This month we will catch up on three of Gary’s ministries.
One: Authoring a Catechism for the Deaf and Deafblind
I have now finished two years of work on the SUN Bible for Wycliffe Associates. This is a Bible translation for the Deaf and the Deafblind, written in an entirely new language that the blind can read with their fingers. The whole Bible is available, and one last step is that in 2022 I will be going through the entire Old Testament one more time, to make sure of its “consistency” – that is, the same symbol is used the same way every time. So far, I have done Genesis, half of Numbers, Ecclesiastes, and Jonah.
We have other materials too – for example, we now offer “Our Daily Bread” in SUN!
Plus: last summer I had one of those “Aha!” moments. It occurred to me that, since SUN is such a simplified code language, it would be an ideal medium for a CATECHISM, a short-cut to learning Basic Christianity. The deaf can see/the deafblind will read with their fingers, and they can even memorize them and write them back to their teacher.
Now, back in 1969, when I was preparing for baptism, we memorized a catechism. For those who haven’t used one, it traditionally has a question-and-answer format. Here we are, just after being baptized.
Tag Archives: evangelical
This month we will catch up on three of Gary’s ministries.
Karen shares this month:
To see Karen’s online class, search out “Training Churches to Speak Up” on YouTube.
I love the old doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below, praise him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.” Every time I hear it I have beautiful memories of singing it in church as a child accompanied by organ and piano, 50 of us singing it in 4-part harmony before meals while on Chorale tour in college, and singing it a cappella with Grace Bible Fellowship Church short term missions team up in the mountains as the fog cleared to uncover the beautiful Central Valley of Costa Rica as the city lights came on at dusk.
Lately the song has been repeating itself in my mind as I watch God work around me here in San José. After years of work and preparation, in February I began teaching my new course The Church Confronting Sexual Violence. We had 17 adults in our first English cohort, a mix of US missionaries and Costa Ricans, and met here in our home. Just about the time I started to get the hang of everything, exactly half-way through the 8-week course, quarantine changed everybody’s world. Within a couple of weeks, we had figured out Plan B: we were back at it, studying together via live video conference. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
Even while we were finishing up those last 4 weeks, it dawned on me that switching to an online format had truly opened up new possibilities. There were fellow missionaries around the world who wanted to take the course, plus some workers in the US, and some of them had extra free time while they were waiting for quarantine to lift. We opened cohort #2 to start immediately after the first one and have now gotten through the first 5 weeks. Taking the course are adults who work in Russia, Spain, Mozambique, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the USA. “Praise him all creatures here below!”
One of my students shared with us recently about her experience in Honduras. She is fairly new there, so asked someone whether their large church had any type of child safety policy. The question got to the pastor, who replied that they did not have one, and was so troubled by it that he couldn’t sleep. The next morning, he got in touch with their denomination’s leaders to ask if any of their churches had such a policy. They did not, and the denomination’s leaders were so convicted about it that they asked us to please help ALL of them set up a child safety policy as soon as possible! I am still stunned and in awe of how God is clearly moving in the hearts of church leaders here in Central America! “Praise him above ye heavenly host!”
Needless to say, I am already making connections with people who can help translate everything so we can train those church leaders, plus anyone else who will listen! And now while I work, that familiar song of praise is in my heart, tying the old to the new, and my strength is renewed with gratitude that God has finally let me see the first true fruit of years of hard work and uncertainty! “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!”
ANNIVERSARY! We praise God too as we celebrate a personal milestone: our 40th wedding anniversary! We were having trouble deciding how to celebrate in quarantine, so our dear missionary friends Nancy and Paul Mauger treated us to a delicious breakfast!
Many blessings this month! Gary and Karen
Click Christmas Newsletter 2018 to get the pictures!
Celebrating Home Assignment 2018
We want to thank YOU for a truly amazing home assignment this year! Most of you were able to share your precious time with us, generously opening your hearts, homes, and church. We treasure the hours spent laughing, catching up on family news, sharing, and brainstorming together with you! There are too many church and individuals to name, but you know who you are, and be assured that our time with you was sheer joy for us!
In addition to visiting current supporters, we were able to make new friends, visit new churches, and find new supporters. Welcome to our team! You join a loving and faithful group of brothers and sisters in Christ that spans from New Hampshire to Ohio. We also spent considerable time preparing ourselves for the term ahead, studying, networking, and researching.
We had originally planned to be in the US from January through April but, as he usually does, God had other plans! After sliding through a few self-imposed deadlines, Gary was able to return to Costa Rica on August 19, and Karen followed shortly after. (It was a few months later than we expected, but still 4 months short of the typical one-year furlough).
Thanks for letting us spend time with your churches!
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!
Thank you for taking such good care of us!
Special thanks to Karen’s brother John for giving us a home all these months!
As we spend the spring of 2018 visiting our support team, this is the message that Gary is preaching. It combines several favorite themes: the Great Commission, Bible Prophecy, and the mission of the church in the world today. Click and enjoy!
Footnote: I made a numerical error about 24 minutes in; instead of 4000 I should have said 2700+ language.
What if you had to learn, let’s say, Romanian if you wanted to read the Bible?
Gary says: I have long admired the work of Bible translators, as they do the hard work of taking the Scriptures to the 1.3 billion who do not have the whole Word of God in their own – not in someone else’s – language.
I have just been offered a chance to lend a hand to this process (visit https://unfoldingword.org/). I am now working some hours a week to write a handbook that will help translators around the world. It’s called Door 43, named after Colossians 4:3 – “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word” (Now, wasn’t that easier than read it in Romanian? “Rugaţi-vă totodată şi pentru noi, ca Dumnezeu să ne deschidă o uşă pentru Cuvânt”).
This handbook will then be translated into 50 languages that are used all around the world. And from those 50 “Portal Languages” (e.g., English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, etc.) it will be possible to translate the Bible into every single language and dialect in the world. In theory, 100% coverage.
To give an example, we know that in Mexico people speak Spanish, right? But did you know that the government recognizes 68 other indigenous languages? That means that plenty of people cannot hear or read the Bible in their first language, and the Bible forever remains a “foreign” book.
So what will happen is this: Christian leaders in Mexico who speak both languages will use an app on their tablets, and bit by bit translate the Bible from Spanish into their own local dialect.
It is amazing that in the 21st century, people in remote areas, without electricity or telephones can start translating the Bibles into their own languages, using kits that donors have supplied (click here).
Wycliffe Associates just tried an experiment: they set up 13 native speakers in a remote area of Asia – and working in 12-hour shifts, they were able to translate half the New Testament in just a month.
We have nine people on our committee, and we are working on Acts. Our task is to go carefully over the text, and to write Translation Notes that will help people in the field to render the Bible accurately. For example, in Acts 16:31, Paul says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house.” We have a note about the word “house” – we remind translators that it doesn’t mean the physical building where people live, but rather the people who lived with the Philippian jailor – his extended family, workers, and servants. Now no-one will make the mistake of having the Bible say that “your hut can be born-again”!
Here are two notes that I wrote for Acts 20:7 – On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul spoke to the believers. He was planning to leave the next days, so he kept speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we had come together.
This project will run for 3-5 years, and has the potential of reaching every language on earth, and within a much abbreviated period of time. In fact, they will be flying me to their center in Orlando on June 20, where I will work with a team to write the Romans material in just a week.
Everything we do as missionaries to Costa Rica is aimed toward one goal: “Y este evangelio del reino se predicará en todo el mundo como testimonio a todas las naciones, y entonces vendrá el fin.” – Oops! That’s the Spanish of Matthew 24:14. Better say it in English! “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Please pray for this new open door! Blessings this month, Gary and Karen
On Friday, our community San Francisco de Dos Ríos celebrated its annual Passion Play. To my surprise, while “Jesus” hung on the cross (tied in this version, not nailed; see picture below) a literal earthquake shook the ground beneath our feet.
Then over the weekend I listened to Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, which reminds us that at Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And the earth was filled with quaking”. The way to God was opened, and the power of the grave was nullified.
All because of a cross.
The Romans regarded “cross” as one of the worst curse-words in their language. Their darkest obscenity was “I in malam maximam crucem!” which roughly translates to “Go and get really badly crucified!” It was a shocking profanity. Yet this curse of Jesus has become for us the way of salvation.
As Bach went on to write: “Ah, Golgotha, hapless Golgotha! The Lord of Glory must wretchedly perish here; the blessing and salvation of the world is placed on the cross like a curse. From the Creator of heaven and earth, earth and air shall be taken away. The guiltless must die here guilty. That strikes deep into my soul! Ah, Golgotha, hapless Golgotha!”
Take away the cross and we might as well dismiss the preachers; call the missionaries back home; tuck the Bible back on the Ancient Literature section of the library; turn Sunday School into playtime. But no! “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And for those of us who were called to believe in the gospel, “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (see 1 Cor 1).
We can draw a direct line between the cross of Christ and our work in San Francisco de Dos Ríos. May all God’s children enjoy that same clarity!
(I invite you to read my sermon on the shame of the cross at http://openoureyeslord.com)
Gary: I spent most of September crossing back and forth the length of a certain Caribbean island. [click Leave a Comment, above, if you want us to send you more details] Imagine traveling to from New York to Chicago and returning, and mainly on bad country roads. I got in touch with 20 of the our seminary students.
These students are the island’s future Bible College professors. One leader tells me: They need to finish up, because I am counting on them to teach our Bible college courses in September 2014. I assure him that it’s doable, if they apply themselves to it. Their final projects are an investigation of how the Bible speaks to their local problems: Continue reading