Coming to a theater near you …

Sometime around Christmas, Katherine and I saw the trailer for the movie The King’s Speech. It looked interesting, especially since it starred Colin Firth, an actor we both enjoyed in Pride and Prejudice. A few weeks ago, Katherine saw the movie here in St. Joe with my aunt and cousins. She liked the film quite a lot.

I like to watch movie trailers – they boil down films enough to fit into a short time span, give each viewer a strong sense of the content, and leave the interested viewer with a desire to know more. But it had been some time since I had seen the preview for The King’s Speech. Despite Katherine’s concern that she would spoil it for me, I asked her to describe the movie’s plot, characters, and developments. When she did, I understood the movie much better and realized that while the trailer was certainly accurate, there was much more to the film than what those short segments depicted. And since I haven’t experienced the movie for myself, even her own vivid description is fading in my mind. Until I see it, I’m missing out – and the film’s accolades and award nominations are lost on me.

So what does that have to do with Bible translation?

Until translation of the Bible happens for a language, the speakers of the language have experienced, at best, only the “trailer” for God’s Word. They’ve heard limited portions of the message. That may be because only the main points are available in their language, or because they heard it in a language that they don’t understand fully.

For example, would you go see a movie if its trailer was visually interesting – but all the dialogue was in Hungarian? (Try this one – it might be familiar.) What if someone who understood Hungarian described it to you? Or offered to interpret all the lines for you at the theater? Would you be interested then? Would you expect to have a good experience?

What if the content was important to your own safety? Anyone who has flown will recognize the fundamental messages in this video, but I doubt that you’d be able to tell me exactly what was said.

So where does that leave us with The Greatest Story Ever Told? Not only does the content have everything that makes for successful films – God’s Message is absolutely critical for the eternal safety of every person alive. Yet more than 340 million people can’t get this message because it’s not available in the 2,100 languages (and more) that they speak. The whole message is available in 457 languages. (Including in Hungarian, with film.) But many people have to be told, “I’m sorry, that movie’s not showing in a theater near you.”

The good news is that we’re not satisfied with that statement – right now, Wycliffe is working in more than 1,500 languages to get God’s Message out. And we’re not alone – the Church is cooperating more and more on that effort. There are a lot of names that roll by in the credits, in addition to the Producer, Director, and Star who makes it all possible. Katherine’s name and mine are in the credits, too, along with those of the people who pray for and support us. Where is your name among them all?

One more thing – think about what happens to you when you are completely drawn in to a movie and it takes first place among your favorites. What has God’s Message done to you?

And just one more thing. Really – I mean it this time. Guess who will be among the people I’m serving once we get to Europe? That’s right – Wycliffe Hungary.

Change is good … right?

Change is tough. Martha’s experience in changing email programs is one example of how God uses me to help people who are advancing His kingdom. I recently had the chance to help Martha through one of those times when you just want to throw technology out the window. She kindly agreed to write about it for you:

I recently changed assignments within Wycliffe, and that meant that I needed to change email systems. I had been using two different systems, one on my office computer, and another on my laptop. I had two different email accounts, and I did different work on each one, and did not want the two to be mixed. When I moved to an assignment with Wycliffe USA, they required that I change both my email accounts to the system that they use. Their offices are in Orlando, Florida, and I am in Dallas, Texas, so I was trying to do things from a distance.

“It will be a painless process,” I was told. “It’s all pretty intuitive.” Unfortunately, what is intuitive for a computer expert is not always intuitive for someone else. I’ve been a Bible translator and a schoolteacher, and am now doing editing, and a lot of things are intuitive, but the computer change was not intuitive for me!

Changing to a new email system required not only that someone somewhere work computer magic to make it all happen, but now I had to do things — install this program, configure that, update this. Wow! I can say all those words, but I don’t know how to do them.

I had a couple of weeks of frustration, trying to do things long-distance with the guys in Orlando, who couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble, mostly because I couldn’t explain it well. I finally took my laptop to the computer department in Dallas, hoping that they could help. They hooked my computer up to a network so that the changes could be installed remotely. But my computer didn’t cooperate. I guess I had some type of security protection on it that prevented anyone from working on it.

After several more days, David Liddle of the Dallas computer office kindly stepped in. Being able to actually see the computer you are working with helps! He was able to turn off the security protection so that the changes could be made. He then showed me some of the features of the new email system.

As we were looking at it, I noticed that I knew a lot more people than I thought I did. On closer inspection, it turned out that my entire contact list for email had been doubled, with each person in twice. I glumly envisioned hours of work, deleting each duplicate entry. David said, “No, wait. I think I can fix this.” In just a few minutes, he had redone my contact list. All my old emails were now accessible to me, I had a little icon I could click on my computer to get to email, and I only had each person in my address list once. Since most of my work depends on being able to contact people by email, having the system up and going was a true blessing.

The behind-the-scenes people like the computer department are the unsung heroes of Bible translation. The ‘frontlines’ people, the ones who go to the villages and do language work, may get more attention, but without people like David who help keep our equipment running, the task of getting God’s Word to all His people would be slowed down.

Perhaps some of you have had a similar experience. It was my great pleasure to be able to help when help was needed. (Why? See Col 3:23-24.) If you pray for or give to our ministry, then you helped Martha, too.

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