Category Archives: Wycliffe Associates

Extreme Bible Translation!

Wycliffe Associates Supporting Underground Bible Translators Targeted by Extremists in the Middle East and Central Asia

 (Orlando, Florida, USA)—Wycliffe Associates, through their Scriptures for New Frontiers initiative, is supporting local Bible translators living in the Middle East and Central Asia, where there is a widespread, deadly presence of extremists.

Over the past year, 11 of the 28 Bible translators living and working in this region have been reported dead or missing.

“While we mourn those who were lost, we are committed to continue their work, supporting national translation teams in this part of the world,” says Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates.

In this region, nearly 1,000 languages—representing 280 million people—are without the Scriptures. Bible translators need technology, training, and resources to translate the Bible as quickly and effectively as possible.

Extremist groups are free to operate and are systematically wiping out Christian minorities. Some Christians have been abducted and interrogated in an attempt to force them to renounce their faith, while others have been beaten, jailed, and put to death.

“Given the realities of the world in which these translators live and serve, some people might think the best thing they could do right now is to go into hiding and lay low for a while,” says Smith. “But that isn’t their plan at all.”

Translations of the books of Genesis, Luke, and Acts have already been completed by some and are ready for production and distribution.

The Scriptures for New Frontiers initiative provides open-source Bible translation technology, training to support national-led translation efforts, digital Scripture distribution, and resources to empower local underground translators.

“The church is growing rapidly in these countries through the sharing of God’s Word,” says Smith, “even through means such as God revealing himself to non-Christians in dreams.”

Smith says these Bible translators want the Scriptures to be distributed by every possible means, and they “want an audacious number of printed copies, which reflect their conviction that everyone who speaks their language needs to have God’s Word.”

Wycliffe Associates is currently raising $300,000 to equip these local translators with the technology and training they need to work more safely.

Of the 6,901 languages spoken worldwide, only 531 have a full translation of the Bible. A Bible translation is currently in progress for 2,195 languages, and 1,023 languages in the world have at least one book of the Bible. Wycliffe Associates is striving to achieve the goal of beginning the translation of God’s Word into every remaining language by 2025.

About Wycliffe Associates

Organized in 1967 by friends of Bible translators, Wycliffe Associates empowers national Bible translators to provide God’s Word in their own language, partners with the local church to direct and guard translation work, harnessing their passion and desire for God’s Word, and engages people from all around the world to provide resources, technology, training, and support for Bible translation.

Because millions of people around the world still wait to read the Scriptures in the language of their heart, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as it can to see every verse of God’s Word translated into every tongue to speak to every heart. Last year, 2,544 Wycliffe Associates team members worked to speed Bible translations in 73 countries.

***This post was copied in its entirety with permission from


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Zaccheus was a Wee Little Man

How many of you remember that familiar song from Sunday School? If you are like me, you used hand gestures to show just how “wee” this poor man was. What kind of questions would you ask if you heard this story for the first time as an adult?

The team that Ken is presently supporting is using this “simple” story as a starting point for translation. Already some questions have come to these new translator’s lips:

What do the words “small” or “small in stature” mean when describing Zaccheus? What image conjures up in your mind? For some here, they described Zaccheus as short and big-bodied knowing that he was wealthy because in their culture, people with money can afford to eat well and therefore become portly. Others pictured him as being height-challenged, even shorter than a typical Asian person.

And what does “defrauded” mean?  How would you define that term to a village farmer?

How would you communicate to non-literate new believer with no written language the meaning of Jesus’ statement, “Today, salvation has come to your house,” when they have no word for “salvation”.  What is Jesus really communicating? Is Zaccheus’ house saved? Or is it possible that of all Zaccheus’ family members are saved because of Zaccheus’ new found faith?

Oh no, we’re not done yet. Luke 19:10 Jesus says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” How will you explain the meaning of “the Son of Man” to those lacking formal education? How would you explain this to an educated person?

These are some of the challenges of the work we do. Please keep praying! The workshop has just begun! We’re so excited to hear how lives will be changed by the end of this time!



Prep, Travel, Work, Repeat

Yes, those are Christmas decorations I'm putting away!

Ken configuring portable wireless routers, and yes, those are Christmas decorations I (Anne) am putting away!

Ken is preparing and testing wireless access points for internet connectivity with all of his technology tools. It’s not my thing but it’s what he does and loves! We’re in the countdown for his next trip. Unfortunately, he has to leave the States earlier than projected, so we had to cancel our Michigan trip. We’ll reschedule it for the spring. Thank you for praying even now, that God would prepare the group for the lessons and that the technology would work!


Print On Demand

The Bible Translation task has so many components to it! From finding people to do the work, training people in translation principles, teaching people to read in their own language, and checking there are so many areas where there can be a “wall” which keeps people from receiving God’s words in their own language.

David Lin and his Nigerian Team

David Lin and his Nigerian Team

Ken works on a tech team that covers a multitude of technology solutions aiding and facilitating Bible Translation. One of the newest areas of work is called “Print on Demand.” When Bible translation teams finish a book of the Bible, they are quite anxious to get the text into the hands of local pastors and the congregations for both reading and checking. In contrast to waiting until the entire Bible is translated and printed, there is a greater degree of buy-in ultimately increasing the possibility of Scripture acceptance because the church is engaged early in the process.

POD room

Print on demand (POD) room

Although the POD setup has one or two computers, printers, laminators, creasers, binders, 3-hole punches, and staplers, it still has a small footprint and easy to maintain. Printing portions of the Bible can be done on a copier with basic binding.

Print on Demand (POD) is now being deployed in a number of countries to aid in their printing process. This equipment allows translators to easily copy and bind a book up to 1.5 inches in depth. Not only are portions of the Bible getting to the local church faster, the equipment is also being used so that local translators can be self funded by printing for other groups.

The finished product!

The finished product!


David Lin, a Wycliffe Associates tech team member,  recently deployed POD equipment in Nigeria. Ken traveled there many times, teaching Bible Translation software. 120 Bible translation projects are in process with more than 500 more to go! Nigeria is a large country with many languages and so it is one of the countries that we are focusing on.

As soon as the equipment was set up, they were handed a flash drive with some immediate copying needs:
3000 copies of the Minor Prophets in the Tarok language!
2000 copies of the book of Luke in the Etulo language!
250 copies of a full color 14 page booklet for a graduation ceremony held that afternoon!

Please pray for these gifted workers as they embark on this new endeavor.

Your prayers and gifts are enabling us to participate in giving God’s words to language groups all over the world.



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It’s Arrived!

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Ken and I just returned from our second trip to Long Island, New York this month. What a glorious time we had with two supporting churches. Central Presbyterian Church, in Huntington, was Anne’s home church. We enjoyed getting to see friends from years ago, attend a birthday party and speak to an adult Sunday School Class. The long weekend culminated with us taking the train to the city to see the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Many people lost their lives from my home “neck of the wood”, specifically the son of a woman I always sat next to in choir. It was good to close out that time in our history.

Our second trip was to South Bay Bible Church in East Moriches. This was our second time to visit this church. From last year to this year, they have more than doubled in number which meant that we spoke twice on Sunday morning! This church has a group of people who meet daily (DAILY) at 7:00 am to pray for the church, its members and the community. I’m guessing this is a huge part of why they have grown. We felt so loved by both community of believers.

So…what has arrived?

During Ken’s portion of our update, he mentioned a new app for the Android phone. This app has 51 Bible Stories on it with wonderful accompanying media. It was created for bilingual translators. Here’s how it was recently introduced!

(Orlando, Florida, USA)—Wycliffe Associates, a global organization that empowers national Bible translators around the world, has launched a new, free app that makes Bible stories accessible to smartphone users worldwide.

Called translationStudio, the Android operating system app is available for download on Google Play.

“God’s Word in every language took a giant step toward reality as our translationStudio app was released for free download in the Google Play store,” says Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “This is just the beginning of developing a tool that puts Bible translation within the reach of Christians worldwide.”

Earlier this year, Wycliffe Associates tested the beta version of the app with translation teams working in some of the most difficult and dangerous regions of the world for Christians. Their feedback has been incorporated into the current release.

The translationStudio app features “Open Bible Stories,” a set of 50 fully illustrated Bible stories. “Open Bible Stories” has been released under Creative Commons’ Attribution Share-Alike licensing, which allows translation into any language, anywhere, at any time, and by anyone—without copyright limitations.

“Open Bible Stories” currently includes a collection of 21 Old Testament stories and 29 New Testament stories and provides a chronological overview of God’s relationship with humanity, from creation to redemption.

“In the coming months, we will have ‘Open Bible Stories’ loaded in at least 50 gateway languages, enabling people who are bilingual in any of these languages to begin translating these Bible stories into their own language,” says Smith. “Once local translators have completed the ‘Open Bible Stories,’ they can easily make the transition into a full Bible translation program. The Open Bible Stories method actually fits perfectly into the culture of many language groups that have a tradition of storytelling handed down through generations.”

The Resource section of the app provides information on key terms and how to overcome translation challenges, intended to assist local translators in creating translations that are clear, natural, and accurate. In addition, collaboration tools enable any number of people to work together, online or offline, to draft and revise their work for the best possible result.

“We are also working to load English source text for the entire Old and New Testament that will be licensed to allow immediate translation into any language, without copyright limitations,” says Smith. “All of this is available at no cost to the local church or their translators.”

The digital format enables the Scriptures to be published immediately and at very low cost through the Internet or by sharing memory cards.

“This project is not finished. It is really just beginning,” says Smith. “We need technicians, app developers, trainers, and Bible scholars to share in maximizing the benefit of these resources to the global church. We need financial partners to include this strategy in their stewardship priorities as a blessing to the world. We need partners to lift this up in prayer, seeking God’s continuing wisdom and guidance for everyone involved.”

We’re pretty excited about this particular tool we now have! Thank you for your support in making it possible!



Photo Update

Ken's food table this week.

Ken’s food table this week.

Our Indian colleagues testing the software.

Ken shares the pros and cons of the different software choices.

Ken shares the pros and cons of the different software choices.

A colleague sharing his experience of using the software.

A colleague sharing his experience of using the software.

Ken Visiting the Taj Mahal.

Ken Visiting the Taj Mahal.



Celebrating arrivals, birthdays and another day of Life


George teaching in SE Asia.

George teaching in SE Asia.



Ken has arrived safely in SE Asia. He’s settled in and has been working alongside his team leader, George, introducing new BT software to the group. They get a new group for next week’s classes. Getting information about the class is a bit difficult, but we’d appreciate your prayers that all that God desires would be accomplished these next two weeks. Thank you!




Ken with his brothers and grandson.

Ken with his brothers and grandson.


The day before Ken departed, we celebrated his birthday with a number of friends and family. He was especially thrilled when three of his brothers surprised him and arrived two days early to spend time with him. What a blessing! Thank you to all who wrote in and sent special messages to Ken via our daughter Christine. He absolutely loves his book!




Like many of you, I can’t help but feel saddened by the early and untimely death of the actor Robin Williams. It reminds me that we don’t know how people are really doing unless we engage with them in a meaningful way. Depression is a rough illness to fight and one in which the majority of the world doesn’t understand. Here’s to having intentional relationships this week and really listening to people.

Thanks again for standing with us in prayer.


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Miles to walk for email and no electricity to boot

Can you imagine having to drive to a town miles away every time you needed to send an email? It’s hard to imagine with the wonderful technology choices we have here in the USA. Our computers, tablets and mobile phones can immediately send and receive our emails mostly 24/7. In fact, if you live in a “dead spot” where Internet connectivity is spotty or the local fast food restaurant doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi, we can get a little crabby.

Video via Phillip Harms

Kathleen Spence (Video via Phillip Harms)

Kathleen Spence is a linguist who works in Central Africa Republic (CAR). She works with the Bhogoto Language Project.

Bhogoto…you’ve heard of it, right? Maybe you studied it in school when your friends were taking Spanish or German courses, no?

Of course not. But for the 200,000 speakers of this language, it’s important to them! While French is spoken in many places across CAR, most people cannot understand it hardly at all.

So having a Bible in French just doesn’t do the job for them. It’s about as helpful as you or I having only a Bhogoto Bible to read.

Click here to watch a very short video on some of the challenges that face translators in this region. I’m so excited that we are part of a group that provided them with Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) as well as a solar set up to help since there is no electricity in the region.

Oh, yeah, there’s that too. No electricity.

Boy, do I have an easy life. Thanks for praying for us and projects like this.


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Like Drinking from a Fire Hydrant!



It’s wonderful when you know your job. You walk into work, confident in your abilities. You’ve already planned out how your day will look, scheduling your meetings, breaks and how to organize your day. If you’re like me, you do the work you dislike first. What is that for you? For me, it’s phone calls. (I’m not sure why, but I hate using the phone.)

But if you have a new job, or new responsibilities in your role, your day doesn’t usually go quite as you planned. In fact, it’s difficult to plan your day because you can feel so uncertain in your work.

This is how Ken’s days are playing out. A month or so ago, Ken’s boss called him. “Ken, I’d like you to consider teaching some different software for our team. With your teaching abilities, we really need you to take on this new role.”

Naturally, Ken was interested because if you know Ken, he loves learning new software, especially software that expedites Bible translation. (For other “Strange, but true” stories click here.) But with one new piece of software came the responsibility to learn two other programs. Each program was needed in order for the next to work.

Ken and George

Ken with George working together.

Earlier this month, Ken (and I) ended up flying to Seattle, Washington so that Ken could have several days to work with his new team lead, George. He got a better idea of his responsibilities and started making plans for his first teaching trip with George.

I asked Ken how his work was going recently.

“I feel like I’m drinking out of a fire hydrant!” It’s a bit overwhelming!

But with perseverance, comes success.

Yesterday, he came in and said, “I got something to work!” Yay! Progress.

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers. We’ll keep you updated!




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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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