Monday, November 16, 2009

Languages of Africa

Click here for a cool blog post by my friends Jeff and Heather. It has a great map and brief summary of languages and Bible translation in Africa. For those interested in learning more about why we're serving in Nigeria, this is a great link to check out.

Monday, July 06, 2009

FAQ--What will Technology Be Like?

One of the questions that we are frequently asked is what our technology situation will be like. No, we are not living in a hut and be relying on a satellite phone for communications once a month or so (although some of our colleagues may be in similar situations).

We will be living in a large city (Jos) of about one million people. There is power, albeit intermittent, and Internet access, albeit often slow and unreliable. We are anticipating that much of this will be improving over the next year or two.

One of the most remarkable things about Nigeria--and Africa in general--is the widespread use of cell phones as a primary mode of communication. Many (most?) people don't even have a landline. SMS (AKA texting) is very popular. My colleague Erik Hersman (click here to see one of his blogs that I follow) is something of an expert on this topic and recently posted the picture above. Basically, residents of Lagos (a major city in Nigeria but not near where we will be) can text in traffic updates and it will then be combined to allow subscribers to get real-time traffic updates.

I don't really know how it all works, but I thought it was pretty cool and wanted to share it with you. Credit goes to for this photo and sharing the idea. If you click on the photo it will bring you directly to the post about this program.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Unexpected Blessing--Diapers!

An unexpected blessing hit us last week.

We were notified by the Cotton Babies company that we have received their "Diaper Grant for Missionaries." A friend turned us on to this program a few months ago and we applied. For a variety of reasons, we will be using cloth diapers in Nigeria and they can be very expensive (but much nicer than what cloth diapers were a generation ago), so this program seemed like it could be a huge relief for us. That has definitely proven true! The grant has provided us with almost all of the cloth diapering supplies we'll need for our time in Nigeria, and we are so grateful.

If you click here, you can learn more about their program--pretty cool stuff! We're now encouraging any of our friends who are considering cloth diapering to go for it--and use Bum Genius if you can.

What a cool company to want to use their product to advance God's Kingdom in this way. Thank you Cotton Babies!

Overheard when planning to move overseas...

I think I came in at the wrong point in the phone conversation when all I heard was Christie asking,

"Do you have rabies?"

She was in the midst of making phone calls to arrange for doctor appointments, including the vaccinations we'll need. Everyone got a good laugh out of that one!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Find a Bible

When we meet with people about our ministry with Wycliffe, plenty of people ask us, "What languages do you speak?" That prompts us to explain about how we're supporting the work in other ways (Finance, IT, etc.) so that the people who are gifted with languages can handle the translation and linguistics issues.

Now, we have a new way to have people hear what the Bible sounds like in other languages. Click here to check out the Find a Bible feature of the International Forum of Bible Agencies. You can select from several languages in Nigeria, as well as thousands of other languages around the world--all in audio form. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Language Survey in Nigeria

I've always thought that language surveyors have one of the most interesting jobs in Wycliffe. They get to go out into the field and assess a variety of languages in a variety of places. There are plenty of adventures to be had with this role and never a dull moment. (That's my interpretation and impression of their job, anyway. Reality might be a bit different.)

Nigeria, the country to which we are moving, is in great need of survey. Following is a prayer request that recently went out to Wycliffe staff, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Thanks for your prayers!

"Select three men from each tribe, and I will send them out to explore the land and map it out..." (Joshua 18:4a, NLT)

Nigeria is a big country with hundreds of languages possibly needing Bible translation. Exactly how many of these languages will need translations is not known – and that’s where language surveyors come in. Language survey, or language assessment, is carried out to help identify which languages have the most urgent needs as well as which dialect(s) of those languages would be the most strategic basis for developing literature. The data they gather about languages and dialects informs strategic planning efforts and resource allocation. Surveyors are always in short supply.

• Pray for people working to recruit and train more surveyors. Praise God that more Nigerians are called to serve others within their own nation, including through Bible translation and language survey efforts. Ask God to give qualified young linguists an increasing vision of the need for language survey.

• As challenging as it is to do the actual survey, it can be even harder to patiently sit down and write up the results. Pray for surveyor Mike as he finishes four survey reports. Pray that his write-ups will be clear and insightful and lead to good decisions regarding future Bible translation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Packing. Throwing out. Selling. Visas. Vaccinations. Goodbyes.

Wow...our next two months before we move to Nigeria will be full and intense. We could use about 30 hours in each day instead of 24! It really is a bit overwhelming. The picture above is of the desk in our spare gives you an idea of what our life feels like right now. Thankfully, we know that the Lord has it all in his hands and he'll be guiding us through this transition.

Good news...we're now at 88% of the minimum regular financial commitments we need in order to make the move! Just two months ago we were at 60% so we are quite pleased with what the Lord has done thus far. We'll be sharing more updates as we get closer to departure.

Oh, and if you're in Orlando...feel free to stop by our house and make an offer on anything you see inside. :-)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Christ transforms lives...including yours, if you choose to let Him! Check out this video:

Thanks to Tom Lin for sharing this with us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Giving for Eternity

USA Today just published this article based on recent research. It involves charitable donations in the face of the current economy, and the fact that most donors who are "actively religious" intend to either increase or maintain their giving in 2009.

What the article doesn't discuss is motivation--why religious donors won't be decreasing their giving. One theory that I've heard is that Christians want to invest their money somewhere that will have a high return on investment...and they know that if the stock market can't/won't provide that, then investing in Christian ministries should provide the eternal impact for which they are looking.

Many people have asked us how the economy is impacting our financial partnership development. So far, we haven't seen a tangible impact. (We've gone from 60% of our monthly need to 82% over the past month.) I believe that our friends and family believe that making a Kingdom investment in Bible translation in Nigeria through Wycliffe is a solid one with a high return.

Thanks to all of you who are a part of our team and for making this strategic investment! (If you would like to join us, please let us know and we can discuss further.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Inner City Art Studio

Our friends Nathan and Amy have a great ministry and art studio in our inner-city cool is their story, in fact, that a local media outlet recently wrote about them. Check out this article for the story.

More of Nathan's art is available at

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gateway--Never Again

Christie and I spent a total of about two hours on the phone with Gateway tech support and customer service today. What we discovered is that once the computer is purchased, you are no longer a customer but rather a prisoner that is to be denied all requests. (Not to mention the fact that they detain you on the phone for obscene periods of time, put you on hold with no music (umm...maybe that's a good thing), and conveniently disconnect you when things are not looking good.)

By the way, Gateway has a policy that says (roughly translated), "If we sell you a lemon computer that fails to work out of the box, we will refuse to replace it and insist on wasting hours of your time in dealing with its issues."


Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Positive and Negative of Africa

I just read this article from the BBC. It's about two Nigerian sisters on a trek across Africa to raise awareness of the good things happenings on this great continent--instead of all the negative attention that is usually focused there.

They focus on good things--beautiful geography, hospitable people, sustainable sources of income, etc.--but in my mind, they miss the biggest positive of all: what Christ is doing in Africa. Not only are many people coming to Christ for the first time, but they are hearing the Great Commission's call on their lives and they are leaving their home cultures to serve as missionaries. This is certainly not to be overlooked when discussing the good things happening in Africa.

Just last week I had the privilege to participate in a conference call with three PhD students. They are studying in Nairobi, Kenya, but their homes are in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and another east African country. All three plan to return home following completion of their degree to serve in the Bible translation movement there. God called them, and they listened--now that is something to really rejoice over.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Building Resources to Reach the World

This front-page article was just posted online (the print version came out a few weeks ago). It features my boss and friend Bob Creson and discusses some of the ins and outs of resourcing the strategic worldwide ministry of Bible translation.

I have had the privilege of working with Bob--and even being with him at the meeting mentioned in the opening paragraph--for the past three years and will miss the opportunities afforded me during this time. However, the Lord has something new in store for us, and we could not be more excited about it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Persecution and Bible Translation

Click here to see Open Doors' list of countries where Christians are most persecuted. You'll notice our future home, Nigeria, is on the list but they specify that it is on the list because of the northern part of the country. We'll be living pretty central in the country, but a great number of the Bible translation needs are in the North. (This map shows this in visual form.)

In fact, if you look at the list of the top 20 countries that are in need of Bible translation, nearly half of them show up on Open Doors' list. A challenge, indeed.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sad Day--The Citizen Has Closed

During the summer of 1994, I walked into the office of The Charlevoix County Press, Boyne City's local newspaper. (Boyne City is my hometown in northern Michigan.) I was responding to a help wanted ad for a sports writer--but I was only a high school freshman. I liked sports and liked to I needed a job. Why not go for it?

Hugh Conklin, editor at that time, took a risk and hired me. I started by covering golf and tennis, and some of the freshman and JV teams. By my sophomore year, I landed my first front page article while covering varsity boys basketball, the second biggest sports team in town (after football).

By the end of my senior year I had worked for the paper (by then called the Citizen-Journal) for four years and the following summer, Hugh gave me a huge responsibility in a smaller weekly paper owned by the Citizen-Journal, the Walloon Lake Villager. I took pictures, reported and wrote the stories, handled much of the physical layout, and even helped with bulk mailing. The newspaper business became a part of my identity, and I still think back fondly on those days.

My parents informed me today that the Citizen-Journal has closed after 128 years of publishing in Boyne City. (Click here for an article about the closing.) The Internet has taken its toll on the newspaper business in general, but this situation hits especially close to home. It is a sad day, indeed.

(As something of a side note, I am really proud of my brother Bradley, whose picture was featured on the front page of the last issue. He is part of band called The Vermeers and there was a story about their new album release.)

Judah Macrae Winkler

Here is a recent picture of Judah Macrae Winkler, born December 15. We're not sure if he's scared of the bear or just hungry. Probably just hungry. I can blog all these things that I've been wanting to blog since the birth but it just didn't feel right because I hadn't posted a birth announcement yet. (Even though I think everyone that reads this blog knew about the birth within 48 hours.)