attitude towards riches: “The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21, NLT).1

How should we as Christians spend our money?  Where is the line between tool and toy, between enjoyment and idolatry?

John Piper writes, “Jesus presses us toward a wartime lifestyle that does not value simplicity for simplicity’s sake, but values wartime austerity for what it can produce for the cause of world evangelization… The point is: a $70,000 salary does not have to be accompanied by a $70,000 lifestyle. God is calling us to be conduits of his grace, not cul-de-sacs. Our great danger today is thinking that the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do. No matter how grateful we are, gold will not make the world think that our God is good: it will make people think that our God is gold. That is no honor to the supremacy of his worth.”1

There is a strong temptation to be distracted.  Am I abusing this world?  I need to be constantly evaluating the intentions of my heart. Would I be willing to get up at 3AM (or even 5AM) to grow in righteous by prayer and his word?



  1. Wycliffe article on Consumerism

Take the Bible Stack Challenge

“Grab your Bibles!”

The kids eagerly run throughout the house, gathering as many Bibles as they can find.  They start to stack them on the table and I quickly realize that they will soon hit the light that hangs just above.

Collecting

They move them to the floor and start to sort and stack them by size.

Sorting

 

stacking

 

As I hear their voices discuss the best way to organize the Bibles and watch as they arrange and rearrange, with the stack growing higher, I see…

 

  • my husband’s first Bible that he received.  I know it has a handwritten message from his mom inside the front cover.
  • my very worn daily Bible.
  • the Word and Song Bible that we first bought for our oldest child when she was a toddler.  She would listen to the CD, follow along in the Bible by looking at the pictures, and then get up and dance so joyfully to the songs that accompanied it.
  • several bindings taped multiple times from being well loved.
  • our littlest ones’ handled first picture Bible.
  • the 5 small matching Bibles that I ordered for use during Bible time in the mornings with the kids.
  • various versions of Bibles – NIV, ESV, NKJ, NASB.
  • a Greek New Testament and a Hebrew Old Testament.

counting measuring

 

 

After gathering, sorting, stacking, and counting, we realized that we have over 35 Bibles.  35 Bibles for 7 people!?  Really?   (And that does not even count the access we have to the Bible through sites like BibleGateway and through downloads on our phones.)  Wow!

 

While taking photos, one Bible in particular stands out.  It’s title (on the bottom in this photo) is this…

Gods Word for Me

God’s Word for Me.  God’s Word for Me!   Thank You, Lord for sending Your Son and for giving us Your powerful, living, and active Word that penetrates my soul, awakens me to my sins, transforms me, comforts me, directs me in Your Truth, and is as life to me.  It was through reading His Word for me that I fell in love with Christ – which is probably why it brings me so much joy when I see this…

reading

Yes, God’s Word is for me…but it isn’t only for me, for my family, for our neighbors, for our friends and church family, for believers here in the United States where access to God’s living Word is in abundance.

God’s Word is also for THEM.

– for the 2,000+ languages without any portion of the Bible – not even one verse.
– for the 340 million people within those 2,000 languages where Bible translation projects have not yet begun.
– for those who don’t have one Bible, one portion, or even a single verse to share with their children.
– for those still waiting for knowledge of the One and Only Savior.

We are so blessed to be able to read God’s Word in our own language and to have it available so readily, but my heart is heavy as I read these statistics.  I am challenged to not take God’s Word for granted, but to yield the sword daily.  And, I am once again reassured of our journey to be missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, whose goal is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language that they understand best.

 

family Bible stack

1 Peter 1:18-25
(emphasis mine)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord stands forever
.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.

Won’t you take the challenge, too?

challenge

Technology: A Game Changer in Bible Translation

The following article is from the Winter 2012 edition of the Rev. 7 publication.


Employing cutting-edge technologies continues to be a game changer for enabling and speeding Bible translation. For years, linguistics and translation experts have recognized the great advantages gained by leveraging the power and speed of computers. As early as the 1970s, innovators searching for effective Scripture translation aids created a “portable computer,” long before one came out commercially. God has continued to raise up technologists who have created applications and built hardware to help language teams do every necessary task: collect language data, analyze it, learn how languages work, create alphabets and primers, and translate God’s Word.

Vision 2025 (the year we hope to see a Bible translation project started in every language that needs one) has led our translation teams to change the way they do language work, especially over the last five years. They are seeking to partner with a broader range of people both in and beyond the language communities they serve. We in IT software development are able to support this change because of exciting developments worldwide in technology and infrastructure. One is the creation of low-power devices with simple user interfaces, which is giving rise to a viral acceptance of smartphones worldwide. These phones exist even in very remote locations, including where Bible translation teams are at work. A second major development is the increasing spread and availability of the Internet. And third, the electronic publication revolution.

This combination of new technologies now allows us to harness the help and input of the language communities in which we work—in three major ways. First, low-cost computers and tablets, which use low-power and advancing solar-power technologies, can be used easily by non-technicians in remote settings. With these technologies, accompanied by simple and customizable user interfaces for our software programs, we are now engaging computer novices in tasks necessary for language development and Bible translation (see page 4).

Second, technologies like “distributed version control systems” enable large teams that are separated geographically to work together in collaborative ways—with or without the Internet, thanks to usb flash drives or local networks. Now language speakers in diaspora can participate in the language work from anywhere in the world. We are also experimenting with enabling the “crowd”/“cloud” (meaning almost anyone worldwide who can access the Internet) to articipate in a language project. We’re defining social networking strategies to engage these communities and also evaluate the quality of contributions (see pages 6 and 7).

Finally, the explosive changes in the digital publishing world are now enabling us to reach many more people in the communities we serve (see pages 10–13). These include:

  • print-on-demand, which allows printing single copies of Bibles, dictionaries, or academic papers at reasonable prices, delivering them efficiently to language communities
  • publishing to electronic output paths like the Web, cell phones, tablets, and more, which can reach the masses
  • incremental publishing, which allows us to print Scriptures, literacy materials, academic papers, and other documents-in-progress

Because electronic publications are so much cheaper, faster, and easier to distribute than paper ones, this option is now feasible. For example, translators can publish Bible stories for their community to read even as they continue working to complete their Bible translation. Or, they can publish separate books of Scripture as they are produced. This allows communities to use what is currently available, as well as offer feedback and suggest revisions. In addition, it builds excitement as they see the results of the language project early and often, rather than several years of work later.

For software developers, this is an especially exciting time, as we take advantage of the many technologies that seemingly God has orchestrated specifically to enable language communities to have free, wide, and convenient access to his Word.


—Mike Cochran

Mike grew up in the Philippines as a Wycliffe “missionary kid.” He worked as a software engineer in defense aerospace for 15 years. Mike now serves as the SIL International language technology development director and currently lives in Thailand, assessing the impact of software tools used by language teams.

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