Wayne Freeman is the Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators-NZ, this month’s MISSION WORLD featured strategic mission partner.
Whatever our view of mission may be, in its essence mission it is a heart to reach out. This is something all churches seek to do with many kinds of service and evangelistic endeavours.
In Wycliffe we have, at our very core, the desire to reach out to the many minority language groups throughout the world, to see them value their language, and begin to hear and read God’s Word for themselves in the language of their heart.
In this issue you can read stories of New Zealand Baptists, including some Wycliffe members, whose lives are dedicated to serving minority language groups. They are not alone in this work. I continue to be impressed by the faithfulness of local churches across New Zealand and the people who support Wycliffe members through finances, prayer, participation in a Kairos course (www.kairoscourse.org), or a short term mission trip.
As Wycliffe conducts Bible Story Telling workshops around the country, we’re seeing increased interest in this tool for evangelism and teaching. Attendees then use these skills in their local churches. Some have gone on to participate in Proshikkhon, a short term mission trip to South Asia that is held each year in January. There they impart Bible storytelling skills to local pastors in their predominantly Muslim communities and in some Hindu and Buddhist villages. Traditional evangelism would be inappropriate in this context but telling stories is suitable and touches these audiences.
You may have noticed that we now include this Māori statement in our name and logo: “Te Kupu Whai Ora a te Atua.” This translates as: the life-possessing, life-giving word of God.
Including Māori language in our logo demonstrates that, in Aotearoa New Zealand, we are intent on expressing the “ever-abiding Word of God” to all peoples. What better place to start than to use the indigenous language of our own nation?
Almost all of our work in Bible translation is being undertaken overseas, but already we have growing relationships at home among Māori and Pacific peoples. The choice of words in the translation has been intentional, seeking to affirm the tangata whenua and others who speak various Polynesian languages.
We, all together as the Body of Christ, “seek God’s glory, as the waters cover the sea.” For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, ESV).