How can Bible translators get the consultant help they need?

March 2019

Dear Friends,

As I (Doug) was walking in Ruiru Kenya last week, I slipped on a ripe avocado there on the sidewalk, leaving a trail of bright green sauce. As I looked around, I noticed plenty of other avocados, and looking upwards I saw the tree they had fallen from. Wow! An avocado tree right there on the Bible Translation and Literacy Center! Around me, I observed an abundance of these trees, all leaving plenty of fruit on the ground. As far as I could tell, that is where they stayed and rotted—nobody was collecting them. I briefly thought about taking some back to Michigan where they’re worth $2 a piece. But in this place, they were unremarkable. That is often how it is with God’s Word. We’ve got an abundance of exposure to the Bible, in any translation style we like, and in any media format we prefer. But often the Word sits unnoticed and abandoned. Elsewhere, we hear reports of people receiving God’s Word in their language for the first time and being transformed through its power. May we, like they, allow ourselves to be nourished by the Word of God daily!

As we think about minority languages, the United Nations has established 2019 as the Year of Indigenous Languages. We pray that the global focus on languages this year will help tear down obstacles that make it difficult for Bible translation to take place.

When we invest time and energy in someone to help them grow, we get a certain satisfaction when they succeed. You’ll find this true whether you are a parent, a teacher, or an employer. When the one you are guiding reaches their goal, we enjoy celebrating their achievement! I experienced this joy again last week in Kenya during the closing ceremony of our Language Technology training workshop. We handed out certificates to those qualified as consultants and rewarded others who made further steps toward that goal. All participants are growing in their ability to provide training and support for Bible translation projects all over Africa, and we are thankful for a good way to measure and celebrate their successes.
Language Technology Consultant Training, Ruiru, Kenya, March 2019

It wasn’t always this way. When we started doing this training in 2008, we didn’t have a good way to measure progress. We just hoped that the training would bear fruit. In subsequent years, we’ve developed a competency-based approach to training, and can now track each participant’s progress toward becoming a consultant. Earlier this month, I was asked to present our system at SIL’s Global Language Program Services meetings in Dallas. The group was unanimous in their decision to use our system for developing consultants in all specialties: translation, linguistics, literacy, etc. This was a great affirmation that our language technology department is on the right track! But it is also a great boost for Bible translators globally and will help them to more readily get access to consultant help when they need it. When it comes to Language Technology Consultants, in ten years we’ve gone from zero to 75 people who are actively working on improving these skills to advance Bible translation. And so, the workshops continue—each one another opportunity to grow consultants. We covet your continued prayers and support!

The Fulani continue to occupy a place in our hearts and prayers. Domestic fighting between the Fulani and other groups has escalated in Mali in a confused mess of terrorist activity and racial tension. Recently, we reached out through our Fulani friends and were able to provid grain for those who had to flee their villages. Audio New Testaments were also shared with those who were receptive. But, just a week ago, the village of Ogossagou was attacked and over 150 Fulani men, women, and children were massacred. There will doubtless be more refugees fleeing harm's way without any means of support. Humanly speaking, the situation is bleak. We can only pray that our God will reveal himself to them and provide for their needs, both physical and spiritual.

A lot of my travels have been solo again, but P.J. and I are pleased to be able to travel together to a series of training events in the Netherlands for the next three weeks. We’ll be teaching a workshop on Bible Modules that allows Scripture passages to be extracted from a Bible translation to facilitate the creation of discipleship materials in multiple languages. Then in May we're heading to SE Asia to lead a Paratext workshop.

Partners in the Gospel, (Phil. 1:5)

Prayer & Praise

  • Praise God for partners who are assisting the Fulani refugees with grain and audio Bibles.
  • Pray that God's Word would take root in their hearts.
  • Pray for peace between the ethnic groups in Mali, that the Fulani might withstand the temptation to retaliate for the recent tragedy and that the government would step in and help.
  • Praise for workshops in Africa and SE Asia that develop the skills of local workers to come alongside translators to speed up translation projects.
  • Praise God for the decision to use the new system for developing consultants in all of the various specialties to support Bible translation.
Your gifts enable the Higbys' continued ministry with Wycliffe.
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    • Payable to: "Wycliffe Bible Translators"
      with the memo: "Doug & Priscilla Higby"
      Mail to: Wycliffe Bible Translators, P.O. Box 628200, Orlando FL 32862-8200

Doug & Priscilla Higby are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Doug is the International Coordinator for Language Technology Use, and Priscilla is serving as E-Pub Manager with SIL International.

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