A Part of the Story
Prayer Partner Profile: Laura Lothers
Sometimes praying for others leads to big changes in us. Laura Lothers remembers when, as a college student at the University of Florida in 1992, she began praying for a Bibleless people group, the Diizi people of Ethiopia. Over time, the Holy Spirit convicted her that she needed to be a part of the answer to those prayers. With an interest in missions and a growing heart for the Bibleless, Laura majored in linguistics with the hopes of one day joining the worldwide Bible translation team. Shortly after she graduated in 1995, she attended Wycliffe’s orientation course and began training for service. “End of story,” she thought, “God used those prayers to get me where He wanted me.”
During her training, Laura met Mike who was also looking to support Bible translation through the use of his computer science and linguistic skills. They married in June 1997. Not long after, they were assigned to work in Asia as language surveyors, helping to determine Bible translation needs among local languages. Still, Laura prayed for the Diizi, asking God to start a Bible translation program for the small people group in Ethiopia.
As they were preparing to leave for Asia, Mike and Laura received a letter from fellow students he had trained with to prepare for Bible translation. It was from Marvin and Suzanne Beachy, who wrote that their new assignment was to serve as translators for the Diizi people! Rarely do prayer partners for Bibleless peoples get such a personal look into the development of a translation project for the very people group they’re praying for. Over the years, the Lothers stayed in touch with the Beachy family, praying them on just as others pray for the Lothers’ ministry. Now, there is a translation committee of Diizi believers making good progress in checking Scripture portions that have been drafted by Marvin and three Diizi translators.
Today, Mike and Laura are still supporting translation teams with their skills, and with their prayers. Michael is an information technology specialist serving at JAARS* where he makes improvements to Paratext, part of a collection of Bible translation software that allows translation teams to input, edit, and check a translation of the Scriptures based on the original Greek and Hebrew texts. Often Laura, who homeschools their two children, will connect with Mike by phone during the workday. Recently, she learned something interesting:
“What are you working on today?” said Laura.
Mike replied, “Handling spell checking for some languages that can begin words with lowercase letters and then capitalize the main root part of a proper name. We need to make the spell checker accept this type of capitalization. Right now, if there is capitalization, it must include the first letter of the word.”
“That’s unusual! How many languages in the world do that, I wonder?”
“This is something that Marvin Beachy sent in.”
Once again God amazed Laura with another personal connection to the Diizi people. Mike was able to adapt the spell checking feature to handle the special needs of the Diizin language,† and as a result, the Diizi translators will be able to more easily edit their Scripture translation. “Together we have had a part in helping them,” said Laura, “from praying that God would send a translator to designing a tool that meets their unique needs.” And Laura believes this is still not the end of the story. “We know that in heaven one day, we will meet believers from the Diizi people group. We are grateful for how God has woven our story to intersect with Marvin and Suzanne’s and that of the Diizi people—joined together in prayer and partnership, creating a story only God could tell.”
*JAARS is a non-profit organization committed to speeding the work of Bible translation by providing technical support services and resources to Wycliffe and other related organizations around the world.
†Capitals in the Diizin language: In the Diizin language, a prefix is sometimes added to a person’s name. For example, when Jesus spoke to Martha, the Diizin language uses a prefix to indicate that Martha is the one Jesus was speaking to, by adding “i” (sounds like “ee”) to the beginning: iMarta.
Coming on Day 8: The Root of All We Do