Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We're Becoming Bible Translators

Martha and I have some exciting news to share. We have just received initial approval to become missionaries through the Assemblies of God's partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

It all started ten years ago when we were living in Quito, Ecuador. I had just committed my life to Jesus Christ when God planted a vision in my heart to share His word with people who had no access to the Bible in their own language. Little did I know that there are more than two thousand people groups in the world that don't have access to even one verse of Scripture in their own language.

On two occasions in the past, Martha and I began exploring the possibility of doing Bible translation before giving in to our fear of the unknown. How would we raise the funds we needed? Where would our kids go to school? Would we be safe overseas? How could we leave all of our family and friends and go to a distant, unknown land?

I decided to read a booklet entitled Affirming the Will of God so that I could receive some guidance. The booklet said that most of us, if we are honest, seek God's will so that we can decide whether or not we should follow it. What we should do, however, is decide in advance to follow God's will whatever it may be. I started praying that way and telling God that I would do whatever He wanted me to do, no matter what it was. Right away, God placed Bible translation back in my heart, and we knew we just had to step out in faith and trust that God would take care of us, despite not having the answers to our questions.

Our faith was put to the test when, on January 2, Martha suffered an exceedingly rare heart attack related to her recent pregnancy. We considered postponing our plans, but as we sought God's direction, we didn't feel that God was saying, "No," or "Not yet," but rather, "Keep moving forward."

As Bible translators, we will work with one of the more than two thousand people groups that have no access to the Bible in their own language. Because most of these languages are not written, our first step would be to work with native speakers to develop an alphabet. The next step would be to work with native speakers to translate the New Testament from the original Greek to the target language. Finally, we would promote the use of Scripture through literacy training, audio recordings, and other media formats.

The process of becoming Bible translators is rather lengthy. We have already completed the application process with Wycliffe Bible Translators and received a formal invitation to serve in Papua New Guinea, a country of just under seven million people and just over eight hundred language groups! On May 28 we will go to the University of North Dakota for about ten weeks so that I can complete my initial linguistics training. In November, we should receive our assignment to work with a specific people group as well as final approval from Assemblies of God World Missions. Thus we will be able to maintain our connection with the Assemblies of God while working with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the field. Once our approvals and assignment are finalized, we will focus our efforts on raising monthly support commitments with the goal of leaving for the field in the beginning of 2012.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle we have yet to jump is Martha’s health. We will find out by September if her heart has recovered enough to allow us to serve overseas. Please pray for complete healing for her heart and that no further medical intervention will be necessary to ensure her ongoing health. Pray also for the kids that they will have a smooth transition to life in North Dakota. And if there is any way we can pray for you, please let us know.

We expect to have support accounts established with Wycliffe Bible Translators in August and Assemblies of God World Missions in November.