Thursday, April 22, 2010

The next chapter for the Heren Family

As if having another baby isn't big enough news. We have some other exciting news to share. Something much bigger than our family. As a family we are pursuing a new opportunity. Through some friends we have be made aware of an IT opening in Nigeria at the Bible Translation office. Some dear friends moved there about a year ago to work in the administration office and have invited us to come over to join them so that Bob can fill this position. We will be transitioning from paid employee, which Bob is now, to be official members of Wycliffe. This means we will need to raise money to support us while we work there, so the application process, training, and fund-raising we expect will take 1-2 years. It has long been our desire to serve God as missionaries in another country and we believe this is the place for us. Once there, Bob will be fixing and supporting the computer systems of the local translation workers and office staff who are working to translate the Bible and encourage literacy. In Nigeria, there are more than 500 languages in use; currently only 19 of them have the entire Bible translated.

Why Wycliffe? When we attended Urbana 06 as an engaged couple, I (Cynthia) couldn't see what Wycliffe had to offer us and I thought Bible Translation was boring. Through the people we have met while living and working here in Orlando, I have learned that this couldn't be further from the truth. We hear stories on a regular basis about the impact that Bible translation work (and the literacy work that is a necessary corollary) has on the people it is serving. Apart from the obvious spiritual effects, having the Bible in the language that speaks to your heart gives a feeling of worth and importance to people groups who were previously ignored and marginalized, often because of their small size, or remote location. Translating the Bible does more than just give a group of people a book to read. It gives the community hope.

So why Nigeria? Nigeria is an interesting mission field. The local church is quite strong in many parts of Nigeria, but there remain many language groups throughout Nigeria that are reading and learning about Jesus through trade languages that are only partially understood by most of the language communities. This makes them vulnerable to teachings that attempt to blend traditional pagan worship practices with Christianity, as well as to teachings that are purported to be "Christian", but are really dangerous heresies. Because of these conditions, Bible Translation is a critical need in this strategic nation; the most populous nation in Africa. Thankfully, Nigerian Christians are doing the majority of the actual translation work, either for their own community, or for neighboring communities. This provides an exciting example of Christianity not being a Western cultural invasion, but a local effort that we from the Western church can support with the resources God has given us. These resources include money and translation expertise of course, but computer expertise is also vital at this time. All translation teams now rely heavily on computer support to keep their projects running smoothly and to seek ways in which the work can be done even faster or efficiently. Bob will work in the computer department, supporting colleagues who are currently working in more than 70 Bible translation projects. There are still more than 300 languages in Nigeria that may still need Scriptures in their own language, though, so the work is far from finished. This is an effort we feel is one of the most important projects happening in the earth today, and is why Cynthia and I feel excited about being able to help.

We will continue to use this blog to keep everyone up to date on our progress.
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