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.

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Stories: a common link

Wycliffe Today – June 2019 (PDF

By Sharna Steinert

Sharna has recently joined the SIL Australia team. This is her story of transition.

I had no idea where the path would lead when I became a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia. I wanted to be part of the work of Bible translation and thought I would most likely head to Papua New Guinea. I eventually accepted a role in Spain as a literacy specialist for an existing translation project. After a drawn-out visa process, God closed that door.

After a lot of prayer over a few possibilities, I accepted the role of Communications and Marketing Officer for SIL Australia. I have been around SIL Australia as a student and as teaching staff for Launch and I am enjoying getting to know the team better as we share about the work of SIL Australia.

What do these turns in the path have in common? Stories. Translation work makes God’s story available in a language. Literacy helps people share stories in their language in written form, and read God’s story for themselves. Communications and marketing are about sharing the story of an organisation, its staff and the work they do.


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...