Friday, September 6, 2013 for Scripture Use

Way back when...before life got a bit complicated...we were doing the ABCs of Wycliffe to relay information about the work that our organization does.  With the events of getting moved overseas and beginning language school, that got put on hold.  Well today, we will resume where we left off: at the letter S.

Scripture use is one of the three main components of what Wycliffe does in a language community.  The other components are translation and literacy.  Those two are pretty self-explanatory.  Scripture use is not too tough of a concept either.  The main idea of scripture use is to get the translated word used and in people's hands.  It's an impeccable monument of achievement to have a Bible translated into each language.  But that product becoming just another book on a shelf or a museum piece would represent failure.  It needs to be used.  How that happens is where the fun begins - and where we get involved.

After myriads of language research has been done and some scripture has been translated, the ideal situation is for scripture use teams to start moving.  One of the primary methods used is to establish Bible studies in a language community.  And in languages where literacy is not widespread, this has to be done creatively.  One of the coolest things being done is to establish listening groups.  Working with ministries such as Faith Comes by Hearing, the newly translated scripture can be recorded with native speakers reading and the recorded material placed onto digital devices called Proclaimers.  Proclaimers are pretty neat devices that can be solar powered, so that those in the most remote areas can use them easily.  Leaders in the villages will establish meeting times for groups in the community to listen together and discuss what they've heard - not so different from Bible studies that you may be used to, but done with oral delivery.

A listening group in Malawi gathered around the Proclaimer
Another manifestation of Scripture use is in the publication of educational materials for a language community.  There is a nice five minute news byte on this web-page about a scripture use project in Bundibugyo, Uganda that is getting AIDS education materials into the hands of those in need in western Uganda.  After the linguistic research has been done and translation of scripture can be done, there's no reason to stop at translating the Bible.  Other materials that address community needs can be translated as well.  And scripture use staff can facilitate the understanding of the information and help get it distributed.

Congalese musicians recording newly composed scripture songs this summer at a workshop led by some of our colleagues
Our work in EthnoArts will largely come under the umbrella of scripture use as well.  What we will attempt to do is facilitate the nexus of scripture with the expressive forms (music, dance, drama, etc.) of a culture.  It may come through workshops to spur the creation of new materials infused with scripture, or by finding local artists and asking them to create music or art and hopefully begin a trend of creativity.  The end result is that people will be able to use scripture in the most personal of ways - through the trappings of their culture.  And they will also be able to express their worship of God in the most personal way they know.  That's our goal and it's a significant part of the scripture use puzzle.

For further perusal, visit this page with some videos that answer FAQs about scripture use.


  1. This sounds like fascinating work: and provides a way for all people to "sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in their hearts to God" Colossians 3:16. Are both you and Lori involved in this?

  2. Well, I (Chris) am the "trained one" in this, but not much happens in marriage alone, right? She took a recording techniques class at GIAL also so that when collecting data in the field we will be able to work together. For most part, Lori plans to fill whatever gaps exist at the Cameroon branch when we get there.

  3. It's definitely pretty fascinating work. We're trying to get some Bible study materials developed and do some training in how to study Scripture here in Tanzania. It can be fun, but it's also a lot more work than you might expect when you get started. Can't wait to hear more about what kind of stuff you'll be up to when you get to Cameroon.