I’m Rebekah Overton and I’m a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Since May 2015 I have been working with the Mara Cluster Project in Musoma, North-west Tanzania (East Africa).
The team are working with 8 different, but related, languages, hence the term “cluster” project. They have a large multinational team of about 40 people, comprising both national staff and seconded staff from the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and Slovakia.
I’m part of Linguistics department, focusing on things like language research, orthography development (spelling systems) and assembling dictionaries.
Why Wycliffe Bible Translators?
I believe that nobody should have to learn another language to know and understand God’s love for them.
Yet, out of about 7,000 languages worldwide, only 636 have a complete Bible.
Over a number of years God has been at work in me, deepening my passion for his word and increasing my desire to take it to those who need it. During a brief time in Tanzania in 2009, God showed me the impact his word has on people’s lives when they fully understand it in their mother-tongue.
“It touches our hearts like Swahili doesn’t. We know the meaning of the Swahili words, but only from school and work. They aren’t deep words to us, they don’t go inside us like Zanaki words do.” (retired Zanaki-speaking pastor, Tanzania)
I find linguistics – the details and mechanics of languages – absolutely fascinating. My favourite area is the sounds of languages. When we open our mouths to speak, our lips, tongue, roof of our mouth, throat and lungs, all work together to create an incredibly vast range of sounds. And then somehow, when someone speaks to us, our brain manages to decode all the various sounds into meaning. And what a huge breadth of meaning is possible!!
Through studying for my Classics degree, I first developed an enthusiasm for linguistics. This led me to Wycliffe’s MA in Field Linguistics, which I started at Redcliffe College, in Gloucester, from July to December 2014. The first term of this course helped me to understand more about aspects of culture behind language, as well as learning about and using technical skills necessary for studying and mastering different languages.
I returned to Redcliffe from January to June 2017 to complete the Diploma stage of the Masters, studying further certain areas of Linguistics, applying my knowledge specifically to the Kabwa language (one of the languages I study in Musoma). I plan to finish the dissertation stage in the next few months.
I would love for you to partner with me as I work with Wycliffe, supporting language communities and churches, to enable all people to hear about God’s love for them in their own language.