December 02, 2014
By: Tiffany Kriss
Student, Mid-Atlantic Christian University
Dr. Cheryl Luton is the Director of Teacher Education and Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Mid-Atlantic Christian University. She has been in education for twenty-three years, but she started out working in the church with her husband, Dr. John Luton, who pastored for twenty years. Cheryl has three children, and when they were getting older, she went back to school to be a teacher and taught in elementary school for fifteen years. After teaching in elementary school, Cheryl went into higher education at an online university, and then she began working at Elizabeth City University (ECSU).
Cheryl and her husband began volunteering with Wycliffe Associates in 2010. During that time, she became the English Language Learning Projects Coordinator for Africa. The Director wanted her to work full time with them, so in 2012, she left her full-time position at ECSU. However, during that year, her husband had a heart attack and there were also other family difficulties, and it became clear to her that this was not the time to work full-time for Wycliffe Associates. At this time, Cheryl was meeting with Dr. Williams to help her implement a program at MACU. Dr. Williams encouraged her to apply for a position at the University and she eventually applied for the position. Cheryl describes this whole chain of events as a “God thing.”
Dr. Luton really enjoys working at MACU and she knows that this is the right place for her to be right now. In her current positions at MACU, she gets to work with future teachers and leaders in education which is very exciting to her because she believes that by having Christian leaders in the public school, private schools, and mission field, an impact can be made for the Kingdom. She sees this as a calling and she has the opporunity to do something that she really enjoys that hopefully will help to provide some outstanding teachers and educators because she thinks that is very important. At MACU, Dr. Luton has been able to collaborate with other Professors, which incidentally led to a fast friendship between her husband, John, and Dr. Lee Fields, who is the Chairman of the Department of Biblical Studies and the Professor of Bible at MACU.
John is currently a Bible translation consultant. When national translators do their translations, they need a consultant to check before they send the manuscripts to be printed. John does the checking for some language groups, and is actually in Nepal now continuing a project that was begun over the summer in partnership with Wycliffe Associates. John arrived in Nepal November 20th and will be there for two weeks, and Dr. Fields will be meeting John in Tanzania to continue working on consultant work as well with a translation of the book of Acts.
The project that was completed over the summer was quite comprehensive. Dr. Cheryl Luton, Dr. John Luton, and Dr. Lee Fields took part in a program through Wycliffe Associates in Nepal this summer called Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation (MAST). This program came about as there was discussion about what more could done to help translators. In January of 2013, Drs. John and Cheryl Luton, and Dr. Lee Fields went to Orlando, Florida to help Dan Kramer, who is the Director of Education Services at Wycliffe Associates. They started working on a curriculum that could be used in Nepal. The group from Wycliffe that met worked every day for a week to plan the curriculum, and then they implemented it in June 2014.
Dr. Fields taught the translators some basic Greek instruction and also how to use the various tools in Logos. Wycliffe Associates decided to provide Logos for the translators in Nepal, which will give them a whole host of new tools and applications to utilize in their translation efforts. Dr. Cheryl Luton wrote a drafting rotation in which the translators would work on some basic drafting. She also implemented how translation principles work in drafting and she taught the translators how to edit their drafts. Dr. John Luton wrote a rotation called translation principles, which he based on some resources, specifically Katherine Barnwell, who provides a lot of tools for translators.
For this project, there were six rotations in all and the plan was to take those groups of translators, level their English ability in the first two weeks, and then have them working on rotations each day. The way the program worked over the summer, was that they started with worship in the morning. They then went through hour rotations, with some tea times and lunch, but this was a very intense program for two weeks. During the third week, the Wycliffe team put the translation teams back together with their new skills. During this time, the translation groups were taught a process for translating that was new to them, and all the teams translated 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians in five days.
While they were translating, members from the community came in and checked translation, because the goal is for it to be accurate, natural, understandable, and overall, they wanted the local people to be able to have an appreciation for the work that has been done. The fourth week was a consultant check, and this was a final check of everyone’s translations, and that was headed up by Dr. John Luton. This week was also intense, as the consultation check went all day long, but by the end of a few days, all the translations had been checked. The end of the summer endeavor was a celebration after all of that hard work. By the end of this project, 1 and 2 Thessalonians had been translated into four different languages, and the translators had a printed copy in hand that they could take back to their villages and get some more feedback before they make it a part of their Bible.
During the third week, a new language group joined the translation teams, the Bahing people. They had never translated anything and they were interested in learning, and so Wycliffe was able to put some of their resources towards them to help them begin translation, and they translated 1 Thessalonians that week. John is currently following up on the translation in Nepal.
Vision 2025 is the mission of Wycliffe Associates, and they were trying to fulfill, or in part fulfill their goal, over the summer. The goal is to teach and train native people who are interested in translation. With twenty six translators, each doing one chapter a day, and ten days of drafting, that equals two hundred and sixty chapters, which is the entire New Testament. This did not happen over this trip, but if it did, one language group could have the entire New Testament in a few weeks. However, much progress was made and is continuing to be made in the effort to give all people groups in all places of the world a copy of Scripture in their heart language. Vision 2025 is to have a translation start in all the remaining languages. When Wycliffe Associates started their vision, there were over 2,000 languages left, and now there are under 1,900. Wycliffe is always looking for volunteers and realizes that there are so many gifted people who have studied hard, and could be useful in these projects. Anyone interested can contact Dr. Cheryl Luton and she would be happy to discuss opportunities.