Category Archives: The Seed Company

Dirty Ankles

When your daughter comes home and tells you she’s met the man she wants to marry, you may ask her, “Does he have a job?”

In Nigeria, the parents would ask the girl, “Does he have dirt on his ankles?”

Uh, why would they ask this? Are they that concerned about his hygiene?

It turns out that the question is a metaphor for “Is he a farmer?” And if he’s a farmer, if he owns land, then he has some money and he is an intelligent man. Because all Nigerians want land. Land can be farmed. Land can be built on. And land can feed you.

Language Farmers Ajinka and Isaac

Language Farmers Ajinka and Isaac

Two Nigerian men named Isaac and Ajinka are farmers. They have the potential of making two woman happy one day because they have land, but also, because they are cultivating more than the red clay soil that is so prolific in their country.

These men speak the language of Gole*. And they are also Bible translators. They are planting and growing the work of translating God’s words in their own language.

Every morning they get up and go to the farm. Their ankles get dirty as they kick the dirt into piles so that they can plant seeds. Maize, millet, soybeans and rice are grown in its season.

After doing their chores, they go to an office and work on the Gole language project. So far they have translated several chapters of Luke into their mother tongue. When people in their language group hear them reading the Scriptures and even speaking in their first language they say, “Where does this boy learn the language?” When each chapter gets published, the people are proud.

“I understand my own language better now that I am doing the translation. I realize that we have not truly understood certain passages in the Bible until now because we were listening to them in our second language [Hausa].”

Please pray for Ajinka and Isaac. They have a long way to go as they work two jobs each day. They need the encouragement and support of the local churches. I’m excited to see the growth of their work and the people as they embrace truth in their mother tongue.




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Bible Translation – Adjusting to the Times

We often hear that the times when Bible translators moves to a foreign (and often times remote) country, lives there for twenty years, studies the local language, produces an alphabet, and translates the Bible has come to an end. There are fewer individuals entering full-time missionary service, the process often takes fifteen to twenty years, and countries are more reticent to allow foreigners to live and remain in their country for such a sustained length of time. So, what’s the answer?

What alternatives exist allowing for the Bible translation such that the Bibleless people of the world can read the Scriptures in their mother tongue, the language that speaks to the heart?  

Sitting around computer

We know of at least one! Enter in “crowdsourcing“. Crowdsourcing leverages collaborative technology and uses the knowledge and skills of many people for a single task. “Does it work?”, you might ask. Well, you be the judge.

The Seed Company launched CrowdSeedTM a Bible translation crowdsourcing pilot in India, in May 2011. And the results have been phenomenal. Don’t take my word for it though. Click here and read the article for yourself.

You’ve undoubtedly heard it said that “when man closes a window, God opens a door.” I believe this is just one of those times. How about you?

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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in The Seed Company, Website


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Yup, we’re published! And you helped!

Did you know that if an author has one of his works published in 20 languages there is a big celebration? And if he or she is published in 30, 40 or more languages? Well, there’s some partying going on!

Did you know that Wycliffe Bible Translators along with our partners, such as SIL, Wycliffe Associates, and The Seed Company have had a book or part of a book translated in at least 2,479 languages?

Wow! We need a party every year. And you all should be the first to be invited! You have been a part of getting all or part of the best book, the BIBLE, translated into thousands of languages across the world. This work has been done not just for large community groups but for small ones too! Some groups have 5,000 or fewer people using that language! But if it’s a viable language, we think they need to hear God’s word in the language that speaks to their heart.

So thanks! We should be able to celebrate with more parties in the coming year! Come join us.


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What Good is Bible Tranlsation?

We know that Bible translation gives the Word of God to people in their mother tongue. We also know through His Word, people come to know Christ and, hopefully as a result, will grow in His grace and knowledge. But, to those that care little about spiritual things, the question is a big, “So What?” And indeed, some (i.e., Anthropologists) have complained that Bible translation is counter productive in that it changes the nationalistic culture. Often times, the comment is immediately followed by how we introduce germs and other things that might be considered hurtful to the indigenous culture. How do we respond to that?

I’ve lived overseas and, just like in America, some of the changes brought into the culture are welcome changes. The one change we welcomed overseas that immediately comes to mind is cannibalism! Aren’t you glad that the Gospel helps people love and respect their fellow-man rather than eating them??? I sure am. But we that believe in the Bible, come to the issue with a different perspective. How do we answer those that don’t believe like us?

Here is a Seed Company video that shares a bit on how the Gospel has changed a culture – and for the good. (The Seed Company is a Wycliffe partner organization and works alongside many of our other partner organizations to bring the Gospel to the whole world through the Bible translation task). And, it’s in THEIR words, the nationals’ words, those directly impacted by God’s Word in the mother tongue.

Take a moment, if you can, and watch this short, seven minute video on how God’s Word transforms and liberates cultures around the world. Then you’ll see that you and I no longer need to argue the benefits of Bible translation. Our friends and neighbors living all around the world will do it for us.

Happy viewing!



Accelerating Bible Translation

I love technology, not for technology’s sake, but for some of the ways it enhances our lives and makes it more productive. Yes, I’m also aware that technology sometimes complicates life, like when your computer won’t work like is should, when your email is hacked and your system starts sending out embarrassing messages, or in my case, when I carry the phone but can never seem to get it out of my pocket in time to answer a call.

Here is a link to a video where technology DOES work. And, it not only enhances a life but it accelerates Bible translation too.Take a look at it and simply think of the context —

  • someone living deep in the jungle using a BGAN satellite terminal
  • sends an email with attached translation data
  • via a communications satellite located (I’ve heard) 22,000 above the earth
  • to a translation consultant located thousands of miles away!

What’s even more amazing is that the consultant can send the corrected translation data back the NEXT day as one would do with any email.

Formerly, sending and receiving translation data via the post, hand carry, or other methods would take days, if not weeks or months. One translation consultant said that sometimes he would not hear from one of his mother tongue translators for a year! And now the process can take as little as a day. It’s amazing.

I praise God for this new technology. Take a few minutes to watch these video and I suspect you will too.

Take a moment and watch Accelerating Bible Translation for the Jiru and Levering Technology

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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in BGAN, Satellite, The Seed Company, Video


Giving thanks for BGAN and Pidgin

Many of you know that Phil Harms, a Wycliffe Associates colleague, and I had an opportunity to visit the Mgbolizhia language project and meet John and Ike, two of the translators. I believe I can speak for both Phil and I when I say that we both left truly impressed with these two individuals. Both are so eager and willing to receive and learn more about this new BGAN* technology. And, unlike many interested in learning about technology for technology’s sake, these two Godly men are interested because it will increase the pace of the translation. Getting God’s Word into their language is what is first and foremost in their hearts.

These mother tongue translators had limited connectivity causing difficulty uploading their language data to consultants around the world. Listen carefully as they praise God for this new technology knowing they no longer have to travel long distances to connect to Internet and upload/download their data. Today, because of their new BGAN satellite modem, they can upload and receive data within minutes or hours. Gone are the days of having to wait days, weeks, and even months to hear from the translation consultant! We believe this technology will allow them to shave a year or two off their translation project!

Here is a video of their praise unto God. It’s a little lengthy but listen carefully to the words. (NOTE: John, the one on the left, sounds like he is saying “Bee-gads”. He is communicating “BGAN.” Ike, the one on the right, talks about Pidgin, a chat program that will enable him to communicate in real-time with people all over the world, not only to receive help but to give it.)

The second video is of John taking the BGAN configuration test. Notice how slowly he approaches the satellite modem and carefully proceeds through each step. A huge smile flashed across his face when he heard the fast beeping sounds indicating that he had successfully configured the BGAN satellite modem for use.

We praise God for this new technology but more so for His people. It was a great day for all involved!

  1. Interview with John and Ike.
  2. John and Ike’s final BGAN configuration test

*BGAN – Broad Global Area Network


Nigeria Trip Pics

Here is just a sampling of the pictures taken on my most recent trip to Nigeria. Additional photos have been uploaded to Google’s Picasa photo viewer (here) and even more photos from other team members will forthcoming in the future.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed the trip.

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News That Feeds the Soul

I recently received an email from a Seed Company’s colleague with an update on the BGAN satellite deployment activity. His comments and statistics were so exciting I decided to pass them on. I trust you will be excited to.


Hello Connectivity Team,

Here is a brief summary of what we have been able to accomplish together so far this fiscal year.  Not everyone or any one group had their hand in each of these items. That’s part of what makes us a good team and makes these kinds of results possible.  I am constantly getting reports of immense gratitude from consultants who are now able to accomplish what they had always wanted to – helping their national colleagues build the Kingdom while they are not able to be present in the field.  God’s work is being propelled forward at an astonishing rate and you had a hand in it.  Thanks for all your effort.

98 – Total # of languages connected by our team in the last 8 ½ months.  These languages have 15.8 Million speakers.

Broken down:

  • 84 languages using 59 BGANs
  •   8 languages using 8 cell modems
  •   4 languages using 1 VSAT
  •   2 languages using 2 DSL connections

Other noteworthy accomplishments:

  1. Establishment of Pooled usage contracts (3) expected to save $53,400 in data charges annually.
  2. Setup and thorough testing of a VPN that restricts BGAN usage to only translation activities, estimated to save $120,000 annually.
  3. Quality training materials developed for preparing deployment specialists – 20+ trained already.
  4. Simplified user instructions developed in 7 languages to help Mother Tongue Translators and consultants use new tools.
  5. National IT colleagues from 9 countries trained to support BGAN technology.
  6. Internet Connectivity setup at the NBTT campus in Nigeria which serves 64 language translations.
  7. Many other translation organizations are now looking to us for assistance in using BGAN technology.  We are being followed.

There is still much work to be done, so don’t look back for too long.

To God be ALL the glory.


Something’s missing!

I noticed that Ken tried to post a blog while in Nigeria, but only half of it has shown up. Apparently something went wrong while it was uploading because I’m sure he finished his thoughts before he sent it. But this is a great illustration of some of the things other missionaries and nationals must deal with on a regular basis in Nigeria and many other parts of the world. Sketchy Internet access.

Well, Ken is now starting his long trek home. He is on the road from Jos to Abuja where he’ll sit in the airport for many hours until his flight out at 11pm Friday night (5pm EST). He flies from Abuja to Frankfurt, Germany, waits another three hours and then flies to Munich where he has just one hour to catch his flight to Charlotte.

If all goes well, he will land here at 3:30pm Saturday afternoon. I will be waiting for him.

Afterall, it will be our 28th anniversary that day so who better to pick him up from the airport?

Thanks again for you prayers. I’m sure he’ll be writing a great update very soon for all of us.


June 15th Nigeria Update

It was about 95 degrees out and we were hot and sweaty. My colleague, Phil Harms, and I packed our luggage in the back of a Toyota minivan and, with expensive satellite terminals and luggage piled high behind us and our driver and translation consultant in front of us, we proceeded out the drive. We were finally deploying BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) satellite terminals for the purpose of accelerating Bible translation. This is what the nine of us came for. The countless hours of preparation, the numerous weekly meetings, printing and sorting documentation, purchasing the materials, vaccinations, and all other miscellaneous preparations all led up to this moment. It was happening.

So why was I so nervous?

We were told that Phil and I were headed to southern Nigeria. Not “south south” Nigeria, as they call it, because this the area where the oil is produced and people are kidnapped for ransom. We were only driving “south”, a mere 11 hours away, and the translation coordinator would be coming to meet us.Abakaliki 800x600

Arriving at our first location and meeting our mother tongue translator colleagues, the Lord stilled my heart. The warm reception, the smiling faces, the eagerness to receive and use this new technology suddenly cast away all the fears, the uncertainty, the anxiety I was feeling.

I trained the mother tongue translators how to set up and use the BGAN while Phil worked on their computers, installing software and cleaning the system of viruses. The process went smooth and the translators were excited Mgobolizia BGAN testto supplement their local, sometimes unreliable connectivity for something more stable and dependable. They were incredibly excited, as much as we were. We repeated the process for the Mbolizia language project, the second village we visited. You can tell by looking at the smiles on the face in the picture below how thrilled they were to receive this new technology.

We arrived back at the NBTT (Nigerian Bible Translation and Trust) center and immediately received feedback that the program was a success. “This is fantastic,” a visiting translation consultant exclaimed. “I have already received an email from the translator with some attached translation text. In this past, this would have taken six months or more!” I’ve recorded another translator’s comments on video. You can view it here. It was working. I’m stoked!

God is using this technology to accelerate the Bible translation process and people all around the world are taking note, even CNN!

I returned to the US physically tired but mentally and spiritually exhilarated. The Lord is indeed using us and this new technology to complete his mission.

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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in BGAN, Satellite, The Seed Company, Video, Wycliffe Associates


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