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The summer has flown by and is not going to slow day in August. It really picked up speed in July when we went to BMM Candidate Seminar in early July for Oksana. Here’s a picture of her class:

Class of 2016.jpgAfter the seminar we had a few meetings in PA and NJ and then headed across the eastern states to WI for the Bible Faculty Summit hosted by Maranatha Baptist University. Here’s a picture of the group of profs (and others) who attended that.

2016.07 Bible Faculty Summit.jpgIt was a great time of fellowship and learning. I really appreciated the warm-hearted scholarship taht this summit promotes. I hope I can attend next year’s summit which will be hosted by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.

On Tuesday of this week we at BI will begin our annual Consultant Seminar. It should be our best attended seminar yet, as we’ll have around 30 by the end of the week. We look forward to learning about lexicography by an SIL expert, whom we have invited to teach us. She has a wealth of training and experience so I know we will learn much. We hope to make dictionary-making more a part of our process. I will be leading the seminar, and my mom with Oksana’s helping will be overseeing food preparations, so it will be truly a family affair!

Our annual picnic is right after that and then we fly out to Eurasia for another workshop on the Metanoia NT. So, as I said earlier, it’s going to be a very busy month. We look forward to taking a vacation in Ukraine on our way back from the workshop.

5 states in 4 weeks

It’s been a busy past few weeks as we started the trip with a deputation meeting in MD, and then went to OH for 1.5 weeks, and are in 3 different places in PA this week. By Sat we’ll be in MD, and then we stop off in OH on our way to WI next week. We plan on being back home on Thursday.

The Lord really blessed our time at Peoples Bible Church in Frederick, MD. It was my third time to visit the church (second time to present), but it was my first time to be with Oksana. Since they already knew of her through Bruce Tuttle’s ministry, it was fun to introduce her to them. Pastor Ramler and his church received us very warmly. He said we are on the top of the list for receiving support. Pray the Lord would provide through them!

We spent a few days of vacation in Erie, PA, the following week (and visited our supporting church, Walnut Creek Baptist Church), before heading to the BMM office for Candidate Seminar. It was a thrill to show the BMM family who God provided as a companion in ministry for me. They applauded and were all smiles when I introduced her Thursday night.

Oksana and I thoroughly enjoyed being at the BMM office with the other candidates (9 total). I had already gone through the seminar in 2007, so I was kinda listening with “one ear” while also trying to get other projects done. I wanted to be there to help Oksana if she didn’t know a word, but I also needed to keep up with my BI responsibilities. But I was basically included as a candidate and even got to participate in the skits. We presented at two churches in the area: Northfield Baptist Church and Southwest Community Baptist Church. We’ll be back to the latter on Nov 13.

The Saturday after the seminar, we drove to Peckville, PA, to present at Faith Baptist Church. Pastor Vigil and his church also know Oksana through Bruce Tuttle, so it was a great joy to be there as well. They also received us warmly, so we hope to develop a partnership with them.

We spent a few days in Enola this week before heading to Lancaster (we visited our supporting church there, Cornerstone Independent Baptist Church). Some friends gave us an anniversary gift to go to the Sight & Sound presentation of “Samson,” so we are looking forward to seeing that tonight.

Tomorrow we head to Flemington, NJ, where we will be speaking all day tomorrow. Heritage Baptist Church, pastored by Dan Troutman, also supports Bruce, so it should be another enjoyable day.

On Monday we will “celebrate” our one-year anniversary by driving back to the BMM office and then on to Wakarusa, IN, for a short night. And then to Maranatha Baptist University for the Bible Faculty Summit. I will present BI’s Translation Philosophy and hope to connect with the Bible profs. Maybe they could help us with the work at BI and/or direct students to join us!

Oksana and I have really enjoyed being home during the first part of this beautiful summer. It’s been nice to sip hot tea on the back deck in the evenings (on comfortable deck furniture that was recently given to us), while having our devotions and just spending time together. But those days are coming to an end, as we are hitting the road tomorrow to present at churches and attend a Candidate Seminar and a Bible Faculty Summit. It’s going to be a busy month but hopefully also one filled with God’s blessings. We need God’s grace as our schedule will be greatly altered by all the travels, and yet we still need to keep up with our work. Oksana is still working on the editing of the Translator Training Manual, but she has had to set that aside recently since she’s putting the Russian interlinear from Eurasia into English so I can prepare for the workshop in August. Meanwhile, I’m starting in my workshop preparations, while also preparing for the Consultant Seminar in August and beginning work on the Discourse Analysis course so I can administer that to 4 consultants in training in 3 different countries. Of course, there are the other daily management responsibilities that often end up consuming most of my day.

Our travels actually kinda started last week when we reported to a supporting church, Lake County Baptist Church in Waukegan, IL. We had a great time with Pastor Warren and his church. In fact, Oksana thought it was the best sermon (by Pastor Warren) she has heard since she entered the USA almost a year ago. Pastor Warren and his wife introduced us to the “Ukrainian Village” in Chicago too, so we had lots of fun touring that on Saturday. Oksana found a treasure trove of Ukrainian foods, so we bought some on Saturday and then stopped by again on Monday on our way through Chicago. We’ll definitely be stopping there again in the future!

We look forward to being with Pastor Kent Ramler and Peoples Baptist Church in Frederick, MD, this Sunday. I have already presented to this church, but not with Oksana. They support Bruce Tuttle (the missionary she worked with in Ukraine and her “adopted dad”), so they know Oksana through his prayer letters. They are looking forward to meeting her in person! So is she! Pray that they would be moved to begin supporting us.

At the beginning of the year my department had swelled to 29 consultants. Everything was looking very promising. BI seemed to be getting poised for some wonderful things. But then our director was released, causing me to lose his help with 1-2 workshops per year (not to mention his leadership and support in general). Then, we were informed about a missionary consultant wanting to transfer out. Then, we were told that a national consultant in India wants to start doing another ministry. We added two national consultants in India sometime last year, and we thought that would really help make up for the loss in India, but just this morning the wife wrote saying that she doesn’t think it’s going to work for her to become a linguistics consultant. And then a literacy consultant announced last week that she’s going to be ceasing her work with BI sometime this year. That means we will be down to 24 consultants! Instead of being poised for growth, we are just trying to hang on and keep fulfilling our current commitments.

However, we are confident that God wants to keep this work moving forward, so we will soon be adopting a new OT project in Myanmar. We hired a part-time administrative assistant for my department and the Projects Management department, so that will greatly streamline my workload. Plus, I’ve seen the Lord bring along volunteers to help bear the burdens. A friend just volunteered to take over the development of one of our major translator tools, and another contact has agreed to help me with the completion of our whole Bible topical index. And then there are the friends in France, Quebec, and SC who continue to work on the translation of materials into French and Spanish. And then there’s the son of a friend in PA who is helping me format Book Worksheets. So, clearly the Lord is still working! When God closes a door, He opens a window. Though the work isn’t getting done as I had originally planned, it’s still getting done.

We are also trying to form up a new Scripture Use department and praying that the Lord would provide a manager for that department. We need someone with at least an MDiv (or even PhD) with significant missionary experience. This department will be less technical but will still have emphasis upon helping our new readers make those first steps from receiving their new translation to using it effectively in life and ministry.

We are also seeking to start one new partnership with a Bible college, whether overseas or in the US. We need to keep connecting with students so that we can recruit more consultants and other workers. In fact, our greatest need at BI is projects coordinators and a formatter. God will provide in His time! Meanwhile, we’ll keep working away at our 41 projects in 16 countries. My department hopes to submit 3 NTs and a OT-portions/revised NT later this year. Next year we hope to complete three new Bibles, finish a revised Bible project, and wrap up 3 NTs (one with Psa/Prov).

Isn’t it obvious that BI needs prayer? God will answer as we work and pray!

June Prayer Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

Oksana and I hope to become certified biblical counselors, but so far we haven’t made too much progress. We may not get very far until after deputation. But I’m thankful for some of the reading I’ve already done. Robert Smith’s The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference was particularly helpful. In reference to a Christian and illness, Smith said, “Getting over the illness should not be the primary goal.” Later he said, “Getting well is not necessarily the best thing.” As believers, our focus must always be on glorifying God, even if that means having to endure illness for a long period of time.

PERSONAL NEWS

April was filled with meetings at churches in PA, VA, and NC. We had two more in IN in May and will have another in IL later this month. In July, we will hit the road to present at churches in MD, PA, and NJ. We now have around 80% of our support, since our home church, Grand Valley Baptist Church, voted to double their support. THANK GOD for that and PRAY for more increases!

IMG_2870

(Picture is of Oksana’s first visit to the Atlantic Ocean–Virginia Beach, VA)

We will also be attending the BMM Candidate Seminar for Oksana in July. We praise God for how He enabled Oksana to pass her oral doctrinal exam on May 19. God kept her nerves calm and gave her the remembrance of all she studied. She memorized everything in Russian but had no problem articulating her beliefs in English. PRAISE God!

In addition to the language obstacle, she also had to keep from being distracted by a family tragedy—the loss of her 17-year-old nephew. The Lord provided funds for her to make a one-week trip to comfort the family in May. What makes this loss so difficult is that we are uncertain of the nephew’s eternal state. PRAY for God to use this death to draw family and friends to salvation and for comfort for the believing family members (Oksana, sister, mom). How certain, eternal, and sometimes sudden, death can be!

 

MINISTRY NEWS

In late May, I began conducting the Haitian Creole OT workshop at the BI office. The translator has been quite occupied with complications from the birth of his third child, who has Down syndrome, so he wasn’t able to provide enough material to keep us busy for two weeks. So, we finished the work in seven days and also made last-minute corrections to the upcoming publication of the NT with Psalms and Proverbs. PRAY for him and his family as they adjust to the new child, and PRAY he can get enough material done to hold a workshop in Haiti in November.

 

In August, Oksana and I will travel to Eurasia for another workshop on the Metanoia NT. They have already submitted revised portions of Mark and James. PRAY for Oksana as she produces an interlinear in English from the Russian interlinear, and PRAY for me as I check the English with the Greek.

 

We at BI are thankful that Gary Walton, our Stewardship Manager, has agreed to be our interim director. PRAY for wisdom as he leads BI while also trying to keep up fundraising efforts. And PRAY for God to provide a full-time director soon. PRAY also for my former administrative assistant, Terri Fiebig, who has been told that she has only a month to live. PRAY, too, that we would find a new administrative assistant, especially with the Consultant Seminar coming up in August. I need help on the many details involved with that! Our new Indian consultants were unable to get visas to come to the USA, so PRAY for us as we provide in-house training.

 

For the cause of Christ,

Troy (for both of us)

 

I just finished my 14th translation checking with the Haitian Creole OT. We were supposed to take two full weeks on the translation, but the translator was distracted by the birth of his third child last month (he has Down syndrome) so he wasn’t able to get as much material ready as we wanted. So, we finished the workshop in 7 days, even though we also spent time working through some issues with the upcoming publication of the NT with Psa/Prov. This project is already at least 5 years behind schedule, so we can’t afford to lose any more workshop days. We have another workshop scheduled for November in Haiti, so pray the translator will be able to start getting caught up by at least having enough material ready for two full weeks.

I have a few weeks break from workshops until I need to start getting ready for the Eurasia workshop in August. I will probably start working through that material beginning in July, even though we’ll also begin our travels to churches during that month. Actually, we’ll be in 3 churches in MD and PA, with the Candidate Seminar (for Oksana) at the BMM home office in the midst of that. We may also go to a conference in WI before heading home at the end of the month.

So, hopefully I can use these few weeks remaining in June to get some other urgent tasks done, including preparing material for a Discourse Analysis course that I will administer to 4 consultants long-distance. Oksana and I will also be taking a few days vacation, and during one weekend we’ll take a trip to our supporting church in Waukegan. Pray for strength to keep up with everything!

Oksana passed!

The biggest news in our lives during the past two weeks is that Oksana passed the oral doctrinal exam by BMM on May 19. Praise God! This brings to completion a very long process for me of finding the right girl who can pass the exam. Truly, I have to admit that it was God who brought Oksana to me, and by God’s grace, I waited for His provision. It tested my faith to wait for the right one who would fit my life and ministry well, and Oksana’s passing of the exam is just one more confirmation that she’s the perfect fit! (So many other confirmations already made it clear she was the right one, so I guess I should have expected she would pass!)

I won’t go into the details, but this passing of the oral exam was not without its hurdles along the way. Oksana and I had to work through some misunderstandings about the qualifications to be a BMM missionary and then some doctrinal points that can be kinda tricky. From Oksana’s perspective, she had to overcome the major language barrier, since she is familiar with the Russian Bible and even studied only from the Russian Bible as she prepared for the exam. I told her that was the right way to go, because it’s so much more natural and accessible for her to learn the verses in Russian. I would be there to help put the verses into good English, if she needed me. It turns out she hardly needed me at all. The Lord really helped all the material to come together so well in her mind.

Now she has to attend the Candidate Seminar in July (I will accompany her) and then she’ll be an appointee. Since I’m already a missionary with BMM, we’ll get commissioned sometime later this year or early next year (we have a lot going on in the fall).

We are still at 80% of our support, but I am so thankful that we have 25 total meetings scheduled for all of 2016 (10 are already behind us). I had great conversations with three more pastors a week ago, and I got two meetings set up from that with one more to be set up eventually.

Oksana and I really enjoyed our time at Faith Baptist Church in Morristown, IN, and Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indy almost two weeks ago. We went to the former in the morning and the latter in the evening. The people at both churches were extremely welcoming. We especially enjoyed joining Pastor Chuck Phelps at his house to meet three Russian-speaking couples.

Tomorrow I will pick up Pastor Daniel Telfort, our Haitian Creole translator, so we can begin the next workshop on Monday. His wife gave birth to their third child a few weeks ago, but because the child was born with Down Syndrome, he has not been able to translate as much material. That means we won’t be busy the entire two weeks. Pray for God’s protection for Daniel as he travels, for his wife and third child as they are still in Boston, and for his two oldest children who are without their mom or dad (but in good care) in Haiti.

 

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