Technology – a testimony

The following story is a testimony of Allan Lee, a Bible translator in Mexico, about the value of networking with other ministries, about the amazing times we are living in technologically, and about the incredible ways Christian tech people are leveraging technologies to greatly expand the options to make Scripture resources available to the speakers of minority languages of the world.

A Christian brother who some time ago was part of the team to record the New Testament in his native tongue ―one of several hundred such languages in Mexico― had a desire to create some Bible story videos to share around via the internet. He found some free resources online for making a small number of such videos but was looking for more. He contacted the head of the Christian studio where the NT recording had been done looking for some leads and the director put him in touch with one of their national staff members, who is a friend and former student of mine. That staffer, knowing that I have led some workshops on the digital use of the Scriptures that include a session on Bible story slideshow videos, called me yesterday afternoon and briefed me on the situation and put the two of us in touch via Facebook.

A few hours later, after a mentally exhausting day working on the revision of Romans in a different native Mexican language, I began exchanging private messages with the brother via Facebook. We soon moved into a phone conversation which stretched on for over 2 hours. It was practically a mini workshop. Here are some of the things we discussed:

  • I shared about the 100+ templates that SIL’s Vernacular Media Services has created for making slideshow Bible story videos in minority languages (http://www.vernacularmedia.org/resource-catalog/bible-story-video-templates/), and shared with him the link to my YouTube channel where I have posted about 50 such videos.
  • I strongly encouraged him to make use of Facebook for sharing links to audio and video resources once they are online, as a huge number of native speakers of Mexican languages are now on Facebook. This can be done through private messages, posting on your own or friends’ timelines, through special Facebook pages, and via highly-targeted, inexpensive ad campaigns.
  • He saw some posts on my Facebook page about our use of the BibleBox (biblebox.org) and inquired. So I explained what they are, how they work, options for extending their range, and such. At his request I will be making one up one of these digital WiFi libraries loaded with Scripture materials in his language and mailing it to him.
  • He had not been aware that an Android app of the text and audio of the New Testament in his language had been created. It was done using a program called Scripture App Builder (http://software.sil.org/scriptureappbuilder/). I passed him the 2 MB .apk installation file via Facebook and talked him through the installation process and helped him explore some of the features.
  • We also talked about how low-powered FM micro-transmitters can be used to reach radius of some kilometers.
  • Another topic was how useful USB flash drives and microSD cards can be for sharing vernacular Scripture resources given the proliferation of cell phones, the variety of inexpensive digital audio players now available in local markets, and the 24” digital TVs (equipped with a USB port) that the Mexican government is giving away to millions of low-income families throughout the country, including his town.
  • Just days before our conversation I had learned to use a free Android app called “Rec.” to capture videos from the screen of my smartphone, so I explained this to him and shared a sample video. This and similar apps have great potential for creating tutorial videos ―in Spanish and/or a native language― on topics like how to use your cell phone to connect to and download resources from a BibleBox, how to install and use a Scripture app, how to use the Jesus Film Media app, and so much more.

There were probably more things we talked about that escape me now – I should have been taking notes.

In a sense, I had the chance to follow the example of the four lepers written about in 2 Kings 7, who stumbled upon a wealth of food and valuables abandoned by the Aramean army that God had caused to flee. They realized it wasn’t right to keep it all to themselves, so they shared it with the starving city of Samaria. Over the last several years I have bit by bit learned of these wonderful resources that others have created for sharing mother-tongue Scriptures digitally, and they have been a blessing to our ministry among the Triqui people from Mexico. Yesterday was an opportunity to invest just a little of my time to share this good news with another brother in Christ hungry for more options to spread God’s Word among his people in their heart language. To God be the glory!

Let us thank God for the technical specialists –who may not look like what we conventionally think of as “missionaries” as they pound away on a computer keyboard­ creating and improving these digital resources– who are leveraging the new techologies that we could hardly even have dreamed of a decade ago, to greatly facilitate the task of sharing God’s Word to the ends of the Earth in every tongue.

Thanks, Allan. That’s what gets me up first thing on Monday morning excited about a new week.

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  • This past week Sally helped lead a leadership and coaching workshop. She consulted with another team planning a workshop in a few weeks in Mexico, and is beginning plans for a Leadership workshop in Peru in September.
  • I posted Scripture on the web – 5 new Scripture publications from Vanuatu and the Philippines. They are now also available from Virtual Storehouse for print on demand ordering.
    http://virtualstorehouse.org/
  • The new Wycliffe Google Play account is up — I posted over 70 Scripture apps in the past month, many having synchronized text highlighting while the audio plays. Over 350 apps have been downloaded so far.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Wycliffe%20Bible%20Translators%2C%20Inc&hl=en

Wycliffe Google Play

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Praise

  • We had a great weekend spending several days visiting with our grandchildren. We even got to go to church together on Sunday.
    20150902_155551   20150902_155646
  • Last week I posted two more New Testaments on the ScriptureEarth website; the Wayampi from Brazil and the Yopno of Papua New Guinea, representing over 10,000 people.
    Yopno Scripture
    God Speak Yopno (blog)
    ScriptureEarth: Yopno

 Prayer

  • I awoke this morning from an amazing dream. In it I had composed and was leading a worship song in a praise meeting. And when I awoke I could still remember the chorus. Of course now a couple hours later it has all faded completely from my memory except for the emotion of glorious praise. This is most unusual since I haven’t been a worship leader for many years, since back in Peru. I don’t know what it means but I bask in the exquisite delight of worshiping God in his presence. I think that comes from saturating our minds in his Word. May all peoples of the world have such a privilege.
  • This morning I arrived at the office and found a DVD mailed to me from a Bible translator for the Waimaja people of Colombia asking if there is a way this Jesus Film can be posted on the internet. Yes!
  • I have a list of about 200 projects waiting for Scripture apps to be built and uploaded to Google Play.
  • I leave in a week for a web development workshop, to help minority language speakers create their own website to be able to promote their Scripture resources.
  • I am even now preparing to help lead a coaching workshop with Sally for Mexico Branch staff to enhance their administrative skills.
  • All great opportunities, and each one needing the empowerment of the Spirit. Ps 127:1 reminds us that unless it is the Lord’s work, under his direction, our work is a complete waste.

These are our prayers for which we need help to ask our Father on our behalf that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are thankful for our partners in providing access to God’s Word in the language of the heart.

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Culina New Testament Celebration

Celebration of God’s Word in Culina in Peru
For many days before the dedication of the Culina New Testament, people planned and made preparations—cutting the airstrip, setting up the stage and shelter and decorating for the event. Food had been prepared for everyone and was served in various locations in the village.

Culina6 Culina7 Culina3

On July 22, 2015, in the village of San Bernardo on the Purús river, approximately 300 Culinas gathered to celebrate the arrival of the New Testament in their language The Culinas dressed in their best for the celebration and were very happy to receive the New Testament. It showed in their faces, their dress, and in their singing and traditional dancing.

Culina New Testament celebration Culina New Testament celebration

The celebration lasted from 10.00 a.m. until 1.00 p.m. with Scripture reading, sharing, singing and dancing. José Vega, pastor of a local Christian radio station gave a message. Our Director, Jim Roberts and the director of the Bible League International in Peru, Alejandro Silva shared their excitement. Pedro Montes (the original mother tongue translator) and several others gave testimony to God’s faithfulness through the years.

Culina New Testament celebration Culina New Testament celebration

86 NTs were sold and 28 were given to the translation helpers, teachers and pastors from the various villages.

Culina New Testament celebration

Thank for your prayers for the dedication of the Culina New Testament. Praise the Lord for the good flying weather, safety in flights and river travel and for a joyous celebration. Please pray that God would bless His word and continue to work in the hearts of the Culina people.

Other Scripture resources in Culina can be found on www.ScriptureEarth.org

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Update on Sally’s trip to Brazil

Praise:

  • Sally has had very good sessions leading a few workshops it the Brazil Branch conference. There was great participation and good feedback. She leads one more 2 hour session today, then will continue to be available for individual coaching session throughout the rest of the week.
  • Over the past few weeks I have been very productive adding several Scripture translations to the web.
    • Gapapaiwa, Siane (Lambau), Patep, Doromu-koki, and Kamano New Testaments. These languages are from Papua New Guinea.
    • Epena New Testament with Old Testament portions. This language is spoken in Colombia.
    • Asheninka Perené and the Asheninka South Ucayali New Testaments with Old Testament portions. These language are spoken in Peru.
  • I remastered and posted the Choctaw Luke video and posted the episodes on YouTube. This is a native America language group of about 20,000 speakers.
  • The potential reach of these products is to over 142,000 people.
  • Recently we were reviewing the analytics of the Luke video in Mazateco de Jalapa de Diaz. In the past 13 months since it was posted it received 4,516 viewings.

We pray that all those whom God desires to receive these resources will find them on the web or receive them from friends who will pass them on.

We pray that we continue to make progress in the task of providing access to God’s Word to everyone in the language of their heart.

Thanks to all who support us in this valuable ministry, core to the task of the Great Commission.

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Sally’s trip to Brazil

This summer has been quite busy as I babysit my grand-kids when their parents are working. Definitely not taking the summer off, though.

  • I had a trip to Panama in June for a Leadership Development Consultation with just under 40 leaders from all over the Americas. It was very fun to see young men and women from many of our partner organizations – those who are joining with Wycliffe in Bible Translation making connections with each other and learning from one another.
  • Last week, a small group of Leadership Development folks from all areas of the world (including me) put on our first webinar for our leaders. We had about 40 people attend. Our topic was The supervisor as coach vs. other coaching roles. Lots of good participation. I was in charge of monitoring the chat box and sifting through the questions and comments to bring them up to the speaker. It was challenging because there was so much participation. It was great to hear people say: Are you recording this? Can we see the chat box after? Fortunately we did record it!
  • Tomorrow I fly to Brazil to participate in the annual conference with our missionaries, about 35 people, most of whom work in language projects. Most of them are young people in their late 20s and early 30s. I will be working with a colleague from Peru to engage with the translators using StrengthsFinder materials for team development. There will be about 25 in attendance in our workshop. Some of the objectives are to help them discover their own strengths, then to help them see that they have strengths that others don’t have, and then see how they can work together as a team. They are scattered all over Brazil, too, so they need to figure out ways to share expertise with one another when they are not in close proximity.
  • On Friday, we will be presenting a team building workshop with the 3 pilots and their wives. They also live widely apart from each other and helping them develop supportive team unity will be strategic to their success in their personal lives and their ministry roles. Saturday we will have a small informal session about coaching with whoever likes to attend. And Monday we’ll have a session on personal development with the entire group. All of this is a challenge to prepare together since we live in different continents, so we coordinate ideas and resource using Skype and Google docs.
  • As soon as I get back from Brazil on July 31, I’ll need to begin preparing for a coaching seminar in Mexico in September with Language Programs Administrators. I’ll have a small team helping me with that, so again, it will mean getting together over Skype and Google docs to plan, pray, prepare.
  • We plan to visit Winnipeg, Canada, to visit our family and friends and report to our supporting church.
  • Our daughter, Laura, and her husband, Tawa, missionaries with United World Missions, are visiting from Peru for a little while. Tawa is taking the opportunity to present the ministry of Runa Simi, a Quechua organization in Peru, so they are making trips from here to various churches and organizations now.

Thanks for standing with us in our role in the work of Bible translation and engagement. It seems like the task is never ending. But amazingly the end is in sight, the goal that everyone who wants a meaningful relationship with God will have the resources and opportunity to engage with His Word in a language of their heart.

Keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you. 2 Tim. 1:6
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin! Zech. 4:10

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One week before Brazil trip

Praise:

  • The Kandas people, a small group of 690 speakers in Papua New Guinea now have their New Testament on the ScriptureEarth website.
  • A colleague wrote me, “As you may know our team leader from the Chaldean Project is in Detroit this week with the Chaldean translator, “jim”. They made a trip up to Toronto to see the Bishop there. Our team leader emailed that the trip went very very well and that the Bishop ordered ten copies via Scripture Earth of the Syriac Chaldean NT. So your work on that is paying off! Thanks for all you do. You are making a difference.” —This is what is happening as a result of preparing these Scriptures for the web. We are thankful for many people supporting our ministry, enabling Scripture access to God’s Word in the language of the heart.
  • On a personal note, we enjoyed visiting our son, Ondrej, and his family to celebrate our grandson, Silas’ second birthday this weekend. All our children and grandchildren were there, except for our son, Jonathan, in Japan with the Navy. Lots to praise God for in our personal lives.

Prayer:

  • Sally has one more week to prepare for the trip to Brazil. She has a several opportunities to share leadership workshops with our staff in Brazil. The goal is to encourage leadership development to enhance skills in coaching and encouraging staff to continue to grow into the strengths God has uniquely created in them. Sally is glad for God’s enablement and direction in the workshop content preparation.
  • Continue to pray for the ongoing projects I am working on for the web. In particular we are working on developing an automated system where updates to Scripture apps can be added to Google Play. This sounds technical but it will enable a few of us to keep up with new indigenous Scriptures and revisions of indigenous Scriptures that need to be pushed to Google Play for android devices. In this way people who speak these languages can access their Scriptures and be notified on their device when there is an update or a new Scripture portion in their language added.
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Luke video in Ojitlan Chinanteco

Praises:

  • We are eagerly waiting for Laura and Tawa to arrive, returning from Peru for a while to work on getting their last name changed in their marriage licence from “Saune” to “Sauñe”. This tiny detail prevents Laura from getting a visa to live in Peru.
  • I prepared the Ojitlan Chinaanteco Luke video and posted it on YouTube this week. Nearly 38,000 people speak this language in Mexico.
    YouTube link to Luke video in Ojitlan Chinanteco
  • Our friend, a missionary in a sensitive area wrote, “I have been using Scripture Earth this week! The city we are in is on the border of a region with 50+ languages spoken, many of the people who have never seen or even know the Bible is in their language. This is going to be a great resource for me especially as there are Muslim students seeking to know more, and need to have the Bible in their heart language. Exciting; thanks!”

Prayer:

  • I am making progress on developing the Scripture app process. You might wonder why another Scripture app. Since I have been already preparing these Scripture translations on YouVersion and MySword why yet another app? The resulting apps are much simpler with only one translation on the app, and the ability to synchronize the audio so the person can read and listen along. And it will allow people to read Scripture on their cell phones where they have no internet access.
  • We are praying that we will also find new methods of distributing and promoting these apps.
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