Saturday, April 30, 2011

On the Wings of Prayer

(Day 8 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

Serving is much more than just doing a job; it includes ministering to the body of Christ. Ken Van Weerdhuizen realized this one Sunday evening as he listened to Simon speak in church.

Simon, a translator working in Asia, had come from another country to the Philippines to attend a translation workshop.  Having traveled for several days, Simon arrived in the Philippines totally exhausted; but he still needed to make one more flight before he reached his final destination.  He could hardly bear the thought.  This flight, however, proved to be different.  After boarding the small plane, the pilot paused to pray before taking off. Through that prayer the Lord revived Simon.

Ken listened to his Simon’s story in stunned silence. That day was still vivid in his memory as well.  Ken had been that pilot.  It was his third flight to Cagayan de Oro that day. He was tired, sweaty and worn out from loading and unloading cargo, and he still had two more flights to complete before heading home.

After the passengers were buckled into the twin-engine airplane, Ken prayed, asking the Lord to bless and protect the flight and to be with each passenger. “I have tried to make this my normal practice whenever I make a flight,” Ken said. “But sometimes I am so rushed and tired that I just want to climb in the airplane and get going. That’s how I felt that day.” Yet, the Lord used the half-hearted prayer of a tired pilot to minister to another of His servants.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Small Word, Big Beginning

(Day 7 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)


When Emile Agoussou typed this word on his computer one day in March of 2004, he stopped to smile at the computer screen.  Emile knew this small word was the start of something big—the start of the first draft of the first book of the Bible to be translated into Aja.

For the Aja translation team, many steps led up to the day they began drafting the book of Ruth. Three Aja men, including Emile Agoussou, were specially chosen to begin receiving training in the work of Bible translation.  They learned to type, to use a computer and to write their own language.  From there, they proceeded to learn some of the principles and techniques involved in Bible translation.

Finally, they began to learn about some of the differences between the Hebrew and Greek cultures and Aja culture. They had never seen a mustard seed, so an expatriate brought some from his home to show them.  To learn to communicate the message of the Scriptures clearly and effectively to their people, they needed to know what they were reading about.

Ruth_and_Naomi001After months of training, the translators were ready to begin using their new skills. Starting with the book of Ruth allowed them to begin with a story—excellent training ground for the new translators.  In Aja, the book of Ruth is called “Hluti”.  And so the word “Hluti”, represented a beginning for the Aja people of Benin. God speaks Aja, and now the Aja people will have the opportunity to hear His Word in the language of their hearts.

The first draft of the book of Ruth is complete, and the Aja team continues to grow and develop their translation skills as they work to give their people more of the Scriptures in their heart language.

“We praise God for this modest beginning,” a Wycliffe member involved with the project writes. “While there have been challenges along the way, God has been faithful in bringing the project this far and we know that he will continue to be faithful as the translators move on to the next book, and the next, till the Bible can be read by Aja people in their own language.”

--adapted from a story by Kate Van Wynen from

Please pray:
  • That through Bible translation, the Kingdom of God would continue to permeate the areas of the world without God’s Word.
  • That God would prepare hearts to receive the seed of his Word.
  • That God would meet our financial need to his glory and the strengthening of our faith.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Now We Pray as a Family

(Day 6 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

Bernardino Romero, from the town of Ccasccas, Peru, says, “In my home, we are now praying as a family, something we had never done before. My daughter, Lidia, attended the children’s Bible classes in our community and after hearing a lesson on prayer, she returned home and asked, 'Daddy, why don’t we pray in our home?' I didn’t know what to say. Lidia is constantly reminding us that we must pray in every circumstance and our family has adopted the custom of giving thanks for our food before every meal.”

In many Quechua communities, children’s ministry has been practically non-existent. Often children are left to shepherd the animals while their parents attend church.  The children in Bernardino’s community, however, meet regularly with teachers who have been trained by ATEK, the Quechua Scripture promotion organization. Spiritual values are being taught in Quechua, using lessons, materials and songs prepared by the teachers. The community is noticing the impact this program is having on their children.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Granny at the Workshop

(Day 5 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

--Story as told by Margaret Beckett

We gave a whole afternoon to visiting the village chairman, greeting him with utmost respect, asking after his family, his business, his farm - and then moved on to politely explain the aims of the proposed workshop.

Yes, he understood absolutely:  the workshop would run over three Saturdays, we would teach in the local primary school, and we needed Rangi people who could speak, read and write Swahili. Both Muslims and Christians were equally welcome; in fact we really wanted an even number from both parts of the community.

He beamed delightedly. Yes, of course he would sort out a suitable group to attend, and yes, yes, he would be very pleased to officially open our first day. We made our farewells and returned encouraged to our office in the town.

Preview_TZ - Village near Kondoa Town 0029(2)She was there on the first day, shuffling a little in her walk, due to age, and poor sight, but very happy to be there. Before long, our elderly participant was snoozing away as the workshop proceeded. What a waste, I thought, she has only come because she knows she will be given food at lunch time.

On the second Saturday there she was again. This time she seemed to listen, at least for some of the time, but I was sure she couldn’t see very well, so therefore she was not at all a suitable candidate for the class. During the writing session, I helped her by writing the sentence she spoke to me. How do I help the village chairman to understand that this woman was not suitable for the class? I thought to myself.

The final day arrived. There had been a gap of several weeks since the second workshop, as we had not been able to use the school any earlier. I wondered who would come. There she was, walking towards the school. She had a few sheets of paper in her hands, torn from a school exercise book, and her literacy workbook, carefully covered with newspaper to protect it. "I can't see well," she explained, "and I never learned to read or write. I wasn't sent to school, you see. I was out with the goats every day. But I do know a lot of stories." She held out the pages, full of very carefully printed writing in the Rangi language.

"How did you do this, Grandmother?" I asked.

"I sat with my grandson for many evenings, I told him the old stories I heard from my father, then I told him again slowly, and he wrote them down for me."

Now we visit this grandmother often. She is a rich source of knowledge about the Rangi people, their traditions and the way they understand the world.

The story illustrates for me how easy it is to import my Western understandings, my too-quick judgments, when life here is so different - and God has different plans than I do. Please pray for this old woman; God knows who she is, and He knows her needs. She is a widow, living in one room of a courtyard house, near one of her nine children and some of her grandchildren, following a mix of African traditional religion and a world religion. She is representative of many Rangi women in this area.

--Photo of a Kirangi woman by Arlene Moe

Please pray:

  • That through Bible translation, the Kingdom of God would continue to permeate the areas of the world without God’s Word.
  • That God would prepare hearts to receive the seed of his Word.
  • That God would meet our financial need to his glory and the strengthening of our faith.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Literacy Class Gives Birth to a Church

(Day 4 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

In the Ngomba area in Cameroon, the project coordinator opened an adult literacy class with about 20 people. Normally on Fridays, he would take the blackboard back to the office. But on one Friday, he left it for the learners who had requested it for their practice over the weekend. They were touched by the coordinator's willingness to trust them.

They were also moved by the fact that he would always want to start and close his classes with prayers, and teach them praise songs.  This gave him an opportunity to share about Jesus Christ and the church. He also shared about the Bible translation ministry and the difference they will witness as they hear God speak in their mother tongue about things affecting their daily lives.

Their response was immediate and they soon formed a church which quickly grew to over 200 people. Most of the people in this new church had previously either not attended church or had stopped going. The church continues to grow.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Saving Pennies for God's Word

(Day 3 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

"I'm sad that I won't have enough money to buy a New Testament when it's printed,” said Gerold with regret to Takashi.  Takashi and Yeako Nakamura had been living among Gerold’s people since 1989, translating God’s Word into Maiwa.


Takashi knew that there are not many cash crops in the area, and that Gerold has to pay school fees for his four children. Yet he felt the Lord prompting him to respond with a challenge, "If you start saving money now, it will be easier for you. We still have a lot of time."

Gerold considered these words and concluded, "This is good."

After that, Gerold started putting aside small amounts of money wherever he could. He has already paid for a New Testament and now is saving money to buy copies of God's book for each of his four children. Others heard what he was doing and followed his example.

Because of his initiative, more than 100 people have already paid for a copy of the Maiwa New Testament. All of them are eagerly looking ahead to 2012, the year the Maiwa translation team hopes to present the completed New Testaments to the people.*

Please pray:

  • For Takashi and his co-translators as they go through the final steps of checking the translation for accuracy, clarity, and consistency.
  • That through Bible translation, the Kingdom of God would continue to permeate the areas of the world without God’s Word.
  • That God would prepare hearts to receive the seed of his Word.
  • That God would meet our financial need to his glory and the strengthening of our faith.

*Adapted from a story by Karen Weaver at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doll Shoes

(Day 2 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

As a little girl, I (Missy) had a beloved doll named Mandy.  Mandy came with a beautiful wardrobe of handmade and store-bought clothes, but my favorite part was her shoes.  Unfortunately they liked to slip off and hide under the bed, between the sofa cushions, or in the darkest reaches of the closet.  Because of their tendency to wander, Mandy rarely wore her shoes outside.

But one day Mandy had a tea party to attend, and it was imperative that she be dressed for the occasion.  So donning her fashionable foot attire, she accompanied me on a grand tour of the back yard.  Went it was all over, Mandy’s shoes were missing.  I searched everywhere but they were nowhere to be found.  Life as I knew it came abruptly to an end.

Distraught I went inside and begged my mom for help.  After the anticipated, “Did you look here…” questions, she asked me if I prayed.  “Pray?”, I asked in surprise.  “Yes,” said my mom.  “Pray and ask God to help you find the shoes.”  I wondered how God would help me find my dolls shoes, but pray I did.  The shoes didn’t magically appear, but I must have felt better because I managed to forget about incident for a few hours.

Later that day, I had an urge to play on our swing-set.  While flying back and forth through the air on a swing, I noticed a little pair of plastic slip-ons sitting ever so neatly on the top of the slide.  To this day, I don’t know how they got there.  I’m as certain as I can be that I had checked that slide for the missing shoes.  How could have I have overlooked them so carefully placed as they were?  I believed God worked a miracle and found them for me, and Mom and I gave Him full credit for the discovery.

The bigger miracle, however, is how God used that event to plant a mustard seed of faith in my heart.  There is no doubt in my mind that God cares about the little concerns in my life.  I can entrust all my burdens to Him.  All those concerns about moving, finances, my children’s welling-being, etc.—He’s got them.  He’s glad to help and he has never failed!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

She Called Him a Coward

(Day 1 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

In the summer of 1917, William Cameron Townsend had completed his junior year at Occidental College in Los Angels, California.  The United States had just entered the First World War.  Townsend, along with many of his classmates, had enlisted with the National Guard.  He thought he was on his way to fight in France.

Before he was to leave for France, however, he had occasion to visit a retired lady missionary.  She caught him up short when she bluntly called him a coward.  She said, “Here you are going off to war and leaving the mission field to us women!”

Townsend was stunned.  She was right.  God was leading him to go to Guatemala as a Bible salesman.  But he saw no way he could back out of military service once he had enlisted.  he went to his recruiting officer.  The officer took a long look at the frail, skinny Cameron Townsend.  he said, “Sure, go ahead, Townsend.  You’ll probably do more good selling Bibles in Guatemala than shooting in France.”

When he arrived in Guatemala, Townsend asked one man, “Do you know the Lord Jesus?”

“Sorry,” he answered, “don’t know him.  I’m new around here myself.”

Cameron Townsend’s biggest burden was the realization that more than two-fifths of Central Americans didn’t even speak the national language, but rather fragmented dialects of the Mayans.  His concern grew particularly for the largest Mayan language family, the Cakchiquels.

One old Cakchiquel village chief asked him, “Why haven’t you come sooner?  We have heard that you have told this wonderful story in other nearby towns, and we have been wondering what sin we have committed against God that kept Him from sending you to us.”

Townsend later wrote in his journal, “The fault is not theirs.  God has sent, but we have refused to go!”

Townsend went on to translate the New Testament into Cakchiquel.  Through that experience, he developed the scientific translation technology Wycliffe linguists have applied in over a thousand language groups around the world.

From “Two Thousand Tongues to Go” by Ethel Wallis.

Again please pray:

1) That through Bible translation, the Kingdom of God would continue to permeate the areas of the world without God’s Word.

2) That God would prepare hearts to receive the seed of his Word.

3) That God would meet our financial need to his glory and the strengthening of our faith.

A 15-day Prayer Challenge

“Then Jesus said, ‘What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.’

He also asked, ‘What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.’” (Luke 13:18-21 NLT)

What do mustard seeds and yeast have in common? They’re tiny but when placed in the right environment, they grow and yield tremendous results! As Matthew Henry wrote, yeast “works silently and insensibly, yet strongly and irresistibly.” God’s Word works that way in the hearts of those who receive it. Quickly yet gradually, the flavor of the gospel will infuse their entire being. “For the word of God is alive and powerful.” (Hebrews 4:12a NLT)

Unfortunately, not everyone receives the Word. Some deny its message, some don’t understand the message, and some have never heard the message. For those of us that speak the major languages of the world, we don’t have any excuse. God’s Word is in a language we can understand. But there are still 340 million people in this world that do not have the Bible in their own language.

We want to help change that.

Our vision and the vision of Wycliffe Bible Translators is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language they understand best—giving that seed or yeast of the gospel a chance to work its mystery so that one day the Kingdom of God will be visible in all His creation.

The work of Bible translation work is advancing, but is often fraught with obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles look overwhelming. Right now we lack $861/month of our ministry budget for returning to the work in Papua New Guinea. From God’s point of view, however, this is nothing. The true challenge is remembering to look at this amount from God’s point of view. God seems to enjoy using what we might consider small, weak or insignificant to ultimately bring his will to pass.  He reminds us:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,  so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.  They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.

It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”  (Isaiah 55:8-11 NLT)

We’re issuing a challenge.

During each of the next 15 days we are going to share a story focused on how the Lord has used something small, weak or insignificant to accomplish His greater purpose. Out of a tiny mustard seed grows a tree! As you read these stories, we ask that you pray 3 things:

1) That through Bible translation, the Kingdom of God would continue to permeate the areas of the world without God’s Word.

2) That God would prepare hearts to receive the seed of his Word.

3) That God would meet our financial need to his glory and the strengthening of our faith.

Also, please consider how you have seen the Lord work in your own life. Do you have a mustard seed story of your own? If so, please share!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birthday Season

When the birthday seasons arrives at our house…as it seems to every year whether we like it or not <grin>…the most important question is always, “Can I have a party?

Parties aren’t this mom’s strong suit, but I felt we couldn’t pass up a dream come true for both Claire and Isaiah—not when we’re living next door to so many of their friends.  So we threw a party for both of them.  I wasn’t sure it was possible to combine a princess and race car theme, but strangely it worked well.  The guests, both boys and girls, seemed to enjoy it.  Actually, as long as you have cupcakes and plenty of prizes, you can’t really go wrong….

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Waiting for God’s Word…

Tahanuka, an elderly man from Papua New Guinea (pictured right) had been looking forward to reading the Scriptures in his own Yopno language. He was concerned that he might not live until God's book arrived with the complete New Testament and Psalms. When the Gospel of John was published several years ago, he bought a copy and read it frequently. Since he was advanced in years and looked forward to his home with Jesus, he asked translator Wes Reed to highlight Scriptures about heaven for him. Wes highlighted John 14:2 ‘I go to prepare a place for you,’ and other verses that talk about his eternal home. It was with great joy Tahanuka attended the New Testament dedication in August 2010. Tahanuka praised God for the privilege of holding the Living Word.*

The Yopno people are just one language group, but there are about 830 different languages in PNG alone. Our colleagues are currently working in 175 language programs and there are another 250-300 languages that still have translation needs. There’s still lots of work to do!

Of course, Missy and I aren’t Bible translators, but God has given us skills that support the work of Bible translation.  Click here for more on our roles in Bible translation.  But in order for us to return to PNG, we need 100% of the monthly budget that has been determined by Wycliffe to meet our cost of living. You can see from our little thermometer on right that we’ve got a bit to go.  Click here if you’d like to do something about this percentage.  <grin>

033Even Claire and Isaiah feel the urgency to return to PNG. One day they came to tell Missy "good-bye". They were leaving for PNG to teach people how to translate the Bible. Both were toting very full backpacks. Claire packed pencils and paper, and Isaiah packed his piggy bank and a gun! <smile>  We got the feeling that they’d had enough talk about going to PNG, and were taking matters into their own hands!

Please pray that God would complete our team of financial partners so we can rejoin the work in Papua New Guinea.  Click here to let us know you’re praying.  It’s a huge encouragement to know we’re backed in prayer by the family of God.

We keep Matthew 6:33 at the front of our minds. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (NLT) God never fails his promises, and if it is his will we will return to PNG. Nonetheless, it breaks our hearts to think there are more Papua New Guineans like Tahanuka who are waiting...waiting for God’s Word in their heart language.

*Photo and story adapted from by Karen Weaver.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Goodbye House

We’re happy to report that the closing on our house went through today without a hitch!  As much as we loved living there, it’s a relief that it is finally sold.  We feel like we’ve just taken another huge step toward returning to Papua New Guinea, and we’re praising God for his awesome provision and for answering our prayers!

Saying “goodbye” to our house was bittersweet, but over the years we’ve learned that it’s OK to feel both sad and excited by change.  Our missionary training has taught us that we need to show our children that it’s OK to mourn loss, and to be sensitive to our children’s need to say “goodbye”.  So in the spirit of “Goodnight Moon”--

“Goodbye house, goodbye mouse.  Goodbye room, goodbye broom.  Goodbye wall, goodbye hall.  Goodbye swing…goodbye everything!”


And I’m feeling just sentimental enough to take the appearance of these crocuses just a few days before we left to mean “goodbye” in return.  <smile>