Vienna native joins Bible project

NAIROBI, Kenya – Vienna native Kevin Wines participated in a Bible dedication mission to Africa.

Wines, a 1987 graduate of Parkersburg High School, is assistant technical director at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tenn., helping with the sound, lighting and video at the church.

Wines’ church job involves travel abroad to shoot video.

Wines and others at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church became involved in the Bible translation program through Leoma Gilley, a missionary supported by the church. Gilley was involved in the Bible dedication service in Malakal, South Sudan in Africa on April 13, which Wines videotaped.

The Bible dedication service took place at the Malakal Stadium and lasted six hours. Guests, who included Wines’ group, were seated under the grandstand just behind the stage. The Shilluk people sat in groups from various churches under tents in front of the stage.

The dedication involved the groups singing and dancing and many people speaking and reading from the Bible. A Catholic bishop blessed the Bibles with Holy Water and incense.

“It was quite an honor to be there at the culmination of many years of hard work put in by people like Leoma Gilley,” Wines said of attending the Bibles dedication.

Wines received a certificate for being at the Shilluk Bible dedication in Malakal, South Sudan.

The Bible was presented to the Shilluk people by Gilley, who has been involved in the translation process that took about 30 years. There had been an earlier version of the New Testament in the Shilluk language, but the people had a hard time reading it and understanding it, Wines said.

Gilley spent time reworking the written language and earning a Ph.D. in linguistics in the process. She recently moved back to Nairobi, Kenya, to continue working in the translation field.

“Cedar Springs supports two other missionary families in Nairobi along with Leoma, so a trip and assignment was developed for me,” Wines wrote in an email. “I would go to Nairobi and interview the two missionary families and then head to South Sudan to video the Bible dedication.”

Because one of the missionaries also was involved in Bible translation as a consultant, it was determined that most of Wines’ video would be about Bible translation in Africa.

This opened the door to interviewing other people in Nairobi and Juba, South Sudan, who were also involved in Bible translation, Wines said.

The group arrived at the East Africa Bible Translation Centre, which houses the Bible Translation & Literacy, in Nairobi, Kenya, in April. BTL is the organization that works at this facility along with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

The Bible center compound was surrounded by a fence with electrical wires above the fence and a large metal gate that was manned by a guard around the clock, Wines said.

In Nairobi, Wines saw a church that had armed guards because terrorists were known to throw grenades into churches in other parts of the country.

Wines said he was not allowed to take pictures of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

Wines took video of a session with people involved in Bible translation. Wines was in Kenya on April 9, when the newly elected president Uhuru Kenyatta was being inaugurated. Kenyatta was only the fourth president in Kenyan history and this was the first time power was being handed over peacefully from opposing groups, Wines said.

In Karen, a suburb of Nairobi, Wines visited the home of Tom and Juanita Matthews. Tom works as a Bible translator consultant and Juanita is a teacher at West Nairobi School.

Wines and another person from his group were the first people to visit the Matthewses from a supporting church, family or friends in the 20 years they had been in Africa.

Tom didn’t always know the language they were translating into but there was always a common language between him and the translators they would use to check the work, Wines said. Sometimes that language was English and other times it could be Swahili.

Wines visited Africa International University where he interviewed students and a professor about Bible translation and what roles they played in projects.

The group visited Nairobi National Park where they saw a black rhinoceros, giraffes, ostriches, gazelles, birds and a water buffalo.

They visited the Nairobi animal orphanage where the lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs and monkeys were either abandoned as babies or injured.

Topics such as electricity and cattle rustling were discussed in South Sudan. Juba, the capital city, did not have central electricity. Everything ran off generators at each site, Wines said.

South Sudan became the world’s newest country in July 2011.

In Malakal, Wines and some other photographers in town for the Bible dedication were told by Sudan soldiers they were under arrest. The photographers and interpreters mentioned they were on church business and were not photographing army installations. The visitors were eventually allowed to walk away, Wines said.

“I was thankful that I had many people praying for me which I believe helped the situation of the day have the outcome it did,” Wines said.

Wines said his African trip was a great experience and adventure.