Facilitating a comm workshop in Costa Rica

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One month after getting back to my full-time regular work, I’m on the road again.  I’ve been in San Jose, Costa Rica helping the Wycliffe Americas Area Communications Director to facilitate a training workshop for staff working in communications for some of the Wycliffe Global Alliance organizations in the Americas.

Wycliffe has more than 40 organizations in the Americas.  Most are Latin American organizations who are participating in Bible translation through funding, recruiting staff, facilitating prayer, or by facilitating Bible translation projects in their own countries.

The workshop participants represented six organizations and came from six countries: Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Guatemala and El Salvador.

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We had a great week together talking about communications strategy, social media, and finding existing and gathering new resources to use to do local publicity of Bible translation ministry.  I’ve been involved in workshops like this in Africa, but it was my first time participating in one in Latin America.

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It was a good opportunity to remember some of that Spanish I learned in high school.  I remembered a lot more than I thought I would.  However, while I was usually able to order my own food at restaurants, I would otherwise have not have gotten by without the help of an interpreter all week.  We made it work.  I had a great time with the group.  It’s good to be getting back to my regular work.

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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.

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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!

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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 matching_gifts@wycliffe.org 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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Who is Wycliffe Associates and where do they fit?

A couple of times this year Jeff and I have been engaged in Wycliffe Associates banquets. Some of you might be wondering what does Wycliffe Associates have to do with Wycliffe Bible Translators…and that other organization you mention sometimes…Wycliffe Global Alliance.  Perhaps you are thinking – there are just so many organizations – how do they all fit together!?!?

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Bible translation is a cause being championed by a community – a community not only of individuals from many different countries, but also of a worldwide fellowship of organizations who are working together to see everyone have access to God’s Word in a language they understand well.

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More than 100 organizations located in countries all over the world each serve the Bible translation movement in different ways.  Some provide resources (like funds, people, and prayer), others serve primarily in promotion or church engagement, and others lead Bible translation programs.   The Wycliffe Global Alliance  is the place where these organizations come together to participate in the Bible translation movement.  Read more about the Wycliffe Global Alliance.

In the USA there are several organizations, each separately incorporated and all associated with the Alliance, that are participating in advancing Bible translation.  Here are some descriptions of a few of them:

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Wycliffe Associates (WA) focuses on recruiting volunteers who offer practical assistance that help to free up Wycliffe missionaries to focus on their primary work.  Many of these volunteers are second-career retired people who serve short-term or long-term in areas such as construction, administration, education and community development. WA mobilizes volunteers who serve locally by providing hospitality to Wycliffe missionaries who are traveling, and by advocating for Bible translation in their area as WA members. WA raises awareness for Bible translation through programs like the WA banquets, and through publications and letters. Finally, WA also raises funds to support special projects, like the B-TAK, which help translation efforts around the world. Their headquarters are in Orlando, Florida.

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Wycliffe Bible Translators, USA is the organization for which we are missionaries.  Wycliffe USA is engaged in all aspects of advocacy and resource development in the USA for Bible translation efforts worldwide including: awareness raising, prayer, recruiting, training, and fund-raising.  Their goal is to see Americans fully engaged in the Bible translation movement.  Wycliffe USA produces media and is involved in various activities that help American Christians to know about Bible translation needs. They recruit long and short-term staff to serve in Bible translation and supporting roles. They provide training and support to existing staff (including processing gifts sent to the preference of our ministry).  They engage individuals and churches in praying for on-going translation work and for communities that don’t yet have God’s Word in their language.  Finally, Wycliffe USA encourages individuals and churches to give towards specific Bible translation-related projects.  Their headquarters are in Orlando, Florida.

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The Seed Company is a subsidiary of Wycliffe USA which focuses on equipping and resourcing mother tongue translators.  They also network individuals, groups and organizations as prayer and/or financial partners directly with Bible translation programs which are administered by local people. They’ve helped many mother tongue translators receive the training, coaching and other resources they need to successfully translate God’s Word into their own language.  Their offices are in Arlington, Texas.

The Wycliffe Foundation is a subsidiary of Wycliffe USA which focuses on planned giving, helping people to support Bible translation, linguistics training and literacy efforts now and after their lifetimes using financial instruments such as wills, trusts and annuities. Their gift planning professionals help facilitate stewardship opportunities. Their offices are in Orlando, Florida.

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JAARS focuses on serving SIL International and the Wycliffe Global Alliance by helping people get involved and give to the technology, transportation and logistics needed for the global Bible translation movement. They also help in a specialty area called vernacular media services which focuses on developing biblical media resources in vernacular (in other words, local) languages. Their offices are in Waxhaw, North Carolina. Learn more about SIL International.

All of these different organizations in the USA focus on a slightly different niche of the Bible translation movement. It is a huge undertaking, and it takes a big global team working together to see Bible translation for many languages happen.

Here’s the short version to summarize each of these organizations’ areas of focus:

  • Wycliffe Associates (WA) – Volunteers and Special Projects
  • Wycliffe USA – Americans Praying, Giving and Going
  • The Seed Company – Mother Tongue Translators
  • The Wycliffe Foundation – Planned Giving
  • JAARS – Transportation, Technology, Logistics, and Vernacular Media

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To put it all together, while we were on the Wycliffe Associates banquet tour, we had the opportunity, as Wycliffe USA missionaries, to share about how we saw God work through us in our roles with the Wycliffe Global Alliance.  Then Wycliffe Associates used that as a spring board to encourage those attending the banquets to get involved in Bible translation themselves by helping provide funds for a Wycliffe Associates project.

We’re a community – a community that is working together to ultimately see people from every people, nation and language worshiping God.

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One day on the Wycliffe Associates banquet tour

After six weeks on the road speaking five nights a week on the Wycliffe Associates banquet tour in Oregon and Washington, we’re back in one place at least for a couple of months. Here’s just a glimpse of what one day on our tour was like.

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09:00am: Packing, packing, packing. Nearly every day we had to pack up to move to our next location.  We became quite efficient at the packing and unpacking procedures!

10:00am: Time to check-out of the hotel where we were staying, load the van, and head to breakfast.

10:15am: Breakfast. We usually had breakfast at Denny’s or Shari’s.  In our attempts to try to eat as healthy as possible on our tour, Jeff and I usually ordered oatmeal.  As you may imagine by the end we started getting a little tired of oatmeal!

11:30am: Check in to the next hotel.  Unpack.

12:00pm: Grab a small bite for lunch. Do laundry.  Exercise.  Catch up on our expense report and email. Work on updating our mailing list and sending letters.

02:00pm: Practice our presentation, and take care of any updates for our display.

3:30pm: Start getting ready for the banquet.

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05:00pm: Set up audio/visual equipment and our displays.

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05:45pm: Final wardrobe adjustments.

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06:00pm: Guests start arriving at the banquet venue.

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06:45pm: Time to start on salads (but not the cake! :) )

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07:00pm: Max Lewis, who is the Northwest Area Director for Wycliffe Associates, opens the program by praying, welcoming everyone, and inviting everyone to begin to eat their main course.

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On most nights we’d sit at a table during the meal to visit with banquet guests, answer some of their questions about Wycliffe, hear about their involvement and share a little of our story.

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07:30pm:  When most people had finished their meals, Max showed a couple of inspirational videos about Bible translation work around the world.

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Then each banquet guest took time to fill out a registration envelope.

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08:00pm: We’re up!  Every night we shared our stories about being involved in Bible translation through our work in computers and communications and how we saw God at work.

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Some nights I wore my favorite African outfit.  It is pretty comfortable, but my suit was a little warmer for some of the cold evenings.

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When our presentation was done, Max would invite those who attended to consider personal involvement in Bible translation by helping to fund the BTAK.  Bible Translation Acceleration Kits include a fabric solar panel that charges a battery which then powers a laptop computer and a satellite internet modem (a BGAN). It is one project for which Wycliffe Associates is raising funds, so that staff working in remote areas can check email, upload translation files to remote servers, and even Skype or do screen sharing with experienced staff that can check the progress of their translation work.

09:30pm: Clean-up and tear down. The displays and a/v equipment all go back into the van for the next nights event.

10:00pm: Dinner.  We’d usually go out for dinner with Max after every banquet to debrief the event.

11:00pm: Finally, in our rooms.

See some more photos of our tour. 

When the tour was done, we spoke to more than a thousand people, traveled more than a thousand miles, and spoke for more than 600 minutes at 25 banquets in 25 cities.  It was a great adventure!  We were so glad to be able to share some of the stories about how we’ve seen God at work over these last few years.  Our prayer is that God will use it to speak to many hearts about getting involved in Bible translation.

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Half-way! Eleven Wycliffe Associates Banquets to Go

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We’ve made it past the half-way mark.  After completing 14 Wycliffe Associates banquets in Washington and Oregon, we have 11 banquets remaining before our tour is complete.  We’ve shaked countless hands and shared our story with so many people over the last four weeks.  It’s been a great opportunity to let people know about the exciting things God is doing in Bible translation, encourage them to get involved, and hopefully build up our ministry partnership team at the same time. Check out a few photos from our tour so far. 

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We’ve been able to see a few of Jeff’s relatives along the way, and while we were in Portland, we also ran into some old friends. Serge and Olivia used to work with us in Nairobi.  Serge serves as the administrator for language programs in Eastern Congo and Olivia is a Bible translation consultant.  It was great to see them all the way out here!

Please continue to pray for us as we come closer to the completion of our banquet tour:

  • Pray that God will continue to keep us in good health so that sickness will not interrupt our ability to do our presentation at the remaining banquets.
  • Pray for safety on the roads as we travel to our locations. We’re now working our way down the coast of Oregon.
  • Pray that God will use what we share to encourage people to get involved in the ministry of Bible translation.
  • Pray that God will provide us with connections to new churches and individuals that will become new ministry partners.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Photos by Max Lewis

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