His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.
~Acts 17:27 (NLT)
Dear Beloved Partners,
What demonstrates to you that God is not far from any one of us?
One way God reminds us of his nearness to us is by answering prayer.
Our big news this month is that God has answered our prayers for a new accreditation pathway for SILA!!! Thank you so much for praying!!!
Graham has signed an agreement with Eastern College Australia, which has its own accreditation platform. You can learn more about Eastern at https://www.eastern.edu.au/. We are excited about this new partnership, and that our students will continue to be offered high quality and accredited training. May God bless this new arrangement. If you take nothing else away from this newsletter, we hope that you will take away this: God is near you, and you are close to his heart. And together, God is using our partnership to testify that God is not far from any one of us.
SILA student Stephen Moyaru has long been involved in Bible translation work in Papua New Guinea (PNG). He says that Bible translation taught his community in PNG that God is near. Stephen says that when their Bible was only in a foreign language, God seemed distant and far, and people had to work hard to reach him. But as the Bible was translated into their mother tongue, they began to understand that God is close because he speaks their language. God draws near to us through his Word, by his grace, so that we can find him.
So the Bible translated into local language is a great way to show communities that God is not far from any one of us.
Believe it or not, many people still assume that God is far away and disinterested in us. And so the very act of Bible translation challenges this assumption.
In one of the Bible translation projects in PNG that SILA student Kidu Magi has been involved in, he consulted with the community to find a good local word for ‘kingdom’, as in God’s kingdom. But the first term suggested did not pass muster. This was discovered in comprehension checks as Kidu asked the community to explain what they thought God’s kingdom is, and everyone said that God’s kingdom is God’s business up in heaven. When Kidu probed further, they said that this is why they had to give offerings at church, so that God could fund his business up there. This gave Kidu the opportunity to explain that God’s kingdom is actually his rule and his reign, which is also here on earth.
Thankfully, they persevered and found a more appropriate way to express this in their language. As they did so, people were surprised that God was concerned about matters on earth too. God is not far, but near; God’s kingdom is not far, but close.
In one of the language communities in Indonesia that our colleague Phil Swan is supporting, verbs are very complex and are marked with location so the translation team has to work out where God is when he’s doing something. Phil gave us permission to pass on his explanation, which he shared during a joint presentation with us at our church recently. We trust you will find it interesting!
‘Let me give you an example of a Nimboran verb: túúklmbki
‘Nimboran verbs don’t just tell us what was done, but who did what to whom, and when and where they were when they did it. So this verb actually has 6 suffixes – túú-k-l-m-b-k-i.
~ Túú – means to set something down, and in this case, to set our ears on something
~ The first suffix -k- means that more than one person is doing this, maybe 2 or 3 people
~ The second suffix -l- means that they are doing this to someone
~ The third suffix -m- means they did this to lots of people
~ The fourth suffix -b- means they did this up the hill
~ The fifth suffix -k- means they did this in the recent past, at least a few days ago
~ The sixth suffix -i- means you guys were doing this.
‘So túúklmbki means, ‘What did you guys hear when you were up the hill the other day with those people up there?’.
‘So let’s take a line from the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
‘Remember that Nimboran verb? We need to specify who’s hallowing his name, and where they are when they do it. Is this prayer saying, “We hallow your name here,” or “We’re hallowing your name from here up to where you are,” or maybe, “May everyone hallow your name from everywhere?”
‘And then what about God’s kingdom coming? Where is it coming from? And how far does it have to travel?
‘This involves a lot of community consultation and discussion, because this is their language. Locals are the ones who do the actual translation. My job is to help and advise them.
‘Once we figure those things out, and have our first draft, we gather a few people together to do a comprehension test. We test and re-draft, test and re-draft, test and re-draft, until the meaning is accurate, beautiful and clear.’
We love this example because it shows the complexity of language development work. And communicating that God is near, and that his kingdom is close, is so important in what we do.
Phil went on to explain how his study at SILA helps him and his wife, Guin, support language communities. He says,
‘Wycliffe’s partner organisation, SILA, provides unique training that brings together language-learning techniques, anthropology and training in how to work cross-culturally, linguistic analysis and translation principles, and more. We use what we learnt at SILA every day in our relationships and our work, and we really couldn’t do without it.
‘SILA taught me how to learn a language without a textbook, how to break a complex verb down into its constituent parts, how to design a useable alphabet, how to facilitate community input and discussion, how to use language and translation software, how to put together a reading and writing guide, and a lot more. It prepared me for the deep cultural differences of the people I work with.
‘Graham and Ellie were among our first teachers at SILA. We’re really excited to have Graham as the new principal because he’s perfectly cut out and well-equipped for this role.’
How lovely is that?! We are so grateful for the good work that Phil and Guin have been doing, and the blessing it was to share this with our church here in Melbourne.
Through your partnership, people are being well equipped to assist the task of Bible translation and other language development work.
We are so grateful for your partnership, which enables us to support people like Stephen, Kidu, Phil and Guin. God uses your prayers to strengthen, encourage and protect us. God uses your financial gifts to enable us to live to equip and encourage those who love God’s Word so much that they want everyone to have access to it.
May God remind you that he is near you. May his presence fill you with joy. And may he enable us all to bless others who are seeking after God, that they may feel their way towards him and find the God who is not far from any one of us.
Love and Hugs,
Graham and Ellie
Please join us in praising God:
- that he is near to us and intimately involved in our lives
- for SILA’s new accreditation arrangement with Eastern College
- that as you have prayed, Graham’s sense of being overwhelmed by his workload has subsided, and he is inspired and energised by teaching
- that we have received very positive feedback from the SILA conference participants.
Please join us in praying for:
- the SILA team as they work through rewriting curriculum documents based on the new accreditation pathway
- our representing SILA at the upcoming Mission Matters conference in Mount Tambourine (20-22 September)
- diagnosis and treatment options for Ellie as she has been struggling with exhaustion due to low cortisol levels and pituitary malfunction – she sees her specialist this Tuesday for test results.
Electronic giving from anywhere in the world:
Or donate through any Wycliffe organisation worldwide—just include a note that it is for Graham and Ellie Scott, ID#281522
can be set up at https://wycliffe.org.au/member/graham-ellie/
Australian cheques can be sent to Wycliffe Australia, 70 Graham Rd, Kangaroo Ground, VIC 3097, with a note that it is for “Graham and Ellie Scott.”
Donate online through Wycliffe USA — copy and paste this info: Graham and Ellie Scott ID#281522 into the Give to the Ministry of My Wycliffe Missionary page.
By check in the USA: Wycliffe Bible Translators P.O. Box 628200
Orlando, FL 32862; note it is for us, ID#281522
For US-based ongoing automatic giving, you can set up a Bill Pay through your bank by providing Wycliffe’s name and address: 11221 John Wycliffe Blvd; Orlando, Fl 32862 – and put as a reference our ID #281522 Graham and Ellie Scott. Or call 1-800-992-5433 to speak to a Wycliffe representative.
For partnership information/inquiries: Wycliffe Australia
70 Graham Rd, Kangaroo Ground, VIC 3097 firstname.lastname@example.org (03) 9712 2777