This is my story, this is my song
By Lyn Wake | Wycliffe Today Winter 2023 |
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. – Psalm 40:3a (NLT)
Fanny Crosby had a significant story to tell, and she told it prolifically through the writing of more than 8,000 worship songs! Fanny was blind from infanthood, yet grateful to God for spiritual sight. An American poet, hymnist and mission worker, Fanny was known as the ‘Queen of Gospel Song Writers’. Many of her songs still resound more than a century after she faithfully walked the earth. One in particular is embedded in my spirit. Perhaps you can sing along with me:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Saviour all the day long,
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Saviour, all the day long.
What is your story? What is your song? Perhaps you are in a season of sorrow, unsure of how your story will unfold. You may even be heading towards the last chapter of your story on earth. But friends, when our stories are united with Christ and woven together with his, we always have an extraordinarily precious life song to sing!
When my story felt like it was totally falling apart, God kindly showed me how he was integrating everything into its rightful place within his-story. Priceless promises from Psalm 40 assured me how he was going to transform cruel circumstances into an unimaginable redemption story. My life song is not over, and neither is yours. May our life stories sing in harmony with God’s glories – now and forevermore!
For reflection: How can I be more attuned and attentive to the life stories of others?
Be transformed by the Word as you engage with: Psalm 40
Prayer: Lord of all our stories, I want my life to sing that you are mine! Whatever chapter I am experiencing, may I be given the grace to sing your praises all day long. Amen.
Children learning the signs of Easter
By Deb Fox | Wycliffe Today Winter 2023 |
In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. – Isaiah 28:18 (NLT)
Do you remember listening to Bible stories in Sunday School? For many Deaf children, there are very few resources available for them to learn more about God’s love for them. So far, only American Sign Language (ASL) has the full Bible available. Australian Sign Language (Auslan) only has a few books translated and does not have any resources to support Scripture engagement. Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia members Saul and Rebecca Thurrowgood want to change that.
Saul and Rebecca Thurrowgood with their children.
The Thurrowgoods have been working in partnership with the Bible Society to create animated Bible stories for children in Auslan. The Christmas story was released at the end of 2022 and an Easter message was recently published. The videos are based on evangelical children’s booklets the Bible Society produced a couple of years ago. They have been created using the motion capture Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool called ‘Chameleon’ which Saul and his team have been refining for the past 10 years ’and which converts the signed movements from a real person to an animated character.
Last year, the Bible Society wanted to see if they could use Chameleon for translation projects and they came to check it out. We trialled the technology with the Christmas story and were thrilled that it worked so well. The second time around, everything worked even more smoothly with the Easter story. All the characters are consistent throughout the series. It’s been a long time building up but we’re finally seeing fruit from all the years of hard work to get Chameleon off the ground.
A screenshot of the Easter video translated into Auslan.
I’ve been thinking a lot about creating resources for kids to put online to equip the church. These videos are like a seed – the first in a way of creating resources for Deaf children. Auslan has its own linguistic style that is very poetic visually that would not translate the same way in spoken English. These videos provide the stories in a form that kids can easily understand. We have a dream for Deaf community to be able to connect with the gospel. The children’s stories we’ve created using Chameleon so far will hopefully be a good start.
- for more people to join the team! We need workers highly skilled in programming, computer science, AI, computer vision and robotics
- that the Auslan translation of the Easter story can continue to be shared with Deaf children throughout Australia and open their hearts to the love of Jesus
- for the languages and countries that have shared an interest in using Chameleon
More: To watch the video, click here. To visit the Chameleon website, click here.
Tennis to translation
By Belinda Fox | Wycliffe Today Winter 2023 |
‘God doesn’t want your money. He wants you!’
It was as though God was speaking directly to me when the preacher spoke those words at my church’s missions conference in 2007. I thought that, by giving financially, I had done what he was asking me to do. But that night in my heart I told God, ‘I don’t know when, where, how or why, but if you want me to serve you, I will’.
One year later, I was chatting with my mixed doubles tennis opponent in between matches. The topic of linguistics (my university major) came up and I learned that he used to be a Wycliffe Australia member involved with Bible translation in Africa. I hadn’t heard of Wycliffe before but I knew that God was behind this encounter. Less than a week later, I had an appointment to meet with Jenny Austin, Wycliffe Australia’s Assignments Coordinator!
My journey since then has not followed the typical route. I got to the field quickly and bypassed language school because I had already studied Indonesian at primary school, high school and university. I was assigned to a project in Papua (eastern Indonesia) largely because I had basic bookkeeping skills from my time as Treasurer of my tennis club! Through that role, God exposed me to a wide variety of ministry and cultural experiences, and to a people and place that won my heart.
I never expected or wanted to be a leader. It was hard enough to believe that God would use me as a cross-cultural worker; let alone a leader! But I knew he was asking me to take on the leadership of the Papuan Malay team in 2017 and that he would equip and teach me as I went. It wasn’t easy and many times I felt I had failed miserably. But when I was forced to take a step back, God stepped in and brought that team to where they are today: thriving, passionate and driven by a sense of genuine ownership of the work God has entrusted them with.
As God was strengthening and growing the Papuan Malay team, he was also working on renewing me through a season of recovery from burnout. With a slight twist on the words he used to call me to ministry all those years ago, he spoke to me again: ‘I don’t need your service. I want you’. I spent a year just enjoying his presence and learning that anything I do for him can only bear fruit if it comes from my being with him (John 15:5).
That is the truth I hope to impart to others, and discover to greater depths for myself, through my new role as Wycliffe Australia Personnel Manager. This is yet another unexpected fork in the road that God is leading me along step by step. I could never have written a story like the one he is writing for me!