Walking to the market with God

February 24, 2015 in Mark, Bible, Church, Front, Tanzania, Theology

Having moved around quite a bit over the past few years, we have had the privilege of hearing many different church leaders in three countries and two (three if you count American) languages, reading parts of the Bible and teaching what it may mean. While we have certainly heard some excellent teachers making fine points about various parts of the Bible, when I think back over all the sermons I have heard (and taught) in the past few years, I struggle to think of any “fact” or “teaching” that has really impacted my life. And I really have to try hard to remember any “application” from any of those sermons. OK, maybe I have a bad memory, and I’m sure I have dozed off in church too many times, as all male Woodwards are prone to do from time to time.

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Mbeya Planning Meetings

March 4, 2014 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Tanzania

After spending a week in Dar es Salaam and a week in Dodoma, we flew to Mbeya for planning and review meetings with the team serving 13 language communities throughout Mbeya, Iringa and Njombe regions. This project, with the potential to impact 2.5 million speakers of the 13 languages, was started in 2003 and currently has around 70 staff working both in Mbeya town and in the surrounding communities.

Several of the translation teams are moving forward fast and approaching the completion of the New Testament in their languages, hopefully in the next 3 years. At the same time, some of the other languages have recently begun the process of developing writing systems, and are hoping to start translating the first Scripture portions in the next year or two. Read the rest of this entry →

Malila Scriptures: “God is standing right next to me!”

December 17, 2012 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Church, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania

Two weeks ago I was in Mbeya Region conducting research for my MA in Bible and Mission among the Malila language community. The Malila have been part of a Bible translation project involving 10 language communities of Mbeya and Njombe Regions for the past eight years, and are now very happy to have several books of the Bible published in their language.

The aim of my research was to see exactly how these translated Scriptures are being used, and what the Malila can teach other language communities who are in the same process of translating the Bible into their languages. Read the rest of this entry →

“It’s like the people in the churches are waking up”

May 17, 2012 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Church, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania

In addition to serving language communities by helping them to develop and write their languages, our hope and prayer is that as we work with the church to start to translate parts of the Bible into these languages that people will read these Scriptures and be transformed through doing so. Along these lines it was encouraging to hear a report recently from Mbeya Region, to the southeast of Katavi, where newly translated portions of Scripture in the Malila language are impacting the Malila community.

Eddie has quoted another colleague, John Macaulay, who reports that

A few weeks ago, the Malila translators returned from a village where they had done some review on Luke 13-24 with the community. I asked them about the results of the review, and as we were talking, they began telling me about a couple of pastors who said that there have lately been some changes happening in their churches. When I asked the translators to explain, one of them said, “The pastors have started to use the translated Bible portions in their services, and people are very excited about it. It turns out that a lot of people who thought they understood the Bible in Swahili are now realizing they don’t. They’re hearing it in Malila and getting it for the first time.

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God Speaks Malila!

September 25, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Language, Tanzania

While the goal of Bible translation is never simply to produce books, it’s always exciting for me to see the dedication of parts of the Bible in a language, and the potential for a community to engage with God’s message in a new way as it is available in the language of their home.

Recently the Malila community in Mbeya Region, Tanzania, were able to dedicate several books which have recently been completed. Louise writes

The Malila Dedication was great! On Friday, August 27th the Biblical books of Mark, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Ruth and Jonah were dedicated to God and entrusted to the Malila Church to use for their growth and for sharing the good news with those who have not yet heard or understood. […]

The celebration was high spirited, the words spoken were heartfelt, and the sense when praying over the books was that God was there in that church with the Malila. And when those chosen to read read the Scriptures from Mark out loud in Malila, there was first keen listening, then thunderous applause and ululation. God was speaking to the Malila in their own language! […]

Reading from the book of Mark in Malila

The sales of the available Scriptures – both books and cassettes,  Bible-related materials, and literacy materials that day were unusually high.  It was market day so people from all the neighboring villages were gathered and they had come with money.  We sell at cost or a loss, but it is really encouraging to see people enthusiastic about buying materials in the language that speaks to their heart!

Malila Scripture Portions

Scripture portions on cassette

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Matt and Liz also have some photos from the event on their website… here are a couple:

Selling Malila books

Malila crowd

Please pray for the Malila people and their church leaders – that they would interact with the Bible in their own language, and have a fresh sense of God being one of their community.