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.

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

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...