God Speaks my Language

God Speaks my Language

Jess Bee Headshot

Jess Bee discovers how SGM Lifewords’ publishing legacy still brings life to many, through an archive of a thousand-plus translations of the Bible’s life words, re-imagined for a digital age.

“I know it’s not easy to follow Jesus’ road. People mock believers. But that’s ok because when you follow Jesus you know your sins are forgiven, that you have righteousness and that you’ll go to heaven.”

Pilgrim* lives in Niger. He is Fulani, one of the largest and most widely spread ethnic Muslim groups in West Africa. He meets with others in his community to learn about the Bible and discover more about Jesus. He speaks Fulfulde and he is able to read the Bible in his own language thanks to a copy of SGM Lifewords’ Jesus Saviour of the World given to him by Ruth*, a Canadian missionary. Ruth lives and works with the Fulani people, serving the community and building relationships. She offers the Bible to those she ministers to so that they can read and understand God’s Word in their own language. As well as the booklet she gave to Pilgrim she also has copies of Jesus Christ: Saviour of the World in Ajami, a language that uses the Arabic alphabet. “These booklets are particularly of interest to those who can read the Arabic alphabet because they have studied at the mosque,” she says. “They may or may not have understanding of the Arabic language, but can read it phonetically. They start reading the Jesus Christ: Saviour of the World booklet not expecting to understand it and are surprised to find that it is their own language in letters they can read.” Reading or hearing the Bible in your own heart language (mother tongue) is not a luxury, it is an experience that carries with it the profound message that everyone is included in God’s kingdom. God speaks your language.

Herdsman

MAKING THE BIBLE ACCESSIBLE

Ruth and other on-the-ground missionaries are able to offer the Bible to minority language speakers all over the world thanks to SGM Lifewords’ extensive archive database which allows for reprints of titles in many languages. In the 129 years since the founding of Scripture Gift Mission (now SGM Lifewords), thousands of different titles have been printed in a huge variety of languages. The majority of those booklets are stored in an archive of physical copies. In 2016 – thanks to your generous support – we completed the long and painstaking task of creating an archive database. This makes our language and reprinting data much more accessible, and new possibilities have already emerged – Jesus Christ: Saviour of the World in Fulfulde was published in partnership with Serving in Mission (SIM) and now Ruth is sharing it afresh with the Fulani people in Niger. The archive database holds a vast array of treasures – over 22,000 items. SGM Lifewords printed the first ever Scriptures in over 200 languages, in partnership with organisations such as Wycliffe/SIL. Some of those languages had never been written down until Bible translators did their work, which means that our archive holds examples of the first ever publications in that language – items of historic significance. But the archive and database hold much more than texts of historical importance. They hold the key to people all over the world being able to read and understand the Bible in their own language – and therefore know and experience the love of Jesus for themselves.

“Our archive holds examples of the first

ever publications in that language”

WORKING TOGETHER

Some of those archived titles are reaching new audiences, including our older titles in Romani languages. There are several dozen Romani languages and dialects spoken across Western Europe, and they are often highly localised. None of them have a translation of the full Bible, but various missionaries and Bible agencies have translated different stories or key passages in the past, SGM Lifewords among them. In partnership with the (British and Foreign) Bible Society, we have been able to scan in our Romani booklets, some of them dating back to the 1910s, and make them available through the YouVersion app – a free Bible app for phones, tablets and computers. The Romani may not have a full translation yet, but everything that has been done in the past is being drawn together in one place and made much more accessible. Another recent enquiry has come from the Albanian Bible Society. Uniquely, Albania declared itself to be an atheist state during the Soviet era. This pushed the church underground, and the country’s Christian heritage was suppressed. Today Albanian Christians are rediscovering the story of the church in Albania, and historians and linguists are filling in the gaps in the history books. SGM Lifewords’ part in that story comes in 1937 when the mission recognised that the door was about to close in Albania and made the country a priority. Tens of thousands of booklets were shipped, including Sunday school materials. A year later, missionaries were forced to leave the country and religious freedom was not officially restored until 1990. We were delighted to be able to locate and scan in some booklets from the time, a small contribution to this reconstruction of the Albanian church’s legacy. Another key partnership is with Wycliffe/SIL with whom we’ve worked – and still work – to make Bible booklets available in minority languages to low literacy communities through our Power to Save series. In 2013 we helped publish 400 copies of Jesus Christ Has Power to Save – which features verses from Mark’s Gospel – in Mpumpong for SIL Cameroon. Charlotte Nanou, working with Wycliffe, took the booklets to Yokadouma in south-east Cameroon to share with Mpumpong communities. SGM Lifewords remains committed to new language partnerships, as translators continue to take forward the task of making the Bible available to every tribe and tongue. As Scripture is translated into “new” languages, our resources can provide people with a way into the Bible for the first time.

Digital

DIGITAL FUTURE

The digitalisation and archiving of booklets and translations ready for printing is just part of the treasure we thank God for. The archive that we’re building also looks to the future as we research and produce new projects, and disseminate the Bible through digital formats such as Life Changing Words and VerseFirst. This year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, where the arrival of the printing press allowed many more people to read the Bible. Now, in a digital age, we have more and more opportunities to help people access and share the Bible. Last year we were able to partner with translators working in a “closed” country, to make the Life Changing Words app available there, in a local language. In a context where distributing physical copies of the Bible is difficult, this daily Scripture tool gives local believers a new way to encounter life words, and share them safely with others.

LANGUAGE OF THE HEART

For the almost 20,000 young people reading VerseFirst each day in their social media feed, and deepening their experience of the Bible through VerseFirst blogs and web content, experiencing the Bible in their “heart language” is about more than the literal language in which they read. In a post-literate culture, images, words, and cultural form combine to communicate truth and meaning for this new generation. We are excited about what comes next, as we think about how we continue to offer people ways into the life-transforming words of the Bible, and its message of love and salvation through Jesus. Whether in print, via “live” programmes, or through digital resources, our passion is that everyone, everywhere should have the chance to read, hear, and experience the good news of the Bible.

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Latest Interact Magazine

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God speaks my language
For almost 130 years, SGM Lifewords has played a large role in making the Bible accessible to all. With over 22,000 archived resources in more than 200 languages, our new issue of Interact discusses the incredible impact this is having around the world.

To receive a posted copy of this latest Interact magazine, simply pop an email to newzealand@sgmlifewords.com

Note: If you normally receive Interact in the mail, it should arrive shortly. You can still read the online version linked above.

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War, wounds and words of life

Bishop John Taylor Smith was the Chaplain General to the British Forces during the First World War. He was often to be found at the front line talking to officers and their men. He wanted to understand the conditions in which they lived, fought and died.

Taylor Smith was deeply concerned for the spiritual and moral welfare of soldiers, both in the training camps and at the front. “His job”, writes his biographer, “was to see that no man went into the trenches without having close at hand some word which would help him in the hour of danger and in the close approach of death…”. His chief question to prospective chaplains was: “What would you say to a man fatally wounded but conscious, and with only ten minutes to live?”

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Bishop John Taylor Smith at the War Office, 1915

Bishop Taylor Smith had been a member of the council of the Scripture Gift Mission (SGM) since 1910, and later was to become the President of the mission. During the War, he ensured that each soldier was given two pocket-sized, durable booklets: one a copy of the Proverbs and the other a copy of the gospel of John. They were well received and valued by most troops.

As they read the life-giving words of the gospel, “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31), many found the Saviour.

Forty three million items of Scripture were distributed during the course of the war. Each New Testament and each gospel concluded with a decision form based on the words of John 1:12,

‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

As the war proceeded and tens of thousands of men were killed, their simple belongings, as far as practicable, were returned to their loved ones. Many letters were received at the office of SGM indicating that men had written their names at the end of the decision form with the date, in some cases only a few days, or even a few hours before their death.

For the 2014 – 2018 centenary years of WW1, SGM Lifewords has reproduced a replica of the gospel of John that Bishop Taylor Smith shared. Over half a million copies have been distributed in the UK as the nation paused in sombre remembrance of the sacrifices made a century ago.

It is our hope and plan that as we remember the Gallipoli landings, and the epic battles on the Western Front in the years following, that we may be able to get a copy of this gospel booklet into the hands of many who may not otherwise read it. You may find our article on “7 ways to use the War Gospel” helpful in sharing it in your own context.

If you would like a sample copy or to order multiple copies, please order them here.

Blessings,

Rob Reeve
Chairman SGM Lifewords Australia and New Zealand

Chairman Rob Reeve with wife Lorna

Chairman Rob Reeve with wife Lorna

 

ANZAC

7 WAYS TO USE THE REPLICA WW1 GOSPELS

1. ANZAC DAY SERVICES

RSA, churches and many others have been ordering these Gospels to give away at Anzac Day services.

2. CHURCHES

ANZAC day is a commemoration of great sacrifice made for our benefit, so is a great opportunity to point people to the greatest sacrifice for our benefit – the Lord Jesus.

If your church is open to visitors, leave some WW1 Anniversary Gospels on a display rack for people to take away, especially if your church is connected to local armed forces or is close to a war memorial.

3. SCHOOLS

Schools throughout the country will be marking the anniversary of the great war in various ways. Bible in school teachers can give out the Gospels and use corresponding lesson plans from Scripture Union to learn about the WW1 Gospels and what they meant to those who received them.

4. YOUTH GROUPS

There are some tools around these WW1 Gospels that would make a great youth night. Show our short film ‘Hill 63’ to raise the question of what people would be prepared to die for. Then read the story of ‘Singing Jim’ that’s in the WW1 Gospel as a real-life example. Each teen could be given a Gospel.

5. SCOUTS, GIRLS & BOYS BRIGADE

These groups are often involved in Anzac Day and other military or civic events. We’ve already heard from cadet chaplains planning to present young people with a WW1 Gospel.

6. ARMED FORCES CHAPLAINS

Navy, Air Force and Army chaplains are using thousands of these Anniversary Gospels with those in active service. Pray for them and encourage them! And if you are involved in chaplaincy work, order your copies online for your mission.

7. SHARE JOHN’S GOSPEL

The scriptures provided such great hope for so many in a brutally dark period of our history. Read through those same life-giving words with family, friends, or colleagues who need to share in that hope.

Order yours for FREE

Lord Robert's Message

Lord Roberts’ words

Lord Roberts’ words – WW1 and the Bible 100 years on

It has now been more than 100 years since the outbreak of WW1 – let’s consider some words from Lord Roberts, last Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.

On the 4th of August 1914, the British Empire entered what was to become the First World War, and her allies soon followed. To remember WWI is not to celebrate war or to glorify it, but to mark and honour great loss of life and sacrifice, and to say (against the backdrop of a world still in conflict today) “no more” and “never again”.

When war broke out in 1914, a cry went out across Europe for bibles, testaments, and gospels to share. Scripture Gift Mission (now SGM Lifewords) began a “mobilisation” of its own printing an Active Service Gospel to provide hope for our troops. These Gospels were given freely at training camps and recruitment halls and more. Chaplains passed out pocket Gospels to men crossing to France, and soldiers slipped them into their tunic pockets to carry. Later, copies were printed for the YMCA and Church Army, and different covers were printed for the different Armed Services. There are endless different editions, only some of which have survived for archives. Gospels were also printed in Russian, with the help of the Tsar and his family, as well as German and Flemish Gospels. Forty-three million booklets of scripture were printed and distributed during WW1. An astonishing number that demonstrates the great effort and urgency with which countless people took up the challenge of sharing the Bible.

What all these Active Service Gospels had in common was a message on the inside cover from Lord Roberts, former Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. SGM Gospels can be identified, whatever their cover and however they were used, by the appeal made by Lord Roberts in the front:

“I ask you to put your trust in God.
He will watch over you and strengthen you.
You will find in this little book guidance when you are in health,
comfort when you are in sickness, and strength when you are in adversity.” 

Lord Roberts recognised that the gospels offer guidance, comfort, and strength. The cover instructed recipients, “Please carry this in your pocket and read it every day.” Read the story of God with us every day. Read the words of The Evangelist promising the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 | NIV. Read about the kind of love that goes all the way to death. Read about the promise of “life from above” for those who “put your trust in him”. These Gospels didn’t come with a sermon inscribed in the front, or instructions on doctrine and belief, they were given out in the darkness and horror of war as “guidance, comfort, and strength”.

We are offering a replica edition of the Active Service Gospels as “guidance, comfort, and strength.” Almost one million copies of the Gospel have been given around the world, offered as words to make of what you will, and what God will. Words that speak directly to hearts today, just as they did 100 years ago. Without comment, without a sermon, simply the story of Jesus told by John, offered as the most important story we could tell.

Will you join in making the same appeal Lord Roberts made?

“I ask you to put your trust in God”

Order your Active Service Gospels today here – FREE to all

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Indonesia | Confronting

My first day in Indonesia can be summed up with one word – confronting. Confronting because of the wonderful colour, joy and enthusiasm everywhere. Confronting also because of the great poverty and suffering many have endured.

“Selamat Pagi” (good morning in Indonesian) are the words that started our day. We are in Indonesia this week to encourage and support the great work over here. I was so encouraged to join a class of around 45 students who have just started at Pelita Dunia Theological Seminary. They will study for five years, preparing for a lifetime of gospel ministry. Many of these students come from poor villages spread across Indonesia’s 922 inhabited islands, and arrived in Jakarta not knowing how they will pay for their study. It was a real delight to see their enthusiasm in singing, studying the scriptures, and learning how to share the message of Jesus in a context where many are illiterate.

Later, we visited a church service in a leper colony also in Jakarta. I was struck by how the gospel has transformed the lives of people who have suffered so greatly as outcasts in their society. Imagine living for over 40 years without any physical contact from another human being!!! That has been the reality for some here, yet to sing with them, and hear them talk of the love of Christ they have, paints such a beautiful picture of what hope in heaven looks like in this desperately broken world!

I am so thankful for your partnership in the gospel that means this valuable ministries continues! Join with me in praying for these dear brothers and sisters in Indonesia, and for the many here who do not know that hope!

Tuhan memberkati (God Bless),

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Pohutukawa red flowers blossom on the month of December over a sandy beach with a small fishing boat doubtless bay New Zealand.

7 WAYS TO BE MISSIONAL THIS CHRISTMAS

Christmas presents a great opportunity to share God’s word and the real meaning of Christmas. Here are 7 ideas on how you can make this Christmas bigger and better for others around you:

1 | Share a Meal

Sharing a meal with someone is such a good way to really get to know them, so why not invite people to a meal or a BBQ at your place. Look for opportunities to listen to their story, and share together what Christmas truly means. At the heart of Christian hospitality is welcoming and loving strangers – you don’t need to serve an ornate meal, just invite people into your home and life.

Christmas_a little story2 | Share God’s Word

God has spoken powerfully in his Word, revealing himself and giving life to his people through it. Give the gift of God’s word at your Christmas event, church service, or even in Christmas cards. I would love to send you some copies of  “A little story about something big” as one option. Order copies here for FREE!

3 | Pray for People

We have a wonderful and loving God who delights in answering our prayers! Pray for God’s mercy and love for people this Christmas. Offer to pray for people who are sick, stressed, lonely or tired throughout the Christmas season. Most people will see it as kind & caring.

4 | Serve Those in Need

We have received so much as people dearly loved by God, so it is fitting for us to find ways to practically love others who are in need! Serve the poor and needy in you area by helping at a local aid organisation, or getting involved in a soup kitchen or shelter.

5 | Celebrate Christmas Together

The gospel breaks down cultural and social barriers, uniting us in the love and hope we have received. A great way to express that is to organise a Christmas party and invite those who are on the outer – try to include people who don’t have family, are single mums, or people away from home.

6 | Visit People

Christmas is a time we share with friends and family we love, but it can also be such a lonely time of year for some people. Even the small act of visiting a retirement village to sing carols or share some Christmas cake could be such an encouragement. Take time to sit and read the story of Christmas with those who are often forgotten and neglected.

7 | Give God’s WordSGMLW7253_Silent Night fc

Another way to give God’s word this Christmas could be the “Silent Night” booklet from SGM Lifeword’s. It details the amazing Christmas Truce story from WW1 – putting down weapons in a rare moment of peace. Isn’t that what Christmas is about? Order copies for FREE here.

What are Your Ideas?

I would love to hear your ideas of how to share God’s life words over the Christmas period. Let us know in the comments section below.

Dave Profile

Meet our NZ Coordinator

Hi there!

I am Dave and I am excited to introduce myself as I join the Lifewords team and re-establish more of a presence in New Zealand. I live in Auckland with my lovely wife and our two mischievous boys. We love the Lord Jesus and the Word of God, so I am thankful to be part of a movement that has at it’s heart putting the Word of God in peoples hands.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

[Heb 4:12, NIV]

ANZAC Gospels – now available!

We have available a replica edition of the actual Active Service John’s Gospel (NIV) given to serving Allied troops during WW1. This has been HUGELY popular in the UK and Australia and is available for you to order and give this Anzac Day.

This gospel is re-issued for the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The replica is useful for commemoration services, school groups, and active service usage.

Order your pack of 10 HERE...

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Some of the faces blessed by Aus-NZ Mums!

The Aussie Mums 4 Indo Kids Christmas campaign was all about sharing Christmas generosity with children and the city poor who never get to experience Christmas. So many of you added some children to your Christmas list, providing a present, lunch and a care pack to over 1250 kids in Indonesia! Here’s some of the faces of those who were blessed. We’d like to say THANK YOU and we hope you join us again next year!

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