Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Collaboration, vulnerabity and trust

From Tuesday through Thursday, leaders of 24 Bible Translation organizations have gathered to discuss how we can work together more intentionally in Nigeria.  I am already seeing answers to prayer in the first morning of these meetings!  We have a collective expression of what we are expecting (or hoping for) and I agree with that: Effective collaboration with a purpose, increasing vulnerability and trust, waiting on and hearing from the Lord and each other, and possibly some very practical organizational bits at the end. Please pray for God to do as he pleases among us!

We are all pleased by how open the conversation has been!


Thursday, January 11, 2024

Becoming: A Chrysalis Journey


Daso and Mariama 2018.

A Space to Become…

That’s what we hope to provide in the retreat this weekend, the 13th-14th of January. We have named it “Becoming: A Chrysalis Journey.” A long time ago, like when this above picture of Mariama and Daso was taken, the second cohort of the “Beautiful Me Program” was underway. It included Daso and me as participants! She was 11. Now she’s 18.  Beautiful Me was started because I saw young girls becoming big girls without having women to support them.  Who better to support them than the women God had given them, their moms (or aunts or older sisters)? So it began. We spent three hours together once a month. It was such a meaningful time together every single time.


The Second Cohort- We learned about guarding our eyes.

A bonding activity putting on eye make up during Beautiful Me 2017

This weekend, we will have a reunion retreat of both of the cohorts from 2016 and 2017. Mothers and their now adult daughters will be coming for a time of renewal.

I know there is a lot that has happened in these last 5-7 years, and we are praying for restoration, healing, and freedom found in the embrace of Christ.

God has brought together an amazing team of small group leaders, counselors, worship leaders, and a dynamic speaker.

Will you be a prayer partner for one of our mother/daughter pairs? 

If yes, please reply to this email and make the subject: Yes, I'll pray! I'll send you their names and some prayer requests.

If you don’t have time to do that, please pray for the retreat now.

Pray that they will know "how wide, how long, how high, and how deep the love of God is." Eph 3:18

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! 


Yoder Family 2022


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Sitting on the Floor


I had been saving seats next to me in the crowded auditorium when I realized my friends weren’t going to make it.  So I told the usher to allow two of the people outside to come in and take those seats.  Two well dressed women came and sat next to me.  You have to understand, this event of Nine Lessons and Carols at the international school was one of my first experiences here in Jos when I came to visit Zach before we were married.  It’s so precious to me that I just melt into my seat and revel at the lights and the people singing my favorite hymns (even if they do it with the British tunes).  This year each of the readings was even done in a different language! Languages mixed with Christmas?  It was the best!  

During a very touching song, as tears just started to spring into my eyes, the women I’d welcomed into my space started talking.  I gave them a “look,” and turned my rapped attention back to the song being performed.  These women didn’t stop talking!  I mean, my twins were wandering and clamoring on my lap, but they are three years old!  I was indignant.  I shot them another look, and with a loud sigh, I moved and sat heavily on the step in the isle. I felt so justified in my annoyance, balancing on the brim of anger.  But at the next reading, I had to release it. 

“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;

 the leopard will lie down with the baby goat…

Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.

 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,

    for as the waters fill the sea,

    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. (Isaiah 11:6;9)

In this culture to have a guest, which is what I am here, sitting on the floor is not really acceptable.  I invited these women to come and sit with me, to enjoy the beauty of that moment together, side by side, but they were distracted and refused, and drove away the guest in their midst to a place of dishonor.  It struck me how unChristlike my response was.Thankfully when he, a visitor in our world, found himself driven away and dishonored by those he’d invited into his own beauty, he loved, moved closer, and then he died for them.  

This season calls me to a new level of not being offended, of loving because Jesus loved me first, taking the humble position of criminal and rejected one in my place.  If the knowledge of the LORD is to fill this place as the waters fill the sea, it will need to start with me!

Incense and Sorrow


Ishaya sat unsmiling at the back of the room.  I wondered if he understood what was happening. Most of the 36 participants from 8 different languages were participating quite well in the Lessons from Luke Trainers Training.  I wasn’t sure how to reach the few like Ishaya.   The second day we assigned each language the task of writing a song to one of the memory verses from the curriculum.  After 15 minutes, we all gathered to hear the original masterpieces. 

Ishaya was transformed as he lead his group singing in his language. His eyes danced, he raised his hands in praise, his contagious smile mirrored on the faces gathered around.  Wonder captured me at the power of those living words sung in the language of the heart. Auntie Blessing, who has trained in many trainings with me said, “That was our best concert yet!”  Since our average training is done in English, I am convinced that the beauty of that moment was directly linked to the eight languages that echo through the days and experiences of the participants. The languages that they speak to their children, at traditional weddings, in the markets, the languages that draw them together as a people and, in that moment, the languages that is drawing them closer to God.  

After the celebration around the Word with their original songs, we had a time of prayer.  The faith they expressed in unified prayer was the backdrop to the requests raised.  Inexpressible past and ongoing grief, pain, and trauma that their communities have experienced was lifted up with shouts and Hallelujahs!  That mingling of  joy experienced when singing in their language, the grief and trauma shared, and the faithful response of these brothers and sisters in fervent prayer was truly a sacred image of heaven. “The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.” (Revelation 8:4) 

A week after this three day training, I revel in the precious opportunities of celebrating God, preparing to help children know him, and exploring how their languages can be used to make that happen with these dear brothers and sisters.  

Please do continue to lift them up as they communicate the need to share the Gospel with their children in their heart language in an ever changing linguistic scene where language communities are living together in towns.  May they use the curriculum they’ve translated to disciple children in truly understanding that call to discipleship.  

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Weeping Savior

I stood with tears streaming down my face as the person acting Jesus wept, pleaded, and surrendered in the garden of Gethsemane during the Mark drama yesterday afternoon. When I took up this project three months ago, I knew it was going to be impactful. 
But yesterday when I looked out at the faces, the gutteral groans of Jesus echoing in the room, the tears flowing down many of those faces, I knew that I would never think of my Savior and his sacrifice for me the same again.
I took on many different roles including the woman with the alabaster jar, the blind Bartimaus, the wife of Jairus, and the Angel announcing the Risen Lord. I connected with each of them. And felt heavy with desperation, driven by love, and overflowing with thankfulness. 
This is part of the team starting rehearsal on Wednesday. The one learning Jesus is on one foot. His name is Mike.

The Mark drama is the gospel of Mark in 90 minutes. We will be presenting it twice with a new cast in the next week. Please pray for that cast. Pray for the person being Jesus that he will learn all of his parts, and that they will deeply stir his soul. Pray that each of the other cast members will draw close to Christ as they learn their parts. The drama is only rehearsed for two days before the day it’s presented. So it’s a very intense time with each other and with the Lord.

Pray for our director, visiting from the UK, who will be training me to direct the Mark drama. That she will have health and strength. We are praying that this can be a new way of bringing the good news to Nigeria in different languages. We pray that those coming will catch this vision as well.

The Kid’s Team

As we waited for the doors of the lunchroom of the retreat center to open, I asked Mariama, “Who said that Jesus is the son of God?” She said “the Pharisees.” I asked her when the Pharisees had said that because I wasn’t sure if she was right. She said, “Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. Then the Pharisees said, “only God can forgive sins.” So, Mommy, she explained to me, they were saying that Jesus was God.” I later asked Lydia and her friend Elizabeth the same question. They listed five different characters in Scripture that said Jesus was the son of God. I have lead the children’s retreat the last two years and am in awe of the amount of work that has gone into ministering to these sweet souls so loved by God.

I praise God for the team that he brought together to teach our children. They have two more days together. I pray our children will deeply understand who, where, why, and but what of Jesus being the Son of God. Please join us in prayer for this team and our children.

My sister-in-law, Kirstin, teaching the Memory verse scripture song. I’m so deeply blessed by their ministry to our children. So thankful for their sacrifice. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Victories and challenges

Twice a year, I get a chance to just sit back and listen as our staff give updates on victories and challenges they are facing as they progress in learning about languages, developing alphabets, training teachers, and translating the Bible. It is so moving to hear of breakthroughs mixed with serious challenges. Back in March and April, I jotted down notes of things I saw God doing. Thank God with me for these things!
Over the years I have had the opportunity to sit with many pastors and hear about the challenging choices they make. Often the people in their church come from several different languages, language communities, leading pastors and/or church leaders to perceive that a language of wider communication is the only available choice to bring unity for most church activities. Regrettably these can become instead languages of “wilder confusion” for many in the church—often the majority—especially women and children. I heard of many churches that have chosen to do the Bible reading in the newly translated Gospel of Luke in their language. In another language, people are requesting entire mother-tongue services. Praise God for this gift of understanding!

Sharing good things God has done

In many areas, we heard about challenges with kidnapping and insecurity. These realities make it difficult for people to meet together—a key part of effective work. In one of these places a special Bible study was prepared to go along with the recently translated book of Jonah. People had Bible studies from this book in January. I can only imagine the impact of God’s mercy on the wicked Ninevites will have had on these small groups. Praise God for his mercy and compassion!

Staff think and plan together
One of the sad experiences we have faced is that often in churches—the very place where we should expect God’s love—we hear statements of hate from one people group against another. How are these people supposed to know God’s love if not through us, his people? I have seen in one individual after another express openness to accept this wrong and a willingness to change. Thank God and pray for more love! At the same time, we hear of over 500 audio Bible study groups happening in one of these people groups that has received hate. Thank God for his Word that speaks!

Our experiences encourage each other
In different areas I have heard about challenges people have in reading because of complex tones or the subtle meanings of small words. I heard stories of progress in studying these complex issues. In many places I also heard about churches and government schools teaching children and adults to read in their own language. Praise God for this gift that should bring deeper learning and change to many areas of life!

We will get to meet again soon and share about the joys and struggles. Please pray that God will encourage our hearts and use this coming together to open doors in places where colleagues may feel “stuck”.

Collaboration, vulnerabity and trust

From Tuesday through Thursday, leaders of 24 Bible Translation organizations have gathered to discuss how we can work together more intenti...