Monday, January 30, 2017

Returning to Kuce

Walking down the streets, the melding of diesel fuel, dust, ripe tomatoes, freshly fried foods, and second hand clothes that have traveled over seas to find themselves in this familiar town, I felt a sense of belonging that made my heart glad.

If that wasn't enough--and I DON'T underestimate the precious sense of being home--I walked into a room full of men who warmly greeting me and my colleague, Rachel.  With sleeping Mariama strapped to my front, I stepped around the room, greeting each man with my right hand and a curtsy.

It was right to be there with them. Since I returned to the USA to study almost three years ago, new people have joined the team, and some that were trained in literacy have gained positions that will allow them to make greater change. I was privileged to encourage them in this new development and to lead discussions that allowed them to express their vision for the Bible translation and its use in the church.

To show the church activities and
which of the three languages are
 used for each activity. 
Four days later, we returned to climb motorcycles (This time with Mariama strapped on my back) and we headed to a church in Kiceland to meet a group of pastors.  Two and a half hours after the scheduled starting time, we began with a meeting considerably smaller than the one we had anticipated, but it was so powerful.  Each individual present participated in the discussion about language use, and one man who works for the public education system answered our question, "So, what do you want to change, now that we've discussed?" with "We want to move all of these activities (Bible studies, prayer meetings, weddings, etc) that are being done in Hausa," he declared in a booming, confident voice that echoed in the cavity of the sanctuary, "and move them here!" he exclaimed, indicating with a sweeping, definite gesture that hovered over the Kuce circle where only traditional cultural activities had been placed.  Everyone smiled and laughed at his enthusiastic ambitious desire before seriously discussing what it would take to make that happen.

Please pray for the Bace people who speak the Kuce language in the land of Kice.  I am so thankful to be working with them again in a new capacity, but the work is so great! To make God's words as close and native as their traditional practices will be a miraculous grace-filled achievement!  It will only happen as we move prayerfully forward, depending on God for guidance and strength. Pray for more laborers in the field, and for more Bace to be mobilized and see the need for themselves.

[Bace, Kuce, and Kice are pronounced something like Ba-CHAY, Ku-CHAY, and Kee-CHAY]

Loved and Pleased

John the Baptist baptized the creator of the seas in a dinky sea with lots of stinky, wet, repentant people around.
I know I heard a speaker talk about the baptism of Jesus once, but I was distracted and have been confused about why he did it ever since.  However, in our home, we do a listening Bible study, and today we listened to the few verses about Jesus' baptism in Luke followed by a million names I get annoyed reading every time.  Today I got excited.  It was like the first time I'd heard the passage.  That's why I love listening Bible study.  If you've never tried it, these are the steps and what I learned.

My dear friend Aunty Victoria listening to Scripture in her language

1. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you through the passage.
2. Listen to the passage.
3. Ask yourself (or your family): What happened?
    We went around the room so each  person could tell part of what he/she remembered. Jesus was baptized when there were a bunch of other people there listening to John say all sorts of offensive things. The Holy Spirit came in bodily form, looking like a dove, and the heavens opened.  God said, "This is my son.  I love him. I am am pleased with him." Then there was a long list of names that ended with..."the son of Adam...the Son of God."
4. Ask yourself (or your family):  What was interesting or what touched you?
    I heard lots of names I knew and I got more and more excited, like a growing weight, amazed that all those people had been remembered and recorded, and it all came back to...God.  Connecting Jesus with God. Really awesome.  It touched me that the Father affirmed his son, and told him he loved him, and that he was pleased with him.  I was touched with imagining Jesus, a few years later, carrying his cross, repeating to himself those words he heard from his father..."He loves me, he loves me, he loves me."  And then as his father turned away from him on the cross repeating in his heart... "He's pleased with me, he's pleased with me, he's pleased with me."  God knew that his precious Son would have to hear those words before he could accomplish the terrible and wonderful mission he had sent him on.
5. Listen to the passage again.
6. Ask yourself (or your family): What do we learn about God (the Father), Jesus, and/or, the Holy Spirit?
    This is only passage I can remember that all three persons of the trinity are represented and ministering. Jesus is fully human and fully God, present and walking through a baptism of repentance though he had no need to repent.  He was identifying with his people, being among them.  The spirit was covering, clothing, to me, he was bringing peace like a dove as Jesus identified with people's sin.  The Father was affirming and loving.  He delights in his children.  What a beautiful picture of these three faces (persons) of our one God.  That's a lot to learn...had I learned it before?  Maybe in a different way, but it went deeper, like a well.  My heart is the ground, and the deeper the well, the deeper the understanding goes, the more pure the message (the water) arriving at my heart will be because it's gone through the layers of learning I've head over the years.
7. Ask yourself (or your family): What are we going to do now that we have heard?
    I'm going to ask God to help me know his love and affirmation because if I know, I mean REALLY KNOW, that the Father loves and is pleased with me, it will change my ministry, and I can pass through any trial with that firm foundation.

Then this evening, as I was discussing with my husband about my day, I used this phrase, "Today when I walked down the streets of Jebbu Bassa (the town where I worked for my first year here in Nigeria with the Kuce language), I felt like I was in the right place, doing the right thing."  I smiled to myself, that God had answered my prayer through a memory. I did have a special feeling when I was there, an "at home" feeling, but I couldn't identify it until after I asked God to show me his affirmation.

I did not grow up doing family devotions (though my family lived, discussed, and treasured the Words of Jesus in other ways), but this has been one of the richest disciplines we have developed as a family.  If you want to do listening Bible studies, you can download the NIV Audio New Testament at .  If you don't know where to start, we like listening to the Gospels and you may hear them in a new way!  May you know that you are loved today, and sense the affirmation of the Father.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Strategic prayer 4--More people to join us!

We are thankful for our team
Our fourth "strategic prayer request" was for God to send more people to join us in this work.  Although we may be one of the largest Scripture engagement teams in the world, we also have a very large Scripture engagement task here in Nigeria.

We have learned from experience that God calls staff on to new roles and opportunities from time to time, so we need to be mentoring new missionaries in this work.  It has been four years since someone new has joined in the area of Scripture engagement!

Thank God with us that he has been answering this prayer.  We are expecting Helen Fisher, from the UK, to be joining us in February.  (You can find more about Helen Fisher on p. 24-25 of Wycliffe UK's Winter 2015 Words For Life).

Also thank God for a couple of great opportunities to share about our work at Nigerian missions conferences.  Although I (Zach) didn't get to go, it was exciting to help my colleagues prepare materials, such as existing Scriptures--including audio Scriptures--to show the work we do.  Please pray for God to bring Nigerians to join us in the work!  We plan to interview whomever God sends in February, and begin orientation in March.

Please pray for God to send more people from outside Nigeria.  Might God be calling you someone you know to join in the work over here? (You are already part of the work wherever you are reading this and praying!)

We are half way through the seven strategic prayer items!  Here are the ones from previous posts:

3) Thank God that we have identified "Focus Projects" around Jos. Pray for us to take the initiative to start developing relationships with the people from these projects.

2) Courage to step into new opportunities (right now, bringing on new staff is a great one to pray for!)

1) Clarity and direction for us as an organization as our Nigerian Missionaries look for new Ministry Partners to pray for and support them financially. (Pray for me for wisdom and "good hearing" as I have been given a special accountability role of meeting with three of my colleagues to reflect on how this process is going.)
Related to this, pray for each member of our team to have all the ministry partners and the full support level they need. (Click here to for more information on how to pray!)

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...