Back Home in Israel in Time for the Holidays
Just as Israel was settling into a New Year and a new lockdown our teachers quietly, and non-eventfully in the best way possible, landed back in the land, as quietly as they took off. It has been a true miracle for us to see the Lord open the skies during a global pandemic, in between two lockdowns in Israel, and all to the small, quiet coastal country of Togo in West Africa. The three week intensive course was over in a blur, but the impact it left on the students, our teachers, our staff, and the body in Togo seemingly started waves that will continue to grow.
First the students. 18 students, among them Bible translators, seminary students, and pastors were the first in Togo to take part in this intensive, immersion based, Biblical Hebrew course taught by teachers sent out from Israel. Most of the students were from Togo, but Central Africa and the Ivory Coast were also represented. The students were challenged to push beyond the classical translation approach and actually communicate in Biblical Hebrew, something many of them found challenging, but in the end all of the students were able to push through and gain new depths of understanding in the language.
As our team on the ground, Nathanael and Ayala, met with a translation project in the North and representatives of Wycliffe, SIL and the Bible Society stationed in Togo, they also learned the important role pastors play in the reviewing of new translations and rejoiced at the impact the course will have on these translations through the pastors who were in attendance. Likewise a number of the seminary students have their eyes on becoming local Biblical Hebrew teachers. We learned so much about the interconnectedness of the local body in translation efforts and are so proud of the students, the work they accomplished in the course, and look with faith towards the path prepared by our Heavenly Father for each one.
“When a language doesn’t have a translation there is more responsibility on the pastor to teach correctly and even know Hebrew,” stated Ayala during a Zoom panel discussing the project.
Our teachers juggled rigorous schedules of six hours of frontal instruction a day and then sitting on their balconies well into the night to prepare themselves for the next day’s material. In return they were encouraged to see many believers coming from such hugely different backgrounds than theirs working so hard to learn Biblical Hebrew and giving their lives to serve our King.
“This is an important step for…. congregations here, to go out and give from what we have.” ~ Natanael
“We as Israelis have the privilege, maybe the calling, to have Biblical Hebrew be something more natural to us.” ~ Ayala
Hebrew can seem automatic for our teachers and staff living here in Israel, but truthfully there is a great need worldwide to continue teaching and edifying the nations in the Bible’s original language. As Nathanael and Ayala met with the translation team for the Efe language they learned that the translation is being done primarily from a French translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, not from the original Hebrew. This is the status of most efforts underway in Togo, and the world over, whether it be from English, Spanish, or other languages with previous translations. Our hearts, and the hearts of many in Togo, leap at the idea of getting as many members of these translation teams as possible into a functioning relationship with Biblical Hebrew through the immersion method.
We thank God for reviving first Hebrew as a modern language, and now Biblical Hebrew in reading, writing, and speaking, so that this vision can be pursued. This course has opened many doors in Togo, including already a request for at least three more courses in the coming year, as well as more stirring in the hearts and minds of those in Togo and our staff. Our prayer requests are with the students as they continue their journeys with their newly learned skills, our teachers as they reflect and consider which steps to take next, Togo and the future the Lord has for Biblical Hebrew there and for more nations to join in the immersive Biblical Hebrew family.
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