Backup and fools

It’s World Backup day. Seems fitting that it is one day before April Fools Day. I have a story about a fool and a missing backup, which I originally published in May 2012. Click on the title to read it all.

  • Crooks and Crow - In the early 1980’s, Liberia was in a civil war and we were living in Abidjan, surrounded by refugees. Liberians crossed the border into Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The UN set up refugee camps but some refugees made their way to Abidjan. Among them was a class of crooks – confidence men who would tell […]

Place-based memory

Starbucks knock-off in our neighborhood in Accra

Starbucks knock-off in our neighborhood in Accra

When we were in the US, we were trying to remember the names of some places in Accra where we went all the time. Even though we had been home for only a few months, we could not remember them! We talked about it several times. We even tried to use memory helps like imagining we were there; no luck.

The day after arriving in Accra, still tired and suffering the effects of jet lag, I just blurted out the names of those places without trying.

I meet a lot of Africans when I travel. Then a few weeks or a month later I might meet one of them in a different place than where I met them. I know that I know the person, but I cannot think of their name, nor where I met them. Back in the place where I met the person, I might at least have a chance of remembering their name.

Apparently, my brain is divided into compartments. All the information for a specific place goes into that compartment and I can’t access it unless I am in that place. Although, even then there is no guarantee.

Whose plans

I was living in Ouagadougou at the time. I had an appointment away from the office which I would attend with a Burkinabé man. He had come to the office and we would go together. But stuff kept happening. You know the situation: first a phone call, then a question, then someone stopping by. On it went.

I was a little frustrated and concerned about being late. Finally, we were on our way. I mentioned to the man accompanying me that we would be late because of all the interceptions. He replied:

Your plans are your plans,
but that was what God was doing.

I really did not have the time to digest that right there, but the words have stuck with me. Insights from people in other cultures enrich my understanding of life, God and godliness. He reminded me that a strong focus on my plans can keep me from seeing God’s hand in situations.

Doing translation?

This is the last installment in our series of asking the questions we were most asked last time we were in the US. This week, the question is:

Are you doing translation?
What do you actually do?

Goals, activities, resultsThe simple answer is that we do whatever needs to be done to meet our goals. I know, most of you will find that is not really an answer. Don’t worry, there is an answer in the following paragraphs. But first, let me say that missionaries who define their ministry by what they do and stick to it, sometimes do not accomplish their goals. In fact, they may not even realize that they are not meeting their goals.

Sometimes, an activity that has produced good results can become meaningless when things change. When the change is dramatic, such as when a tsunami swept away villages where one couple was doing a translation, we notice them and change. Where the changes are more subtile or are the result of long-term trends, we might miss them and continue with an activity that has lost its effectiveness. Dayle and I prefer to be persistent with regard to our goals, but not with regard to our activities. We evaluate our activities to see if they are meeting the goals, then change our activities as needed.

You can read our complete goals on our prayer page. Here is a summary:

  • The churches in Ghana will have a plan to do translation in all the languages of Ghana that need it
  • The churches in Ghana will start work in all the languages, where there is no work going on, by 2016
  • Most of the people and money needed for translation will come from within Ghana by 2018

The pace of Bible translation is accelerating, largely because many more people are being mobilized to help. In fact, that is having a bigger impact on the pace than technology. We believe that the Lord led us to these goals. We do a number of things together with others in order to see those goals accomplished:

  • Michael Serchie, Gilbert Ansre and EdDevelop personal relationships with key Christian leaders
  • Listen carefully to them, putting ourselves in the role of servants to their goals
  • Supply church leaders and Christians with information about the value, impact and process of Bible translation. Identify ways Bible translation can make their ministry more effective.
  • Identify which languages still need a translation, together with church leaders
  • Work directly with interested parties – churches, Christians, local leadership – to define a plan for starting and carrying out the translation, including questions like how the linguistic work will be done to write the language, how translators will be chosen and trained, where they will work, where the money will come from, etc.
  • Work with church leaders to find and address problems.
  • Assist in the development of presentations, publications, and internet information to help the churches in Ghana understand Bible translation and possibilities it offers them.

These activities involve travel to language areas, face-to-face meetings, writing reports of those meetings, research, processing the results of meetings with people who were not there, phone calls, writing and responding to email messages, hostessing individuals and groups at receptions, etc. Or we might add an activity we have never done before, if the Lord impresses on us that it will help us meet the goals.

The Last Chapter

In the early 1980s, I was traveling in Mali. It was hot. The block house where we were to spend the night had baked in the sun all day. Well after dark, it was still like an oven inside. So when I was offered a cot to sleep outside, I did not hesitate.

I took a paperback book and a flashlight with my cot and read a little before falling asleep. During the night, I knocked the book off the cot and onto the ground where I found it on the morning. It was lying face up, and when I picked it up I found that termites had eaten the last chapter. I never did know how that novel finished.

If you liked this, you might also like The meaning of a phrase, Funny or stupid, or On the bus.

Next week, I will resume answers to the questions I was most asked in the US.

Nessiel Ndjibogoto

Nessiel is the man who leads the organization I will be working with. A few years ago he told us an interesting story about his life. His mother had carried four pregnancies to term and lost the baby at birth or shortly thereafter. Her fifth pregnancy was Nessiel. So when he was born she named him Nessiel, which in her language means “He won’t last”.

A few years ago Nessiel went to visit his now aged mother. She told him that now that he had given her grandchildren it was time to reconsider his name! Nessiel responded by telling her that he was involved in Bible translation in the languages of Chad of which there are over 120. He told his mother that man might call that task “It won’t get done”. So he wanted to keep his name to show that God’s evaluation of a situation are not the same as man’s.

(This was originally posted on a different site. It was republished here in March 2012.)

Chad trip

I (Ed) will be in Chad from October 20 through November 1 plus a travel day on each end. Chad is a country in Central Africa with plenty of challenges. I will be in N’Djamena (pronounced n-jah-MAY-nah) and Moundou (pronouced moon-due).

Here is a map.

I will be working with a Chadian Christian organization which does Bible translation. Wycliffe is partnering with them. They have a great vision, good skills and the confidence of the churches in Chad. What they lack is the capacity to manage their budget well. They also want help with managing funding which Wycliffe sends them to the legal standards required. My job will be to work with them to develop a plan for both of those and to make a recommendation to Wycliffe concerning future partnership with this national organization.

Pray for good interactions, for transparency and for clarity. I will be doing almost all of my work in French, so clarity is an important thing. While I can say anything, I sometimes struggle to say it with the right nuance and tone.

I’ll post more as I am able. I am not at all sure what internet connection, if any, I will have in Moundou.

For more information on Chad and the national organization I will be working with see:

(This was originally posted on a different site. It was republished here in March 2012.)


On my way to Chad I had to overnight in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In the morning I looked out my room window and saw this. I assumed that the building was a mosque. Only when looking at the photo closely later did I see the crosses on the top, not crescent moons, so this is an Orthodox Church. Ethiopia has large number of Christians and the orthodox church has a very long history here dating from 330 AD. Its even has its own web site

In fact, no more than nine countries in the world have more Christians (of all persuasions) than Ethiopia, and a large number are evangelical. In Chad, on the other hand, Christianity is relatively new having come early in the 20th century. Also, most Christians are in the south, whereas most people in the north of Chad follow Islam.

(This was first posted on a different site. It was republished here in March 2012.)