Tools and Methods

Reducing the time from translation desk to Scripture engagement
Author: Richard Margetts

"If the food is ready and the people are hungry,
don’t put it in the freezer and tell them to come back later."

The title of this article sprang from a discussion we had during a training course for Scripture Engagement practitioners in Yaoundé, Cameroon. From their experience of working with Bible translation teams across francophone Africa, the participants knew that it could take a very long time before completed portions (such as individual Bible books) got from the translator’s desk and into the hands of the people. The ‘food’ would be ‘put in the freezer’ waiting for the day when it would finally be served to those hungry to receive it.

So why does this happen? If the people are hungry for God’s Word in their own language, why would a translation team take this spiritual food and store it away in the freezer for another day? What is causing the delay? Isn’t there something we can do to reduce the time from translation desk to Scripture engagement?  [more...]

Construire des ponts à travers l’interaction avec la Bible et le discipolat
Author: Bettina Gottschlich-Modibale

"Bible translation and Scripture engagement play a role in liberating a people to understand their value, role, and destiny according to the Word of God and to embrace it to glorify God, to transform nations and make disciples."

In this article, written in French, Bettina Gottschlich-Modibale describes an unexpected voyage of discovery in the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeking to build bridges between the translation of the Bible and everyday life.

Seeing that there was often a disconnect between Bible translation in local languages and people's lives, she describes how Scripture engagement and discipleship are bridging the gap. Four initiatives are presented:

(1) The Transformation Series, BELT, of Youth With A Mission
(2) A discipleship guide: "May Your Kingdom Come"
(3) God's Story - Our Story
(4) Planning Bible translation programmes together with churches.  [more...]

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...]

Organising a dedication event to celebrate the publication of a New Testament, Bible or other translated books
Author: Richard Margetts

Second edition (2018), in English and French.

"Lord, the moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived!
What we were longing for, our hands have touched!"

How do you celebrate the publication of a Bible book: a Bible, a New Testament or one of the Gospels? It is an opportunity to bring the community together to introduce the book to everyone, an opportunity to thank the Lord and dedicate the book to his service, an opportunity to celebrate the local language and culture, and an opportunity to start distributing the book and other materials in the language (the audio version, videos, literacy books, the smartphone app, etc.). It is also a good time to raise awareness and encourage people to commit to reading and listening regularly to God’s Word.

This 16-page document contains questions and tips to help you in your preparations. Sections include: Form an organising committee, Choose a good date, Choose the venue, Work out a budget and look for funds, Send out invitations, Print a special cloth or T-shirts, Publicise the event, Coordinate pre-sales of the books, Setting up the venue, Plan the meals, Reserve the accommodation, Organise transport, Plan the ceremony programme, Book sales, Audio-visual coverage, and Beyond the dedication.  [more...]

Author: John Ommani

"Pastors have taken on the 'lecture' method to display the 'big man' syndrome which does not allow the people to engage. They are expected to sit and listen and remain silent. They feel this is how the church has to operate. The pastor simply tells them what the Bible says and what they need to do. They are not able to live out what they are told because they still have unanswered questions."

The model of the pastor as 'big man' who knows it all means that people have to sit and listen, and often this does not lead to engagement with Scripture in life-transforming ways. In many traditional cultures, leaders taught through stories, questions, and riddles, allowing people to interact and discover. Can pastors today learn to use discovery methods in the church that allow people to interact with Scripture and discover lessons for themselves? This article says yes, with field experience from Africa to demonstrate it.  [more...]

Author: Michelle Petersen (2020)

"By using Participatory Methods, my students have seen all eight conditions for Scripture engagement strengthened, and Kingdom Goals met, working with various communities around the world. Both literate and oral-preference communicators have become more actively involved in creating with and learning from their local language Scripture."

This paper outlines the application of participatory methods to the “Eight Conditions for Scripture Engagement.”

Using the new “Appreciative Inquiry for Scripture Engagement” facilitation tool, translation teams and local leaders explore existing strengths and future hopes for each condition. Together, they prioritize their goals, and make an action plan to achieve them. The eight conditions provide an analytic framework for participants to evaluate strengths and overcome obstacles to their community’s interaction with Scripture.

Following appreciative inquiry, the new “Use of Our Arts in Ministry” tool allows teams to expand Scripture use to further artistic domains in ways that strengthen each weak condition. Participatory methods facilitation leads a team to engage their community with their translation in life-changing ways. Script outlines in appendices 1 and 2 explain how to use the two participatory methods discussed.  [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...]

Promoting Scripture use in difficult environments
Author: Mary Beavon

“The illustrations captured the imagination of the children.”

Mary Beavon describes a Scripture Use activity their team used in an area of Cameroon where churches are small, travel is difficult, and people have little money. They developed Scripture Big Books (from Shell Books), which served to both teach the Bible and promote literacy. They were used in churches and open air. Though it is not a sustainable activity, it provides useful manuscripts and exposes people to written forms of the Bible.  [more...]