Category Archives: Church

Indeterminate Culture Shock

Back in the land of cheap, yummy avocados.…

I’ve written before about triviality, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about its application to our current times. That is, for missionaries and others working cross-culturally, there is always an element of adjusting to a new environment and culture. This includes how to find your bedroom light switch in the dark (if you’re moving house), but also how to not insult someone on the road, and how to not be insulted by someone else on the road —i.e., knowing when someones behavior should be offensive, and when it is just normal for your new environment.

But the kicker in all the above (and many other things to adjust to) is that knowing the new reality is only the first layer of adjustment. Being able to point to your light switch after thinking for ten seconds is not the same as being able to reach it intuitively —in the dark, and while still mostly asleep, when your brain is not really working yet. This is where the concept of triviality is helpful (to me, anyway!). Normal life has lots of trivial items in it: how to shop, how to make food, how to greet, how to get around town. There is some adjustment when these things change, but the goal is normally to move these things to a place were we just do them, without having to think through them each time/day.

So the twist that hit me this morning, is that whether we’re talking about culture shock, or reverse culture shock (or reverse reverse culture shock…), the transition is normally from one more or less stable environment to another more or less stable environment. The problem is that one house isn’t laid out the same as another house —but they’re both houses, and neither changes much over time. Similarly, moving from one culture/city to another requires adjusting from one status quo to another, but there is a status quo in each place, which doesn’t change much over time. But this is not what we find in 2020.

Rather, this year we have political and medical facts which seem to change on a regular basis. Then the recommendations, orders/laws, and rulings, which change in response to those facts (or not), then the implementation of those recommendations, orders/laws, and rulings on various levels, which must respond to all of the above. So the question “should I wear a mask right now?”, for instance, has been a non-trivial question for months, for many people. Are the CDC and WHO recommending masks right now, or not? What kind of masks, in what situations? What are the relevant recommendations, orders/laws, and rulings of our federal/national government? And of our state? Of our County? Of our City? And perhaps most frustrating of all, how do we respond when the neighboring nation/state/county/city says something different than ours? Or when the state says something that contradicts what the county says? Most of us are simply not accustomed to thinking through all these issues on any kind of regular basis, much less each time it might be appropriate to put on or take off a mask. And masks or not is not the only question (e.g., distancing, quarantine/isolation, and contact reporting), nor are on and off the only answers to that one question (e.g., public/online shaming, rebellion, political advocacy, and non-/violent public protests)

Now, if there were one set of rules imposed (for better or worse), this might just be a matter of adjusting to them, however much time, energy, and libery that takes. But when the info we’re basing a decision on changes every couple days (on some level), we have to re-evaluate, and the decision never has a chance to become trivial –so we continue to spend energy we shouldn’t on menial, daily tasks.

There is, of course one condition where this problem doesn’t apply. Namely, if your allegiance to a particular body medical/political/whatever is significantly strong to trump all others, then you make your decision once, and only change it when that one body changes advice —and hopefully that’s not often. But I have a hard time distinguishing that from bigotry, especially in the current political climate in the US. That is, if your response to the mask question is really just a badge of political affiliation (as I’ve heard from MANY people), then can you still say you’re wearing a mask (or not) because it is the right response to the pandemic?

I read twitter enough to know that for many people, there is only one correct answer to the mask question. But there seems to be a strong correlation between those people and the many who feel there is only one correct answer to the “which party should be in power” question, on both sides. And I, for one, have never felt fully comfortable voting for either party, as neither seems to represent me particularly well. So for me, my conscience dictates that I continue to reevaluate both questions, as new data comes in.

And I know there are many people out there that feel (at least a bit) the same. I’ve heard from many the difficulty of adjusting to constantly changing goal posts. And I think that this idea of having a culture shock (or lack of triviality) that has no real end in sight, is a large part of it. Even in this context, I feel obliged to continue to insist on my right and responsibility, as a human and as a Christian, to think, to use and develop my conscience, and to pray for the Holy Spirit to give guidance, and to follow that guidance even in the face of direction to do otherwise from lesser authorities:

But Peter and John answered [their rulers and elders and scribes, in council], “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:19-20 (ESV)

So where do we go from there? I think the bigotry answer, as flawed as it is, has something to it. That is, in the midst of a storm, hold one to one thing that doesn’t move. But I think we want to be careful to not make our one thing a human or human institution, which will all fail us, sooner or later. Rather, Jesus tells us

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

Matthew 7:24-25 (ESV)

So let us continue to read what Jesus had to say, and try to put it into practice, and let the storm flow around us as it will. Not that I think this will be easy, but I think it’s the only answer that doesn’t result in our eventual destruction.

Cameroon Covid Update

I heard this morning from a friend in our Cameroonian church that there was news that things would start to open up soon, so they were starting to make plans on how to do that at church. This surprised me, and since I haven’t looked at the stats for awhile, I did so today, and was surprised by what I found.

First of all, there are a few things I look for. As we talk about flattening the curve, one thing I look for is the shape of the curve, and where we stand in that shape. Is the increase linear, or exponential? Is the increase decreasing, even if the over all numbers are still rising? The other main thing I look at is how longstanding the trend is. There were many days where I wasn’t sure what to make of the numbers for Cameroon. Were we seeing a new trend, that was only a few days old, or a glitch in the numbers/reporting? There were several times where there were few/no numbers reported, then a few days later, the stats caught up. So it is helpful to see data work out over a week or two, to be able to extrapolate past dramatic shifts of a day or two, that represent reporting irregularities more then pandemic progress.

So, here is some of what I found, at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (spoiler: pretty much all good news for Cameroon):

This stat is a nice one, because it allows a quick overview of the situation, and a quick comparison of how many total people have been sick, and how many of those have already recovered (as well as how many have died). For instance, this set of numbers shows a large proportion of those who have or have had COVID-19 have recovered (15k/18k = ~83%), and a very small proportion have died (395/18k = ~0.21%). So this is a good thing for Cameroon. But I’m sure not everyone reading this is into numbers.…

So this one shows the total cases in Cameroon:

As you can see, the curve is clearly flattening. There is the section where the curve was exponential (up to maybe June 1), then it straightened to a line (up to maybe July 14), and now it is leveling off. But that’s not all:

So we see the same thing here, that the number of total deaths is also leveling off, and may not go much past 400 total deaths. Yay! We see a similar thing for new cases:

As well as for daily deaths:

The above graphs can be summarized in the number of active cases over time:

That is, the number of cases at one time was stable at about 1,000 cases for some time (through April), then went up to as high as 4k cases (May-June). It is now back down to about 2k cases (and falling), meaning people are now recovering at least as fast as people are getting sick.

Comparison with other places

In case the numbers and graphs don’t mean much to you, I also found the same data for other places, for comparison. This is the total looks like compared to in the US, with a red and blue state (each where we know and love people) for comparison:

That is, whereas in Cameroon there are some 83% of cases recovered, in the US generally, there are almost half of the cases (that have ever been, 2,664k+165k)/5,201k =~54%) still active. Sick people still producing virus, potentially still infecting other people. The ratio of recovereds in Texas is slightly better than average (345k+8k/500k = ~70%), and in Oregon much worse (4k+0.36k/21k =~20%). Recall that the purpose of these ratios is just to understand where on the curve we are. In Cameroon, we are on the back side of the curve, with fewer and fewer cases. In the US, we are still at the middle or nearer the front of the curve.

The daily new cases in the US looks like it is nearing the back side of the curve:

And maybe so for Texas

And for Oregon (though less clearly so):

For total cases, the US seems more clearly not flattening:

and the same is seen in Oregon and Texas (maybe flattening a little here):

Anyway, if you want more stats than these, or if you want to see how they are when you’re reading this (since things change), or how they are in your state, county, or country, you can find all that at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (including data showing the resurgence in France, which last I had seen was on the back side of the curve!).

The bottom line is that, compared to other places, Cameroon is a pretty safe place to be these days, with regard to COVID-19.

Ministry in a Time of COVID

On one of my trips out and about, posing with some local electrical wires

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. (Col 2:1-5 ESV)

I heard a meditation this morning that included this passage, and it seemed to me very apropos for this time.

The point that shocked me the most (which really shouldn’t have but did) is that isolation ministry is by no means a new thing. Yes, we know that Paul spent a lot of time in prison, and that much of what we have in written from him in the New Testament is a consequence of that fact. Certainly Paul spent time with many people in face to face ministry, but for large chunks of his ministry, he simply couldn’t.  Hence we have

how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face

He has extreme concern for these people and for the fruit of the gospel in their lives, and he expresses it in useful and powerful ways in his writing, though they have not yet seen each other face to face.…

So I think the point here is to take this time of isolation as a time of enforced creativity. What can we do now, because we must? One scholar in my field wrote a book while laid up with a broken leg. Bad for him in isolation, but it brought great results for our field. I’ve gotten to know WhatsApp a lot better, as that is my only contact with our local church here. One of my colleagues is even getting new language data through WhatsApp. Not something to do if you have alternatives, but I was encouraged to see him forging a way forward given that he didn’t.

The systems I would normally use for online collaboration didn’t get set up (between me and any Cameroonian language groups) before isolation orders came down, so one strategic change this will make in my work is that collaboration (including online data backups) will be the first agenda item in any work that I do. And it really should have been all along, but it just seems like one of those things you can let slide (until you can’t, much like backups.…)

The other point in this passage relevant to our time is one of the why’s Paul states:

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

I talk with my children about plausibility a lot, since it seems like an important concept in this phase of the information age. That is, in the time where what is actually true is less important than what sounds plausible. That is, if we hear something from a news source we trust (when did that become a thing?!?), if we can say “that sounds right”, then we believe it (or at least we’re more inclined to).

The result of this appears to be that the internet seems full of people saying all kinds of unproven (and at times unprovable) things, which align with one worldview/narrative enough that it can be accepted, because it “sounds right” from within that worldview. But is it actually true? We seem to have stopped even asking that question. So each one accepts only what sounded right based on assumptions and beliefs held before the information was ever heard. The consequence of this is the phenomena of echo chambers all around, with no one actually listening to opposing views, and no one (apparently) open to seeking or hearing the truth.

This is problematic for me, because I worship the Truth. He also called himself the Way, and the Life (John 14:6). What this means to me is that when I seek truth,  it is part of my worship of Jesus. And when I ignore (or don’t care about) the truth, I ignore (or don’t care about) Jesus. So it is important to me to help push people into caring about the actual facts of a matter, before casting judgement on the basis of what is plausible alone.

But the phrase translated “plausible arguments” in the ESV actually has a number of different renderings in different translations: “well-crafted arguments” (NLT), “fine-sounding arguments” (NIV), “smooth rhetoric” (BSB), “persuasive argument(s)” (NASB/HCSB), “persuasive words” (NKJV), “arguments that sound reasonable” (CSB/NET), “false arguments, no matter how good they seem to be” (GNT). So whether the idea of plausibility means much to you or not, I hope it is clear that arguements that sound right but are not (by whatever means) are not good. And Paul is explicitly fighting against these arguments, as part of his Gospel ministry. And he brings this back to the fact that he is not physically present with them:

For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

So perhaps what I’m saying is that I’d love the Christian church to be known, especially in this time, as people who take twitter and facebook (or whatever way we communicate other than face to face) as opportunities for ministry. That we would seek to make our communication based on reconciliation (between each other, and with God; 2Cor 5:20, Eph 2:14), and on truth –valuing it both in our own truthfulness, and in the reverence for the truth that we encourage in others. Because after all the online debates are done, after each viral video passes, the fundamental truth of our universe is that we should worship

Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:2b-3 ESV)

The Partnership Process

One cold, foggy February morning I rolled out of bed asking God how to pray. He told me to ask not for one, but TWO new financial partners to join our team today.
I’m stubborn. I refused. It was too much to ask.

The flu had knocked our family flat for over 2 weeks, and I was feeling like I hadn’t accomplished any “real work” in several days. There was no way two new families would start giving when I hadn’t written letters, had coffee dates or blogged anything new in more than a week!

Oh how gently our God teaches us! I knew the still small voice that replied to my stubborn refusal and feelings of unworthiness…

“Is building your team about your work?? Or is it about my work?”

I bit my tongue. He was right, of course. This whole raising-missionary-support thing was not about me, and what I could do. I reluctantly prayed God would add two new families to our team that day, in spite of our illness and inactivity – in spite of the fact that not one new household had joined our team in 3 weeks. I wish I could say all doubt was gone…

God seems to delight in showing his power in “impossible” situations. And despite my weak faith & stubborn doubts, through the fog of flu, we got not one, but two Email notices stating that a new gift had been made to our account! In both cases, they had given in the past week, but the Emails posted that same day.

Oh me of little faith.

I haven’t met an American who likes to talk about money, and we have met several young people with desire to serve overseas, who cannot stomach developing a partnership base for their expenses. Kent’s first assignment overseas was a volunteer position with all expenses paid. He was relieved not to bother with funding. Unfortunately, on his return to the US he was grieved that many friends had forgotten where he was & the work he was doing. Many of the friends who said they would be praying, had forgotten. This was not partnership, and it showed. Paul says, “Did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?” 2 Cor 11:7

It is an obedience filled with faith in God that has us once again building our team to move overseas. It is equally an obedience filled with faith in God that has our partners investing in this work. It is almost a helpless feeling to give up control and throw your entire financial future on the mercy of God. (I grant that none of us actually have control over our financial futures, and all of us depend on the mercy of God. Maybe it is the illusion of control over money “we earned” that we are giving up.)

I learn so slowly! It is a lesson I have learned & relearned & relearned. Patiently, God is teaching us week by week to trust in HIM. He is our Provider. This is his work, his people, his plan, his timing, and for years to come we will be able to look back to this season of partnership development with a confidence that God is the One sending us out. Our own work could never accomplish it.

When our Wycliffe financial statement comes, I am always humbled and in awe of the amazing team of partners who give sacrificially, so we can go. We could never repay their generosity, and it isn’t really ours to repay anyway as it is given to God. Instead we pray for our partners’ families, for their churches, for their jobs, for their health. It is a strong connection. We long to catch up and visit in person whenever possible. We grieve when they grieve. We rejoice when they rejoice. This is partnership.

And I feel like I take all our partners with us to Africa. Their prayers, their gifts are traveling on the back of a motorcycle into the rainforest with Kent to develop an alphabet where people don’t have one. These prayers, these gifts give out that first alphabet chart that makes one of the poorest men on the planet light up saying, “My language is a REAL language?

These prayers, these gifts carry me into cross-cultural small group ministry where we invest in the local church – whatever weak state it may be in (who can wonder at that without access to God’s Word in a language that speaks clearly?) These prayers & gifts have been with me in times of great danger, in malaria, in rabies, in many many moves, and dark days; and equally in the victories and celebrations as God’s Truth gets translated and then published and then used to transform & heal the broken-hearted.

These are not my successes. They are made possible by a collaborative act of faith, of worship for a Mighty God.
These are his successes.  This is partnership.

Security Update

The following is a security update on Cameroon, from our colleagues there:

The situation in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon remains tense and unpredictable. We continue to pray for our staff serving in these areas, those with family members there, and for staff that have had to relocate to other areas of the country.

Please pray for:

  • Those in positions of power in the government and military, especially President Paul Biya. Pray that they would govern with wisdom and righteousness.
  • Those living in the affected areas whose lives continue to be disrupted by the political situation. Pray that they will know the Lord as their “refuge and strength, and an ever-present help in time of trouble.”
  • Those who have had to leave their homes, that they will know the Lord’s concern for them and that he will provide for their physical needs.
  • Those who are grieving the loss of family and friends- that they will not be given over to anger or a desire for vengeance.
  • Christians in the country- pray that they will be a faithful witness, a comforting presence, and a shining light. Pray that the Lord will give them the right words to speak at the right time, and that they will be equipped by the Holy Spirit to minister to others around them.

We continue to pray for peace and justice to reign in Cameroon.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

On Message

As I talk with people about our Wycliffe ministry, I feel like I’m repeating myself a lot, which makes me feel something like a politician. So to make my speech more clearly above board (for my conscience, but also for anyone else who might ask), I thought it good to lay out my “message” here. As I consider this, I see that I have three basic things to say these days, to three different audiences:

To the World

Sin, death, and hell are real, as are righteousness, repentance, forgiveness, and heaven. Trust Jesus to get you from the first to the second. I’m astounded how much these things need to be said, but in this age of increasingly divisive politics, I think it helps to remind ourselves of what is truly important for all humanity, and to focus on that.

To the Church

God’s plan for us is that we would work through local churches to build and grow the universal Church, which is composed of everyone united by the blood of Jesus: all ethnic groups, languages, tribes. Spiritual maturity includes (at least) the desire to work together with all types of Christians to accomplish this mission, which is given to us by God. I’m amazed how often I hear a christian disparage either the local or universal church. If we care about the local fellowship of believers, we should be committed to it (tithe and all). And if we care about the fellowship in Christ, then whether someone is in Christ should be more important to us than all the many other things that divide people these days (e.g., socioeconomics, ethnicity, nationality, race), and we should take joy in finding Christian brothers and sisters unlike us in these other ways, and we should mourn with them when they mourn (e.g., watch/read international news, pray for churches in other places).

To our Friends

We believe our part of God’s mission is to help African people groups develop writing systems for their languages, such that they may have powerful Bible translations which will transform their cultures and churches into the likeness of Christ. While this has been our mission for some time, some of our friends are only recently hearing more about it, and it is as true now as ever. But more specifically:

We hope to take the next step in this mission by moving to Cameron in June, after a short reconnaissance trip in March. To do this, we need your help; we need your partnership in our Wycliffe ministry, through prayer, personal assistance and encouragement, and finances.

Maybe you’ve heard this from us already, face to face. If not, or if you’d like more information about this agenda, please just let us know. :-)

WHEN (Cameroon Timeline)

So, when are we leaving for Cameroon? This is the top question we get right now; the short answer is “spring and summer 2019, God willing”.

First, recall that we’ve accepted an assignment with the Linguistics Services Team (LST), based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, but serving the Central African Basin in Francophone Africa. We will continue to use participatory research methods to develop writing systems in language communities that need them, so Bible translations will be read with fluency and power.

So when will we begin that assignment? While there is lots to do to make that happen, there are two main issues we are working on right now. The question of James’ schooling I address in another blog entry; the other is our financial readiness. Recall that Wycliffe has a policy that we must be receiving 100% monthly financial support to start a new assignment (which is a good thing). Since we are currently at 74%, that represents a non-trivial difference.

In the mean time, we have plenty of work to do. We are praying and talking to people about our work, individually and in small and large group meetings. But each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2Cor 9:7 ESV). We are also making plans and preparations for the move to Cameroon, trusting that God will provide us the right ministry partners at the right time. If you’d like to hear more about our work, either individually or in a small or larger group, please just let us know. If you have decided to join our Wycliffe ministry in financial partnership, you can do so here.

We currently hope to visit Cameroon in March. There is a linguistics conference one week, and a branch conference the next. In addition to these conferences, a March visit would help us plan and prepare for a move as a family, hopefully in June or July (between the end of school here, and the start of school there).  Our kids could meet some of their classmates for the following year, which could really help them transition. And we could see housing and transportation options first hand, as well as the kinds of things that are locally available (and thus unnecessary to ship).

A March trip is something of a bold plan, though. Logistically, in order to buy affordable airfare, we need to buy them in advance. This means we would need to have enough support to justify the trip by about Christmas, or perhaps January at the latest. But such a trip would be worth it; a family move (over the summer) would go much better, as each of us would have more realistic expectations of where we will be moving to.

Whatever comes of this March trip, I (Kent) should be ready to start on my LST work as we have our full budget coming in and get released to our assignment. Some of that work can be done at a distance (I attended a meeting virtually last week!), in addition to the work of selling/storing/packing up our house and preparing for the move.

As we plan this next transition, it feels like we have more questions than answers. How will the presidential election in Cameroon affect stability for this next year? What should we do with the stuff we left in DRC (is any of it worth trying to transport across Africa?) What will we need to make the move to Cameroon (e.g., a vehicle, household setup), and what will that cost? We hope most of these will be settled by the end of a trip to Cameroon in March.

Please join us in prayer that God would provide monthly financial partners for our Wycliffe ministry, such that we would have 100% of our monthly budget by Christmas, so we can make plans for March and June, and get back to serving the Bibleless peoples of central Africa, one alphabet at a time.

Fluent Reading Makes Powerful Bibles

As we have thought through our messaging lately, one thing we saw friends do was develop a personal ministry hashtag. This is not just to try to be trendy (though hashtags are integral to communication these days), but to communicate a particular repetitive theme in a terse manner.

I think this was a good exercise, because it forced us to think about how we would summarize our Wycliffe Ministry in a few words, even if it was in the format #MyHashtagIsLongerThanYourHashtag…

So we came up with #FluentReadingMakesPowerfulBibles, and I’d like to take this post to explain why. First of all, as a full sentence, I hope that it doesn’t require much explanation. 🙂

But to explain our thinking in any case, #FluentReadingMakesPowerfulBibles makes a connection that I often find myself communicating face to face. That is, what do I do as a missionary linguist, and how does that connect to the larger Bible translation movement?

Thinking about #PowerfulBibles, something that has plagued some Bible translation projects is the question of whether the Bible will be used once produced. I think we all agree that a Bible on a shelf is not the point; we want Bibles in use, powerfully sustaining, encouraging and growing the church for the people who speak the language of that translation.

There are certainly many reasons why a Bible translation might get less usage, but the one that impacts my work the most directly deals with the fluency with which people can read the translation (#FluentReading). If people stumble over words they’re not sure how to pronounce (e.g., because a given spelling could be pronounced multiple ways), or if they have to read a sentence to understand it before they can pronounce all the words (therefore reading parts multiple times to pronounce the words correctly), then we should not expect reading or listening to be very enjoyable.

Such a lack of ability to clearly and fluently communicate meaning translates almost directly into a lack of power. If your mom calls you to the table, but stumbles over the words, would that mean the same to you? Or again, if your father corrects you, but stumbles over his words, would that mean the same? When we hear God say

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
(Isaiah 55:1 ESV)

This should sound as a mother calling children to the table, with power to provide, and pleasure on the other side for all who respond. And when we hear God say

let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isaiah 55:7 ESV)

That should sound like a father disciplining a son, with power and fear for the rebellious, and compassion and pardon for the repentant.

We are, of course, not denying the power of the Holy Spirit to communicate in spite of a bad writing system. But He typically chooses to communicate through the written word, that written word is contained in one writing system or another. And that written word is turned into the spoken word by people more or less able to do so well.

The goal of my work developing writing systems is to remove as many barriers as possible to fluent reading, that the path of communication between God’s word and peoples’ hearts would be as clear and direct as possible. And this is why I’m going to keep talking about how #FluentReadingMakesPowerfulBibles.

Changes to our Communication

We have been communicating about our Wycliffe ministry for almost two decades, and during that time we have tried to communicate well in both content and form. Our first newsletter was very plain, with a small picture and lots of text:
Header from the first newsletter we sent

By our next newsletter, we had a title, header, tagline, the Wycliffe logo, and those cool marble bars that came standard with Publisher:
Header from our first Philologos newsletter

Later on, we went minimalist, removing some of the busyness to focus more on verbal and pictorial content, with more white space:
revamped philologos header

Even later, we used pictures as header backgrounds, allowing more visual appeal, but also another place to put a picture, without crowding the rest of the newsletter:

Header for Philologos XIII number 3

In all these reworkings of our newsletter, one thing we had not really re-evaluated is the quarterly two page production itself. Since we joined Wycliffe 17 years ago, we have seen blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other media platforms come (and go). Today our friends and family are more connected by social media than by Email. Similarly, people are more connected by phone than by computer.

Given these changes, it seems that we’ve been writing too much and too little. A two page newsletter is longer than most people seem to read in a single sitting. At the same time, hearing from us each quarter means that an eternity (in social networking time) passes between each newsletter. So, with your permission, we are going to try putting out shorter updates more often.  Don’t worry, those of you who fear missing out on my wordiness will find links to longer articles (like this one) here on our blog. 🙂

I say “with your permission” in all seriousness, because we want to help you be a real part of our work. The last thing we want is to spam anyone, or stuff your inbox with more mail than you asked for. This is one of the reasons we now use Mailchimp, because they don’t allow spam, and because they have a simple unsubscribe function in each footer. But we would love to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns about this change —or about just about anything else. :-)

Our Email address is on each of our Emailed newsletters; if you don’t have one handy, you can also send us a message through our Wycliffe ministry page, through the “Finances/Write Us” link above right (or below on mobile devices), which goes here.

We welcome your feedback! Tell us what you think, and we’ll see what we can do.
Our goal, after all, is to communicate well.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always
in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
—Philippians 1:3-5 (ESV)