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“I have put my words in your mouth
and hidden you safely within my hand.
I set all the stars in space and established the earth.
I am the one who says… ‘You are mine!’ ”
Isa 51:16

New Testament in Revision

There was a quiet knock and Helen’s grey head peeked through the narrow window in my office door. Without waiting for my greeting she pushed the door open a crack and in a pleading voice asked if I would have time to help her and George get their New Testament data into Paratext, the Bible Translation software used by most Wycliffe translators.

George and Helen completed the Chayahuita (cha-ya-wee-ta) New Testament translation in 1978. Now they are working as translation consultants for the Chayahuita translation team. Over the years there have been many changes in the Chayahuita culture through increased contact with the outside world and because of the impact of the Bible translated into their language.

In the early 1950s the Chayahuitas lived in small extended family groups with limited contact between groups because of frequent feuds. The spirit world was very real for the Chayahuitas. They were oppressed by fear of the spirits of dead people and many evil spirits in the jungle. The central figure was the shaman who was able to protect his friends from evil spirits and use the evil spirits to harm their enemies. More powerful shamans were scattered throughout the tribe, men who had gone through rigorous training from a master shaman. They were greatly feared by everyone.

As the Chayahuitas learned and accepted the Christian message, small family groups joined together to establish schools and churches. Moving from scattered groups to village living has greatly changed the Chayahuita social structure. As village populations have grown, high schools have been added in strategic locations, with more than 100 students in many of the schools. Through modern medicine and regular vaccination of the children, the death rate has been greatly reduced.

Wycliffe translators began working among the Chayahuitas in 1950. For more than 20 years they have had schools and the Scripture in their own language. Singing was never part of the culture before translation of the New Testament. Today, however, Christian choruses written in Chayahuita by the people themselves play a key role in spreading the message of the Gospel in music from place to place. Fear and superstition no longer control those that have responded to the Gospel. Approximately 50 villages have churches, with many Chayahuitas active in evangelism and discipleship.

I spent the rest of the day preparing George and Helen’s Scripture texts, importing them into Paratext, and then demonstrating how to get around in the Chayahuita New Testament, search for text, make edits and export the data for email to the Chayahuita translation team in Peru who are also using Paratext.

Thanks for being part of the Chayahuita translation team with us.

Praise -n- Prayer

On the home front

Ondrej returned from West Africa, ministering with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) in Morocco, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau (missing all our wintery weather). One of the great opportunities he had was to build a zip line in this tree. Those who wished to slide down on the pulley climbed into the tree. Ondrej would pray over them before they took their turn. He spent hours in fun and prayer, and came home with a vision for becoming more involved in missions. Now he is looking for opportunities to train and prepare.

Meanwhile we endured an ice storm and enough snow to remind me of home. After spending Christmas in Winnipeg we thought we had left the snow behind. We had lots of opportunities to keep the wood stove going. It is nice to have Dad stay with us as he volunteers at JAARS.

Sally led a women’s retreat in our home. Sixteen ladies spent Friday and Saturday in a time of special prayer and fellowship.

Last week we attended an international prayer conference as official representatives of the Peru Branch. It was one of the highlights of our furlough and timely as we bring what we have learned back with us to Peru.

Now it’s time to pack and move. Our Peru Director keeps reminding us of the critical needs waiting for us as soon as we can get back.

Thank you for your support and encouragement on the Bible translation team.


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