I was privileged to be the guest of my good friend, Dr. Todd R. Chipman, for his podcast yesterday, Voices of MCC, an amazing church with which we partner. I pray this message will build you up in your faith and show you the glory of God! Listen here: https://themcc.org/sermons/vomcc027/
We are almost done with phase 1 of the Bible translation project, which is translating the Gospel of Luke and 50 chronological Bible stories in five Roma languages. Phase 2 will involve continuing on with this project by translating more of the New Testament in as many of these five language as we can.
In order to be able to get the translation work done faster, we have asked The Word for the World (TWFTW) Bible Translators to take over coordination of the project. The details and logistics to organize phase 2 are myriad and we need the Lord’s clear guidance. I wanted to lay out a few prayer requests and ask you to keep them in prayer over the next few months (October 2021-March 2022) as we transition into phase 2:
- Pray that God will raise up 2 or 3 translators for each of the 5 languages. The requirements will be higher now: the translators must work full time on the project (with no other outside employment); they must be working on earning a Diploma in Bible Translation; and some of them must know English well; members of the translation team need to be from different families, villages and churches if possible. Because of new requirements, some of the current translators can continue on the project, but some will not be able to.
- Pray that TWFTW can set up affiliates in Croatia and Serbia, and for God to raise up Roma, Croatian and Serbian pastors and church leaders to be on the boards of these TWFTW affiliates, to oversee the projects and help with the reviewing of the Bible translation drafts.
- Pray for Pierre van Vuuren of TWFTW to have much wisdom as he makes many decisions including choosing Bible translators, negotiating salaries, setting up all the infrastructure for the teams and affiliate offices, managing translators’ contracts, implementing the training for the Diploma in Bible translation for the translators, and working with local churches and governments.
- Pray for me as I will become one of the Bible translation consultants, which means I will be able to focus my full time on exegesis from the biblical languages and interpretation in the Roma languages, and consulting and advising the Roma translators, and approving of the final translations. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s enablement and guidance for this role.
(Click below to download this prayer list formatted as a calendar for printing out:)
October 1 Pray for Todd preparing presentations for upcoming missions conferences & church speaking engagements
October 2 Pray Todd’s visit to his mom will be encouraging to her; pray she will get approved for Medicare ASAP to cover her nursing home stay
October 3 Pray that many Roma will read the printed copies of Luke & our Bible stories we distributed in Croatia & Serbia
October 4 Pray for our Roma partners & churches in Croatia & Serbia to wisely distribute the remaining copies of Luke & Bible stories we gave them
October 5 Pray for Bible translator, Nedeljko, to be able to receive two kidney transplants as soon as possible
October 6 Pray for us as we speak at the missions conference at Solid Rock Bible Church, Kansas City, MO today through Sunday
October 7 Pray for wisdom for Pierre as he plans the next phase of our Bible translation in the 5 Roma languages
October 8 Pray God will provide 1 or 2 more qualified translators for the Arli language Bible translation
October 9 Pray that many Roma will listen to and read Luke & our Bible stories through our websites, YouTube and social media posts
October 10 Praise God for giving Todd a safe trip to Serbia & Croatia last month & for quick recovery from jet lag in both directions
October 11 Pray for Sergej, Zoki & Stanoja as they continue to check, test, & edit Luke in the Ludari language, for an accurate & clear translation
October 12 Pray for 2 qualified translators for the next phase of translation into the Ludari language (after we finish Luke & Bible stories)
October 13 Pray for Pierre & The Seed Company for wisdom preparing the budget for the next phase of Bible translations in the Roma languages
October 14 Pray God will provide 1 or 2 more qualified translators for the Gurbet language Bible translation
October 15 Pray for good learning as Todd attends a virtual Bible Translation conference today through Tuesday
October 16 Praise God for answering prayer last month that the lost suitcase finally arrived w/ the important business cards with download information
October 17 Pray for encouragement for Pastor Darko & his wife in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, the city where we used to live & where our teammates attend
October 18 Pray God will provide 2 or 3 qualified translators for the Bayash language Bible translation
October 19 Pray we can make good progress to finish Luke & 50 Bible stories in the Ludari language by January 2022
October 20 Pray for our kids to become men & women of the Scriptures, in both their knowledge & practice
October 21 Pray for good health for both our moms & for Pam’s mom to get her house packed to be ready to move to Kansas City in December
October 22 Pray for us as we speak at missions conference at Master’s Community Church, Kansas City, this weekend
October 23 Pray for the salvation of each of our kids
October 24 Pray for fruitful Bible clubs & Bible studies in the Slavonski Brod village, led by our colleagues there
October 25 Pray for Matthew’s nerves to grow back after last year’s surgery
October 26 Pray God will provide 2 or 3 qualified Bible translators for the Chergash language
October 27 Pray for Joy Hill settling into a life & ministry routine back in Melbourne, Australia, with Pioneers
October 28 Pray for safety for us & our family over the many miles we drive
October 29 Pray for Pierre & our colleagues to wisely choose translators & set up new teams for the rest of the Bible translation work
October 30 Pray for funding to pay for more Bible translation work in each of the 5 Roma languages
October 31 Happy 504th Reformation Day! Pray for widespread reformation among the Roma in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Montenegro this year!
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers while I (Todd) was in Serbia and Croatia, September 5-17.
We praise God that we were able to print books which contained the Gospel of Luke, 50 stories from creation to the return of Christ, and a glossary explaining important biblical terms. We printed 750 copies in the Arli language (red cover), 200 in the Gurbet language (green cover), 200 in the Chergash language (orange color) and 200 in the Bayash language (blue color)
We also printed 50 copies in each language of books containing these 50 Bible stories with pictures, specifically for children and for adults just learning to read.
Along with the translators, I and the new project coordinator traveled to a dozen locations and distributed copies through local Roma churches in Croatia and Serbia. At the churches, we would play the audio version of the story of the prodigal son in whichever language the people spoke. Everyone was very attentive and listened well. We were thrilled with the feedback as the people told us they could understand the stories in their languages.
One highlight was what happened with a man who cannot read and who for 10 years has been attending the church pastored by one of our translators. The pastor and his wife rarely get much of a response from him when they ask if he has understood what they have been preaching. But when he heard the story in Bayash played over the speaker, he got so excited. He told the pastor’s wife that he understood every word, and he started summarizing the story back to her in Croatian. This is the most he has ever responded to them in church. Praise God!
At the churches we also handed out business cards with the website and YouTube address where people can listen to Luke and the 50 Bible stories in audio recordings.
Though most Roma have never read in their language, it was so encouraging to see them try, and to hear them begin reading right away.
Thank you so much for your prayers. We rejoice in what the Lord is doing and give Him all the glory!
Todd & Pamala Price (Matthew, Kirsten, Daniel & Ariela)
After our two day stay in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, where we used to live, we drove three hours northeast to the Roma village of our Bayash translators. It was wonderful to see them again, and we enjoyed coffee and a huge lunch together!
They shared some of their background and testimony with Pierre so he could get to know them better, and afterwards we met to discuss the new structure that we will be putting in place for the next phase of the Bible translation projects. It was good to talk through several issues and have a very special prayer time together.
After that, Nedeljko’s uncle came over to the house. We played the audio from YouTube for five or six of the Bible stories and gave him a copy of Luke and the Bible stories in the Bayash language. He said he understood it all, encouraged us in the work of Bible translation and prayed for us. I was especially encouraged to hear this Roma brother in the Lord pray that this Word would take root in the hearts of many Roma.
After that, we walked down several streets of the Roma village and gave books to those who were interested, as well as the business cards that give the web site address where they can find the translation online and where they can listen to the translation in audio. We ended up attracting a lot of kids and sort of felt like the Pied Piper walking down the street and playing six or seven Bible stories over the portable loud speaker! See the picture below.
We enjoyed supper with our translators, Nataša, Renata, and Nedeljko at their house then headed to a local motel. The next day, after breakfast and coffee, we drove half an hour to the largest Roma village in Croatia, where about 2,000 Bayash live. Nedeljko’s sister lives there so we met at her house and had a special time of prayer with her. There used to be a church of about 50 that met in her house, but it no longer exists and unfortunately the village is plagued with immorality, alcoholism, drugs and crime. We had a special time of prayer that the Lord would do a great work among the Roma of that village and in her life and family as well.
I was encouraged that we could play two or three chapters of Luke in the Bayash language, while his sister and her daughter-in-law followed along in the printed versions. Another young mother came by with her three little children. We played a couple Bible stories in audio, and then left 25 copies of Luke, and 10 copies of the Bible stories with pictures for them to give out in the future to those who are interested.
After spending the night in the town where Djena and Biljana live, we drove an hour and a half to Slavonski Brod, the city where we used to live. It was great to meet up with our old teammates and the translators there in our old city.
We showed the Roma village to Pierre and then had a meeting with our former teammates to talk about the new steps forward on the Bible translation project with Pierre.
After that, we met at the Baptist Church where we used to attend, to do what is called “field testing” or “community checking”. This is where we have speakers of the language who have never heard our translation before, gather together and spend several hours with us listening to and reading our draft translation and hearing their feedback and suggestions.
One of the field testers was very nervous since she thought we were “testing” her knowledge. But we explained that actually we, the translators, are being “tested” to see how well we have translated. The goal, we assured them, is that they understand the translation and we highly value their input and suggestions.
She had never read in her Roma language before (Ludari), so was hesitant, but within 20 minutes she was reading the text and telling us in Croatia what it meant.
We don’t have anything finished in her language yet so we could not play any audio clips, but we played the story of the prodigal son in the Bayash language, which is a related language. As they listened, the other tester, her fifteen year-old son began to tear up and cry when he heard the story of the father’s response when the prodigal son returned.
After the testing, we had a late supper at Zoki and Stanoje’s house in the Roma village and talked about the needs and possibilities for the translation in the Ludari language to proceed farther with more books of the Bible after Luke is finished.
We spent the night at the church and the next morning had a very constructive meeting with the pastor of a Roma church in the town. Our goal is to involve local churches and pastors as much as we can in the Bible translation process.
We then walked through the village so Pierre could see it, then had lunch with Sergej, Željka, Andy and Lim, and talked more about possible plans for the future of the Bible translation work in the Ludari language, which they are excited about and involved in.
Then we met with two more speakers of the Ludari language for field testing, to go over a chapter in Luke in draft form in their language, Ludari, and get their feedback. It was very encouraging to see how much they understood and to get good feedback from them and make corrections and improvements to our draft of Luke.
After spending the night in a small town in Serbia, we crossed into Croatia the next morning. Here we spent more time with the translators, discussing changes and improvements we will be making to speed up the Bible translation project and to get more translators and more churches involved.
From there, we went to Djena and Biljana’s church. Though Djena and Biljana are Chergash speakers, most of the Roma in their church are speakers of two other, very different Roma languages, Bayash and Ludari. We don’t have Ludari done yet, but it was a great joy to share with them printed and audio versions in Bayash.
At the church, I played the audio version of the story of the prodigal son in the Bayash language. Everyone was very attentive and listened well.
At the end of the service, Biljana told me this exciting response to the audio Bible story: there is a man in their church who cannot read and who has been attending their church for probably 10 years. They rarely get much of a response from him when they asked if he has understood what they have been preaching or teaching. But when he heard the story in Bayash played over the speaker, he got so excited. He told Biljana that he understood every word, and he started summarizing the story back to her. This is the most he has ever responded to them in church. Praise God!
We handed out Bayash copies to those in attendance and left a few with the church for future needs. I also gave them about 150 business cards with the website and YouTube address that they can share with other Roma so they can access the translations online and listen to them.
We enjoyed a late night supper together and said our goodbyes. Another day well spent.
On day 8 we met up with our Chergash translators, Djena and Biljana, who drove over from Croatia, at a Roma church in northern Serbia, where we introduced Pierre to the pastor there. The pastor has an amazing ministry in 10 villages and a huge heart for the poor and needy. With this pastor, we enjoyed coffee and lunch and time together in fellowship before unloading and leaving with him 50 Bible story books with pictures that are diglots (i.e., with Chergash in one column and Serbian in the other column), 50 Bible story books with pictures in the Chergash (without Serbian), and 200 copies of the book that has Luke, the 50 Bible stories without pictures and the glossary.
While were were there, he arranged that the local TV news channel will do an interview with the translators next month to learn more about our Bible translations and about how Roma live in Croatia. He also arranged to present all our translations of Luke and the 50 stories in all four Roma languages at an upcoming book expo in Serbia, so we gave him copies in those languages as well.
From there we went to a church service outside in another village, and were very warmly received. We presented Luke and the Bible stories, played the audio for them to listen to, and Goran also preached a message. I love the pictures we got, and you can see them below.
Of course, with all our many kilometers of traveling, it has not been all without problems. Right when we pulled into the village to do the distribution, Pierre ran over a large nail and got a flat tire. It was Saturday evening in a small village, but thankfully, there was a tire service very close by. Even though the old man who ran it had recently had hip surgery and wasn’t normally working, because of our situation, he got it all fixed so that by the time church was over, we were able to go on our way.
Because we would be crossing the border from Serbia into Croatia soon, we had another COVID test that morning, so we could present the negative test results, which had to be no older than 48 hours by the time we crossed the border. That went smoothly, and we were all negative.
From there we drove over an hour to another city to meet up with the leaders of another Roma church. We went to their Friday service where Pierre preached. This church also has speakers of both Arli and Gurbet, so we handed out Luke and the 50 Bible stories, and played parts of Luke 15 in both languages so they could hear it. We also gave them business cards with information of how they could listen online free on our web site and YouTube.
A special moment was when the pastor invited forward for a prayer a young lady, who like the prodigal son in Luka 15, had wandered away from God, but was now returning. Pierre prayed over her and when she went back to her seat it was with a smile and tears in her eyes.
After that, we met the Serbian pastor who has a printing ministry, and we picked up the copies of the 50 Bible stories in color with pictures, where we had had him print 50 copies in Arli, 50 in Gurbet and 50 in Chergash. He has a real heart for, and ministry among, the Roma so it was exciting that he could take a sample copy of each language, and I could pass on to him business cards to distribute that give the website and YouTube address for people to listen online.
From there we drove on to another Roma church service. It was outdoors with lively worship music! There, Sergej preached, and we distributed Luke and the 50 Bible stories in the Arli and Gurbet languages. To the adults we gave out the books that include all of Luke, the Bible stories without pictures, and a glossary, and to the children, we gave out the Bible stories with pictures. We handed out about 60 copies and left another 30 for them to share with others later. You can see the pictures below, including one picture I love of a woman who picked up Luke and the Bible stories, started reading and sat there engrossed in reading for quite some time.
From there we drove on, enjoyed a late evening supper and birthday celebration for Saša and then stayed overnight at a camp that the Roma church has there, up in the hills. We left about 70 copies in Arli and Gurbet for that church to share with three other Roma churches.
We had the opportunity to meet with another local Roma pastor and gift him with 100 copies of Luke and Bible stories in the Arli language. This is the largest Roma church in Serbia, begun about 35 years ago after the revival began among the Roma in Serbia in the mid-1980s.
Afterwards, we were able to meet with several of our Roma Bible translators to explain the plans for moving forward with more translation of the New Testament, and how we will structure the new translation teams underneath the leadership of The Word for the World Bible Translators. This was a very important meeting to finally sit down with some of the translators and explain changes we are needing to make in order to speed up the translation process as well as give them a chance to ask questions and get clarification.
In the evening, we drove an hour to a Roma church in another city. In that church some of the Roma speak the Arli dialect and some the Gurbet dialect so we handed out the Gospel of Luke and the 50 Bible stories, and played audio clips from Luke 15 in both languages. We handed out copies to the 25 in attendance and left 100 copies for future needs, for the church to distribute or share with other churches. In the process we also explained how everything we have translated is online and gave them business cards with the web site and YouTube addresses. When one of the believers heard that it was available in audio, he said, “Great! Now I can play it through my speakers and evangelize the whole neighborhood!”
Saša preached from Luke 15, the story of the prodigal son (or perhaps better entitled “the story of the merciful father”). He preached in Serbian so everyone could understand, but also had the pastor read the passage from our translation of Luke 15. To my knowledge, it is the first time a passage of Scripture from our new translations has been used in a sermon, which is a dream come true for me.