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The door finally opens – travel is now possible and 14 new participants come in to Port Vila, Vanuatu, as the new cohort for the first of three modules of the Trenem Tingting course.
Trainers Loui, Epson, Philip and Norman, jump into preparation, and all of us work hard to pull our minds back to think about what we really want to achieve through this training. For these men, each from different islands, our daily fellowship around God’s Word is obviously and warmly welcomed. It is also part of the training!
And then, two days later there we are, all squeezed into the dining room at the out-of-town Scripture Union campsite ready to start Training our Brains, to consider with more question daily life matters, and more importantly, to consider with more clarity the meaning of God’s Word.
At the end of the first week of lessons, we meet with the trainers. This is an every-afternoon assessment ritual. The question for the end of the first week meeting being, “How did you think the week went?”
“I sit at the side where I can see the faces,” offers Loui, “And I have watched faces change over the time as people start to get it.”
“What about Eron?” I ask. “He seems pretty quiet.”
“Ah yes, but he is taking it all in.” The trainers agree. “And everyone is talking more now.”
Sure enough on Monday, Eron surprises us all when he confidently contributes an answer to the class.
The trainers may well describe their job as ‘Straining the Brain’ as they try to communicate the error of taking one verse in isolation without considering its context, of using every proposition in a text to determine the meaning of that text, as well as many other concepts usually foreign to their past education.
They give Bible talks each day which highlight God’s greatness and the importance of taking him and his Word seriously. They work through the Bislama* workbooks, and teach a sequence which tells God’s Grand Story played out in the Bible. A little competition lightens the atmosphere and there is much laughter as each table races to see who is first to order the 15 icons representing the different parts of that Big story.
As the course draws to a close, Epson reminds the participants that the food, lodging, books and travel didn’t just happen. “Please, thank God for the money provided through Wycliffe Australia,” he says. Pastor Apy adds, “Yes, they provided everything, and now we have something to go and teach our communities.”
Participants will return with their homework to their respective villages, representing nine different language groups. We are hopeful that there will be a ripple effect and just as the door to Vanuatu opened, God will open the door to many hearts and minds to receive these new things, and to thirst for the truth of his Word.
* Vanuatu’s national language of wider communication
1. History of Israel Part 1
2. History of Israel Part 2
3. Day #1 in Jerusalem
4. Introducing Sergio and Rhoda
5. The Austrian Hospice
6. The Pool of Bethesda – a model from 70 AD
7. The Institute for Biblical Languages and Translation
8. The Israel Museum and Shrine of the Book
9. Western Wall Tunnel
10. Hezekiah’s Wall
11. The Mount of Olives
12. The Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives
13. The City of David
14. The Sabbath Meal
15. The City of Azekah
16. Tel Maresha
17. Tel Lachish
18. The Moral Obligation to Stand with Justice
19. History of Bethlehem Bible College
20. Shepherds’ Fields
21. Church of the Nativity
22. One For Israel Ministry
24. Ein Gedi
25. Dead Sea
27. Beth Shemesh and the Sorek Valley
28. Caesarea Maritima
29. Caesarea Aqueduct and Pontius Pilate
30. Mount Carmel
31. Tel Megiddo
32. An Introduction to Nazareth
33. First Century Nazareth Village
34. The Nazareth Trust
35. Tel Sepphoris
36. The Jezreel Valley
37. Gideon’s Spring
38. The Royal City of Jezreel
39. Beth Shean
41. The Magdala Synagogue
43. The Way Congregation
44. The Ancient City of Capernaum
45. The Ancient City of Corazin
46. The Mount of Beatitudes
47. The Ancient City of Bethsaida
48. The Sea of Galilee
49. The 2,000 Year Boat
50. The Ancient City of Hazor
51. Tel Dan & the Kings of Aram and Israel
52. Caesarea Philippi
53. Mt Hermon and the Golan Heights
55. Yardenit Baptismal Site
56. Jordan Valley
58. Tel Shiloh
59. Har Bracha
60. Elon Moreh
62. Solomon’s Quarry
63. The Cardo
64. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
65. Holocaust Museum
66. The Garden Tomb
Jesus Film: Scripture Use (SU) workers have been trained and they are having an effective ministry showing the Jesus Film from village to village in four languages. They are also using other Bible films where a translation is available. In response to a translation request from Jesus Film Ministries, discipleship study segment titles (60 of each) were translated in three languages.
Listening Groups: SU workers have distributed 250 NT Proclaimers and Bible study question cards in four languages. They are training listening group leaders in village churches and have done follow-up visits.
Family Bible Storybooks: SU workers have distributed 300 Family Bible Storybooks in six languages. SU workers have been trained to train ministry leaders and Sunday School teachers in how to use the Family Bible Storybooks for lessons.
Printing: Pijin Bible Reading Class books were printed to teach Pijin literacy to students at the AOG National Bible College. A Kwara’ae Language Songbook was compiled and printed. Listening group Bible study question cards were printed and laminated in five languages.
All the New Testament books have been drafted in Buwal and consultant checking of Romans and Mark is completed. In Gavar drafting is completed for 1 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter 1-2 and Revelation 1-5, 8-13. In Mbudum drafting is completed for Hebrews and Revelation. Acts and Mark were consultant checked in Gavar and Mbudum. The book of Luke has been recorded in the Gavar and Mbudum languages.
The literacy campaign took place from January to June 2021. There were 20 classes in Buwal: with 23 teachers and 197 students (82 men and 115 women); 20 classes in Gavar: with 25 teachers and 279 students (129 men and 150 women); and 16 classes in Mbudum: with 17 teachers and 152 students (76 men and 76 women).
One 82-year-old man thought he was doomed to never taste the happiness that comes from God’s Word. But thanks to Luke’s audio in Gavar, his hopes were revived. To express his joy, he said: “I didn’t know that the Word of God was so delicious. I bless the Lord because the good news of the kingdom of God has come to us.”
The book of Jeremiah was consultant-checked in January, and the book of Ezekiel in May. The Old Testament books are now all completed, and the team has begun to work on the harmonisation of the materials and names, etc that are shared by the Old and New Testaments. Lama local residents and those in the diaspora are impatiently awaiting the Lama Bible – people regularly ask about when it will be completed.
The Lama translation team was able to translate materials related to COVID-19 prevention. These included texts for billboards and posters, as well as instructions for washing stations. They also translated trauma healing materials for use in the community to support those who have been impacted by the effects of COVID-19.
Literacy classes began in the first week of January – there were 10 beginner classes and 4 second year classes. Three refresher courses for teachers were run – in January, February and March. All teachers received training on how to use the Moba New Testament in literacy classes. All classes were adequately supervised and final evaluations completed in mid-April. Diplomas were awarded to all classes 10-14 May. Some church leaders kept the diplomas to be awarded during church services, in order to motivate others for the next campaign. A writer’s workshop was held 19-20 May entirely in Moba. Seven writers (3 men and 4 women), of whom one was an elder, took part. The purpose of the training was to teach how to write news articles and stories, with the goal of publishing them.
Due to COVID-19, the i-delta participants were not able to gather in Yaoundé to undertake the training, so this is being done online in 2021 in three separate sessions between May and September. Please pray for the effectiveness of the online training, and that all participants will be able to gather together in Yaounde for the next two academic cycles in 2022 and 2023.
Participants from the north of Cameroon have been able to gather in a regional centre, Maroua. In this way Glab Athanas (from the Jam Ma Cluster) joined with other students from this region to do the studies. In the first session of training he successfully completed one week of orientation on Zoom and Moodle, and the unit Introduction to Sociolinguistics. In the second session he successfully completed the unit Translation 1. Overall the arrangement seems to have worked well and will be an option if travel continues to be restricted over the next two years.
Waiting is hard, isn't it. But imagine waiting 2000 years for Scripture in your language! Thanks for your patience. And thanks for your generous support which will help bring the long wait to an end...