Update from Brian and Donna Renes – October 2020
You know the expression, “that’s Greek to me.” Even though you hear something spoken, you do not understand it or do not learn the language, so you have no clue what was said. These types of phrases (idiomatic expressions) are sometimes very different in other languages. If you speak to someone in Spanish and want to express the same sentiment, you need to say, “That’s Chinese to me.”
I have seen many Chinese lately. Every day my computer screen has been filled with various sets of Chinese Bibles in different scripts. This morning in my email inbox, a colleague wrote, saying, “In your report to churches, you must write down.., working for an audience of 1.4 billion this month!” So here goes a glimpse of translation (and Bible) work in China.
The main languages of China have had a translation of the full Bible for many years. Last year more Bibles were distributed in China than in the United States. In recent years, all reports indicate that the church is growing, especially in the rural areas of China. Like in many contexts throughout the world and history, translation and revision of the Bible is an ongoing process, especially for a thriving church. One aspect that reflects growth and maturity is the desire for study material in the language. This past month I have been working on numerous Study Bibles in Chinese. There are excellent Study Bibles in various languages, and those can be used as models for new work. I have helped new projects get a running start by mirroring the published content to their latest projects. Translators still need to do a lot of work to adapt the study material, but the time to do so is reduced.
With the United Bible Societies and many other organizations, our primary goal is to make the Bible available to everyone in the language and format they desire. For some, that means we start a translation project in a language that has never had the Bible, and for others, it means providing a Study Bible. The Bible is indeed useful for teaching… and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
On a more personal note, I keep very busy helping teams from our home in Iowa. Even though travel is not yet allowed, remote work is possible, and we are progressing. These past weeks have focused on Chinese Study Bibles, but most months, it has helped teams prepare for publishing – many of which are in Africa. Pray for those translation teams that were hoping to finish this year. Final edits and agreement on precise wording require many meetings. From east to west, north, and south, no better time than now for God’s Word to be shared.
Partners with you in mission.
Brian and Donna Renes
Grace Covenant Ministries/Annville Institute
PO Box 340
Annville, KY 40402
October 21, 2020
Dear Prayer Warrior,
I recently heard of Pandemic Fatigue. We are tired of hearing about the virus, fretting about the health of our loved ones, waiting for a vaccine, planning for the new normal. Adding to our apprehension is the contentious election season that is upon us. Hopefully, the election will be over in a month. Some of our friends will be happy and some unhappy. All of us will be disappointed sometime in the future if we place too much hope in politicians, after all they are mere humans – just like us. We want to share the good news about Jesus, who will not fail us. He is our Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. Thank you for partnering with us as we strive to share the love of Christ with those we have been called to serve.
The effects of the Covid pandemic are becoming more apparent as the months go by. Historically, the Appalachian region is among the first to feel the effects of an economic slowdown and among the last to enjoy a recovery. Adding to the affliction is the feeling of loneliness and isolation. The question of how we can share God’s love during these difficult times is answered by looking for ways to make a difference one opportunity at a time. The opportunities included helping an elderly lady without family that needed to move to a different residence. An opportunity did arise to join forces with another faith organization in distributing food boxes. This past month over 2,000 boxes of food were distributed in Jackson County. Our thrift stores are also providing a blessing to area residents.
Recently, we received a note stating that “we can never repay or thank you enough for your help to us”. That thanks goes to you through your partnership with us. Your prayer support is cherished. You are helping us to make a difference in our community.
Your Partner in Missions,
Jake Moss, Director of Development
The Gospel City
Located on the coast of Indonesia, Manokwari is the capital city of West Papua. Unlike the rest of the Muslim-dominated nation, the majority of the residents there identify as Christians. In the 1800s, Christian missionaries brought the Good News to people in the area. At the time, people there were known for worshipping nature and practicing black magic.
Despite being known the “Gospel City,” few there know the true meaning of salvation, or are engaged in the Word of God. Instead, Christianity is more of a tradition or a label than a lifestyle. “These people know who Jesus is; however, that doesn’t mean that they recognize Jesus as their Lord and Savior,” says Romi, Bible League International’s communications specialist for the area.
But, thanks to people like you, pastors and religious leaders in the area are working to change that. Local churches in Manokwari are now introducing Bible League’s Project Philip Bibles studies and Bible-based Literacy to help residents learn about true salvation. Bible-based Literacy is especially appealing to people in the capital city, one of the poorer towns of West Papua. Many there have limited educational opportunities, so they embrace the opportunity to learn English. They know it’s a skill that can open many doors. But even more important, the adults and children taking part in Bible-based Literacy are learning the Gospel.
The government of Manokwari is supportive of Christianity, and even helps build churches around the city, especially in under-resourced areas. But buildings aren’t what make believers. Thanks to your support, people in Manokwari are learning the true meaning of Christianity.
A New Church in Haiti
When Pierre was growing up in Cornillon, Haiti, life was by no means easy. His commune is in a very neglected area without infrastructure or sanitary systems. Many are farmers or people who sell goods on the streets. He notes, “We don’t have good roads, hospitals, or drinking water.”
While Pierre was able to go to school, he had to walk an hour and a half every day to do so. “But I didn’t think it was a problem,” he explains. In high school, he left his community to go to Port-au-Prince to attend a public school.
Though Pierre grew up going to church, he didn’t see God at work in his life until he went to a friend’s church. He explains, “That day, the Holy Spirit persuaded me, and I received eternal life. From that moment on, I made it a priority to serve God and go to school.” Pierre finished college and got married. He’s been married for nine years. After college, he returned to Cornillon to work.
Pierre felt God calling him to plant a church in his hometown, but he wasn’t sure how he would do it. Then, a friend told him that he was going to Bible League’s Church Planter Training. He notes, “So, I felt encouraged to enroll as well.”
As he began, Pierre realized his true mission in life and how he could work for the Lord. His pastor helped him implement the skills he was learning in the training.
Pierre has successfully planted a church that now has about 150 members. He’s using what he learned through Bible League to help his church members engage in the Word. “Today, we use Bible League International’s materials because they are very easy for our people to understand,” he beams. “Many people here have received eternal life through Bible League’s programs.”
Influencing His Family
Elidio, a 24-year-old in Mozambique, grew up in a Christian family. But he admits that at one time he was a “backslider.” Brothers and sisters from the local church kept inviting him to Project Philip Bible studies, but he wouldn’t go. He had no desire to go to church. But one day, that changed.
“I thought to myself, ‘No, this is not happening by mistake. It is God who is encouraging me to come to this program. Today, I’ll go and see what’s going on at that church,’” he remembers.
He headed to the church that day and found people learning about God through a Project Philip Bible study. He had always thought that his family’s church was the only good church, but he soon learned that it was not about the church itself, but about God. “Until that moment, I was living according to my own desires. But when I came to this church, I discovered that Jesus wants us to live according to His will,” he says.
For years, Elidio was very judgmental. “I even judged my own parents,” he says. “But since I’ve been here, I have discovered that the Bible says to not judge. I was looking down on other churches and believers. Here, I learned it is not about the churches. No, it’s about Jesus who called people to be in the Church. We have to live according to the will of God.”
Today, Elidio is praying for his father, a Christian who has now gone astray. “My mother and I are battling to change his mind,” he says. “It’s not easy to live in harmony as a family.”
Despite his father’s resistance to the Word of God, Elidio doesn’t stop. Many days he sits with his father and his Bible, trying his best to share the Good News. “Often, he says he doesn’t want to speak with me about that, so I’m limited,” he says.
Still, Elidio is thankful for the materials that changed his life and will hopefully change his father’s life. “The Project Philip materials are like gold. We are receiving so many good things from those booklets.”
Give While You Shop!
Did you know that you can have a portion of your Amazon purchases donated to Bible League? The AmazonSmile Foundation recently surpassed $200 million in donations to charities worldwide, including Bible League International! With holiday shopping quickly approaching, be sure to head to smile.amazon.com, choose Bible League International as your charity, and a portion of your purchase will be donated directly to the ministry. Thank you!
Bible League International Prayer Calendar
Join friends around the world in prayer! Click here to download the October prayer calendar.
Additional Prayer Requests
Bible League Brazil is providing 1,500 Bibles to doctors and nurses across the country. Pray that these health care workers would find comfort and rest in the Lord through this initiative!
Praise God for nearly 2,000 people in Ethiopia who recently completed Project Philip Bible studies and received Bibles! Pray that they would continue to study the Word of God and draw nearer to Him each day!
Thank you for your prayers and financial support. Your gifts to Bible League International help provide Bibles and training to a world in need.
Just thought we would share with you, Carolee Schwaderer’s Blog giving us a perspective of missions from a Missionary’s wife’s point of view.
Dear praying friend,