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February | 2012

Silent Applause Joy in Matigsalug CrowdSeed Draws a Crowd to Bible Translation

“HIS WORD is like a sunflower ... and sunshine has begun.” — NAPHTALY MATTAH

W o r d s


f r o m

R o y

n many countries, a capable spiritual leader may be recognized as a “man or woman of peace.” In the Western Church, such a person might be called a “change agent.” Whatever the title, their role is pivotal to the success of every worthy endeavor. Change agents tend to be courageous vision casters who inspire others to work toward a common good. In this edition of SeedLinks you will meet several people who are God’s agents of change — heroes of faith who are on the front lines getting God’s Word into the hands and hearts of their people for the very first time. On the adjacent page, you will learn about our dear friend from Kenya, Naphtaly Mattah. God preserved his life to impact his entire people group through Bible translation. Naphtaly not only translated God’s Word into Suba, he and his wife also founded an orphanage and school for AIDS orphans. Today they still provide a home and education for hundreds of children.

“God … saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works,

In other stories, you’ll hear how translating Scripture into Matigsalug brought spiritual renewal as it preserved an entire people’s identity, culture and language in the Philippines. You’ll meet Tano Emboc and Rose Lacubay,

but according to His own

and others who blazed a trail that led their people to Jesus. This edition is

purpose and grace which was

packed with stories of God’s change agents who are “called according to

given to us in Christ Jesus before time began …” — 2 Timothy 1:9, (NKJV )

His purpose” and doing amazing things for His glory. What an honor it is for us to call these men and women our colleagues and friends. What a privilege it is to have you as our partner and friend. Together we are part of a movement that is closing the gap in seeing the Great Commission fulfilled in our lifetime.

Serving with you,

Roy L. Peterson | Follow Roy on Cover: Naphtaly Mattah and some of the students at Gethsemane Garden Christian Centre, Mfangano Island, Kenya.

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ONE LIFE. ONE PURPOSE. For such a time as this.

“When HIV/AIDS swept the community, children were left destitute and homeless. God nudged my wife and me to bring them in.” — Naphtaly Mattah Naphtaly Mattah and children in the courtyard at the Gethsemane Garden Christian Centre on Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria, Kenya.

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Life didn’t skip a beat the day Naphtaly Mattah was born on Mfangano Island on Lake Victoria, in Kenya. The ninth of 10 children, six of his siblings died under the age of 5. Because of the high infant mortality rate, many said it was a miracle he lived. “I was in a coma three days and was expected to die.” Naphtaly’s uncle consulted diviners to perform animal sacrifices for him to live. Though some attributed Naphtaly’s recovery to these practices at this time, they now know God preserved this seemingly “insignificant” life … “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Naphtaly grew up in abject poverty. His mother, who was widowed, worked hard to make a living. She cleared land of thorny bushes to grow corn and millet to feed her family. “Our little hut had mud walls and a grass roof,” Naphtaly said. “When it rained, we’d stand in the corner and shiver as the rain pelted in and made music in metal pots strewn across the floor — ding, ping!” Because Naphtaly wanted a better life for them, he studied hard in school to get ahead in the world. “We had no lights, no electricity and no lantern; we couldn’t afford kerosene.” Naphtaly sat close to the fire to study. His determination gave his mother joy. He ranked first in his class.

CAPTIVATED by God’s Word As a young man, Naphtaly lived with a relative in Lamu so he could receive medical treatment for back problems. His cousin’s wife made him work hard and repeatedly beat him and told him he would never amount to anything. But God’s plan for Naphtaly was greater than her abuse and he discovered a booklet of the Gospel of Matthew tucked away on an old bookshelf. 4 |

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“While other children played, I read. The words of Jesus captivated me,” Naphtaly said. “I’d never seen the things He spoke about practiced anywhere. That planted a seed and a quest in my heart.” Naphtaly’s hard work and perseverance paid off; he won a scholarship to the university.

EMBRACING His Grace After Naphtaly entered school, his priorities changed. He made friends with hooligans and began to drink and party. He also became a student rights activist who instigated riots. But during that time, Naphtaly had an encounter with God. When a friend died from alcohol poisoning, Naphtaly and his buddies attended the funeral and afterward became rowdy at a local eatery. An elderly woman observing beckoned Naphtaly, “My son, please come here.” He walked over to her. “Son, sit down,” she said. “Do you know that Jesus Christ died for you and He wants you to be His servant right now?” “Ma’am, look at me. Do you think the way I am I can become a Christian?” “My son, don’t despise yourself. The Jesus I am telling you about knows the way you are. On your own, you cannot make yourself good and then come to Him. But if you say yes, He will come into your life right now.” “There was a struggle inside,” Naphtaly said. “But I said yes. And a great weight was removed.”

The Mattahs threw open the doors to their home and embraced 12 children, then 13 …. By 2003, Naphtaly and Nereah, who is a teacher, started Gethsemane Garden Christian Centre (GGCC) to house and educate 120 orphans from ages 3 to 9. Today, GGCC has grown to around 500 children, 80 percent orphans.

“Sometimes it takes me two or three hours to get to my house which is 200 meters from the lake, because of children hanging on my fingers, and so many to pick up.” — Naphtaly Mattah

POOLS OF TEARS for an Island of Darkness In following months, Naphtaly wept as he read the English Bible cover-to-cover seven times. “I prayed for my community and the island full of darkness from the enemy ....” In 1990, Naphtaly asked God to let him preach the Gospel to his people. For two years, he recruited university students to evangelize up and down the coast and set up churches. Later when the students returned, they found the churches torn down. God showed Naphtaly Scripture in the Suba language was needed for lasting transformation to take place. Naphtaly returned home for good and he answered the call to begin Bible translation in the Suba language. As Scripture portions became available, God began moving in mighty ways. The number of Christ followers in Suba has grown from 100 to 3,000. Many people came to the Lord while participating in community testing of the translation. Several young people who received Jesus then are now pastors.

“God has continually supplied food, clothing and even multiplied the parental love it takes to embrace hundreds of children,” Naphtaly said. “Sometimes it takes me two or three hours to get to my house which is 200 meters from the lake, because of children hanging on my fingers, and so many to pick up.”

The LIFE-LIGHT Brings Lasting Transformation There is no doubt Bible translation changed the face of the Suba community. “We were so downcast because God’s Word had not come to us in our language. His Word is like a sunflower. A river of hope has opened, and sunshine has begun,” Naphtaly explained. “John 1 says, ‘The Word which was with God in the beginning, that Word became flesh. That Word is light to all men. Where there is no Word, there is no life and there is no light’” [paraphrased]. On Mfangano Island, God preserved, prepared and called to His purpose an “insignificant” man to point the way to the Life-Light … in such a time as this. x ...................... Watch children praise the Lord at Gethsemane Garden Christian Centre on Mfangano Island at

The Suba people brought the newly published New Testament up from the shore of Lake Victoria on Mfangano Island during the dedication ceremony last year.

PURE & GENUINE Religion “When HIV/AIDS swept the community in the mid’90s, children were left destitute and homeless,” Naphtaly said. “God nudged my wife, Nereah, and me to bring these children in.” He led the couple to read James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (NLT). Naphtaly said, “I remembered my mother’s hardship and my suffering as a young child.” seed links

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“As we enter into the text, our encounter with the Author begins.” — Tano Emboc



New Beginnings in



rom the bridge leading into Sinuda village in the southern Philippines, a processional stretched like a band of brightly embroidered red ribbon into the distant hills. More than 600 people, including guests from three continents, converged to celebrate the dedication of the Matigsalug New Testament on July 21, 2011. The Book represented more than the out-of-town visitors could have imagined. Having God’s Word in their language had sparked a fresh sense of hope and pride within the Matigsalug culture. In the 1970s, commercial logging had stripped forested homelands, destroying their way of life. The people struggled to survive. As they made a transition to subsistence agriculture, poverty widened the gap between the Matigsalug and their neighbors, some of whom ridiculed and ostracized them. The results were so painful that many Matigsalug speakers refused to speak their language in public. “I was just like [the rest of] my people before,” said Tano Emboc, one of the mother tongue translators. “I was ashamed of my language and culture because of the evident discrimination in our area. We used 6 |

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the [regional] language when we were in public places hoping that we wouldn’t be attacked again by the rude settlers who put us down in the midst of a crowd. But God delivered us from the conflict through language awareness and translated Scriptures.” As they learned more of the wider Filipino culture, the Matigsalug developed an intense desire to participate in it. They recognized literacy as a major issue. With help from SIL International, the community developed an alphabet and started a local organization, the Matigsalug Literacy Education Incorporated (MALEI). SIL workers then helped mother tongue translators in Bible translation efforts. In 2005, The Seed Company came alongside the Matigsalug translation team to help finish the New Testament.

Above: The Matigsalug people of the Philippine Islands celebrate at the dedication of the New Testament in their heart language.

By that time, more than 1,000 Matigsalug people had learned to read and write their own language, and were able to read God’s Word! Inday, a pastor who had relied on a regional language — Visayan — in ministry, recalled her initial hesitancy. “I didn’t want to read Matigsalug [at first],” she said, “But now I want to read it all the time. We are not only teaching people to read, but they are also learning the Word of God.” Today, Matigsalug believers take renewed pride in their identity and hope to have the entire Bible in their language. Two mother tongue translators continue to serve Christ and their own people in expanded capacities. Rose Lacubay works with Faith Comes By Hearing, a Seed Company partner organization providing Scriptures in an audio format for oral learners. And Tano is in training to become a Bible translation consultant with The Seed Company so he may help neighboring communities translate God’s Word in their language.

“God gave me an opportunity to know Him more through helping translate the Scriptures into my language,” Tano said. “As we enter into the text, [our] encounter with the Author begins. All we need to do is listen to the Author and be willing to change our presuppositions.” The dedication ceremony was evidence of the transforming power of God’s Word at work. Dressed in beautifully embroidered traditional garments, dancers lifted up their hearts and hands to the Author to celebrate all He had done. With heads held high and voices melded together, original hymns in the Matigsalug language rang out across the land. A new beginning had dawned for the once-remote community. “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” — Psalm 3:3, (KJV) x ...................... You can watch a short video, see a slideshow, and find out more about the Matigsalug people at seed links

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One Determined Woman and a Proclaimer “May I have that Proclaimer?”

the woman asked the pastor.* “No,” he said. The pastor plays the digital recorder to broadcast Scripture in his heart language for the village daily. His church has grown from 25 to 72. “Well, where did you get it?” she asked. He told her. She went promptly to the Faith Comes By Hearing offices and asked for a Proclaimer. A man there told her that churches were still waiting. “We just don’t have enough,” he said. Determined, she went back again and again. She figured out how the program worked. “So if I start a listening group, can I have one?” “No.” “What if I start three listening

groups … five, or …?” The man studied her, and then smiled. “Take it,” he said. “And start your listening groups!” What happens when one determined woman won’t take no for an answer? She gets a Proclaimer and recruits 10 volunteers. Together, they start 34 listening groups with 1,000 listeners weekly. “The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘… this woman is driving me crazy … she is wearing me out with her requests!’” — Luke 18:4-5, (NLT) x ...................... *The Proclaimer is a digital playback device for audio Scripture. Faith Comes By Hearing, a Seed Company partner, records translated Scripture onto the Proclaimers for sharing in oral cultures.

Translator, Wife Face Enemy at Night “For we are not fighting against

flesh and blood enemies,” reads Ephesians 6:12, “but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world ….” It’s a description of a spiritual battle that many Bible translators know personally. Lead translator Jean-Claude, of the Yemba New Testament in Cameroon, experienced intense spiritual opposition after translation meetings with church leaders began. The first night as he slept, a voice taunted JeanClaude by telling him to give up translation efforts and pursue an easier, “more financially rewarding” path. Jean-Claude woke up screaming, “No! No! No!” His wife, Sylvie, woke up too. The couple rebuked the unseen enemy and committed themselves into Jesus’ 8 |

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B i b l e Tr a n s l a t i o n Is Evangelism

“When I read Genesis 2:18-25 in Yambetta, I understood the place of the wife and her importance to the man. I didn’t consider her to be my partner. But this Word of God that I read in my language penetrated to the core of my heart and now I’ve come to my senses.” — Bendo, Yambetta speaker, Cameroon

care and remembered the protection of His blood.

The next night as Jean-Claude slept, he heard a voice bragging about his public status and how he was being recognized for his ability. “No! No! No!” Jean-Claude shouted. Again the couple prayed for protection and rebuked the enemy. Soon, they fell asleep safe and secure in the Shepherd’s care. x ......................

Find out more about the Yemba project at

Unity in Mongu Where Blessings Abound The Fwe people had been

waiting! Seventy enthusiastic elders attended a community meeting in January, when Seed Company representatives visited western Zambia to consider a new translation project. Shortly thereafter five other language groups agreed to participate in joint translation efforts. Each group chose translator trainees, totaling 26. Some traveled days by

foot, oxcart and public transport to get to the workshop. Distrust and tension between the groups, which had been historically suspicious of each other, vanished as translators-in-training recognized God’s hand in their united purpose around His Word. They started from scratch by creating writing systems. Within one incredible month, each of the groups had written language systems. Later in 2011 another workshop took place and every participant

from the first one returned. “Until now we from the western side of the Zambezi [River] felt like the forgotten people,” said one Fwe translator. “Now … we feel that we have been found and that God is doing a great work among us all.” x ......................

G O D’ S W O R D C H A N G I N G L I V E S —

AROUND OUR WORLD Silent Applause

What does praise look like? Ask a tearful, silent

crowd on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, gathered as they witnessed a longtime vision become reality. Deaf believers raised trembling hands high, shouting praise to God in Kenyan Sign Language, their mother tongue. Deaf Opportunity OutReach International (DOOR) had just made history when the organization dedicated the first Deaf Bible Training and Translation Center in February. “We’re seeing lives begin to change,” DOOR pastorteacher, Njatha Paul Ndungu, shared. “The deaf are finally able to understand God’s Word well.”

Deaf community members who recently celebrated the translation of 35 Bible stories in Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana this past November, agreed. “I can read the Bible, but I don’t really understand what it means,” one woman said. “To watch the signed Bible, it’s fantastic, I understand it perfectly!” “Before, I was taught, taught, taught about the Bible, but I never really understood it,” a man said. “I’ve never seen the Bible signed on DVD before. Now I understand it!” x ...................... For more about DOOR’s work, see is a great resource filled with stories about how God is changing lives. Check it out. Add thoughts. Share with others. seed links




CrowdSeed Draws a Crowd to

BIBLE Translation



n May 2011, The Seed Company launched CrowdSeed , a Bible translation crowdsourcing pilot in India. Crowdsourcing is a technique that leverages the knowledge and skills of many people. The project has taken root.

to find ways to accelerate stages in translation that are often slow. The CrowdSeed pilot has run parallel to a conventional translation project, which will enable consultants to assess the quality of work at the different stages of translation.*

“We feel very lucky to have worked with a project which changes the community [and] serves God in this way,” said an elder whose wisdom many depend on in this remote region. He and a surprising number of other area residents — 1,300 — worked to help translate Scripture into their own language, which has more than 1 million speakers. The participation exceeded planners’ projections by 30 percent.

CrowdSeed has produced several surprises. Because it relies on extensive use of computer technology, including a Web-based voting mechanism, young people helped their elders input information. During the process, they learned from one another and bonded in new ways.


By engaging large numbers of participants in certain stages of the translation process, such as checking passages for clarity and flow in the local language, project leaders hope 10 |

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“It was amazing to see so many young people …,” said one local pastor. “Surely, the Seed of the Word of God will remain in their hearts and produce change.” In addition, the CrowdSeed initiative sparked camaraderie among churches and promoted unanticipated church growth. As participants talked to

their friends and neighbors about Bible translation, Scripture became a hot topic. Many more people, including some nonbelievers, became interested and involved. Some churches have grown as much as 20 percent. “It’s astonishing to see the language of our heart written on a computer,” said a young pastor from the region. “People with no interest in the Bible come with an interest to work in their language and then begin thinking about the words of Jesus.” x


* The Seed Company received the 2011 eXcelerate Award for Innovation from The Mission Exchange for collaborative initiatives, including CrowdSeed, that have accelerated Bible translation through the use of technology. In 2012, The Seed Company plans to begin a follow-up project in India. More CrowdSeed projects are in the planning stages.

Find out more about the CrowdSeed pilot project in rural India at

Get Engaged! Enjoy blogging? Do you have a passion for God’s Word? Are you looking for a way to get involved? Be a OneVerse Blogger! Do you enjoy blogging? And do you have a passion for God’s Word? Then you might be a natural as a OneVerse Blogger.

A Behind-the-Scenes Report from a Seed Company Ambassador Jason Baker said he fought an urge to turn down the invitation to join Seed Company facilitators celebrating a weekend fundraising event. Jason and his wife, Susanna, are Seed Company Ambassadors who share their enthusiasm about Bible translation at Seed Groups* and other events.

This growing community launched last October during The Relevant Conference, a gathering of Christian women bloggers, which OneVerse sponsored. During the event, when OneVerse presented statistics on Bible poverty, more than 25 women came forward saying, “I’m not O.K. with that!” … and it became the tagline for the OneVerse Bloggers.

...................... Find out more: Email us:

This weekend had been successful and Jason didn’t want to risk ruining it. With mixed emotions, he consented to join senior Seed Company officials “to celebrate.” He wasn’t ready for what he saw as he walked into the room.

*You Can Start a Seed Group: It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s rewarding! Invite a small group of friends for coffee, dinner or a Seed Company event — simple. We’ll help you supercharge your connections and establish a Seed Group to help a people group still waiting for God’s Word in their language — fun. Share your enthusiasm about Bible translation as you share exciting stories of transformation from all over the world — rewarding.


Call 855-543-7333. We would love to answer your questions and work with you to start a Seed Group or become a Seed Company Ambassador!

The Johnson family packed their bags and headed for Ghana. “The primary purpose was to visit translation projects, including the Avatime which our family sponsors,” David said. “We also wanted to take side trips to appreciate the culture. It was a great experience to go outside the U.S. and see how others live.” The family also visited their Funsi friends — another project they had supported. David had attended their 2002 New Testament dedication ceremony and recalled, “The appreciation that village had for this work was amazing!” Now, David was astonished to see the transformation in the community. The church had grown and helped plant 15 churches in surrounding villages. “A high school was under construction, there were paved roads and electricity!” David said. “There are a lot of worthy Christian causes around the world — but God’s Word is a fundamental building block.” David stressed. “Without access to Scripture, God would really be a stranger.”

Jason hesitated to go, he said, because he had gone “behind the scenes” with other organizations and had left disillusioned by what he saw.

“Everybody was on their knees praying,” Jason said. “The celebration gave God 100 percent of the credit! It was a ‘bent knee’ and a ‘bent will’ to what God wanted.” Jason said his desire to champion Bible translation has only increased since then.

The Trip of a Lifetime!

...................... Read the rest of the story, see amazing photos and hear more about the trip from a teen’s perspective at

How has one verse changed your life? Te s t i m o n i e s . Many people experience life transformation by hearing one testimony, or by reading one verse of Scripture. Sometimes all it takes is one verse of God’s Word planted deep into a hungry heart! And it’s your turn to share. We want to hear how one verse of Scripture has impacted your life. Please share your story or post your favorite Scripture at and read others’ responses.

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30086 PERMIT# 1176

A Wycliffe Bible Translators affiliate

3030 Matlock Road, Suite 104 Arlington, Texas 76015-2934

Pray & Engage !

“GOD sp,eaks C LELA”

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” — James 5:16b, (NLT) In this issue of SeedLinks, you have seen many ways to personally engage in this Great Commission work of Scripture translation. One strategic way to engage is to pray. Prayer partners are essential members of our translation teams, and we’ve completely revamped our prayer page at with new resources to help you faithfully intercede for your teammates.


Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

Speakers: 90,000

• Prayer Testimonies — Powerful stories of answered prayer to inspire your faith.

Project goal: New Testament

• Prayer Guides — Tools for strategic prayer on behalf of your translation project.

Est. completion: 2015

• “Something’s Missing” — A creative video you can share with friends on Facebook and Twitter that will encourage them to engage as prayer partners too. Check it out today. And keep checking back for more ways to engage in the coming months. Let us pray!

B i l l M c C o y | Director of Prayer

Project start: 2011

The C’lela people first heard about Jesus in 1925, but the Gospel they heard was veiled in another language. Today only a third of the population is Christian. Prayer partners are an essential support to the faithful C’lela believers translating the Scriptures to bring a clear message of God’s love to their people.

Call 877-593-7333 or visit to support this team in prayer.

SeedLinks - February 2012  
SeedLinks - February 2012  

The February 2012 issue of SeedLinks