Christ transforming culture: training the trainers in Scripture engagement
By Deb Fox and Ross and Lyndal Webb | Wycliffe Today Winter 2022 edition |
Ross and Lyndal Webb are Wycliffe Australia members who work with SIL Vanuatu. After many years in the country, they are currently working remotely from their home in Sydney. Their goal is to help the people of Vanuatu to read and understand God’s Word. Ross says he has learnt that honouring the culture of a language group is important – but no culture is without flaws in our fallen world. Without a clear understanding of how God’s Word applies to different contexts, churches and individuals risk creating an unhelpful mix of Christian doctrine with non-biblical beliefs. He shares:
It’s easy for people to grasp when [the Bible] says ‘don’t do this’ and ‘do that’ but it’s hard to help people operate via principles from Scripture. We try to show how the Bible applies to daily life. It’s good to celebrate the positive aspects of a culture but it’s not helpful when there are features of that culture fighting against biblical living. There are genuine Christians, and lots of churches, but the idea of faith challenging culture is often a bit hard for many people to take. It says in Ephesians 4:22 that there are parts that we need to ‘add on’ to our lives and view of God. It stands to reason, then, that unhelpful aspects of our cultures need to be cut off. The best way to do that is to look at what it says about godly living from God’s Word.
Ross says that superstition and sorcery are still commonly accepted in Vanuatu:
People often suspect others of being sorcerers. Many believe that sorcery of different sorts, or ill feelings against someone, have the power to make people sick. That’s why I put together a study on what God says about sorcery. We need people to understand why beliefs like these are not good or helpful to Christian life.
Lyndal explains how these issues are addressed when training local church and community leaders:
We try to establish a strong foundation in the training, asking questions like: ‘Why do we translate the Bible? Why do this hard work to read and understand it accurately? Why study topics such as sorcery and marriage?’ We’re trying to help people read the Bible in context. We want people to know the true God of the Bible rather than one that they may invent.
Ross adds that the training program is designed to help prepare the next generation of leaders in ni-Vanuatu translation:
SIL Vanuatu’s director is encouraging us to ‘train the trainers’ because our current trainers are getting older. SIL Vanuatu has taken on two ni-Vanuatu men as interns to learn various aspects of Bible translation and Scripture Engagement. We need more learners like these guys with a desire to not only share God’s Word but also be transformed by it.
The next training courses were originally planned for April and May but COVID-19 lockdowns put things on hold until borders open up again.
- for stamina and balance as the Webbs work remotely
- for new Wycliffe members due to arrive in Vanuatu
- that trainers and participants attending the training will hold fast to the truth in the Bible
- for God to be merciful on Vanuatu and prevent more suffering from COVID-19.
For more information about the training courses, go to https://wycliffe.org.au/projects/translator-training-vanuatu/