After years of service in the Congo, we were convinced that the usual books about the Bible were too hard for most Africans to understand. Gertrud was instrumental in translating about 75% of the Old Testament into Swahili; also a dozen Emmaus correspondence courses. I agreed to write a simple commentary in English, which she would translate. That was in 1964.
My idea of ‘simple English’ was of course purely subjective. Dr. Wm. Wonderly, a Bible Society linguist, gathered the scientific findings of many experts, which was published in book form. I felt this should be the basis of what we now call Everyday English. The two main areas are vocabulary and sentence structure. We have made a list of about 2,000 words which writers are free to use. As to sentences, the aim is to avoid using subordinate clauses at the beginning of a sentence, or within another subordinate clause. We have prepared a correspondence course on writing in Everyday English, provided without charge to all who are intrerested.
Other writers became involved, and by now over 125 titles on this level have been published. Over half of these have been translated and published in one or more of four languages: French; Swahili; Spanish; Portuguese.
Linguists say that this level of language is easier to translate than standard English. Dr. Wonderly also suggests an objective method of testing understandability of a piece of literature. Our list includes commentaries on every book of the Bible. Some are no more than a sixty-four page booklet, but the average is over a hundred pages. Test booklets have been prepared for about twenty titles, making the book into a correspondence course. These are used in three continents.
Besides the Bible commentaries in Everyday English, others books were on doctrine, still others on practical Christian living. The need for clarity in the gospel is getting greater. Most of the teaching in nominal Christianity is salvation by works, or at least, a great mixture. Yet the Spirit pronounces the curse of God on any other ‘gospel’.
Last fiscal year 27,203 books in Everyday English were sent out. Those in standard English and other languages brought the total to 53,704. From the beginning Everyday Publications has distributed over three million books, more than half in Everyday English.
THE BOTTOM LINE?
From the beginning we supplied books to missionaries at our cost price for printing. All needs were supplied by the dear Lord through His people. Most of the staff were commended or one-time missionaries, and served without salary. Still we realized that countless Africans could not afford to purchase books. So we offered assembly missionaries in developing countries any reasonable supply of our titles, no charge and postage free. We have proved again that the cattle on a thousand hills belong to the Lord. His stewards have, without solicita-tion, ministered to this literature program and every fiscal year ends in the black, with all bills paid.
Hundreds of books have been sent freely to Bible school libraries. We believe that many have received a clearer understanding of the deity of our Lord Jesus, and the simplicity of the gospel of grace without works.
We were given a substantial piece of property and we incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, Everyday Publica-tions. For twenty years we occupied this disused Gospel Hall, then bought an industrial property in Scarborough, Ontario, with the proceeds of its sale. Now this has proved too small, so we have moved to Port Colborne, Ontario. We had acquired over the years quite a list of presses and other printing equipment, but now we have modern digital duplicators, which are much more economical for small runs.
WHY EVERYDAY ENGLISH?
Speak, to be understood: ‘So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?’, 1 Cor. 14. 9.
Write, to be understood: ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’, Acts 8. 30. ‘Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand’, Eph. 3. 4. ‘For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read and recognize’, 2 Cor. 1. 13 JND.
Our initial offer of free literature to commended missionaries is still valid, so we ask for prayer that God will continue to bless this Christ exalting material.