The Rowbory/Nigeria Family Blog

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We are David and Julie Rowbory with our daughters Rebekah, Elizabeth, Abigail and Helen based in Jos, northern Nigeria, with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK. David is a translation consultant – focussed on training and quality control for several Bible translation teams. Julie’s homeschooling and helping care for staff spiritually and practically.

In Nigeria since 2011 – Helped by others to help translators

We arrived in Jos in 2011 with a 2 year-old Rebekah and 6-month-old Elizabeth

With wonderful support from church, friends and family we got through 2 years or so of training in Nairobi. In February 2011, after a year or so in the UK, we had raised enough financial support to take up our assignment in Jos, northern Nigeria to put all the training into practice.

Late in 2012 we returned to the UK for the birth of Abigail, and to catch up with supporters and explain a bit about the work we’ve been involved with, then resumed our work and life in Jos in August 2013.

Rowbory family photo: Christmas 2020
Christmas 2020: Jos, Nigeria

After nearly 2 years in Jos, we returned to Glasgow for the birth of Helen in June 2015, returned in March 2016. Then we had a good stretch of nearly 3½ years in Nigeria with just one 2 month holiday in the UK in 2018 before we began what we hoped to be a 9 month visit in 2019-2020. We had some struggles with rented accommodation, worked hard to sell and buy a more suitable family home in Glasgow which delayed our return to Nigeria and just as we were about to return then the Coronavirus hit! We finally struggled out of an ailing UK in November 2020, relieved to get back to our other home.

Iluka – the gospel of Luke in Ishɛ language – was launched together with a literacy programme in March 2022

The Koro Ashɛ team needed some rebuilding and a lot of hard work getting Luke’s gospel and a literacy manual tested and ready. We finally launched Luke’s gospel in audio, print and app in April 2022, training teachers and starting church-based literacy classes in around 10 Ashɛ villages. Ishɛ language services continue to demonstrate the reality of using home language for every part of church. By mid 2023 the Koro Ashɛ team now employs 3 translators and a literacy coordinator, are building a dictionary and learning more about how storytelling works so they can translate the Bible effectively.

We visited Ashɛ diaspora in Kano who were excited to hear about Luke’s gospel and the literacy programme.
Checking 1-3 John with the Nyankpa translation team in early 2022

David’s also been helping check and improve translations for nearby translation teams: Nyankpa, Waci, Dũya and Gbari, amongst others, and offering technical support on some of the computer tools teams can use, building keyboarding solutions for typing Nigerian languages and working on other research tools. He’s delighted that so many of his able former students from when he taught at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria are now missionary colleagues, but had to take time out from teaching to help give full attention to translation teams like the Ashɛ.

Baba Mark from Gure had a nasty accident on a motorbike and stayed with us for a couple of days as he got checked out in Jos. Sometimes village medical care leaves much to be desired.

Julie oversees homeschool for our 4 daughters and is always ready to offer hospitality, a listening ear and HR support and she’s looked out for more opportunities to serve where needed. From 2017 she began organising most of our office’s annual conferences — now featuring over 220 adults and children — and runs a fortnightly Bible study especially for women in ministry. Putting her Cornhill Scotland training to good use, she’s keen to encourage everyone to build each other up taking God at his word.

Obviously those are just the highlights. There’s quite a lot more we could mention. Here are a couple of videos too:

2014: Introduction to our work and life in Jos, Nigeria

A tiny fast-paced summary video from 2023

Sorry if it’s too fast-paced. We wanted to sow some seeds for future chats about what’s been going on with us 2020-2023.
More videos soon we hope.

How are we doing now in terms of support?

We thank God for support from many over the last few years. We have about 70 individuals — family and friends — supporting us with monthly contributions, a few other churches and Christian fellowships support us each month and our main sending church, the Tron Church in Glasgow, meets about 20% of our needs. As the children have grown our costs have increased a bit, particularly for their education, but we’re grateful to a few one-off gifts in the last couple of years that have helped us through.

In 2023 we needed to increase £500-700 / month to keep up with ministry costs and to help our eldest two through their British qualifications with Wolsey Hall homeschool tutoring support. Several colleagues have left Nigeria recently for their children’s education, and it would be best if we could keep going investing in others at least for a few more years. By early 2024, rental income from our flat in the UK and some increased financial support is keeping us afloat.

How could you support us?

Rowbory-281. Pledge to pray for us

Wycliffe Bible Translators and our main sending churches need to know that we have a good team of people who will particularly pray for us, at least for the next 2-3 years.

  • Can you email us if you feel you can commit to that?
  • Perhaps you could choose a day of the week or month and commit to praying on that particular day. Let us know, and that’ll encourage us too.
  • For our part we try to send at least monthly updates to let you know what we’re aware of God doing in our work, to help inform your prayer partnership with us.

For now (mid 2024), we’d value prayer for:

  • Good progress training the Koro Ashɛ translation team to do reliable and effective translation.
  • The women in ministry Julie gathers to read and pray through the Bible every 2 weeks.
  • David quickly and adequately writing up linguistic research and other reports.

Give thanks for some recent answers to prayer:

  • Good progress the Ashɛ team have made in the last few months building up the team to 4 growing translators and an energetic literacy coordinator.
  • Increased financial support to enable Rebekah’s boarding schooling in the UK, and Elizabeth’s preparation towards GCSEs with online schooling.
  • David got long-overdue consultant reports finished.

2. Pledge financial support

If you’ve been supporting us for the last few years then you’ll know that Wycliffe Bible Translators don’t pay a salary. Each member from the Director down to the newest recruit relies for income on God’s provision through friends (and relatives).

  • While we’re all for working with our hands to earn our keep (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) the truth is that it’s particularly hard to do that and have sufficient time to dedicate ourselves to something like Bible translation.
  • Paul’s ministry was really helped along by fellow Christians giving him financial support (Acts 18). So if you’re able to give regularly to support us, that will let us devote ourselves properly to supporting Bible translation.

For more information about supporting us financially please look at the Wycliffe site, or email us. It’s not difficult, but we do need to give particular details so that you can be sure gifts don’t get lost along the way.

  • UK taxpayers can ask Wycliffe Bible Translators UK to reclaim Gift Aid so your gift comes at its pre-tax value.
    • (HMRC considers us self-employed and we report and pay tax on our income, so this avoids tax being paid multiple times.)
  • A pledge to make regular gifts (perhaps through a standing order) makes our budgetting much easier, but if you’d like to give to one-off needs, that’s helpful too.
  • Financial situations change all the time, so please if you’ve been supporting us and then face a time of hardship don’t feel bad about stopping financial support.
    • That has happened to a few of our friends who just let us know so we could look for other provision.

Wycliffe can ensure gifts are kept anonymous if you would like that, but we do also like to know who we’re in partnership with.

Click here to give directly through Wycliffe Bible Translators for our ministry by Credit Card or Direct Debit, one-off or regularly. Select ‘Person’ and give our names ‘David and Julie Rowbory 211613‘.

Rowbory-12 portrait3. Other things

Perhaps if you’re a partner in prayer you could also be an advocate for us:

  • Share prayer news and some of the highs, lows and daily grind of Bible translation and cross-cultural life with others at church, in the family or elsewhere.

When coming to and from Glasgow/UK, there are all sorts of practical things that we need help with. Some people have been a tremendous help with

  • Storing some of our UK-based belongings (winter clothes, gradually dwindling quantities of books, etc.) that we don’t need or can’t take to Nigeria.
  • Helping get a flat ready to stay in, and also clear it out when we go.

While we’re in Nigeria there are other handy practical things that are helpful and make us all feel loved:

  • Posting us little packages from time to time.
    • (Get in touch about the address and for ideas of what might be worth sending. Small packages are best and normally get through in 2-4 weeks, but can sometimes take longer.)
  • Help with downloading large things on the internet to send to us.
  • Posting postcards or birthday cards from time to time.
    • (We love this and several Tron church people have been brilliant at it. Some have recently been upgraded to glory, though.)

Maybe you could visit us and see what we’re up to yourself, and maybe help out in some small way.

  • We’ll be honest: Nigeria isn’t high up on most peoples’ bucket lists, but we really appreciated a visit from friends in 2013, then some came to help run a programme for kids at our spiritual retreat in 2017, and
  • There are all sorts of things that short-term visitors could do…

Maybe you should come and join the Bible translation team in Nigeria or elsewhere in the world. There’s only 3000-odd languages still without a word of scripture in the world and 300 of those are in Nigeria. The kind of people who could definitely contribute would be:

  • Linguists, Scientists whether you get a kick out of analysing things, puzzling out unsolved problems or learning new languages.
  • Teachers could visit in a holiday to give a bit of a break or extra spice to the homeschool diet.
  • Computer people – especially folk good with fixing odd hardware/software issues and helping translators to use them effectively.
  • Theologians, Pastors, Bible teachers – with a passion for helping people understand and live lives shaped by the Bible
  • …and probably lots more.

Getting in touch

When we’re in Nigeria and on WhatsApp call or text David on +2348151794919.

Whenever we’re in the UK you can call us on +447707726988 (David).