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This week I’ve been at an event sponsored by the Lausanne Movement called the Younger Leaders Gathering.  The event includes evangelical leaders (mostly under 40) from more than 150 countries.  The event is being held in a Christian college campus in Jakarta, Indonesia. The sessions have focused on participating in God’s story. There’s also been a lot of opportunities to connect with the other participants, which has been fun.


My last time in the area was more than 10 years ago, so I decided to connect with a few colleagues while I was here. Marnix and Lena are part of Kartidaya, the Wycliffe Global Alliance organization in Indonesia.  Kartidaya’s staff are involved in translating God’s word into languages in Indonesia, as well as literacy and development.

Marnix is Kartidaya’s director, and we first met on my trip to Indonesia all those many years ago.  He also came for dinner at our house in Orlando a few years after that.


I spent time meeting with Marix and another colleague, Helma (who works in communications for Kartidaya) to talk to them about what was happening with Kartidaya. I hope to send a team out to do some story gathering here in the near future. For now, I got to enjoy the reconnecting with colleagues while eating one of my favorite foods from this part of the world – satay!

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Turkey – something new, something old

I had two firsts in late March.  I finally got beyond the Istanbul airport in Turkey, and I attended a meeting of women in leadership in Wycliffe. The event, called FILIA – Female Intercultural Leaders in the Wycliffe Global Alliance, included 43 women in leadership (including me) from 22 different countries. We heard presentations on topics including the history of women in mission, participated in lively discussions like how women can continue to be actively engaged in missions work, and enjoyed fellowship with each other.

When FILIA was complete, leaders from about 40 of Wycliffe Global Alliance’s organizations from about as many nations came to the same venue to discuss some aspects of how organizations could join and participate in the Alliance in the future.

Our executive director, Kirk Franklin, reviewed the history of how the Alliance came to be and talked about the current state of Bible translation and missions across the world.  The main objective for the group was to consider what this meant for our Alliance of Bible translation organizations.

When the meetings were complete, we all went together to visit Ephesus as well as the site of Mary’s house and the ruin’s of the Basilica of St. John.

Above is the Celsus library in Ephesus which used to have an incredible collection of 12,000 scrolls! Ephesus was an impressive place to visit, even as a ruin. From 52-54 AD, the apostle Paul lived in this city.  It is also widely accepted that Jesus’s mother Mary and the apostle John lived here, too.

This is the amphitheater, and it was here that Acts 19 records a riot that broke out after Paul made some comments about the goddess Artemis.

Then we went to the nearby Basilica of St. John.  This church is believed to have been built over the tomb of John.

Not far from there was a small hilltop chapel built on the site of a house where some believed Mary lived with John who cared for her as a son after Jesus’s death.

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Blessed be the Name of the Lord

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the massive tsunami that hit Japan. The Wycliffe News Network team went to Japan a year after the disaster to learn more about how it impacted staff from affiliated organizations.

Kesennuma in March 2012

In March 2011 Kimiko’s parents were visiting her in South Asia, where she serves as a literacy worker. On March 11 while Kimiko was at work, her mother received an alarming text message from her younger daughter in Japan.

“There has been a huge earthquake here. Please pray.”

“We tried to contact [our daughter in Japan] but the phones were disconnected. We didn’t know anything. All we had was ‘Please pray,’”

Since Kimiko joined Wycliffe Japan in 2009, her parents, who are strong believers in prayer, have hosted an inorinowa, or prayer circle, for Kesennuma Bible Baptist Church.  The group prays for Wycliffe Japan staff.

When Kimiko came home from work on that day in March, she and her parents went to the embassy to watch the news and saw devastation sweeping across the country.

The Most Powerful Earthquake Ever Recorded in Japan

The earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in Japan. It triggered tsunami waves that reached heights of 133 feet, traveling up to six miles inland in some areas. Thousands were killed. Hundreds of thousands lost their homes. Millions lost electricity and water. More than 1,000 people were killed in Kimiko’s hometown, Kesennuma.

The Church in the Aftermath

After the disaster, Japanese churches faced a nation in mourning. People combed lists of survivors for the names of friends and loved ones. Families had lost everything. Amid the devastation, the Japanese church prayed and served. Churches served as centers for relief work and as havens for those seeking help.

Wycliffe Japan members and the staff of Wycliffe partner organization ViBi (Video Bible – a ministry of Japan Deaf Evangel Mission) each joined relief efforts, serving their neighbors and churches across the country.

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Chaos in Japan prevented Kimiko’s parents from returning to Japan immediately. When Kimiko watched her parents finally board their plane, she wondered how they could possibly recover.

After getting to Tokyo, they had to wait two more weeks before they could get all the way home. On May 28, they arrived by bus at the evacuation center and confirmed that all of their family members were safe.

“We were so happy to meet our family and embrace them. They all lived in a big gym with room for 1,200 people,” says Kimiko’s father.

Washed Away

They soon discovered that their home and their business, a small print shop, had been destroyed.

Kimiko's father stands near to where his house once stood

“This was where my front door used to be!” Kimiko’s father stood in the middle of a concrete foundation. Weeds and grass popped up through the cracks in what remained of the tile floor. Kimiko’s mother picked up one of her old coffee mugs, but nothing else was to be found.

As they entered their print shop, Kimiko’s parents saw mud oozing through all the cracks and crevices of the printing machinery. It seemed impossible to recover.

Kimiko remembers her reaction to the news. “It meant that all of my belongings in Japan had been washed away,” she says. “I felt like God had brought me back to the basics again, to rely on Him for everything.”

“It is good for me that I was afflicted…”

Today, as Kimiko’s parents look back, they see how God did what they could not imagine.

“When I first arrived back in Japan,” Kimiko’s father remembers, “two verses came to me. One was Psalm 119:71: ‘It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.’ The other was Job 1:21, where it says, ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ When these verses came to me, I couldn’t process it. We had lost everything…. How could we say it’s a blessing? How is affliction good for me?”

Kimiko's parents

Kimiko’s mother adds, “We had a vision before the earthquake that we wanted to do printing for evangelistic purposes, so it was shocking to have everything taken…We felt God was challenging us and asking us– ‘Will you still follow me on this path?’”

About a month after Kimiko’s parents’ return to Japan, volunteers from a church in Singapore arrived to clean out all the debris and mud in their print shop. Then came a Japanese team of professional carpenters. Japanese believers sponsored new printing equipment for the shop so that Kimiko’s parents could begin working together with a Christian publishing company. They began to print evangelistic material for the people in the areas hit hardest by the tsunami.

“We did experience hardship,” says Kimiko’s father, “but through this we could see God’s grace, and we were reminded that Jesus is with us all the time.”

The Kesennuma First Bible Baptist Church inorinowa (prayer circle) has resumed meeting, in Kimiko’s parents’ new dining room. In this room prayers rise for Kimiko and the other men and women serving worldwide with Wycliffe Japan, working to provide the Word that has sustained the Kesennuma believers through loss and devastation.

“All that was lost has now been restored. God took away and has now provided again. That’s our experience of Job 1:21,” say Kimiko’s parents. “‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’”

Article by Kate Roberts
Photos by Marc Ewell


This story was written for the Wycliffe News Network.

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A delightfully smelly experience: trying durian


Another week, another country.  It’s been a busy time of travel for me.   Two Wycliffe News Network colleagues and I have been in Asia meeting with some communications staff who work for the Wycliffe Global Alliance Asia-Pacific Area.  We’ve been talking through coordinating communications efforts in the region, but I’ll save you from the details because the big event happened at the end of our meetings.


Our final day together, after all the meetings were done, was set aside to try… DURIAN!  The photo above shows us happily celebrating after the tastings were done.  So, yes, I did survive!

IMG_20141013_164611But, oh boy – I dreaded this.

This spiky fruit is adored by its devoted followers, and despised by its detractors. It’s the smell – the wretched smell.  I’ve heard that you eventually learn to tolerate the stench, but for the newbies, it’s kind of…overpowering.  And, to give you a sense of how strong and pungent the smell of durian can be, in countries where’s sold, it’s not uncommon to see signs that say no smoking right next to signs that say no durian.

However, on this trip I learned is that some durians are less stinky than others, and more tolerable for first-timers to try. And, we’re in the “durian capital” of Asia, so there are many, many varieties.

So, with a little anxiety, I decided to go for it and try it.


It wasn’t that bad! I was surprised, actually.  I thought for sure that I would gag…maybe worse.  So, we were told that you have to try it three times, and then you love it.  Hmmm… we’ll we’ll see if I get to three times, but I’ve at least done one.

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Increase your giving through matching gift programs

Several Wycliffe USA families have been blessed to have the financial support of friends and family doubled through employee matching-gift programs.


Take Annie,* for instance. She had been financially supporting her brother in Southeast Asia for over twenty years. A few years ago, she and her husband each enrolled in their employers’ matching-gift programs, and qualified. Both of their employers then started matching a certain amount of Annie and her husband’s charitable giving to the charities they specify. Now, Annie’s brother receives more support, and Annie wishes she would have taken advantage of this program all along!

Ukarumpa Center, PNG

The Blake* family, serving Bible translation work in Papua New Guinea (PNG), also made use of this often-overlooked resource. They had financial supporters who worked for Boeing and Microsoft, both of which have matching-gift programs. After the paperwork was filed, both Boeing and Microsoft sent in gifts to match the amount their employees had given the Blakes. The Blakes were able to use the additional money toward plane tickets and living expenses—two things that are not cheap in PNG!

Over fifteen thousand US companies will match their employee contributions to charitable organizations like Wycliffe USA and its affiliate organizations. If you or your spouse work for one of these companies, there could be several thousand dollars available for you to direct to an organization of your choice.

Some companies also match volunteer hours or gifts from spouses, retirees, and board members. To see if your employer will match your donation, please contact your company’s HR department or matching-gift coordinator. If your company does not have a matching-gifts program, you may want to ask them to start one.

Learn more about US corporate matching gifts and find out if your company has a matching gift program here.

If you have questions, send an e-mail to or call +1 407-852-3899.

*Anne and the Blakes’ stories are real, but their names have been changed to protect their identity.

This story by Angela Nelson originally appeared on the Wycliffe USA blog

Rice field photo by Janeen Michie. Ariel view of PNG highlands by Elyse Patten.  

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