Working together to nourish language communities

By Deb Fox  |  Wycliffe Today  Christmas Edition 2023 |

Dr Michel Kenmogne has been the Executive Director of SIL International since 2016. He is from Cameroon and is the first non-Western person to fill the role. Michel’s experience as someone from a minority language group has given him insights into how we can support and equip translation projects. On his way home from the SIL Connect –Pacific meetings in Papua New Guinea, Michel travelled via Kangaroo Ground in Melbourne to speak with Wycliffe Australia and SIL Australia. Michel shared with great emotion about the impact that having the Bible and other literature available in his own language has made in his own life:

I myself am a speaker of a minority language. I know what it means to have one’s language acknowledged, put on the map and translated into Scripture. It enables people to feel as if they are sharing in equal dignity with other peoples around the world.

Michel encouraged everyone that working together as close organisational partners is continuing to be a blessing to the 1635 language projects with SIL involvement currently underway throughout the world. While Michel says that trained expatriate translation facilitators and advisors will still be required to support the work of minority language projects, local mother-tongue translators are increasingly the primary implementers. He also said that a focus on greater localisation is creating pathways for engaging with churches and establishing more projects for languages still without any translated Scripture:

Our language engagement is growing as a result of projects becoming more localised in many contexts. Local staff are receiving greater training opportunities to help programs become more self-sustaining. SIL’s initiative to become ‘locally rooted’ is not just about participating in a country as a foreign intervention but really seeking to be connected to the local church, to embrace the local culture, governance and whatever enables us to be seen as a natural expression of the locale in that context. We need to recognise that, theologically, it doesn’t make sense for organisations involved in the mission of God to not have an effective relationship with the Church.

For more information, visit 

Partnering in the Great Commission

By Max Sahl | Wycliffe Today Spring 2022|

When I think about the kingdom work of making disciples in all nations, it can often feel overwhelming. There is just so much that needs to happen for the gospel to be preached effectively. This includes training, cultural awareness, resourcing, administration and member care. Wycliffe just can’t do it all without the help of others.

However, just as we are called to bring our personal giftings to make up the body of Christ with all its different parts, so as a mission organisation I believe we are called to work together with other mission agencies to participate in the Great Commission. 

The apostle Paul knew the importance of working with others and particularly with churches. To the church at Philippi he wrote: ‘I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.’ Phil 1:3-5 (NIV). The church in all its forms will always be our primary partner.

But there are so many other wonderful opportunities to partner with other organisations that will make us all stronger together and reflect the body of Christ in a broader context. In this edition, you will read of some of the beautiful partnerships that are serving the work of making disciples: local partnerships, training partnerships, working with schools, working with other mission organisations, and ‘Partners in Hope’. 

I hope you will be as encouraged as I am about what can be achieved when we work together.

Transformed by the Word: ‘Partnership with God’

By Lyn Wake | Wycliffe Today Spring Edition 2022 |

When my husband and I joined the global Bible translation movement, we viewed it as a great opportunity to ‘do something good for God’. While we were correct on one hand, our incomplete perspective needed transforming. Over time, and in the company of inspirational family and colleagues, we experienced a paradigm shift. 

We discovered that Christian ministry is not about doing things for God, but with him!

From the beginning, we have been designed for a loving partnership with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe – a partnership made possible through the redeeming work of Jesus. God can work in any manner he chooses. Yet, incredibly, he seems to delight in wrapping his infinite goodness within the broken beauty of our shared humanity to achieve his good purposes. Yes, partnership with God is his divinely chosen modus operandi.

Saint Teresa of Avila, a 16th century Spanish nun, is attributed with the following poem. It describes in practical terms what partnership with God looks like: 

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.1

May we all live into this God-ordained partnership – one that will last forever and bear tons of rich fruit for his glory!

Reflect: Where might the flow of partnership with God be blocked in your life and stifling the fulfilment of your union with Jesus?  

Be transformed by the Word as you engage with: John 15:1-17

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we acknowledge that without you, we can do nothing. By your Spirit, enable us to partner with you so we can accomplish many glorious things together to bless your world. Amen. 

1 ‘Christ Has No Body’ by St Teresa of Avila c 1515-1582 AD.



The featured image is the chapel in Avila, Spain. Photograph by Mario la Pergola.

Tree Tops Lodge: a fellowship forged in the skies

By Deb Fox | Wycliffe Today Spring 2022 |

On 27 August, a small gathering took place to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Tree Tops Lodge in Cairns. Tree Tops was opened in 1992 as a joint venture between Wycliffe Australia and Mission Aviation Fellowship Australia (MAF). The two organisations purchased an old motel in the tropical rainforest setting of Cairns, Queensland. Over the years, a great deal of work has gone into renovating the property into a peaceful oasis. 

As current managers Mike and Shelley Nankivell explain: 

Tree Tops provides critical support for cross-cultural workers and their families serving in the South Pacific. The underlying reason we are here is to bless them with a safe, relaxing place to stay when they need it. We want to make our guests feel special. It’s affordable accommodation but it’s nice. This is a place of peace. People know they can come here and just be themselves. 

The Tree Tops workers, volunteers and Board include a mix of Wycliffe and MAF members. Yet the partnership between the two organisations on a global level actually goes all the way back to 1946. The relationship was forged in the skies with MAF’s inaugural missions flight. The pilot was Elizabeth (Betty) Greene who had trained in aviation during World War II with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) team. Betty’s flight was from Los Angeles, California to Mexico City, taking Wycliffe/SIL workers Ethel Lambotte and Lois Schneider to join a translation team in a remote region. Betty then met with Wycliffe founder Cameron Townsend, flying him to ‘Jungle Camp’ in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. 

This long history of partnership is something that excites MAF Australia’s Finance Manager, Kelvin Maistry. For the past two years, Kelvin has also been serving on the Tree Tops Board as Treasurer. He spent years in corporate finance roles but felt led by God to focus on kingdom work and says it has ‘been a real joy to be a part of what God is doing through MAF and its partners’. Kelvin goes on to explain the importance of organisations supporting one another:

1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us that though we are many, we are one in Christ. We are all parts of the body of Christ working together and complementing each other to go into all the world, preach the gospel, and make disciples of all nations. SIL International and Wycliffe Bible Translators work together to equip field personnel with necessary skills in linguistics and supporting locals to translate God’s Word into their own tongues. MAF provides a logistics solution that enables organisations to achieve their mission in what are often otherwise unreachable communities where they are called to serve. We are blessed to work in partnership to bring the story of Jesus’ redemption to people of all languages, in the languages they can understand and identify with. 

Tree Tops Lodge is available to the Christian community and, when available, to the general public.

For more information about Tree Tops, go to

Addendum: In November 2022, at the request of MAF Australia, Wycliffe Australia became the sole owner of Tree Tops Lodge. Although it is no longer under a joint ownership, Tree Tops continues to serve the mission community, including MAF and many other organisations ministering in the South Pacific.

The legacy of a 60-year friendship and Scripture engagement

Dr Joseph Havel is a retired forestry officer now living in Western Australia. He has been a faithful supporter of Bible translation through the years, giving in various ways to Vision 2025 projects, Next Step Development projects and Wycliffe members, including friends, Richard and Aretta Loving (d). Dr Havel shares the story behind the deep friendships he formed in Papua New Guinea that gave him a heart for Bible translation:

By Dr Joseph Havel, Western Australia

My contact with Richard and Aretta Loving started rather informally but it lasted for 60 years. Back in 1957, I was working as a forestry officer for the Australian administration of what was then the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I was working at Bulolo, a gold mining and timber town. 

The project employed several hundred local workers, mainly hired in the highlands for a period of 18 months at a time. Some of the people we employed were from the Awa language group. On Sundays, I used to drive up to their camp in the rainforest above us, to run an adult Sunday school class. This was only possible because of an Awa translator and foreman, Yeda.

I used a New Testament in Neo-Melanesian (now called Tok Pisin)—a trade language used for contact between locals, administrators, traders and missionaries. I would read the lesson and make comments on it in Tok Pisin and Yeda would translate it into Awa. 

A few months into our lessons, I had a visit from a rather tall American, not unlike Abraham Lincoln in looks, who introduced himself as Dick Loving. He explained that he was involved in translating the New Testament into the Awa language and he wanted to know who was running the Awa Sunday school class. When he found out that I was theologically sound, Dick gave me a partial copy of the Awa NT translation, and showed me how to read it phonetically. 

After the translation for the Awa New Testament was completed, the Lovings moved around PNG before eventually heading to East Africa. By 1997, they were back in Papua New Guinea at the Ukarumpa centre, working on a revision of the New Testament translation. We continued correspondence and I supported them through Wycliffe.

I kept my contact with the Lovings afterwards until replies stopped in 2018. It was only recently that I learned that they passed away to be with the Lord ahead of me. I am grateful for the contact I had with them. Our friendship opened doors for me to experience firsthand the power of people receiving God’s Word in their own language. My connection to Wycliffe over the years has influenced my understanding and appreciation for mission and how we can all play a part in God’s work.

If you are thinking of leaving a legacy to Wycliffe, go to for details. If you would prefer to talk directly with someone about this, please contact

Thanks for your patience...

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...