2017 Wycliffe Gathering
Prayer and Patience: Wycliffe Australia’s 2017 Gathering
A visit to Kangaroo Ground is always worthwhile. The scenery is amazing, but even better is the opportunity to visit the Wycliffe Australia National Centre with the people who keep the home office running and others there for short term stays. I appreciated the opportunity to visit for the WBTA 2017 Gathering in the first week of May.
The Gathering was thoroughly enjoyable. It was wonderful to have the Conference Room full to overflowing, and I experienced again the joy of being in a crowd eager to see God’s Word in the heart languages of people around the world. Each morning Simon Wan (Wycliffe Global Alliance Asia-Pacific Director) led us in a devotion time focused on the idea of community; how being part of a community shapes and informs who we are and how we join with God in his work of mission with our brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. In our worship music time we focused on God as Trinity, reflecting on one Person of the Trinity each day: God as Father, God as Son, God as Holy Spirit.
Over the three days we heard from nine different Wycliffe Australia members – from those working in the home office, to those working in language projects in Australia, to those working in various field contexts in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. We heard of the joys as well as the challenges, and were given much food for prayer and praise.
We also heard from four guest speakers about the work of three other Bible translation organisations as well as Wycliffe Global Alliance. These different speakers had some common themes: the importance of training people well for their various roles, from management and administration to IT and Bible translation; connecting with local churches so that they can understand the need for Bible translation especially within their own country, allowing them the opportunity to partner in prayer and finances; and the ongoing need to be working together as different national organisations to keep the work progressing well.
In the discussion topics we heard about the changes to SIL International and the implications for Wycliffe Australia, and the impact of multilingualism and urbanisation on Scripture engagement. I found it helpful to hear some of the details of the Global Action Plan being developed by SIL International, with some information about how SIL International will continue to do language projects and Bible translation work. To then consider how multilingualism works allowed us to think through some of the realities, issues and opportunities of language use, especially in an increasingly urbanised world.
Over the course of the Gathering, the WBTA AGM and the SIL Australia AGM also took place. We were invited to join SILA members to hear the PEO report, which gave us an opportunity to understand better the changes to the training available to those who are interested in Bible translation, language development and literacy work, as well as some of the possibilities heading into the future for ongoing training, and having field staff become more involved in training others in recognised courses.
The theme for the whole Gathering was ‘Prayer and Patience’, and this theme was evident in every session. Whilst at Kangaroo Ground, I took the opportunity to visit the Prayer Chapel for the first time.
The work that Wycliffe Australia is involved in really does require prayer and patience. Bible translation work takes years and the combined efforts of many individuals and communities. Many unexpected events can speed up or slow down the visible progress. And yet God is powerful, working through the whole to bring glory and praise to himself, bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to people so they can truly understand and have the chance to respond to him in faith.
About the Author: Sharna is a Wycliffe Australia member in the process of heading overseas to serve in literacy.