Supporting translation remotely

Ross & Lyndal WebbRoss and Lyndal Webb are Wycliffe Australia members who currently serve as Regional Representatives for the Sydney area. They may be based in Australia now, yet the Webbs have been supporting language work and Scripture engagement in Vanuatu for many years. They developed the Trenem Tingting Course to help ni-Vanuatu leaders grow in critical thinking and application of the Bible in everyday life. Since returning to Australia, the Webbs share how they are able to continue supporting language workers remotely.  

The advances of technology have made working ‘remotely’ possible. Over the last 12 months or so, Ross has been working online from Sydney with Robert, Georgie and Loui–all men of Vanuatu located in the capital of Port Vila. 

A series of Bible stories were translated some time back into Bislama (Vanuatu’s language of wider communication), with the aim of being used for Sunday School materials as well as being translatable into other Vanuatu languages. Each story needs to be accurate of course, yet they also need to sound just right so that they are both understandable and attractive to the readers! These men have been great at spotting problems.

Working remotely does have its limitations so we are planning to head to Vanuatu in June for a few months of real, live, face-to-face work! As a translation consultant, Ross will check some of the work done on Scripture for the Merei language. We will both put more time into helping the trainers to move ahead in their confidence to teach at the Trenem Tingting Course and look forward to offering a hand to a new translation team! Catching up with friends on Epi island where we lived for a few years is up there on the priority list too. We thank God for the ongoing support of everyone who has partnered with us to help advance Bible translation in Vanuatu.

Capacity building for PNG leaders

Wycliffe Today – June 2019 (PDF) | PHOTO BY GARY McMASTER

It’s an overcast day in Kangaroo Ground but the warm smiles that greet me at the SIL Australia campus near the Wycliffe Australia National Centre are enough to light up the room. Behind these smiles are two men from Papua New Guinea dedicating their lives to Bible translation. Stephen Moyaru and Kidu Magi are in Melbourne for one year to further their studies so they can contribute more to the work of PNG Bible Translation Association (BTA). Stephen is working as a Program Coordinator and Kidu has translated the New Testament into the Sinaugoro language and now contributes to a range of other projects as a Translation Consultant. Their schedule involves a full-time study load to complete a Diploma of Ministry with SIL Australia through Melbourne School of Theology (MST), including a couple of subjects at MST.

PNG is home to around 12 percent of the world’s languages. There are 838 living languages in PNG and 462 of those languages are still without any Scripture of their own.* The needs are great but there is currently a worldwide shortage of translation consultants and checkers to continue the work. Stephen explains that more specialised local translators are required to help keep momentum going:

Our strategy for the next three years involves strengthening nine languages and publishing six completed Bible translations. The only way we can do that is to have workers who understand the language and the culture – but they also need the right level of training. That is why we’ve come to Australia to be further trained in theological studies so that we can continue training future translation teams in PNG.

Kidu adds that there is also a need to increase the sense of ownership among the people to help move into the next phase of translation:

We not only have to increase our training – we also have to increase partnership with the communities and church leaders, as the people must own and invest in Bible translation and not think of it as white man’s work. It’s our language and we need to ensure that there will be more people to carry on the task for the future. We are praying for God to bring about this change.

Despite the long hours of study and challenges of Bible college, Stephen and Kidu are excited about what God will do through their time in Melbourne. They are trusting God to guide them but they have asked for prayer for the following:


  • for the Lord to help them to focus on their studies and manage their time well
  • that they will be able to communicate with their families and provide for the needs of their families while they are away
  • that Kidu’s wife will soon be able to join him and that the visa paperwork and finances will soon be sorted


* Wycliffe Global Alliance statistics current as at October 2018

Communities of grace

|Wycliffe Today – March 2019|

Graham Scott is the Principal Executive Officer of the Summer Institute of Linguistics Australia (SILA). He and his wife, Ellie, have been members of Wycliffe since 2000. They met in the United States and have worked cross-culturally throughout the US, Indonesia and Australia. We caught up with Graham to discover what it means to be a ‘community of grace’ when training and equipping leaders.

Thanks for sharing with us, Graham. Could you tell us a bit about the journey that led you to Wycliffe and your current role with SILA?

Ellie and I were both students at SILA in 2003. We then followed God’s call to serve him in West Papua. While we had been well prepared for the work we were involved with in Indonesia, we soon realised that many others had not been. Many more leaders were required to be trained in Australia to work alongside and partner with local leaders in translation projects in Papua and throughout the world. We first taught at SILA’s Summer School in 2004, and since then we have been regular visitors to SILA to teach. In 2018 we relocated to Melbourne, so I could take up a leadership role with SILA.

How does SILA’s training program operate?

SILA is able to offer graduates qualifications that meet international benchmarks for translation and literacy workers anywhere in the world. The studies are uniquely geared towards empowering students to partner with local organisations and communities. It is our mission to prepare people to take on roles as trainers and facilitators in language projects.

You recently attended a global leadership conference. Why is it important for leaders from different contexts and backgrounds to come together?

I enjoyed connecting with SIL leaders from across the globe. There was a warm sense of fellowship and it provided a deeper appreciation for the diversity around us. The approach Wycliffe and SIL Australia have taken over recent years has been to increase our level of partnership with communities. We believe in working alongside what is already being done, partnering with local churches and ministries to achieve outcomes together.

How would you describe positive leadership development within a community?

Spiritual formation of leaders leads to the transformation of communities. That transformation leads to a healthier community. And being a healthy community means being a community of grace. In a more complex, challenging world, we need more grace. There will always be challenges working with different people from different backgrounds. We need to learn to be patient and gracious with one another as we come up with creative strategies for engaging in translation and creating new partnerships.

How can we involve communities more in the work of translation?

Communities play a key role in determining what happens in translation work. We need to come alongside them and continue asking questions about what they need and the outcomes they want to achieve. But that kind of contribution is only possible when the local communities have strong local leaders and we have learnt to listen well.

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...