Communities of grace

|Wycliffe Today – March 2019|

Graham Scott is the Principal Executive Officer of the Summer Institute of Linguistics Australia (SILA). He and his wife, Ellie, have been members of Wycliffe since 2000. They met in the United States and have worked cross-culturally throughout the US, Indonesia and Australia. We caught up with Graham to discover what it means to be a ‘community of grace’ when training and equipping leaders.

Thanks for sharing with us, Graham. Could you tell us a bit about the journey that led you to Wycliffe and your current role with SILA?

Ellie and I were both students at SILA in 2003. We then followed God’s call to serve him in West Papua. While we had been well prepared for the work we were involved with in Indonesia, we soon realised that many others had not been. Many more leaders were required to be trained in Australia to work alongside and partner with local leaders in translation projects in Papua and throughout the world. We first taught at SILA’s Summer School in 2004, and since then we have been regular visitors to SILA to teach. In 2018 we relocated to Melbourne, so I could take up a leadership role with SILA.

How does SILA’s training program operate?

SILA is able to offer graduates qualifications that meet international benchmarks for translation and literacy workers anywhere in the world. The studies are uniquely geared towards empowering students to partner with local organisations and communities. It is our mission to prepare people to take on roles as trainers and facilitators in language projects.

You recently attended a global leadership conference. Why is it important for leaders from different contexts and backgrounds to come together?

I enjoyed connecting with SIL leaders from across the globe. There was a warm sense of fellowship and it provided a deeper appreciation for the diversity around us. The approach Wycliffe and SIL Australia have taken over recent years has been to increase our level of partnership with communities. We believe in working alongside what is already being done, partnering with local churches and ministries to achieve outcomes together.

How would you describe positive leadership development within a community?

Spiritual formation of leaders leads to the transformation of communities. That transformation leads to a healthier community. And being a healthy community means being a community of grace. In a more complex, challenging world, we need more grace. There will always be challenges working with different people from different backgrounds. We need to learn to be patient and gracious with one another as we come up with creative strategies for engaging in translation and creating new partnerships.

How can we involve communities more in the work of translation?

Communities play a key role in determining what happens in translation work. We need to come alongside them and continue asking questions about what they need and the outcomes they want to achieve. But that kind of contribution is only possible when the local communities have strong local leaders and we have learnt to listen well.

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