Essential Phrases for Ministry in Haiti

May 17, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Ministry Helps, New

haiti-flag1Before 1804, Haiti was a French colony. That is why the common people speak Kreyol, which probably came from an Africanized version of French, but many people have received an education in standard French as well. Printed material and signs can be in either language.The following list will follow this order: English. Kreyol. French

Good morning. Bon Maten. Bonjour

Good evening. Bon aswe. Bon Soir

Goodbye. Orevwa. Au revoir

Thank you. Mèsi. Merci

No, thank you. Pa gen mèsi. Non, merci

Please. Tanpri. S’il vous plait

My name is– Non mwen se— Mon nom est—-

I am from the US. Mwen sòti nan Etazini. Je suis des États-Unis

I live in California. Mwen ap viv nan Kalifòni. Je vis en Californie

Nice to meet you. Bel rankontre. Enchanté

I don’t understand. Mwen pa konprann. Je ne comprends pas

Please speak slowly. Tanpri, pale tou Dousman. S’il vous plait parler lentement

Yes / No. Wi / Pa gen. Oui / Non

That’s good / OK. Sa a bon. C’est bien

I agree. Mwen dakò. Je suis d’accord

That’s right. Ki bon. C’est ça

I am sorry. Mwen dezole. Je suis désolé

Pardon me. Padonnen m ‘. Excusez-moi

I am hungry. Mwen grangou. J’ai faim

I am thirsty. Mwen swaf. J’ai soif

That is delicious. Sa se bon gou. C’est délicieux

I am tired. Mwen fatige. Je suis fatigué

What is that? Ki sa? Qu’est-ce que c’est?

How much is it? Konbyen li ye? Combien ça coute?

What time is it? Ki lè li ye? Quelle heure est-il?

When should we be ready? Lè pou nou ka pare? Quand devrions-nous prêts?

Where is the bathroom? Kote twalet la? Où sont les toilettes?

I am a Christian. Mwen se yon kretyen. Je suis un chretien

We must be at the airport at seven. Nou dwe nan èpòt la nan sèt. Nous devons être à l’aéroport à sept.

And don’t forget these words: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Kreyol: youn, de, twa, kat, senk, sis, set, ywit, nef, dis. French: une, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Kreyol: Dimanch, Lendi, Madi, Mekredi, Jedi, Vandredi, Samdi. French: Dimanche, Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi, Samedi.

These are some phrases I have found to be helpful in doing ministry in Haiti. I hope they will come in handy for anyone traveling there or working with Haitians in other places.

Michael Bogart.

Can We Trust the Manuscript Texts of the Old Testament?

May 17, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Bible, New

Dead Sea ScrollsUntil 1947, the earliest Hebrew manuscripts available to serve as the basis for Old Testament study and translation were the Massoretic Texts of eastern European Jews.  These texts of the Hebrew Scriptures date from around 900 AD.  The translators of the Authorized Version (King James Version) used these texts as the basis for their Old Testament translation.

Besides the Massoretic texts, the Christian Church had always used the Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament made around 200 BC.  The Septuagint was used to compare with Hebrew Massoretic Texts to check meaning and accuracy.  In the 1800 and 1900s other early Old Testament documents were discovered, adding more textual information.

Add to all of this, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran) in 1947, and the huge impact made on biblical scholarship by these very ancient documents.  The Hebrew and Aramaic scrolls of Qumran date from the 200s BC to the 100s AD and include every book of the Old Testament except Esther, as well as other kinds of writings.  These have been compared with the Massoretic Texts, the Septuagint and other manuscripts to discover how much the text of the Hebrew scriptures may have changed over time as manuscripts were copied.

The result was the amazing fact that little or no significant variation occurred in more than 1,000 years of copying from 200 BC to 900 AD.  The only major differences in the texts were the Massoretic invention of Hebrew vowel points as a refinement over the mainly consonantal biblical Hebrew.

So, the tradition that Jewish scribes used extreme care in copying the scriptures proved to be correct and those who study and live by the Old Testament can do so with confidence.

Michael Bogart

Where Does Morality Come From?

public-opinionThe issue of morality is a tricky one when people begin to discuss community standards.  Whose standards will be adopted and codified into law?  Why should the morality of one group be preferred over another?  Why shouldn’t one individual’s opinion be considered just as valid as that of others?

One person may say, “I live by the Golden Rule: Do to others what you want done for you.”  Another says, “Anything goes so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”  Still another puts it like this, “The only one I have to please is myself.”  All of these are definite standards for making ethical decisions and all of them affect other people.  But where does true morality come from?

In North American society, the current approach is that morality is defined and decided by majority rule.  This idea sounds eminently reasonable to our democratic way of thinking.  Yet, thinking a bit deeper brings up some troubling problems with the idea of morality by majority consensus.  Where did the majority get their views?  Who are the shapers behind that public opinion?  Why should the views of the morality-shapers be allowed to dominate the minds of so many?  In other words, what guarantee is there that the moral  opinions of the masses are right or good?

Consider Germany in the 1930s.  The Nazi Party was steadily gaining power.  It controlled the press, the educational establishment and even many of the churches.  Nazi propaganda took advantage of certain ideas and feelings already shared by many Germans, and cleverly shaped those notions into the kind of public opinion it desired.  As a result, the world was torn apart and millions died, including six million Jews.   Yet, if we agree that morality should be decided by public opinion, we have little room to criticize the morals of Nazi Germany.  Their consensus was just different than ours, that’s all.

Some will point out that we aren’t like those terrible Nazis or the German people they duped.  Really?  The moral standards of North Americans as just as subject to shaping by the media, government and education as any other culture in history.  Others will point out that we are different because we value tolerance.  The truth is that it really depends upon which side of the current notions of tolerance you fall on.  There are a sizable group of people in our culture right now who would claim that intolerance, not tolerance, rules the day.  North American society may be tolerant of some people and beliefs, but certainly not all.  It just depends on who is in and who is out of power at the time.

Another problem with morality by consensus is that it is subject to constant change.  Like a ship with no compass and no chart, a society which has no external moral standards is directionless.  External principles are essential both to individuals and to cultures simply because they provide a necessary corrective when standards become out of sync with reality.

So what is the alternative?  Let me put it plainly: there is a God.  He created the Cosmos.  He built into his creation certain moral laws based upon his own nature, by which people should live.  The truth is that right and wrong, good and evil, exist independently of what people may think about them.  Thomas Jefferson referred to this in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote about, “..certain inalienable rights endowed by our Creator.”

In the final analysis, workable moral standards are only possible when they are based on a source external to the changing whims of the masses or of those who generate public opinion.  That external source is God.  He is both truly good and truly wise.  He alone is impartial, favoring no one.  To follow his standards, which Jews and Christians believe are given in the Bible, is to have both a compass and an anchor.  In contrast, morality based on the ever-changing opinions of some manufactured majority consensus is biased, arbitrary and chaotic.  It seems that we are not far from this in our own times.

We must think clearly about this issue: If there is such a God as is revealed in the Bible, then it follows that there are external standards of right and wrong.  In that case, what the majority happens to believe is irrelevant.  On the other hand, if there is no such God, then morality is indeed invented by people and agreed upon by each generation.  But in that case, true moral principle ceases to exist, and in its place is a mere scramble to shape and dominate the masses.  That is why, if God does not exist, both Nazism and Communism make perfect sense.  Power is all there is.

No matter what notions are currently popular, our consciences still tell us there there is a God and that his standards are good and fair and right.  So the question is, who will we listen to?  Those who say, in effect, there is no right or wrong, just power?  Or the God who created us and loves us?

Michael Bogart

Becoming Real People

May 4, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Thoughts

zI remember coming across a timely poem in my high school American literature class.  At the time, reading it was only an assignment, but for some reason it has stuck with me over the years.  It is titled Richard Cory, by Edwin Arlington Robinson:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

I guess what makes this bit of verse so vivid to me is that it points out a significant contradiction in the way we live:  We know the futility of status, wealth and charm in themselves, and yet we crave them relentlessly.

All of us know a Richard Cory or two: those who seem to have made it and have everything.  They are rich, beautiful, successful and admired.  They drive their sports cars around in perpetual sunshine with the convertible tops down, while we blunder through the fog in our clunkers.  The Richard Corys of the world represent the ultimate goal of so many people: to make it, whatever the cost.

Yet, from time to time, we hear the unsettling news that some celebrity or jet-setter has ended his or her life, either deliberately or through some kind of substance overdose.  We hardly know what to think at such times.  This person seemingly had it all, but threw it away.  What could have caused such despair?

Thinking a little deeper might alert us to the warning this is for all who wish to trade places with Richard Cory.  The person who makes it to the top so often goes to bed with the sinking realization that everything they have is– in itself– empty.  Beauty, wealth and popularity give only temporary satisfaction and leave a long-term hunger for something more.  Hence the never-ending search for deeper pleasures, a more impressive record, an enhanced body, more extravagant vacation or just more stuff. When these things fail to satisfy as well, leaving that gnawing hunger for fulfillment, people sometimes decide that the pain is unbearable.

Fortunately, there is an antidote to such futile living.  It can be found in the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”.

In these words, Jesus gives us a piercing insight into the workings of our own souls.  He tells us frankly that earthly treasure does not last: it can be eaten up, rusted through and stolen.  He teaches us that we can diagnose the state of our soul by examining the type of treasure it craves.  When we examine ourselves according to Jesus’ words, we may conclude that we have been seeking the wrong things most of our lives. Jesus’ answer?  Acquire incorruptable treasure.  In other words, exchange the desire for temporary, shallow things for that which is ultimately fulfilling.  But how?

It starts by getting real with ourselves.  The truth is that we desire unfulfilling things simply because they make us look and feel good without inner change.  They promise that we can bypass the struggle required to actually deserve the admiration of people and the fulfillment, which comes from an approving conscience.  In other words, a focused desire for wealth and status points out our insignificance and smallness of character.  When it becomes clear that this is what we really are, then we must repent.  Repent: such a harsh and unpleasant word.  But there is no real shame in this.  It is a universal human condition.  The sooner we get there, the more quickly we may actually become something and acquire that which will really satisfy our souls.

Then we must seek from God those things, which can give us real significance and make us truly admirable.  Things like: the ability to love people; an inner contentment regardless of circumstances; joy which cannot be suppressed by the fickleness of life; and the knack of living in and by the grace of God.  The great thing about asking God for things like this is that he is very good about giving them.

Despite his wealth and position, Richard Cory never really lived because he was just a shell.  But then, often so are we.  Jesus invites us to become truly alive and truly fulfilled by drawing our life from him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

Michael Bogartz