Pulling us up from the mud

June 12, 2012 in Mark, Africa, Bible, Front, Mission, Tanzania, Theology

Having been in Mpanda for three months now we are starting to feel settled and are enjoying our work, making friends and organising our house to feel like a home! I’m particularly enjoying my job as operations manager, helping to set up and maintain the office for the project as our colleagues work with the local language communities to write down their languages and start translating parts of the Bible.

One of my favourite (in a tiring kind of way) moments of the week is Thursday evenings, when I get together with several of our Tanzanian colleagues to do a Bible study in Swahili. We have wanted to read through one of the gospels, so have started with Matthew and read a few verses each week. Read the rest of this entry →

Giving Up Everything?

May 23, 2012 in Mark, Africa, Front, Mission, Theology

When a cross-cultural worker moves to a different country and a very different culture, as well as experiencing many benefits, they will also inevitably give up a great deal to do so. The things that they have to give up may be financial (a well-paying job), relational (family and friends) or just simply the comfort of knowing what to expect when living in one’s own culture and speaking one’s own language.

When moving overseas it can be easy to focus on the things one has given up, feeling like we are suffering a great deal for God and his work. “We had to give up so much in order to move to this country”, or “my life is difficult but God needs me here” can be common sentiments among cross-cultural mission workers. In this situation I can also deceive myself that I am vitally important to God’s work, and that I deserve to be in charge and making the strategic decisions since I have invested “so much”. Read the rest of this entry →

The importance of listening before doing

February 21, 2012 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Front, Mission

There is a huge amount of thought, energy and money that goes into development work in Africa and other places around the world, but every now and then one comes across efforts for which the best that can be said is that they were born from good intentions. This morning on twitter I came across a post of the 7 worst international aid ideas.

These bad ideas range from sending a million t-shirts, or thousands of pairs of shoes, to Africa (thus putting local traders out of business), to restricting the use of aid to achieve certain apparently unrelated business or political goals, to even taking up arms to rescue abducted children. (You can read more about these 7 ideas, and why each is so bad, in the original post). Read the rest of this entry →

Joyeux Noel

December 24, 2011 in Mark, Culture, Theology

This Christmas Eve we spent the afternoon watching the movie Joyeux Noel, the story of Christmas in the trenches during the First World War in 1914. The movie of how the soldiers of various nationalities who had been fighting each other for months ceased their fire, greeted each other in no-man’s land and even played football together.

The most striking part of the movie is the absurdity of the war. When the men meet up at Christmas they realise they have a huge amount in common, and yet on every other day they are trying to kill each other because that is what their commanders, and their nations, have ordered them to do.

In many ways the First World War was the height of modernity, with the European nations accepting without question the narrative of the unstoppable march of civilisation and progress. In reality the nations at war had a great deal in common – shared histories, similar languages and cultures, and apparently a shared religion. And yet their narratives of progress, despite their similarities, could not co-exist but clashed leading to the loss of millions of lives. Read the rest of this entry →

Jiizas Buk: “It’s as if Jesus is right here with us”

December 24, 2011 in Wycliffe, Mark, Bible translation, Front, Language

The BBC has a great 2-minute video about the translation of parts of the Bible into Jamaican Patois for the first time. This has been a controversial project for many of the same reasons that the English Bible was not accepted when it was first translated over 600 years ago (as I wrote about on the Wycliffe UK blog back in 2008).

But despite the inevitable controversy, it is extremely exciting to see the impact that the translation is already starting to have:

Our pastor, he’s sitting on the side of the street with the boys, he speaks like they speak as equals, so he meets them on their level. It’s the same thing with the Scripture, it’s as if Jesus is right here with us, and speaking with us in the same way.

Take a couple of minutes to watch the video below and read the article on the BBC website, to see the impact that the Bible is having in Jamaica this Christmas! Read the rest of this entry →