23 December 2022

A Review of '22

Working for “The Word for the World” 
 2022 has been an encouraging year for TWFTW, and there’s a real sense of growth for us as a support base as we look to increase our support for Bible translation projects in Africa and Asia. We exhibited at the hottest Keswick Convention ever (+30 degrees is a rarity in Cumbria!) and at the Bible by the Beach conference in Eastbourne; we took part in the illumiNations Europe fundraising event together with other Bible translation agencies; the number of monthly donors has increased; we have matching-donor funding in place for the next 3 years (!), and I’ve been able to travel far and wide to preach and present at 20 different churches. I’ve also been involved in teaching God’s word at a TWFTW conference in Slovakia, an Oak Hall Bible weekend, and at our church’s men’s weekend in the Brecon Beacons. 

Life at Corsham Baptist & Inspired Act: I (Ruth) have continued to juggle two part-time jobs this year and I’m grateful that both are based in Corsham, a 10 minute walk apart. My church administrator role has expanded as we’ve had a change of Treasurer and I’ve picked up some of the financial administration. The new Treasurer is a younger man and he’s keen to get our paper processes into the 21st century and online! I’m all for it! My role at Inspired Act (Ops Manager) is as busy as ever as I try to fit a full-time job into part-time hours. Hmmm….

2022 Short Summary
: Away from the pulpit and the desk we’ve also had a busy year.  Having
hankered after the wintry slopes of the Swiss Alps for a few years, we were able to head out to the Eiger area on an Oak Hall skiing trip. This time round it was role-reversal, with Ruth leading the trip and me tagging along as a guest! Great skiing and great weather and, whilst we didn’t return with any injuries, we did return with the much-mentioned virus, which laid us low for a week or so. 

Oak Hall Israel trips in April & October went very well, although for the April trip there was an anxious wait for Covid results, as we all had to be tested at Tel Aviv airport! The dipper barely touched the sides of my mouth, so I wasn’t too surprised to get a negative result hours later! Tensions in Jerusalem were also heightened in April with Ramadan and Passover coinciding but, whilst we didn’t see any trouble, we could hear it! I’m reminded of a quote from Simon Sebag Montefiore (Jerusalem; the Biography’) that sums up this city of tension: “The city is so loveable in many ways and yet so hate-filled in others. It is always bristling with the hallowed and the holy, but also with the brash and the hasty. It can be outrageously vulgar and yet visually exquisite. Jerusalem seems to live more intensely than anywhere else; everything stays the same - yet nothing stands still”. 

 In June I was also able to scale the Scottish heights with a week of Munro magic, based up near Aviemore with my parents. And when the mountains weren’t beckoning, I was able to spend some time ‘spoiling a decent walk’ by wildly swinging a golf club through the heather of Nethy Bridge golf club! Highlight of the week, at least on the course, was scoring a 99 over 18 holes; not exactly Rory McIlroy form, but a milestone for a zig-zagging golfer like me! 

We then headed back to Scotland in August to spend time with family, and to run the Nairn half-marathon, with Ruth getting a PB on her birthday! She also had to dodge the pipe-band on the approach to the finish line! Towards the end of September we were able to jet-off to Majorca for a week of birding, cycling, running & reading. And then during the month of November, Ruth made a return to Africa with a small team from our church, to help out with the youth work at an AIM Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. She was delighted to use her Swahili tongue again and, whilst on the subject of tongues, she jumped at the opportunity for a return visit to the Giraffe sanctuary where she was greeted with a not-so-holy kiss by one of the inmates! 

We thank God for the opportunities we’ve had this year, and for the good year of growth in TWFTW. To those of you who pray for us, we appreciate that and thank you muchly! And we wish you all a very blessed and happy Christmas, with best wishes for the New Year ahead.  

A Christmas Reflection: Ordinary Christians Changing History! Over the last few months our TWFTW monthly newsletters have focussed on the subject of ‘What it takes to be a Bible translator’. We’ve noted that heart-language Bible translators are ordinary Christians who are changing history as they work, due to the fact that they impact whole communities and generations beyond their own. We’ve also noted that translation work can be arduous, and for some, dangerous. Some of our translators work in war zones, refugee camps, high-poverty countries, and some have even been kidnapped and killed. 

As we head into the Christmas season, it’s good to try and imagine what life was actually like for a couple of very ordinary God-fearing people, whose obedience changed history; Mary & Joseph. They lived under the occupation of the Romans; they were a peasant couple from the backwater town of Nazareth, and donkey-riding journeys were often dangerous – just ask the good Samaritan! I imagine therefore that life was somewhat tough for Mary and Joseph. Due to our romanticised and sanitised view of that first Christmas, I think we often forget how tough it must have been for this ‘ordinary’ couple. 

Imagine what happens behind the verses that we read in Matthew & Luke. Here’s a young teenage girl who’s had to try and explain to her parents and her ‘righteous’ fiancĂ© that she is pregnant……… with the Son of God! Where do you start?! Here is a young woman who has accepted the words of a powerful angelic being and whose response has been, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Wow!! Here is a heavily pregnant teenager who has had to travel over 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey, just because the Roman authorities have said they must. Here is a young woman who has had to give birth in a cowshed because there wasn’t any other option, and who then lays her firstborn child in a cattle feeding trough! What woman would want this as her first childbirth experience!? Here’s a young woman who has seen a bunch of excited shepherds (the outcasts of society) crowd into her humble maternity suite just a few hours later to ‘glorify and praise God’ for the arrival of this swaddled baby. Oh, the shock value of it all! 

And in all of these incredible scenes, at the centre of all that is happening, lies the Son of God; the firstborn over all creation, the Word becoming flesh, and the second person of the trinity pitching his tent amongst humanity! Hard to believe eh?! But this is what our Bibles tell us, and oh, how marvellous and humbling, and awe-inspiring is this plan of salvation hatched by the Almighty God! This Christmas season, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, and as we seek to sift the meaningful from the commercialism, may we take the time to marvel in reverence at what He has done for us. May we “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” as he stooped to become one of us – in order to save and restore humanity. And how do we know all of this? Because we have the gift of God’s Word in a language that we can understand! 

Birds of the Year: we were chuffed to see a Wryneck in Majorca

Dartford Warbler, Poole Harbour