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Stabroek News

Here comes WYnet
published: Saturday | July 21, 2007

Mark Dawes, Staff Reporter

Youthful web designers who were at the WYnet Summer Camp film a documentary to promote cross-cultural missions. The documentary and other media products will be on display this afternoon during an official launch of WYnet in the Caribbean.

The student Christian movement in Jamaica is poised to become more focused on playing a role in cross-cultural evangelism as a result of a newly formed alliance between Wycliffe Bible Translators Jamaica and the Inter Schools Christian Fellowship.

Speaking with the Gleaner, John Roomes, director of Wycliffe Bible Translators Caribbean, explained that in September, a number of high schools and tertiary institutions will be forming Wycliffe Youth Network Clubs (WYnet Clubs) to promote the cause of translating the scriptures into every known indigenous tongue – as well as other aspects of cross-cultural evangelism.

So far, the students, teachers and principals contacted, Mr. Roomes said, haveresponded enthusiastically to the WYnet concept. It will mean that each school with an ISCF Committee will have an additional post known as the WYnet officer.

Global chatroom

Participants in the WYnet summer camp engage in an exercise.

Wynet is a global chatroom birthed in the early part of the decade as a response of Christian youth to a strategic plan to get the Bible to all peoples and nations. The plan is called Wycliffe Vision 2025.

“The young people in the United Kingdom had launched WYnet as a youth response to say ‘Hey, don’t leave the young people out (of Vision 2025)’. So they came up with this thing to network the youth and it became a web-based network. It quickly caught on and other nations have jumped aboard. Wycliffe Caribbean is now coming online,” said Mr. Roomes.

There are lots of children of missionaries sharing perspectives in this chatroom. Also, lots of other young people who are involved in mobilisation for missionary engagement. Various missions-related projects are regularly discussed, Mr. Roomes said.

Wycliffe Bible Translators is named after John Wycliffe, who, in 1380, first translated the Bible into English. John Wycliffe’s translation preceded the Protestant Reformation and the translation of the King James version in 1611. In fact, the King James version owes much of its phraseology to the Wycliffe translation.

Wycliffe Bible Translators report that, at present, 95 per cent of the world has access to the Scriptures in whole or in substantial parts. Five per cent or 300 million of the world’s population do not have as much as a verse in their own tongue. The world has about 6,700 languages, of which 700 are in decline. The Bible, to date, has been translated into 3,000 of those languages.

The challenge facing Wycliffe Bible Translators is to translate the Scriptures into the remaining 3,000 languages in order to reach that five per cent.

For the last 60 years, the Bible has been translated into a new language at a rate of one for every three weeks. This means that it would take about 150 years to translate the Bible for people who don’t already have it.

A few years ago, Bible translators resolved that 150 years was too long to wait for everyone to have a copy of the Bible in their own language.

As a result, Vision 2025 was born – a plan to step up Bible translation so that everyone might have access to the Bible in their own tongue by 2025. This means that translation into a new language needs to take place at the rate of one every three days until the dawn of 2025.

As the Wycliffe head in the Caribbean, Mr. Roomes’ role is to mobilise financial support of its missionaries serving all over the world. He seeks also to promote and expose the Caribbean’s young people to the prospects of a career on the mission-field – especially as Bible translators.

He does so at a time when the nations with the fewest missionaries (this includes Islamic countries) are becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian gospel. Persecution is at an all-time high and missionaries have not been exempted. Mr. Roomes knows that some of the people he will send from the Caribbean to distant lands will not end their tour of duty alive.

ISCF involvement

Campers reflect together on their assigned project.

ISCF clubs, with access to the Internet, could regularly connect with the WYnet global chatroom in real time and learn from various geographical regions how the gospel is being spread, the challenges involved and areas where prayer is especially needed.

The interested ISCF student will get a WYnet email address and password and this will allow for entry to get in on any conversation. Also, the network allows persons to engage in one-on-one conversations. Everything said on WYnet is recorded. To become a part of WYnet online, students will have to submit to the ISCF sponsor certain particulars which includecellphone number, contact details for parents, name of pastor and church one attends.

The supervisor will have the authority to counsel errant persons in the room, close the room or shut out that person. The supervisor will also have the authority to contact parents and/or pastor if a student is rude or otherwise in need of guidance.

The supervisor’s job also includes reading everything said with a view to feeding the wider Wycliffe family with pertinent ideas that have come from young people which promote various aspects of fulfilling the task of the Bible translation in particular and The Great Commission in general.

Summer camps

Members of this group brainstorm during a class session.

WYnet will also offer oppor-tunities for some students to go on short-term missions trips to various nations, including those in the 10/40 Window. Also, WYnet will facilitate churches and other Christian groups that desire the experience of being on a missions trip, Mr. Roomes said.

Today represents the conclusion of the first ever one-week WYnet summer camp in the Caribbean. The camp was held at 14 West Avenue, St. Andrew, on the grounds of the campus shared by the Jamaica Theological Seminary and the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology.

The camp had the participation of about 20 mostly high school students. They were taught about various ethnic groups who are without a translation of the Scriptures and basic theology to show that missions is the ‘heartbeat’ of God. They were divided in small groups and given various missions-related projects.

These projects included creating missions-themed flyers and brochures; create powerpoint presentations; create a Caribbean theme for the Wycliffe Bible Translators homepage; use multi-media to video clips and docu-dramas.

This afternoon at 4:00 p.m., much of the WYnet summer campers will be on display on the grounds of the Wycliffe Caribbean offices, 18-20 West Avenue, Kingston 8 (beside the Jamaica Theological Seminary and the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology). The afternoon’s activity will be streamed live on the Internet.

During the camp, young people were encouraged to embrace the idea of becoming missionaries. In particular, the youngsters were encouraged to look outside of North America to seek jobs. It was highlighted that it was in the South and East that there were strong job prospects and that they should go to such areas, carrying with them a passion for the sharing of the Christian gospel.

As part of its goals, Wycliffe Bible Translators Caribbean are hoping to commission at least 420 missionaries from the region to the wider world by 2012, Mr. Roomes said. He is looking for most of that figure to come from Jamaica’s young people.

Let the youth know

In an interview with the Gleaner in January 20, 2004, Mr. Roomes said, “We must let our youths know that being a missionary is a worthy career choice and is, in fact, the top job.

We need to teach and reinforce in the minds of our youth the big picture of what God is doing across the globe and how they can be a part of it. I have found that young people do find this fascinating and the more we talk about this to them, the more we will find them responding. The trouble is how many of us want to see our young people heading off to the mission field in some ‘God-forsaken’ corner of the world. They don’t mind going but many of us parents are not enamoured with the idea. The largest mission agency in the world is Youth-With-A-Mission and what they have been finding over the years is the more adventurous and dangerous the mission, the more young people have signed up. I am counting on young people who are now in high school to form the bulk of our missionaries on the field within the next 10 years. God knows what He is doing when He calls for the young to do His will while they are still young.

■ John Roomes may be reached at
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