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Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada • Fall 2009 Wycliffe Partners with Christian Reformed World Missions Ethnomusicologists
Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada • Fall 2009 Wycliffe Partners with Christian Reformed World Missions Ethnomusicologists
Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada • Fall 2009 Wycliffe Partners with Christian Reformed World Missions Ethnomusicologists

Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada • Fall 2009

Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada • Fall 2009 Wycliffe Partners with Christian Reformed World Missions Ethnomusicologists

Wycliffe Partners with Christian Reformed World Missions

Ethnomusicologists Expand Their Focus

Transitions for

Translations

Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada • Fall 2009 Wycliffe Partners with Christian Reformed World Missions Ethnomusicologists
Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada • Fall 2009 Wycliffe Partners with Christian Reformed World Missions Ethnomusicologists

Building on a long legacy, Filipino believers help provide God’s Word for their country’s language groups.

Fall 2009 • Volume 27 • Number 3 Word Alive, which takes its name from Hebrews

Fall 2009 • Volume 27 • Number 3

Word Alive, which takes its name from Hebrews 4:12a, is the official publication of Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada. Its mission is to inform, inspire and involve the Christian public as partners in the worldwide Bible translation movement.

Editor: Dwayne Janke Designer: Laird Salkeld Senior Staff Writer: Doug Lockhart Staff Writers: Janet Seever, Deborah Crough Staff Photographer: Alan Hood Vice President of Communications: Dave Crough

Word Alive is published four times annually by Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada, 4316 10 St NE, Calgary, AB T2E 6K3. Copyright 2009 by Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada. Permission to reprint articles and other magazine contents may be obtained by written request to the editor. A donation of $12 annually is suggested to cover the cost of printing and mailing the magazine. (Donate online or use the reply form in this issue.) Printed in Canada by McCallum Printing Group, Edmonton.

Member: The Canadian Church Press, Evangelical Press Association. For additional copies: media_resources@wycliffe.ca To contact the editor: editor_wam@wycliffe.ca For address updates: circulation@wycliffe.ca

Note to readers: References to “SIL” are occasionally made in Word Alive. SIL is a key partner organization, dedicated to training, language development and research, translation and literacy.

Fall 2009 • Volume 27 • Number 3 Word Alive, which takes its name from Hebrews

Wycliffe Canada Vision Statement: A world where translated Scriptures lead to transformed lives among people of all languages.

Translating Scripture, Transforming Lives

Together with partners worldwide, we serve indigenous people through language-related ministries, especially Bible translation and literacy. Our goal is to empower local communities to express God’s love in Word and deed—for personal, social and spiritual transformation. Wycliffe personnel currently serve globally in nearly 1,500 language projects for more than a half billion people. However, about 2,400 minority groups still wait for the power of God working through their own languages. Wycliffe invites you to participate in this effort through prayer, service and funding.

Canadian Head Office: 4316 10 St NE, Calgary, AB T2E 6K3. Phone:

(403) 250-5411 or toll free 1-800-463-1143, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. mountain time. Fax: (403) 250-2623. Email: info@wycliffe.ca

Cover: A farm labourer near Bagabag, on Luzon Island in the Philippines, hauls sheaves of rice for processing. Photograph by Alan Hood.

In Others’ Words

“ What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

—St. Benedict of Nursia (480-543 A.D.), founder of Western Christian monasticism, in The Rule of St. Benedict

Fall 2009 • Volume 27 • Number 3 Word Alive, which takes its name from Hebrews
Foreword
Foreword

Light in Dark Moments

Dwayne Janke

Fall 2009 • Volume 27 • Number 3 Word Alive, which takes its name from Hebrews

O n a cool, overcast morning last January, Word Alive writer Doug Lockhart and photographer Alan Hood visited the vast Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. They were on

assignment in the Philippines. Across the 62-hectare site on a prominent plateau, gleam-

ing white crosses and Stars of David mark the graves of 17,202 American servicemen and hundreds of their Philippine National comrades. They died in World War II in operations against the Japanese in New Guinea and the Philippines. As Doug surveyed the seemingly endless rows of gravestones, he could scarcely comprehend the magnitude of that staggering, global conflict. “I tried to visualize the mind-numbing carnage that shook the Philippines back then,” he recalls, “and I realized I would never think of its islands again without remembering that dark history.” But Doug’s thoughts turned to another, more hopeful history:

nearly six decades of Bible translation carried out by Wycliffe workers and key partner organizations in the Philippines. Where death and destruction once reigned, Doug discovered firsthand that the life-giving gospel of Christ—as revealed through the trans- lated Scriptures—is transforming countless lives for all eternity.

“The Light of the World never abandoned this beautiful nation.”
“The Light of the World
never abandoned this
beautiful nation.”

Today, as you will see in this issue of

Word Alive, Filipino believers are an inte-

gral part of the Bible translation movement

in their country. They’re helping translate Scripture for dozens of language groups, launching literacy programs and plan-

ning to reach other language groups in the Philippines still waiting for God’s Word in their mother tongue. “To me,” explains Doug, “it’s a comforting reminder that the Light of the World never abandoned this beautiful nation, even in its darkest moments.” And as Bible translation efforts continue in the Philippines, a related light—God’s Word (Ps. 119:105)—is helping to illuminate the paths of many people in that Asian nation. May it shine ever brighter!

Fall 2009 • Volume 27 • Number 3 Word Alive, which takes its name from Hebrews

6

18

32

Contents

Features

Articles By Doug Lockhart • Photographs by Alan Hood

  • 6 A Long, Uphill Climb How two farm kids from America persevered to become part of God’s blueprint for Bible translation in the Philippines.

    • 18 Finding a Way Forward—Together Philippine partners explore innovative strategies in the push to fulfil Vision 2025.

    • 23 Vision 2025, Philippine-style

    • 26 From Other Tongue to Mother Tongue Language communities in the Philippines take ownership for Scripture translation, helped by Wycliffe’s partner organizations.

    • 32 Second Chance for a Single Mom Departments

      • 2 Foreword Light In Dark Moments.

      • 4 Watchword Christian Reformed World Missions, Wycliffe Canada Establish Formal Partnership.

        • 34 Beyond Words Harvest Gold

Photograph by Alan Hood

  • 35 Last Word Transitions for Translations. By Dave Ohlson

Alan Hood

Christian
Christian

Reformed

World

Missions,

Wycliffe

Canada

Establish

Formal

Partnership

Watchword
Watchword

W ycliffe Bible Translators of Canada (WBTC) and the denominational mis-

sions organization of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) have established a formal working relationship. WBTC Director Dave Ohlson (right in photo) and Gary Bekker (left in photo), Director of Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), signed the agreement this past May. Wycliffe Canada personnel who are mem- bers of the Christian Reformed Church will be officially recognized by their denomination

as “partner missionaries.” The new status includes encourage- ment and assistance for them, both in raising financial support and receiving prayer backing from among CRC churches. The agreement is in effect from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, when it will be reviewed for possible renewal. “This agreement will get some work done,” said Bekker, “but what we really hope it shows to Christian Reformed people is that their denominational missions agency needs folks like Wycliffe— that you are a fairly specialized ministry. That’s part of the effi- ciency in the Kingdom of God. “By God’s grace, I hope we can find ways to do even more together—a lot more.” Ohlson said it was gratifying to formalize what has been up to this time a very loose-knit affiliation between the two organiza- tions. “It’s very exciting to see denominations like the CRC, and

Alan Hood Christian Reformed World Missions, Wycliffe Canada Establish Formal Partnership Watchword W ycliffe Bible Translators

its missionary arm, the CRWM, engaging in the worldwide Bible translation movement in a more significant way.” At various times and places, both WBTC and CRWM have worked cooperatively on the field in translating and publishing Scriptures. Dozens of people from CRC ranks have served or are currently serving with Wycliffe. CRWM, established in 1888 by the CRC, helps congregations to fulfil the Great Commission and sends members to serve in more than 25 countries. The CRC includes 300,000 people in just over 1,000 congregations across North America—25 per cent of them in Canada.

Wycliffe Ethnomusicologists Expand into Performing and Visual Arts

W ycliffe field ethnomusicologists are expanding their focus to work with

local performing and visual artists so that lan-

guage groups around the world will receive an even clearer message from God’s Word. Wycliffe ethnomusicologists will still learn cultures’ music styles and work with local Christian musicians to create songs

with newly translated Scripture. Now they will also help pour the truths of God’s Word into each local culture’s perform- ing and visual arts, says Brian Schrag, ethnomusicology and arts coordinator for SIL International, Wycliffe’s key partner organization. “We are developing training programs, research aids and promotional

Alan Hood Christian Reformed World Missions, Wycliffe Canada Establish Formal Partnership Watchword W ycliffe Bible Translators

resources to bring this vision about.” About two dozen ethnomusicologists from around the world gathered this spring in Dallas, Tex., at a two-week workshop entitled “From Heart Music to Heart Arts.” They met to broaden their focus on the arts and design programs to train others in their regions. So-called “arts specialists” will research the indigenous arts of a language group and encourage creativity in communicat- ing God’s Word, says Schrag. “The arts specialist’s goal will be to spark the emer- gence of enduring traditions of Scripture- based song composition, drama, dance, storytelling, chanting, visual and other locally thriving arts.” Tapping into local artistic expressions always increases the effectiveness of lan- guage work, says Schrag, whether it is language analysis, culture learning, Bible translation, literacy, Scripture use, church life or community development.

Few Translation Projects Remaining in Ghana World’s Known Living Languages Stands at 6,912 W ork has
Few Translation
Projects Remaining
in Ghana
World’s Known Living Languages Stands at 6,912
W ork has begun in almost
all of the remaining lan-
guages needing Bible transla-
tion in Ghana, Africa.
Of the 79 languages spo-
ken in the nation, only about
seven still have a definite need,
reports The Ghana Institute
of Linguistics, Literacy and
Bible Translation (GILLBT), a
Wycliffe partner organization.
GILLBT colleagues view
these remaining needs as
a great opportunity for the
Ghanaian Church to become
more motivated and involved
to get God’s Word to every
people group there and
beyond.
T he number of languages
used on our globe stands at
6,912, according to the updated
Ethnologue database maintained
by SIL, Wycliffe’s key partner
organization.
In the past four years, research
reported to and collected by SIL
shows that 80 languages have
been distinguished from other
previously listed ones. During
that same time period, an addi-
tional 80 languages, not associ-
ated with any other languages,
have been newly recognized.
Meanwhile, about 91 languages
have become extinct—no longer
spoken—in the past four years.
They are part of the 421 endan-
gered languages that have joined
the rolls of those no longer in
daily use since SIL began record-
ing language statistics in 1950.
Some or all of the Bible has
been translated into 2,454
languages. Bible translation is
underway in 1,998 languages,
spoken by 1.2 billion people.
Nearly 2,400 languages, repre-
senting 200 million, still need
Scripture translation, but have
no work even started.
Twenty-
five Years
T he Senegal, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau Branch of
SIL International, Wycliffe’s key partner organization,
of Bible
Translation
is celebrating 25 years of Bible translation and language
work this year.
Branch partners, dignitaries
Mauritania
Celebrated
and government officials joined
SIL workers for a special event in
Senegal to mark the milestone in
Atlantic
Ocean
in Africa
Senegal
Delivering Translated
Scriptures Digitally
D elivering translated
Scripture in relevant and
late April. The day included speeches, displays and
demonstrations.
So far, Bible translation efforts have resulted in
three completed New Testaments and some Old
Testament portions. Projects are underway in more
than 20 of the 40-plus languages spoken in these
three northwest Africa countries.
Mali
Gambia
Guinea-Bissau
Guinea
easily accessible ways in globally
diverse situations has always been a challenge for
Wycliffe Bible Translators. Kalaam Media Ltd., a
newly formed British company, is aiming to meet
some of these needs through digital means.
Kalaam is working to make translated
Scripture and related materials available for
use, downloading and distribution through
the web, and acces-
sible by cell phones,
computers and PDAs,
such as Blackberries
and iPods, says Durk
Meijer, the company’s director.
“Mobile technology helps people to pass
Scripture from one hand-held device to another,”
explains Meijer, “thus making the Word of God
easily available in remote and restricted areas,
where access is sometimes almost impossible.”
Kalaam’s goal is for language communities to
have God’s Word in print, audio, and sometimes
even as a story using video. This will be done
Word Count
using websites in their language, looking and
feeling natural from their cultural perspective,
says Meijer. As appropriate, this can be done in
a story-telling format, song, poetry or chant, to
encourage people to spread God’s story to oth-
ers they know.
In the past century, God’s Word has been exten-
sively distributed in print form, as well as in audio
and visual forms on tape, film, CD and DVD.
“The electronic revolution now means
Scripture can also be shared digitally on com-
mon handheld devices, which are flooding the
market,” says Meijer. “Unfortunately, no existing
Bible agency or publishing house is digitally
delivering Scriptures in minority languages rel-
evant in the cultural context of the people that
we’re aiming to serve.”
This void prompted some visionaries to estab-
lish the U.K.-based Kalaam Media. It is starting
a pilot phase in which websites will be devel-
oped for three languages.
26
Letters in the
English alphabet.
12 Letters in the
alphabet of the
Rotokas language
of Papua New
Guinea—fewest
number of any in
the world.
74
Letters in the
alphabet of Khmer
(Cambodia’s
official language)—
largest number of
any in the world.
Source: Pass the Word

Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

5

LONG

before Dave Ohlson moved to Calgary in 2004 to begin

serving as director of Wycliffe Canada, he and his wife Joan (pictured at right) called the Philippines home. For six years, they helped translate the New Testament for a small community in the highlands of Luzon Island. Then from 1982 to 1988, Dave directed the Philippines branch of SIL, Wycliffe’s main partner organization, during one of that country’s most turbulent periods— the revolution that ousted former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Back then, the Ohlsons were sometimes invited to dinner parties in Manila or other events where they found themselves mingling with government ministers, ambassadors and Filipino movie stars. At one special event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Magsaysay Foundation—established in honour of former Philippines president Ramon Magsaysay—they were even instructed how to dress appropriately. The guest list included former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, and other notable figures. “Strange things you never think will happen to a couple of farm kids!” Dave says, smiling at the recollection. The Ohlsons attended on behalf of SIL Philippines, which was established in 1953 at the invitation of President Magsaysay on behalf of the Philippines government. Because the foundation had honoured SIL with an award for “interna- tional understanding” in 1973, SIL leaders had often been invited to attend social functions hosted by the Magsaysay family. “Joan became quite good friends with the former first lady, President

Magsaysay’s wife,” explains Dave, “ and we knew their kids.

. .

.

“At the foundation’s 25th anniversary,

we met

all these dignitaries,” he recalls

with a chuckle, “and I thought, ‘What are

we doing here?’ ”

HUMBLE ROOTS

What they were doing was building rela- tionships, as ambassadors of Christ called to serve language communities in the Asian island chain. By God’s grace, many of those relationships formed in Manila and throughout the Philippines helped facilitate SIL’s work in language research, translation and literacy.

  • 6 Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

CL

UPHILL A LONG

IMB

How two farm kids from America persevered to become part of God’s blueprint for Bible translation in the Philippines.

Articles by Doug Lockhart • Photographs By Alan Hood

While walking in Barlig village last January (above), Dave and Joan Ohlson pause to greet a
While walking in Barlig village last
January (above), Dave and Joan
Ohlson pause to greet a young girl
and her mom. In just a few more
years, this youngster will have access
to the entire Finallig Bible, thanks
to translation work done by the
Ohlsons and many others over the
past four decades. Virgie Coyao (at
left with Joan and in inset photo with
Dave) is a Barlig resident who helped
Dave translate portions of the New
Testament during the late ‘70s.

What’s more, Dave was instrumental in helping to establish Translators Association of the Philippines (TAP), an indigenous organization dedicated to Bible translation and a key player as SIL and its partner organizations strategize for the future (see “Finding Their Way Forward,” pg. 18). With four children to care for and sometimes overwhelm- ing responsibilities, the Ohlsons persevered to invest more than 30 years of their lives in the Philippines. Along the way, they rejoiced as more and more language groups received God’s Word—and wept with colleagues who suffered through malaria and other diseases, or lost loved ones in horrific accidents. Dave grew up on a farm in Washington state, while Joan was raised on an orange grove in southern California. They met in 1963, when Dave, a former U.S. serviceman who trained as a medic, was stationed at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, Calif. Before they met, Dave called Joan at home one Friday night when he and an air force buddy were looking for dates. “So Joan comes on the phone,” recalls Dave, “but she’s got a horrible cold and she can hardly talk. She says ‘hello’ with a croak and I’m thinking, ‘Isn’t she a petite blonde girl? This sounds like a woman wrestler!’ ” Joan turned down Dave’s initial request for a date because she only knew him through an earlier, brief introduction. But soon they were double dating with Dave’s buddy and his girlfriend. In 1964, Joan and Dave were married in San Bernardino.

What’s more, Dave was instrumental in helping to establish Translators Association of the Philippines (TAP), an

CHANGING PLANS

Following their initial linguistic training, the Ohlsons arrived in Manila in 1974 with their daughters Ruth, 7, Barbara, 5 and 18-month-old Amy in tow. Dave and Joan thought they would be spending the first few months there studying Tagalog, the national language spoken in the Philippines, before being assigned to a language project. Instead, Dave was asked by administrators to do language survey to help determine the need for Bible translation throughout the country. Dave agreed and shortly thereafter, the family moved to the SIL Centre in Bagabag, situated nearly 300 km north of Manila. The Ohlsons joined other colleagues who had established the centre a few years earlier. In that first year, Dave had to leave his family frequently to do language survey. On one of his first survey trips, he visited Barlig, a small town in Luzon’s Mountain Province where just a few generations ago, headhunting was still practised. Today, the peaceful mountain community of some 2,500 residents is home to three churches, schools, a hospital and hard-working families who tend the spectacular rice terraces that surround their homes. On that first visit, it struck Dave that Barlig might be a good place for his family to settle into the work of Bible translation. “I was very taken with the place in one sense,” says Dave, “but at the same time, we wanted to go where God wanted us to go.”

Philippines At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of the Philippines.

Location:

Southeastern Asia, slightly north of the equator

and separated from mainland Asia by the South China Sea.

Capital: City of Manila–1.66 million pop.

Geography: 300,000 sq. km (smaller than Newfoundland). The archipelago consists of 7,107 islands; an estimated 4,000 are inhabited. The islands are clustered in three main areas:

Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao, with 67% of the total land mass contained within the latter two. More than 70% mountains, with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands.

Climate: Tropical marine; northeast monsoon (Nov.-April) and southwest monsoon (May-Oct.) Government: Federal republic with congress; democracy; has 80 provinces. Economy: A mixed agricultural and industrial economy. Population: 96 million (3 times that of Canada).

Peoples: Most of the population is composed of various ethno-linguistic groups. From north to south, the most numerous are the Ilocano, the Pangasinan, the Kapampangan, the Tagalog, the Bicolano, and the Visayan. There are 107 tribal peoples in some of the more inaccessible mountain areas.

What’s more, Dave was instrumental in helping to establish Translators Association of the Philippines (TAP), an

Religion: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestants 12%, Muslim 5%, and a small population of Buddhists, Bahá’í, Hindus, Sikhs, animists, and those with no religion. This plurality of faiths creates an openness to discuss religion or other faith-based ideas.

Languages: 171. Official languages: Filipino, English. Only 8 major dialects used in wider communication, often leaving minority language speakers marginalized and feeling inferior.

Bible translation status: Bible/NT available in 57 languages through work by SIL (Wycliffe’s key partner organization) • Bible translation in progress by SIL and others - 70 • Estimated

total remaining Bible translation need – 10-20 languages. Manila Literacy Rate: 93% of adult population (15
total remaining Bible
translation need – 10-20
languages.
Manila
Literacy Rate: 93% of
adult population
(15 years and older).
Sources: The World
Factbook; Operation
World (21st Century
Edition); Ethnologue, SIL
Philippines, Misc.
For more than a year, Dave continued to travel throughout the Philippines on trips of two
For more than a year, Dave continued to travel throughout the Philippines on trips of two
For more than a year, Dave continued to travel throughout the Philippines on trips of two

For more than a year, Dave continued to travel throughout the Philippines on trips of two to three weeks in duration. In the meantime, he and Joan were praying about where they should begin a language project—and Barlig kept coming to mind.

For more than a year, Dave continued to travel throughout the Philippines on trips of two

CHALLENGING CONDITIONS

American War at the end of the 19th century. Besides English, Tagalog and Ilocano (a trade language) are also spoken in the region. However, Dave’s earlier language survey had determined that the people of Barlig, who speak a dialect of Eastern Bontoc called Finallig, needed a mother tongue translation of the New Testament.

When the Ohlsons finally moved to Barlig in November 1975, the assignment came with a price: their two older girls, Ruth and Barbara, had to stay behind in Bagabag to attend school. Over the next six years, all three girls—and their brother Tim, born in 1976—lived for periods of time at Bagabag with friends of the family. Ruth also lived for a time at Faith Academy in Manila, but all of the children spent summer vacations and other holidays with their parents. “I think that was the hardest part of moving to Barlig,” says Joan. “Amy was the one we took with us, because she was the littlest. “We weren’t separated for long periods of time—but that was still kind of hard.” While they endured plenty of hardships during their six years in Barlig, the Ohlsons seldom mention them. They lived in a plain house with few amenities and almost daily had to climb up and down steep, often-slippery slopes that led to an elementary school, a health clinic and a small store. Dave began his work in Barlig by studying the local language. Eventually he was able to translate a medical book and a few other materials. Then a young believer in the village, Virginia (Virgie) Coyao, agreed to help begin translation of the New Testament. Virgie, like many of her neighbours in Mountain Province, had learned English as a child because Americans had estab- lished schools in the Philippines following the Spanish-

JUGGLING WORK AND FAMILY

Over the next five years, Dave and Virgie worked together to translate the books of Mark and Acts, and rough drafts of the remaining New Testament books. During that time, Dave juggled his work in the language project with responsibilities as the regional area director for SIL. In that role, he again travelled extensively to visit 36 translation teams working in the region— many of them in hard-to-reach locations. The translation teams communicated by radio and tried to keep tabs on one another, but most of them experienced plenty of anxious moments. On one occasion, the Ohlson’s one-year-old son Tim grew gravely ill and began convulsing. Dave and Joan left their daugh- ter Amy with Virgie and drove Tim to a mission hospital at the famous Banaue rice terraces. After doctors treated Tim, Joan travelled with him by bus to the SIL centre in Bagabag, while Dave headed back to Barlig in their Land Cruiser. Just minutes from home, on a narrow, wind- ing road, he had to swerve suddenly to avoid a pick-up truck filled with young people. His truck sailed over the edge of a steep cliff and thundered downhill some 12 metres before crashing into a tree. Miraculously, Dave escaped with just a few bruises and managed to climb up the hill, get help and eventually retrieve his battered truck. For Joan, Dave’s frequent absences were a time to lean on the

“ I was very taken with the place in one sense, but at the same time, we wanted to go where God wanted us to go.”

(At left, in middle) Joan helps usher in the New Year during a lively celebration in Barlig. Many of the town’s residents —including a local policeman (above)—participated in dances, songs and skits held outside the municipal hospital and police station.

“ I was very taken with the place in one sense, but at the same time,
“ I was very taken with the place in one sense, but at the same time,
“ I was very taken with the place in one sense, but at the same time,
“ I was very taken with the place in one sense, but at the same time,
“ I was very taken with the place in one sense, but at the same time,

Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

11

In Barlig, Joan helps a woman wash a basketful of camotes (kah-MOH-tehs), or sweet potatoes, in preparation for the evening meal. Such chores were part of Joan’s daily life during the six years she, Dave and their children lived in the community.

In Barlig, Joan helps a woman wash a basketful of camotes (kah-MOH-tehs), or sweet potatoes, in
In Barlig, Joan helps a woman wash a basketful of camotes (kah-MOH-tehs), or sweet potatoes, in
In Barlig, Joan helps a woman wash a basketful of camotes (kah-MOH-tehs), or sweet potatoes, in
In Barlig, Joan helps a woman wash a basketful of camotes (kah-MOH-tehs), or sweet potatoes, in

Lord, and on Filipino friends like Virgie. “I told the Lord when I first went up there that He’d have to give me some special friends,” says Joan, “and He did. He was so faithful.” Those friends helped Joan cope when their daughters Ruth and Barbara both contracted malaria at different times, or other trials threatened to overwhelm. Many of the villagers became “uncles and aunties” to the Ohlsons’ four children.

STRATEGIC MOVE

In 1982, some six years into their language project, Dave agreed to

let his name stand for the position of Philippine field director of SIL.

“Lo and behold, I ended up getting elected

. . .

which was the

furthest thing from my mind,” Dave says. “I remember standing up and telling the group, ‘You don’t know what you’ve done. This was not supposed to happen!’ ” His election meant that he and his family would have to leave their language project and move to Manila. By the time the Ohlsons were ready to move, other personnel had stepped in to continue the translation work in Barlig. But it was still hard to leave the people they had grown to love.

“It was a low point for me,” Joan says. “Not that we felt we were the only ones that could do it, but it was kind of the death

of a

dream. . .

.

“That was hard, just to set it aside. We felt that was why we came, to do Bible translation.” Life in Manila required some huge adjustments for the whole family. For Joan, it meant learning to relate to different strata of Philippine society. “Switching my mind frame from interacting with the people in the village, to the very prominent, upper class people in

Manila that we would host and be with

it took me a while to

. . . realize God had a purpose in all of that.” Looking back, the Ohlsons can see that one of God’s purposes was to have them engage with Filipino church leaders, business- men and others who shared the vision for serving language communities, including Bible translation. In 1983, shortly after becoming director of SIL Philippines, Dave helped form the Translators Association of the Philippines (TAP)—which grew out of an earlier coalition of Filipino believers, the Translators Committee of the Philippines. Today, TAP oversees a staff of 73 Filipino members working in 17 language projects and is one of several indigenous groups working to determine the future of Bible translation in the Philippines. “Probably the most satisfying thing we did in the Philippines,” says Dave, “was to work together with Filipino colleagues to help them establish an organization like TAP.”

Lord, and on Filipino friends like Virgie. “I told the Lord when I first went up

“ I told the Lord when I first went up there that He’d have to give me some special friends, and He did. He was so faithful.”

Lord, and on Filipino friends like Virgie. “I told the Lord when I first went up

The Ohlsons reminisce with Thomas Matib (above, far right), an elder in the local Baptist church, and his pastor, Dexter Cafay (second from right). Matib serves on the Old Testament translation committee and also helped oversee a revision of the Finallig New Testament. At a midweek prayer meeting in the small church (right), Cafay preaches from the book of Romans. Those involved in translating the Finallig Old Testament hope its projected completion in 2010 and ensuing publication will encourage Barlig’s residents to read the full Bible in their mother tongue.

Shortly after dawn on a weekday morning, a van loaded with commuters departs from Barlig on
Shortly after dawn on a weekday morning, a van loaded with commuters departs from Barlig on
Shortly after dawn on a weekday morning, a van loaded with commuters departs from Barlig on

Shortly after dawn on a weekday morning, a van loaded with commuters departs from Barlig on its daily run to surrounding communities. Life in the rice-producing town of some 2,500 residents carries on much as it has for centuries, whereas the bustling city of Manila (below) boasts modern “advances” like mega-malls, skyscrapers, and a thriving film and television industry.

REVOLUTION

While the Ohlsons’ move to Manila also reunited them with their children, it brought some new challenges—including the need for constant vigilance. Civil unrest, which had escalated in 1983 after the assassination of Philippine statesman Benigno Aquino, exploded in 1986 following a disputed election that resulted in another victory for Ferdinand Marcos. Filipinos reacted by pouring into the streets by the thousands, in a protest that became known as the People Power Revolution. At various times throughout those restless years between 1983 and 1986, expatriates had to be especially cautious.

“Joan and I actually developed a plan in Manila,” Dave recalls. “We never went to work the same way two days in a row, because there were death squads in Manila that were killing

prominent people

. . .

so you just didn’t know.”

Furthermore, Dave’s name was purportedly on the “hit list.” “Those were very tense days,” adds Dave. The uncertainty of those years underscored the wisdom of forming an indigenous organization such as TAP, that could carry on the work of Bible translation, should expatriate translators be forced to pull out.

MORE FILIPINO INVOLVEMENT

From the earliest years of translation efforts in the Philippines,

Filipinos—like Virgie Coyao in Barlig—had served as co-transla- tors and contributed to Bible translation in a variety of ways. But there were also many other Filipinos eager to see God’s Word available for their people—including some of the high-ranking officials that pushed Dave and Joan out of their “comfort zones” in Manila’s social circuit. “We had some wonderful opportunities to meet some very

prominent officials that loved the

Lord. . . .

” says Joan, for

whom the once-daunting task of relating to Manila’s elite

became a source of joy. “I began to see the compassion they had

and that they

. . . wanted to be a part of seeing God’s Word translated into the

mother tongues of the people in the Philippines.”

“Some of that goes back to the foresight and vision of the people who first came to the Philippines with SIL,” adds Dave, “to establish those kinds of relationships with the government. “Dr. Carlos Romulo, who was a general during WWII and was kind of the Filipino counterpart of General Douglas MacArthur, was actually the head of our first advisory committee. “Out of that grew engagement with all kinds of people; former

vice presidents, ministers of education

people like Sedfrey

. . . Ordoñez, who ended up being an ambassador to the United Nations and Manny Pelaez, who ended up as the ambassador to the United States.”

(Above) Dave chats with Doralyn Challoy and Romeo Lamaton, part of a five-member team that’s translating
(Above) Dave chats with Doralyn Challoy and Romeo Lamaton, part
of a five-member team that’s translating the Finallig Old Testament.
They’re among a new wave of mother tongue translators who are
moving Bible translation forward in the Philippines. Later, in Manila,
(below) the Ohlsons visit their favourite ice-cream shop, where in days
gone by they would gather with SIL colleagues to enjoy a tasty banana
split or other frozen treat.

“ Those were very tense days.”

REVOLUTION While the Ohlsons’ move to Manila also reunited them with their children, it brought some
REVOLUTION While the Ohlsons’ move to Manila also reunited them with their children, it brought some
REVOLUTION While the Ohlsons’ move to Manila also reunited them with their children, it brought some
REVOLUTION While the Ohlsons’ move to Manila also reunited them with their children, it brought some
REVOLUTION While the Ohlsons’ move to Manila also reunited them with their children, it brought some

Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

15

While examining a friend’s photo album in Barlig, Joan and Dave enjoy some old photos of
While examining a friend’s photo album in Barlig, Joan and Dave enjoy some old photos of

While examining a friend’s photo

album in Barlig, Joan and Dave enjoy some old photos of their family. When the Ohlsons first

arrived in 1975, they had to leave their daughters Ruth (beside Dave in inset photo) and Barbara (centre, front row) with friends in Bagabag so they could attend school. They brought their youngest daughter Amy (far right) to Barlig and their son Tim was born almost a year after they settled in the village.

While examining a friend’s photo album in Barlig, Joan and Dave enjoy some old photos of
While examining a friend’s photo album in Barlig, Joan and Dave enjoy some old photos of

FULL CIRCLE

While the Ohlsons have been privileged to befriend many prom- inent Filipinos, they still hold a special place in their hearts for the people of Barlig. After Dave and Joan left the scenic mountain community in 1982, their dear friend and colleague Virgie continued to help consult on some early drafts. Later, a new team of mother tongue translators was assembled. They, along with expatriate personnel—including Wycliffe Canada members Rundell and Judi Maree—completed work on the New Testament translation. In 2004, the Ohlsons were among several translators hon- oured in Barlig as the community dedicated the Finallig New Testament. The colourful ceremony helped unite local believers as they celebrated the arrival of God’s Word in their heart language (see Word Alive, Spring 2005). The Finallig New Testament publication was a source of pride for the community. Following the dedication event in 2004, the local Catholic church purchased 900 copies. Individuals purchased 300 more and New Testaments are awarded to high school graduates to this day. In January of this year, Dave and Joan visited Barlig again. While there, the Ohlsons were encouraged to meet a group of well-trained, mother tongue translators in Barlig who are taking on the challenge of translating the Old Testament into their language (see “From Other Tongue to Mother Tongue,” pg. 26). Dave and Joan share the translators’ hopes that on comple- tion, the Old Testament translation will find greater acceptance and stimulate its readers to explore the New Testament.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Dave finishes his term of office at Wycliffe Canada this December. What lies ahead for the Ohlsons? Dave and Joan aren’t sure, but they’ve always been careful to listen to God before making the next move. In the past, the Lord has used some hallway conversations and unexpected phone calls to direct their lives—and often move them halfway around the world. “I used to say, ‘Never talk to anyone in the hallway,’ ” says Dave with a grin. While they were living in the United States in the late ’80s, leading a Wycliffe U.S. orientation course for new candidates, one such conversation resulted in a new assignment for the Ohlsons: launching a field training course in the Philippines for new translation personnel assigned to serve in Asia. That ministry kept them busy for six years, until Dave received a nighttime phone call from another friend and Wycliffe leader. That discussion led to Dave’s next assignment as

the Asia-Pacific Area director for Wycliffe. What God has in store for Joan and him now is yet to be revealed. But who knows: God may just tap Dave on the shoulder, through another hallway conversation or a midnight phone call.

While examining a friend’s photo album in Barlig, Joan and Dave enjoy some old photos of
While examining a friend’s photo album in Barlig, Joan and Dave enjoy some old photos of

“ I used to say, ‘Never talk to anyone in the hallway.’ ”

Dave planted this acacia tree in 1975, in front of the house they built at SIL’s administrative centre in Bagabag. Its firm roots, healthy leaves and spreading branches mirror the fruit produced by the Ohlsons’ heartfelt investment in the people of the Philippines, during a ministry that spanned more than 30 years.

Throughout the Philippines, locals utilize motorized “tricycles” like this one to transport everything from people to food and building sup- plies. If Filipinos need to transport something, they find a way—and that same “can do” attitude is fuelling the activities of Bible translation.

Philippine partners explore innovative strategies in the push to fulfil Vision 2025.

Finding a Way Forward—

J ohn Chesnut wants to set the record straight: there’s still plenty

of work to do in the Philippines. At least, the work of facilitat-

ing language development and Bible translation for this Asian

Together

country of 96 million inhabitants. Chesnut, who directs the Philippines branch of SIL—Wycliffe’s main part- ner organization dedicated to training,

translation, literacy and language research—says after 56 years

of service, the work is not yet finished.

“For years we have felt like the work is nearly done,” says

Chesnut, “but

. . .

SIL’s role is changing, moving from leading

projects, to partnering and facilitating.” Just how translation efforts must change to adapt to new reali- ties in the country was the focus of a strategy session, held last January, that brought together key Bible translation partners in the Philippines. Together, they continued to explore three inter- related topics: how to partner more efficiently to complete Bible translation for remaining languages that need it; how to better engage with the Philippine Church in that work; and how to help mobilize more Filipinos to serve overseas in Bible translation.

Rich Legacy

In addressing these questions, Chesnut joins leaders from the Translators Association of the Philippines (TAP) and Sa Bawat Wika 2025 (see “Vision 2025, Philippine-style,” pg. 23). Another key partner is expected to be the recently formed Wycliffe Philippines, led by Dr. Romerlito Macalinao. His ori- entation to Bible translation needs in the Philippines has so far

included a trip to Dallas, Tex., where he met with leaders of the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL). Macalinao and GIAL officials discussed

“ We are moving from being the leader of projects, to being more of a partner and facilitator.”

how they could work together to equip more Filipinos for the work of Bible translation. The former pastor and seminary professor officially began his post at WBT Philippines on June 1. Wycliffe Philippines and Sa Bawat Wika (Tagalog for “In Every Language”) are relatively new “players.” TAP, however, has been involved in Bible translation since 1983. And SIL’s involvement spans more than half a century. Since SIL’s work began in the Philippines in 1953, translation teams have helped com- plete New Testaments or entire Bibles for 57 language groups. The organization has also assisted other groups engaged in Bible transla- tion, such as New Tribes Mission and TAP. SIL has also made a considerable contribution to language description and analysis. Last year,

SIL dedicated an impressive research library and archives of more than 3,500 titles that include dictionaries, read- ing primers, traditional stories and a wide variety of unpublished works such as linguistic analyses of various languages. With such a legacy, it’s easy to understand how some could conclude that language work in the Philippines is all but done. However, there’s still a need for workers who believe God is calling them to further Bible translation in the Philippines.

(Above, right) John Chesnut, director of SIL in the Philippines, shows Dave Ohlson a copy of the Calamian Tagbanwa New Testament. Nearly 50 years in the making, the hard-won translation is part of a growing catalogue that includes Scripture in 57 languages, more than 3,500 academic publications, audio and video recordings and 33,000 photographic images.

“They would be part of a multicultural team, which will

involve Filipinos,” Chesnut says, “

so we really are looking

. . . for people that are willing to come and to work in multicultural community.” One major “hole” needing to be filled is in the area of Scripture use, which entails encouraging language communities to read and study their translated Scriptures. Newcomers could be involved in that work, adds Chesnut. Meanwhile, work continues in 21 New Testament transla- tion projects; personnel are also involved in 30 other languages, assisting with Old Testament translation or revision of existing New Testament translations. What’s more, an ongoing joint TAP and SIL language survey endeavour indicates that Bible translation may still be needed for up to 20 more language communities.

Changing Times, Changing Needs

A number of factors are driving the Philippine translation part- ners to re-examine the way they do business. Probably the main driving force is Vision 2025, introduced by Wycliffe leaders in 1999. It’s a vision for the whole Church to see Bible translation underway, in every language that needs it, by 2025. Coupled with that is the Last Languages Initiative, a related strategy to accelerate Bible translation for the nearly 2,400 lan- guages still needing translation (see “Good News for the Last Languages,” Word Alive, Spring 2009). Then there’s the recognition that the Philippines has changed significantly over the past five decades. The country is home to some 171 languages, but Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English, also widely spoken, is the medi- um of instruction in higher education. This multilingual envi- ronment creates some daunting challenges in determining just

(Above) At a strategy meeting held last January in Manila, some key players in the Philippine

(Above) At a strategy meeting held last January in Manila, some key players in the Philippine Bible translation movement ask for God’s guidance as they begin their session. They believe increased involvement by the Philippine Church is crucial to furthering the ministries of Bible translation in the Philippines and throughout Asia.

(Left) The lure of higher wages draws thousands of Filipinos to seek employment overseas. Leaders of the Philippine Bible translation movement believe that Christians among these hard-working, well- educated and adaptable emigrants are well positioned to make a sig- nificant contribution to the work of Bible translation worldwide.

how many language groups really still need Scripture translation. In terms of education, Filipinos now have greater access to higher learning. As a result, many Christians in the country are well positioned to contribute to Bible translation as linguists, translators, consultants and support personnel, through TAP and other organizations like the Northern Philippines Mother Tongue Translators Association (see “From Other Tongue to Mother Tongue,” pg. 26.) Add to the mix a Church that has matured over the years, and an adaptability and resiliency that enables Filipinos to blend in with almost any culture around the world, and you have some huge potential—and challenges—facing the Bible translation movement in the Philippines.

Boi Awid (above, far right), director of the Translators Association of the Philippines, “talks shop” with leaders of the Philippine Bible Society (PBS). Founded in 1899, PBS has translated the Scriptures for eight major Philippine languages and distributes up to 13 million Scripture-related publications annually. General Secretary Nora Lucero (second from left) believes the availability of Scripture in mother tongue languages is crucial

to her country’s future. “We pray that the Bible can really change us as a

nation

. . .

and it can be seen in the way we behave and act as a people.”

Planning Together

While the “partnership” buzzword seems overused in business, education and church circles, the Philippine Bible translation partners believe that working together truly provides the best

way forward. But even the way they partner is being reevaluated. For example, as SIL and TAP discuss how best to help finish Bible translation for the estimated 10 to 20 language groups still needing it, they’re hopeful that the people who speak those lan- guages will take ownership for Bible translation. “In all of those cases,” says Chesnut, “we’re hoping TAP, SIL and other partners can work together to help facilitate the lan- guage communities’ efforts to do their own translation.” “We’ll be working hand-in-hand to provide mother tongue training, consulting—those types of things,” adds Chesnut. “More and more, SIL and TAP are saying, ‘We’re working

together

. . .

on joint initiatives and strategies and we’re going to

assist these language communities jointly as well.’” TAP director Justino “Boi” Awid currently oversees more than 70 Filipino members serving in 17 language projects that range from Bible translation to literacy and language-based development.

One TAP project in Luzon’s Bicol region marks a first for the 26-year-old organization. In the past, TAP personnel first had to locate on site, then spend months or years

“ We’ll be working

learning and analyzing the language before translation could begin; in Bicol TAP is focus- ing instead on training and resourcing mother tongue translators as they translate the New
hand-in- Testament for two language groups (see “From Other Tongue to Mother Tongue,” pg. 26.) Wycliffe Canada director Dave Ohlson says this approach is a major change of strategy for TAP. “We’re seeing more and more sophisti- cation in the minority groups across the Philippines,” says Ohlson, who once served as director of Wycliffe’s Asia-Pacific Area. “Language communities are much better equipped today to do translation. “So TAP, as a facilitator, is likely going to see projects completed a lot quicker.” “Also one of our strategies now is to work

hand to

provide

mother

tongue

training,

consulting—

those types

of things.”

Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

21

Rudy Barlaan (far left), a Filipino SIL member, responds to a presentation about the changing role

Rudy Barlaan (far left), a Filipino SIL member, responds to a presentation about the changing role of SIL in the Philippines during a staff meet- ing at the organization’s administra- tive centre in Bagabag. The future of language development in the coun- try is being shaped largely by Vision 2025, which seeks to accelerate the pace of Bible translation and involve the whole Church more effectively.

with Bible societies,” adds Awid. “Starting two years ago, we entered into a formal relationship with the Philippine Bible Society (PBS). “I think the work is being done faster with PBS acting as translation consultants also.”

At Home and Abroad

While TAP is committed to finishing Scripture translation in the Philippines, it has also begun to look beyond its borders. Two of its members have served in Indonesia, while two others have laboured in other Southeast Asian countries. “Previously we were only focusing on local language projects,”

says Awid, “but now our eyes are set on overseas as well, because of Vision 2025. “I believe Filipinos can contribute to its fulfilment,” he adds.

“We are multicultural and

we are also multilingual. Millions

. . . of Filipinos are already scattered around the globe. Many of

them have become Christians and in the process, they have

“ Language communities are much better equipped today to do translation.

become part of the missions force as well.” Clearly, TAP and SIL are on the same page as they look to the future. But they’re not trusting solely in boardroom discussions and strategic plans to find their way forward. At the January planning meeting, John Chesnut—a former pastor—led those assembled in a morning devotional from Mark’s Gospel. In chapter six, Jesus miraculously feeds 5,000 curious Israelites who have assembled in the wilderness to hear Him teach. “God often begins with the limited resources we have,” Chesnut reminded the team. “We have to let God be God as we do our planning—putting it all in His hands.”

Rudy Barlaan (far left), a Filipino SIL member, responds to a presentation about the changing role
T he director of Sa Bawat Wika 2025 (SBW), Dr. Lloyd Estrada, succinctly describes the organization

T he director of Sa Bawat Wika 2025 (SBW), Dr. Lloyd

Estrada, succinctly describes the organization he

directs: “It’s Vision 2025, with a Philippine flavour.”

In other words, Sa Bawat Wika (Tagalog for “In

Every Language”) is fully behind Wycliffe’s vision to see Bible translation started, in every language that needs it, by 2025. But Estrada stresses that SBW must be viewed as something more than another Wycliffe program in the Philippines. “At this point it is the flagship initiative of Wycliffe here

in the Philippines,” he explains. “But we want it to become a movement whereby the churches are the ones propelling it.” SBW’s director says there are approximately 70,000 Christian churches in the Philippines. “A vast majority of those churches do not know anything

about Bible translation

. . .

so we are raising up advocates for

this work.” His strategy is to share the vision with denomina-

tional heads, mission leaders, church bishops and other prominent Christians. He’s well equipped to do so, with nearly two decades of pastoral experience throughout the Philippines. Estrada also serves as a board vice-chairman for the Philippine Missions Association, which aims to mobilize the global Filipino Church in evangelizing the nations, including unreached people groups in the Philippines.

Philippine-style

Speaking Their Language

When he talks to pastors about Bible translation, Estrada says he speaks their language. “A pastor always wants to know, is this related to evangelism? Discipleship? Church planting? Will this help my church grow? “When I go either in one-on-one meetings or large group meetings, I always show the connection between Bible transla- tion and these things, and so they hear the message in their own language, if you could call it that.” However, Estrada faces two main challenges in raising awareness about the need for Bible translation. First, he believes that the Philippine Church has yet to embrace the idea of cross-cultural missions. “For the majority of churches in the Philippines, starting a

Former pastor Dr. Lloyd Estrada (left), director of Sa Bawat Wika 2025, believes the Philippine Church can play a key role in finish- ing the Bible translation task. His role is to help raise awareness about the need for Scripture translation among the country’s estimated 70,000 Christian churches—like the small Assembly of God (AOG) con- gregation near Iriga City (above).

‘ No wonder the

Christians here

in the island of

Palawan are

not reaching

their potential

spiritually,

because we are

not discipling

them in the

Scriptures

in their own

languages!’ ”

similar church—a church that’s like yours, but in another loca- tion—is missions.” Second, the lack of financial resources hinders many churches from doing missions.

“In Palawan for example (an island province of the Philippines), the average church size is less than 50. Most of the pastors there are bi-vocational—they also teach in a school or they drive a [motorized taxi] tricycle or they own a business, because their churches are too small and too poor to support

their own

pastor. . .

.”

Responding by Faith

Regardless of such challenges, Filipino believers—including church leaders like Pastor Israel Santos in Puerto Princessa City—are responding to Vision 2025 by faith. “He stood up in a gathering of ministers,” Estrada recalls, “and said, ‘No wonder the Christians here in the island of Palawan are not reaching their potential spiritually, because we are not disci- pling them in the Scriptures in their own languages!’ ” That’s where SBW comes in, with its corresponding vision to encourage Scripture use among Filipino believers through Bible distribution, the JESUS film and other vernacular media. Santos is now an advocate for Bible translation on Palawan. He and other pastors are talking about raising up 60 language workers from that area and taking responsibility for their financial support. To do so, the churches are banding together to find solutions.

“Right now, they are talking about corporate farming

. . .

and

we are already in touch with the department of agriculture and

other experts from the governor’s office. “Most likely, we will start a cooperative among the churches

The lack of

financial

resources

hinders

many

churches

from doing

missions.

For many smaller congregations in the Philippines, like Iriga’s AOG church (right), a lack of financial resources often restricts their vision for missions, with a resulting focus on service to their own communities.

At Manila’s Greenhills Christian Fellowship (left), visiting Toronto pastor Dr. Narry Santos preaches on a Sunday morning. Greenhills has planted more than a dozen satellite churches in the Philippines and two in Ontario. Its mission outreach includes financial support for Bible translation projects in the Philippines, administered by TAP.

“ The Lord is

really leading us

so clearly here.

In fact, we’re not

even thinking

so hard about

strategies.”

and then we will purchase property and plant rubber trees. The pas- tors agree that all the income generated from this farm will be for the support of the cross-cultural missionaries.”

Delight on God’s Face

Estrada is encouraged by such developments, hoping they will result in the mobilization of more Filipinos like one couple he knows who are preparing to work in Southeast Asia. “They have a passion for using vernacular media and they have experience and skills in that field. “We are helping them prepare for their assignment in Southeast Asia,” he adds, “but I’m telling them they don’t have to join Wycliffe. We are working with their church denomination so we can agree on the sending requirements.

. . . “So even if they don’t join Wycliffe, this is already part of the

accomplishment of Sa Bawat Wika 2025—and we’re happy about that.”

Estrada sees clear evidence of God’s hand on this ministry. “The Lord is really leading us so clearly here. In fact, we’re not even thinking so hard about strategies because right now, we are just tapping into my network of friends. “We are asking people to own the vision and we talk about Revelation 7:9, when every nation, tribe, people and language are all gathered in heaven, worshipping the Lord.” Estrada is eager to see the delight on God’s face.

“He will say to the Filipino Church,

‘. . .

Arise, well done, my good

and faithful servants—you have done well in bringing people from all

nations into my heaven.’ ”

At Manila’s Greenhills Christian Fellowship (left), visiting Toronto pastor Dr. Narry Santos preaches on a Sunday

Language communities in the Philippines take ownership for Scripture translation, helped by Wycliffe’s partner organizations.

W hen Wycliffe Canada Director Dave Ohlson and

his wife Joan travelled to the Philippines this past

January, the town of Barlig was a much-anticipated

part of their itinerary. Surrounded by lush green rice terraces for much of the year, the town is where they lived from 1975 to 1982 while helping translate the Finallig New Testament (see “A Long, Uphill Climb,” pg. 6). In January, the Ohlsons met a group of Barlig residents who are now translating the Old Testament into their language—and Dave was impressed. “Looking back,” he muses, “I wish we’d employed some of the techniques used in translation now, because there were plenty of sophisticated people in Barlig who probably could have contrib-

uted greatly

. . .

we would have got a lot further, a lot quicker.”

A team member, Meriam Challiis, studied Hebrew at the Alliance Graduate School in Manila (see “Second Chance for a Single Mom,” pg. 32). That’s just one example of how today’s mother tongue translators (MTTs) are being equipped to accelerate the pace of Bible translation, in the Philippines and around the world.

Head Start

The work of modern global Bible translation has seen some big changes since its beginnings in 1934. For much of this 75-year history, “other tongue” translators—expatriates and foreigners like the Ohlsons—were assigned to a language project, where they began by studying the local language. Typically, the transla-

Mother tongue translators Veronica Pinos-an (above, left) and Doralyn Matinac Challoy represent a growing force in

Mother tongue translators Veronica Pinos-an (above, left) and Doralyn Matinac Challoy represent a growing force in the work of Bible translation worldwide. The two women, who are part of a well-trained team work- ing on the Finallig Old Testament, possess a huge advantage over expatriate translators: an intimate understanding of their own culture and language. The team’s progress and aims are reflected on a chart inside their office (right), provided for them by the Barlig Scripture Society. The team is one of nine homegrown translation groups serving under the banner of the Northern Philippines Mother Tongue Translators Association.

Mother tongue translators Veronica Pinos-an (above, left) and Doralyn Matinac Challoy represent a growing force in

“ Looking back, I wish we’d employed some of the techniques used in translation now…we would have got a lot further, a lot quicker.”

In the city of Iriga, Emy Ballenas (above, right), a longtime member of the Translators Association of the Philippines (TAP), talks with Amor Borromeo about details of the Rinconada New Testament translation. Ballenas oversees the mother tongue translator’s work, which is aided by the software program, Paratext (seen on computer monitor). It and related tools developed by the United Bible Societies allow translators to input, edit and check their translations against published translations ren- dered in several versions of Scripture.

tors would then look for a local person—like the Ohlson’s help- er, Virgie Coyao—to assist them in translating Scripture. Using

that method, it could take decades to complete a translation of the New Testament or full Bible. Today, more and more Filipinos are responding to the chal- lenge of Bible translation. With training from AGS and other fine schools, they’re translating the Scriptures in their mother tongue. That mother tongue advantage often gives them a sig- nificant “head start” in translation. “What I would do differently now,” says Ohlson about his six years of New Testament translation in Barlig, “would be to work harder from day one to establish a translation committee

or society

. . .

and engage in training, possibly sending them off

for advanced training and then working alongside these well- qualified local people. “This can’t be done in every context, but it could have been done in Barlig. Back then, we believed it was our responsibility to do the work ourselves, in order to assure quality control.

“But we’ve learned over the years that translation quality can be maintained when we don’t do the work ourselves.”

Diverse Groups

The Old Testament translation team in Barlig is comprised of five members: four women and one man. Most are Catholics, while one is Pentecostal. Three of the women—Meriam, Veronica Pinos-an and Doralyn Challoy—were part of finish- ing the New Testament under the direction of Wycliffe Canada members Rundell and Judi Maree. Prior to that, none of the MTTs had any previous experience in Bible translation. And for most, there wasn’t necessarily a strong sense of God’s leading when they heard that the Barlig Scripture Society planned to hire translators. After graduating from college, Doralyn looked for work as a teacher, but no opportunities opened up for her. She then applied to become a domestic worker overseas, but nothing came of that either.

“ We’ve learned over the years that translation quality can be maintained when we don’t do the work ourselves.”

Translators Association of the Philippines (TAP) director Boi Awid (at right, in blue shirt) joins in prayers for a young Rinconada-speaking family dedicating their child to God at the AOG church near Iriga. TAP trains and supervises the young mother tongue translators whose work will result in a New Testament translation for Rinconada speakers in Luzon Island’s Bicol region.

She decided to apply for a job in Bible translation, even though she didn’t fully understand what that meant. To her surprise, she was hired—and her subsequent daily exposure to God’s Word led to a spiritual awakening. “After some time, I was convinced that God had led me. It was through my translation work in this office that I was able to know more about Him,” she says with tears in her eyes. Work on the Old Testament translation began in 2004. So far, the team has completed draft translations of about 20 Old Testament books and aims to complete the remaining 19 books by 2010. A dictionary of biblical terms is also in the works, with a completion deadline of 2013. The team’s work is supervised by a board of trustees elected by the Scripture society and funded by one Japanese donor and a few Japanese churches. The Barlig Scripture Society is one of nine member societ- ies that make up the Northern Philippines Mother Tongue Translators Association (NPMTTA). Wycliffe personnel assisted in the association’s formation and continue to provide training and resources for its members. The association is anticipating some growth, having received inquiries from eight language communities in southern Luzon Island who are interested in translating the Scriptures. The NPMTTA has come a long way since its formation in 2000; 11 mother tongue translators have earned master’s degrees to aid them in Bible translation, another has earned a master

“ After some time, I was convinced that God had led me. It was through my translation work in this office that I was able to know more about Him.”

She decided to apply for a job in Bible translation, even though she didn’t fully understand

of divinity degree and yet another is working on her PhD the- sis at a university in Singapore. The organization is now even considering how it can contribute to Bible translation in other countries. Recently, for example, two NPMTTA members went to southern Asia to teach a course that equipped mother tongue speakers of local languages there to share God’s Word in their own languages.

Desire for God’s Word

Elsewhere in the country, the Translators Association of the

Philippines (TAP) oversees two language projects being done by MTTs. In Bicol, one of 17 administrative regions in the Philippines, TAP responded to churches in the city of Iriga who asked for help to translate Scripture into two local languages, Buhi’nen and Rinconada. TAP members worked with the churches to identify promising candidates and begin training them to translate the New Testament. The two language projects mark a new chapter in TAP’s 26-year history. Previously, TAP translators first had to learn another Filipino language and then solicit the aid of mother tongue speakers when translating Scripture. But in Bicol, well-

More On The Web: Both thr Buhi’nen and Rinconada language projects receive financial assistance from Wycliffe Canada’s project funding partner, Global PartnerLink. Learn more at <www.globalpartnerlink.ca>.

trained MTTs are taking the

lead, with TAP members serving in an advisory role. Nilo Borromeo, an MTT in the Rinconada language, is

studying at Alliance Graduate School in Manila, so he will be elp in the project. The 28-year-old student says he never expected to be involved in Bible translation. “My inclination, especially in the church, is evangelism. But

As boats filled with people and cargo ply the shores of Lake Buhi in Bicol (below), local children clamour to have their picture taken. The New Testament is being translated into their language, Buhi’nen, thanks to the efforts of local church leaders, mother tongue translators and their TAP advisers.

30 Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

after I attended the seminars conducted by TAP in our city, I saw that Bible translation is really evangelism.”

As he prepares for his role in the project, he hangs on to a vision for his people. “What is in my mind is, that through these translations, people

will be moved by the Word of God

that people will come to

. . . the Lord and have a true transformation begin in their hearts.” Like many other MTTs serving in the Philippines, Nilo will be an asset to the translation team because of the solid academic training he’s receiving. But more to the point, he loves God’s Word and wants to share it with his people—in the language they know best.

after I attended the seminars conducted by TAP in our city, I saw that Bible translation

“What is in my mind is, that through these translations, people will come to the Lord and have a true transformation begin in their hearts.”

. .

.

Romeo Lamaton works on a portion of the Finallig Old Testament translation. The team is a mix of Protestants and Catholics, each of whom feels called by God to provide mother tongue Scriptures for their people.

Chance Second Chance Chance Chance Chance Chance

  • 32 Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

Chance

for a

Single

Mom

  • M eriam Challiis says there was no handwriting in the sky, no voices from heaven or other signs of divine guidance that

led her to become a Bible translator nine years ago. “It was basically because I wanted a job.” The shy, soft-spoken 34-year-old student and mother tongue translator graduated last April from the Alliance Graduate School (AGS) in Manila, Philippines. At AGS, her studies included two years of Hebrew—a vital course for her role in translating the Old Testament into Finallig. It is the mother tongue spoken by Meriam and some 6,000 Filipinos in the town of Barlig and a few surrounding communities in Luzon’s Mountain Province. The former sales clerk from Barlig first heard about the job from her sister, who heard it announced during a church service. “Before that,” explains Meriam, “I was a saleslady at the co-operative there, St. Michael’s. But then I stopped when I gave birth to my daughter, because I was a single mother. “I stopped to look after her,” she adds, in a quieter voice that seems to signal that such memories may be too personal—and painful—to share with a stranger. Then, her voice grows stronger as she recalls how she became a Bible translator. “When my sister told me they are hiring translators, I just tried to apply.” The Finallig Scripture Society hired Meriam in April 2000, to help finish the New Testament translation. By the time it was

“I learned

to love my

work. And

I wanted

to learn

more.”

publicly dedicated in 2004, the mother tongue translators were already gearing up to translate the Old Testament. Over time, Meriam’s work in Bible translation became much more than a job. “I learned to love my work,” she says. “And I wanted to learn more.” That desire led her to apply to AGS—where she failed the English proficiency exam four times before she was finally accepted in 2006. Although her English is understandable now, it’s clear she still struggles to express herself in the language of higher education in the Philippines. But she presses on, adding a simple comment about the Hebrew classes she attended at AGS. “It’s very hard.” When reminded that she earned top marks in her class, she giggles, protesting, “There are only three of us!” While attending classes in Manila, Meriam lived within walking distance of the graduate school. She only saw her daughter Shantal, now nine years old and living with Meriam’s parents in Barlig,

every three or four months. It was a big sacrifice for the young mom, as was her investment in three years of seminary training—but one she felt she needed to make for the sake of Bible translation.

“I want to learn more and I want to be effective finish this Old Testament. “I don’t want to waste all these

years. . .

.”

. . .

I want to

At the mention of wasted years, Meriam’s eyes fill with tears and

(Left) On a weekday afternoon in Manila, student and mother tongue translator Meriam Challiis walks home from school to her nearby apartment. The single mom from Barlig has endured a long separa- tion from her daughter Shantal, so she can better equip herself for her role in Bible translation through her studies at the Alliance Graduate School (below).

her head drops, as haltingly she murmurs a few more details about the ill-fated love affair that left her pregnant and disgraced some 10 years earlier. For several minutes, Meriam weeps openly, then apologizes for her emotional breakdown. As the interview with her comes to an end, much is left unspoken, unresolved. But from the few words she did express, Meriam seems grateful to God for his forgive- ness—and for the opportunity to serve Him in the life-changing ministry of Bible translation.

“I learned to love my work. And I wanted to learn more .” publicly dedicated in
Beyond Words Harvest Gold Photograph by Alan Hood At harvest time, a Filipina woman winnows rice
Beyond Words
Beyond Words

Harvest Gold

Photograph by Alan Hood

 
At harvest time, a Filipina woman winnows rice stalks that have fallen near a threshing machine
 

At harvest time, a Filipina woman winnows rice stalks that have fallen near a threshing machine in a field near Bagabag, a city north of Manila. Her strenuous labour serves to cleanse the rice by separating it from chaff and other impure elements. Even as she works, a grow-

At harvest time, a Filipina woman winnows rice stalks that have fallen near a threshing machine

ing army of her countrymen are preparing for a harvest of eternal significance through their work in Bible translation, as they prepare the “good seed” of God’s Word.

ing army of her countrymen are preparing for a harvest of eternal significance through their work

34

Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca

34 Word Alive • Fall 2009 • wycliffe.ca
Last Word Transitions for Translations By Dave Ohlson I t seemed appropriate when Word Alive edi-
Last Word
Last Word

Transitions for Translations

By Dave Ohlson

Last Word Transitions for Translations By Dave Ohlson I t seemed appropriate when Word Alive edi-

I t seemed appropriate when Word Alive edi-

tor Dwayne Janke asked me if I would write

this column. Very likely this will be my last

opportunity to do so, as I finish up my time

as the CEO of Wycliffe Canada in December. It’s

been a wonderful and enriching experience for my wife Joan and I, one we will treasure, as we seek what God has next for us as we approach our 40th year as members of Wycliffe. I am pleased to be handing the reins to incoming interim director Don Hekman. He will lead Wycliffe Canada forward in its quest to make the greatest contribution possible on the part of the Canadian Church to the worldwide Bible translation movement. A major aspect of that movement is Wycliffe’s Vision 2025: seeing all peoples having access to God’s precious Word in the language that speaks to their hearts best— their own—by the year 2025. Joan and I are now in that position sometimes referred to as transition (passing from one condi-

tion, form, stage, activity, place, etc., to another). Transitions are much more a part of our lives in today’s rapidly changing world than they were in the time of our fathers and grand- fathers. But as believers we must

Key changes are taking place in the Church to provide the peoples of the world access
Key changes are taking
place in the Church to
provide the peoples
of the world access to
The Word—God’s love
letter to humanity.

look at things from a per- spective beyond the per- sonal. So, how do transitions figure into God’s bigger plan for the building of His Kingdom, the body of Christ, in these times? I would like to outline five key transitions that are taking place in the Church, specifically in relation to provid- ing the peoples of the world access to The Word, God’s love letter to humanity—the Bible.

1. An unmistakable sense of urgency on the part of God and His Church to see that all peoples have the Scriptures. This is borne out of God’s deep affection for humanity and His desire that individuals from every tribe, language, people and nation on earth (Rev 5:9) enter into an

eternal relationship with Him. The translation of the Bible into new languages has accelerated over the past 10 years at a pace never previously experienced by the Church.

  • 2. A growing sense of partnership in the world-

wide Church to give all people access to the Scriptures in their heart languages. The church of the Global South, which comprises 91 per cent of all new Christians, is deeply committed to partner with the Church of the West to see this happen. The Missio Dei (mission of God) is truly being worked out and demonstrated as a coop- erative effort on the part of the whole Church.

  • 3. A spirit of cooperation within the Church to

equip and build up each part so that the whole

has the capacity, under God’s power and guid- ance, to accomplish everything that God has created it to do. It is no longer the exclusive role of the Western Church to build capacity into other segments of the Church, but rather a mutual responsibility of all.

  • 4. An effectiveness and an efficiency taking place

in the Church that we have not seen before. There is an openness to embrace new and creative ways of ministering, as well as new attitudes and a willingness to experiment with new ideas and strategies in training, partnering and emerging technologies. Scriptures are being made available to people in a host of media that best fits them.

  • 5. A growing body of evidence that all peoples

the nations (ta ethne) of Matthew 28:19—are building sustainability within themselves to sup- port a growing and reproducing Church. Bible translation is one of the key components in this new phenomenon.

Mine is not the last word on transitions tak- ing place in the Church. Fortunately, that is the exclusive domain of The Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will continue to build and change His Church in the 21st century and beyond, for His eternal purposes. To that, our last word should always be the same: Amen!

Last Word Transitions for Translations By Dave Ohlson I t seemed appropriate when Word Alive edi-

Dave Ohlson is executive director of Wycliffe Canada.

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Headhunters’ Encounter With God Headhunters’ Encounter with God: An
Headhunters’ Encounter
With God
Headhunters’ Encounter with God: An

Ifugao Adventure is Canadian Len Newell’s story of the trials, failures, joys and successes of a completely non-Christian tribal group, as they embrace the Christian faith. A key factor was learning the compelling message of God through Bible translation led by this long-time Wycliffe worker, who died in 2008.

Softcover. 165 pages. $16.95, plus GST and shipping/handling. Use the reply form in this magazine to
Softcover. 165 pages.
$16.95, plus GST
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Explore all our
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Jungle Jewels and Jaguars

J ungle Jewels and Jaguars chronicles the unique experiences of

Wycliffe’s Martha Tripp, who lived with a remote group of indigenous

people called Amueshas, in Peru—learning their language, reducing it to writing, establishing bilingual schools and translating God’s Word into the language.

Martha had the joy of seeing the Word change their lives, resulting in the development of 45 churches, established by the Amueshas themselves. Don Richardson, author of Peace Child, says: “Martha’s unpretentious heroism, so humbly storied, beckons a new generation.”

Softcover. pages. $15.95, plus GST and 349 shipping/handling. Use the reply in all this magazine to
Softcover.
pages. $15.95, plus
GST and 349
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all this magazine
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or
call
form 1-800-463-1143,
ext.
283.
Explore
our books,
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gifts online at
<www.wycliffe.ca/store>.

N estled in the mountainous hinterlands of the Philippines, the Ifugao people have lived for centuries, eking out a living in sweet potato

fields and rice terraces. For many years, they led a complex and ritualistic life, appeasing hundreds of deities and practising headhunting.

Deliver to: PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 40062756. RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO: CIRCULATION, WYCLIFFE CANADA, 4316