Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
(Colossians 4:6 NLT)
Dear Friends and Family,
Praise the Lord that Ellie is now 8 weeks wheeze-free and counting! We’ve gone from counting days to weeks, and we pray that this will turn into months and even years. We are so grateful for your prayers, and so thankful that the Lord has answered. The change in medication that the thoracic specialist prescribed seems to be making a big difference. This wellness streak came at such a good time too, as Graham has been away at overseas conferences in the US and Thailand. Thank you for your prayers.
If it seems that Graham has done a lot of travel for his role this year, that’s because he has. We see this as a crucial part of the work of SIL Australia because it puts us in conversation with those leading the work in Bible translation, language development, literacy and Scripture use throughout the world.
This time away had an added bonus for Graham. He said it was mind-blowing to catch up with people in the US that he hadn’t seen for ages and to just so easily relax back into those relationships. He really enjoyed catching up with Ellie’s folks in Florida in between meetings. They enjoyed hanging out in a bookstore, feasting on Argentinian grill together and spontaneously finding great Mexican food in Orlando. And in between the Florida and Thailand meetings, Graham really enjoyed catching up with some family and friends in the Chicago area. This reminded Graham that relationships in Christ are tied together with Spirit-bonds that are stronger than distance and time.
The Thailand conferences have affirmed to Graham that SIL Australia has an important role in training, especially throughout the Asia-Pacific area. SIL field leaders and our national partner organizations have expressed a real need for delivering flexible, ‘in-time’ and on-line training. Some field entities have requested specific training packages in context. And some national leaders have expressed a desire to ‘up-skill’ so that they can be more effective in their roles. These are the very concerns that God has put on our hearts for his good purposes.
As the head of a training organisation, Graham is in a unique position to respond to the training needs that have been articulated at these conferences. Graham comes away from these conferences asking how we might be able to meet these training needs in a timeframe that works for our national partners. For example, Graham just received a follow-up email this week from a partner Bible translation organization in South-East Asia looking for training in socio-linguistics, which deals with language use, language change, and language policies in various contexts. Graham’s training team may be able to develop an on-line course for this so that national leaders and Bible translators can train in-country.
We believe that SIL Australia is ideally positioned for providing such training, especially to nationals. We have a great team of qualified trainers and advisers who share our heart that all people have access to God’s Word in the language they understand best. Our team is committed to providing quality education, and they understand the varied needs and skills required to support the Bible translation movement. We thank God for such a great team to work with and the privilege it is for Graham to lead them.
Graham also felt encouraged by the concept of ‘conversational leadership’ which was promoted by the conferences he attended. Conversational leadership involves the leader drawing on the whole team by asking questions and leading them into reflective spaces in order to prayerfully discern the challenges and opportunities faced and the best responses to them. This is Graham’s preferred and instinctive leadership style by God’s grace. And it turns out that conversational leadership has been identified as what is needed in the complex and often ambiguous world that development organizations like SIL are operating in. We give thanks to God for this, and pray that God will grow this instinct in Graham as he leads.
A highlight for Graham during these conferences is meeting other national leaders from around the world who have heeded God’s calling to get God’s Word into the hearts and lives of people from every language group. Graham was impressed that at the LEAD Asia conference in Thailand, about half of the leaders in the group were from non-English speaking backgrounds. He found it encouraging to hear how locals are bringing real, meaningful change in their communities. And this is such a wonderful indication that God’s church worldwide is taking its place in the Great Commission of Jesus.
One such leader that Graham connected with is Onesmus from Kenya. Onesmus is working in South Sudan as a language program manager. This means he oversees Bible translation, literacy and Scripture engagement in the region. South Sudan is a difficult place for Onesmus and his family to live and work – it is a war-torn region which is very unstable. Like us, Onesmus lives by faith from the gifts of God’s people given to him.
Onesmus was Graham’s table group facilitator at the Global Leaders meetings in Thailand. They got along well and quickly realized that they share a love for running. As they went on a run together, Graham could see what a gifted runner Onesmus is. And he also happened to notice that his shoes needed replacing. ‘What can we do about this, Lord?’ Graham wondered.
A group outing to a local shopping center presented an opportunity. Graham learnt that running shoes were on Onesmus’ shopping list. So together, they started to look for a pair of suitable running shoes. Onesmus needed something lightweight that was in his size. But after a while it became obvious that there was nothing in Onesmus’ price-range that was suitable.
Graham felt moved by Spirit to respond to his brother’s need. After all, someone in the US had recently gifted Graham with a much-needed replacement pair of running shoes. What a lovely opportunity to pay-forward the kindness and generosity that we had recently received. Together, they found the running shoes Onesmus needed, and Onesmus gave thanks to God for his provision.
We give thanks to God for his provision through people like you and for the opportunities God gives us to pass along his blessings as we are able. God uses you to free us to minister in his name. We work together as God’s family with you, and we thank you for walking this ministry journey with us. May God use whatever gifts he gives us to support his work through Bible translation. We pray that God will bless you with grace and peace as you live for Jesus.
Graham and Ellie
We’re praising God for:
- 8 weeks of continued wellness for Ellie
- keeping Graham safe during his travels and sustaining him during his meetings
- the wonderful connections Graham had in the US with friends and family
- the encouragement and opportunities presented by the conferences attended.
We’re praying for:
- Ellie’s wellness streak to keep going by God’s grace
- continued progress in our studies
- wisdom for Graham and his team as they prayerfully discern how to respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by the conferences he attended
- God’s continued provision for us as we seek to equip and support 100 people to make and grow disciples of Jesus through Bible translation, literacy, cross-cultural ministry, training and consulting by February 28, 2022.
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Orlando, FL 32862; note it is for us, Acc.#281522
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