Change Dynamics

Author: Margaret Hill

Today we are in a very different position from when Bible agencies and churches first started running literacy classes. There are alternatives! We now have many methods of producing, distributing and copying oral Scriptures of many different types. In almost every case where a literacy programme is going nowhere, people will accept oral Scriptures and listen to them.

Several years ago, Margaret Hill wrote an article provocatively titled "How Literacy can Harm Scripture Use". Her thesis was that too many literacy programmes were starting with classes for beginners rather than focusing on transition literacy for the leaders and change agents in society. Such an approach, she argued, is harmful to Scripture engagement.

This article is a follow-up, emphasising the same message and going further to take into account the observation that "increasingly here in Africa we are seeing that many language groups are very interested in using their languages orally, but very uninterested in reading or writing in them".

Rather than "hitting your head against a wall" with struggling literacy programmes, the author calls for a refocusing of strategies and reminds us that audio Scriptures often work very well in such contexts.

Download the article as a PDF document.  [more...]

Author: Martha D. Tripp

"This is what we have been looking for." As I heard these words coming from the Amuesha teacher/preacher as he taught the newly translated Scripture to his own people, I sensed this moment as a tremendous breakthrough for the Amuesha people to be able to accept the message of the gospel as the fulfilment of their own view of religion.

The author reflects on ten factors that contributed to the positive response of the Amuesha people of Peru to mother-tongue Scriptures. These are summarized as: fulfilment of existing religion; motivation to change; confidence in those presenting the message; relevance of the gospel message demonstrated by those who believe it; simplification of the gospel message in the early days for easier understanding; biblical instruction in the vernacular rather than the national language; encouragement and use of local leaders rather than outsiders, including the expatriate translator; adequate degree of fluency of readers; availability of translated Scripture even in provisional form from the early days; and a degree of church organization to give a permanency of opportunity for Scripture use.  [more...]

'Vers la dédicace' planning and discussions in DRC
Author: Bettina Gottschlich

The dedication of the New Testament should be a wonderful celebration, but it should also be much more than that. It is about a change of mind, heart and life, individually as well as corporately.

This article describes ongoing language committee discussions and planning in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The goal is that as an outcome of such meetings, the committee will not only come up with a plan for the New Testament dedication, but beyond that for the use of the translated Scriptures in churches and society - as well as a plan for use of the mother tongue.  [more...]

A case study from the Paez of Columbia
Author: Marianna Slocum

We have found that these three factors—the credibility factor, the comprehension factor, and the prestige factor—are all-important components in promoting the use of a newly introduced vernacular translation in a newly written language.

This case history of the Paez, a minority language group in the Andean highlands of Colombia, South America, shows how the credibility and comprehension of the mother-tongue Scriptures and the prestige of the mother tongue affect the acceptance of the Scriptures. It considers how these factors can be addressed, noting the importance of using translators that are respected by the community, the production of high quality linguistic materials (e.g. dictionary and grammar books) and the value of producing a diglot glossary of key terms.  [more...]

A report of a seminar for Ejagham pastors from Cameroon and Nigeria
Author: Chris Jackson

One pastor reported, 'I never understood grace like that before. I think I can learn a great deal using the Ejagham New Testament in my Bible study. And my people need to hear this so that they will understand better as well.'

This brief article describes a two-day multi-denominational seminar for Ejagham pastors from Cameroon and Nigeria. It mentions some aspects of the workshop, including learning to read Ejagham, translating key terms, and the use of the Ejagham song book. It quotes several success stories recounted at the workshop that resulted from people using the Ejagham New Testament.  [more...]

Author: David L Payne

One of the major obstacles for the acceptance of an idiomatic translation of the Scriptures into a vernacular language where there is some form of established church is that often there is a strong veneration of a translation of the Scriptures in the national language.

In the translation project for the Asheninka language of Peru, the team was faced with resistance to the idiomatic translation in the vernacular because of a strong attachment to an old Spanish translation. To assuage this resistance, they attempted to teach translation principles to the Asheninka lay pastors and to discuss with them the benefits of idiomatic translation, but both activities met with little success. However, a change of attitude came through a series of seminars that educated them about the source of the venerated Spanish version and the kinds of adjustments that were made in translating it from Greek to Spanish.  [more...]

Author: Margaret Hill

Common factors emerge that affect Scripture use: level of literacy, prestige of the language, and attitude of church leaders.

A wide variety of reasons account for published Scriptures not being used. They include a lack of literacy, a language that is dying or has low status, a translation rejected by church leaders, an inappropriate published format, a lack of distribution, a lack of contextualization when using Scriptures, and others. A summary of the conditions necessary for seeing Scripture used is also offered.  [more...]

Author: Mary Crickmore, CRWRC

Remember that interventions with low external inputs and high local ownership have a good chance at promoting lasting change.

This article starts with a brief history of change in Africa and Europe, looking at the attitudes to and reasons for change, personal motivation for change and a Christian perspective. It continues by examining the three different levels at which change takes place – worldview/values/morality, informal cultural customs and technical. Change also affects power relationships, so the need to discuss potential changes with all the players and avoid loss of face for each is vital, as well as being aware of people’s motivation, peer pressure and the need to take things slowly.  [more...]

Author: Glenn Stallsmith

The changes necessary for worldview transformation can only be undertaken in culturally appropriate ways if the Christian community itself is in charge of the change process.

This article reports on a Worldview Scripture Use Workshop held in the Philippines which aimed to work out real-life problems found in the cultures of the participants. The workshop followed an approach of discovering rather than telling, in which participants evaluated their own culture in light of biblical truth.

The report briefly describes the teaching methods used and their strengths, the factors discovered during the workshop, and the results of the workshop. This included a change of attitudes; the production of new media, namely songs; and synergy.  [more...]

Author: Harriet Hill

Not only do we not know about the state of Scripture Use in our projects, we often don’t even know how many New Testaments or Bibles have been sold.

In an effort to define progress and success in Scripture Use, Hill proposes both national and project level goals. She then addresses the specifics on how to carry them out in an effective and sensitive manner. An appendix containing a survey of questions to the point is offered.  [more...]