Wagner June Update


201404 Themne Checking-3 (1) web ready


These are books of the Old Testament that have been drafted into Themne.* These particular ones have also made it through the next step of commenting by external reviewers, who focus especially on clarity and naturalness. To address accuracy, we will soon be hosting an experienced consultant from Ghana (later this month). He comes periodically to check the translation work and advise on progress. May our time be productive and give a boost of energy to the team!

*Themne is the mother-tongue of over 2 million people in Sierra Leone (30+%). Our family has been assigned as translation and Scripture engagement advisors among the the Themne. The translation project began nearly thirty years ago, and the current team is in the process of revising and checking a draft of the Old Testament.

wagners update 6-2-14 web ready

Thanks, Team!

Josh, Ruthie, Elijah, & Baby due in July
Missionaries with LBT to Sierra Leone

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By Jonni Sliver

A lot of you already know that one of the blessings of teaching is how much you learn! Right now I am working on my classes for the second semester of Bible school, the stories of modern missionary movements. I am having a great time, since it is a topic I love. It can also be more than a little challenging as I sit in my nice comfortable office, working away on my Toshiba. It is hard to not notice a little difference between my reality and the challenges facing William Carey and Hudson Taylor.

What really made me sit back for a moment was a poem I read, written by Amy Carmichael. Soon after her arrival in India she contracted a tropical fever and went to live in a mission compound to recuperate. What she saw would have looked good in any report – a large church had been planted and there was a lot of activity. But what she didn’t see concerned her, she didn’t see changed lives and she didn’t see a concern for those outside of the compound. She saw the lady missionaries meeting for tea, meeting for talks, but not meeting for a greater purpose. And one day she wrote:

Onward Christian soldiers, sitting on the mats;
Nice and warm and cozy, like little pussycats.
Onward Christian soldiers, oh, how brave are we,
Don’t we do our fighting very comfortably?

Now what caught my attention here was not necessarily a call to a hard life. I don’t think that if I make myself truly uncomfortable I will surly please God more. Though I admire Amy, it´s  not that I find myself wanting to be just like her or any of the other great men and women I have been looking at these last few weeks. The more I read, the more I see them as pretty flawed people too. What I do feel is challenged to look and see just how contented I am at this moment. There is a difference between the peace of God that gives us the courage to step out and contentment, that feeling of satisfaction with everything just the way it is, that drains our desire to do any new thing.  

Amy’s little poem has challenged me to seek a good shaking up from the Father. I am so grateful for what He has brought in to my life, but is there more? And right now I am surrounded by amazing young people who are seeking God and diving into His Word. Am I giving them a living example of stepping out in faith, or just teaching them the principles?

Even as I wait on the Lord to hear what He has to say to me through His Word, I am once again amazed that the Father loves me enough to challenge me to go farther with Him!   

The Grace Tree


Jonni's Grace Treeby Jonni Sliver

Just one of the many wonderful things about being in Brazil is the pure beauty that surrounds you. Because of the temperate climate flowers bloom all year round and there is the most amazing array of flowering trees. The streets are decorated with fabulous colors and when the blooms fall it looks like the streets have been carpeted!

My personal favorite is the Flamboant tree (yup, the name comes from the same root as flamboyant – it is French for flames), and it is stunning. When it is in bloom its flowers are stunning yellows, violets and reds. But I like it best, not because of its flowers but because of the tree itself. It has long flat branches with delicate, feather like leaves that fan out. The branches layer one another and stretch out so far that on residential street one tree can cover a whole street. I love driving under the branches of these wonderful trees because I can almost feel God reaching His hand over me. Everyone else calls them Flamboant, but I call them Grace Trees, because they remind me of God’s gracious covering in our lives.

Just recently I learned a little more, that deepened my appreciation for my Grace Tree. We have been sprucing up (hey, another tree!) the Bible school grounds and some new plants have been introduced. I lobbied for my favorite tree to be planted but I was voted down. That is because the Flamboant has roots that grow very deep, and extend so far looking for water that they can easily damage sidewalks and wreck under grounds pipes. For the grounds keepers of the Bible school that is not highly desirable, but it is a great little object lesson for me! To see God’s grace manifest we have to have deep roots that seek out Living Water.

Psalm 1 talks about trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit with abundance of leaves – it sounds like a wonderful description of my Grace tree. I love it that God goes out of His way to remind us of His love and constant care for us. There are days when I am driving kids to the doctor or to a visit with their family, and their situation just seems overwhelming – then we pass under a Grace Tree. And I remember that nothing overwhelms Him and because I am in Him I don’t have to be overwhelmed either – praise the Lord for grace!