Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Access Other Languages on YouVersion

I frequently do Bible studies with friends who do not speak English as their first language. It is often difficult for them to discuss and understand abstract texts in English. They feel much more at home with their mother tongue. I can do Bible studies with them in English, but it is limiting. Access to Bibles in their languages can sometimes be difficult or expensive. It can also be threatening for them to read in public places. One of the best solutions I've found for sharing the Bible across language barriers is the YouVersion Bible app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for free and contains a massive number of translations of the Bible, not only in English, but in many different languages.

Here's how to access them:

Open your YouVersion App

When it loads you find yourself on the homepage. Hit "Read."

The app should open the last translation you used at the last passage you read. I was reading Genesis with a friend and my app opens to Genesis Chapter one. In the top right near the center you should have a button showing the translation. Mine shows the NKJV translation. Hit that.

That will open a list of translations you have recently used and languages you have chosen. As you can see, mine is a bit mixed up because I use English, Bangla, and Arabic. Find your selected Language which should be at the center or middle of the page. Yours should say English. Mine says Bangla (in Bangla characters). Hit change.

This will open a very large list of languages. From here you are a little bit on your own. You need to be able to recognize what language you need, and you may need to recognize it in its own characters. In other words, you can't just hit "Arabic" you have to be able to identify Arabic script and hit it to open the translations available in Arabic. Start scrolling down the list. We have to get past the letter "Z" in order to find languages in their own script.

Keep scrolling.

Keep scrolling.

We found different scripts. Now we have to find the one we need. I'm going to pick Bangla.

I found Bangla. It says Bengali on the right, but I know enough of the Bangla alphabet to sound it out the first time I found it. You may need to be able to do so to find the language you need. Or get your friend to find it on the list. Just ask, "I want to show you something. Which one is your language?"

My YouVersion has three different translations in Bangla. One uses neutral terms. One uses Hindu terms, and One uses Muslim terms. I know one of the translators who created the translation that uses the Muslim terms. He and several others assured me that while it uses some Muslim terms, it retains familial language and is theologically faithful to the text. You may need to do the same kind of research to choose the right translation for your friend.

The app now goes back the text that was pulled up and it is in Bangla! I can have my friend read it from here.

To go back to English I just hit the translation button again and NKJV is in my recently used translation lists as is the Bangla version. I can navigate to a passage in English and with two buttons change the text to Bangla and show my friend. Questions or comments? Share them below.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Memorizing First John in One Year

This year I set my first ever memorization goal. I have struggled with Bible memorization since I first gave my life to Jesus. For most of my Christian life I gave up on intentional memorization and just decided to surround and saturate myself with Scripture, hoping that certain verses would stick.

A number of projects on this website were part of this approach, and it honestly worked fairly well. Reading ten chapters per day, listening to audio sermons consistently, reading books that quoted Scripture, writing articles and essays based on Scripture, leading Bible Studies, preaching, and ministry in general saturated my mind with Scripture. I ended up memorizing many verses including the references just because of constant use.

This year, I am adding intentional memorization to my goals. I have given myself the whole year to memorize the First Epistle of John. I am about four months in, and I am steadily spending time each day memorizing the book.

Are my methods effective? I will honestly have to wait until the end of the year to be sure. I know I did not choose the most effective method. I wanted to use this method:

Unfortunately this approach focuses on such small amounts that it actually requires more discipline for me. I struggled to stay interested. I decided to add another memorization habit to my life first. I took habits I already had and added to them.

  • I take a shower everyday
  • I love listening to the audio Bible with film scores behind it
I decided that everyday I would listen to one chapter of First John on a loop while I was in the shower. I recite the chapter out loud along with the audio Bible for as long as I'm in the shower (or longer in I feel like it).

I listen to and recite the same chapter in the shower everyday for one month. Then I move on to the next chapter. It is April, so I am reciting 1 John 4. Next month I will recite 1 John 5. In June I will start to writing out and reciting First John One from memory (I actually have this chapter down really well; it's the shortest). This will mean adding an additional habit, but I intend to keep the shower recitation going.

Have you memorized long passages of Scripture? What method did you use?

Monday, April 11, 2016

God Gives the Increase (April 2016 Newsletter)

I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city. Acts 18:10

 “If someone follows [Jesus] everybody will hate him,” L____ said, looking up from his New Testament in Bangla. Kamal and I were doing a study on persecution from Luke 21:10-19. L____ had been sharing Bible stories and a short gospel presentation with his friends and family. He was only beginning to experience negative responses, but as I sat with him with the Scriptures opened I was forced to consider what I had committed my life to and what L____ also faced. L____ is much more likely to be genuinely persecuted than I am; just a few weeks ago a young man was stabbed to death in his country for turning from Islam to Jesus. The stakes are high, and they are real.

Later that month L____ and I read the first chapter of the Gospel of John together. As I heard him read in English before reading it in his own language, I was reminded that this may be the most beautiful thing written in any language:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

After taking a long time to read and reread the chapter we went through discussion questions. “"All of God's Spirit and all of God's Word lives inside of [Jesus] and He shows that to the world."

The next week L____ met another young man from Bangladesh. He shared the story of the Two Kingdoms, that Jesus died on the cross as the sacrifice for sins and rose from the dead and that He is the King of the Kingdom of God we must follow. Shortly after reporting this to me he said, “We must catch people to tell them about Jesus.”

God is performing a miracle in L____ that is so huge in my mind and heart that I struggle to comprehend it. I remember every Bible study and every story I’ve ever shared with him. I remember when we struggled to communicate with each other because of the language barrier. I can look back at all the things I’ve done with L____, and I have to honestly say that I still don’t know how this has happened. God has done something on the inside of L____. I threw the seed, but God has made it into something beautiful.

This month I met two young men who remind me very much of L____. They are both young and have just come from Bangladesh. They are brothers looking to learn English and receive tutoring. I share my testimony with them, telling them that because of what God has done in my life I want to help them. I told them that I wanted to help them learn English and get a better job, but that I also wanted to help them learn how to be close to God. I told them I would use the Old and New Testament stories to teach them how to learn English and how to learn how to be close to God. They agreed and plan to meet with me twice a week. Please pray that God opens their eyes and changes their hearts the same way he has with L____.

Last month I was praying for a teammate to help me in the city of Hamtramck. God blessed me by connecting me further with Adam Crumpton a missionary who recently returned to Detroit after making disciples for over a decade in Mexico. He has been co-laboring with me several times per week and has been a tremendous blessing. I am blessed by what God is doing, and I know that the best is yet to come!

Read the rest of the April 2016 Newsletter.
Read previous Newsletters.