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Is it worth it?

Recently, a pastor asked me if it’s truly worth the many years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars to help a small language group get the Word of God into their heart language? He wasn’t asking because he doubted the legitimacy of our ministry, but he was asking an honest question that we at BI need to be able to answer.

As I’ve thought about the question more, I came up with these responses:

  1. We need to be where God is working. If God is working among a language group, then Bible translators need to be there after people are converted and churches are planted. People don’t need a translation in their heart language in order to get saved (e.g., a few churches are in existence in Eurasia because a missionary took the gospel to them and preached through an interpreter), but believers and churches cannot grow without good access to the Word of God. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
  2. We must go where He sends us. If God gives clear indications that He wants us to work with a particular language group, who are we to resist? We do lots of prayerful research before we choose to adopt a language.
  3. We should put ourselves in their shoes. If we were a speaker of a small language group and we were believers with no good access to the Word of God, would we think it justifiable to skip us because our language group is too small to work with? The Ranglong group in India have only a little over 8,000 speakers, but clearly they are receiving our translation well. We just printed a trial edition of Genesis as we work on the OT, and this is what we heard one lady say about getting that book in her own language: “Oh the Christians who have not been able to read these stories [in Genesis], I feel sorry for them.”Another man forgot to go to work because he was so captivated by his reading of Genesis.”  Should we ignore these believers who have such a hunger for God’s Word? (You can read more about the Ranglong story here.)
  4. We cannot underestimate the potential of small groups. The two groups we are working with in Cote d’Ivoire number 13,000 and 55,000 speakers. The translation work started in the mid-1970s and the NTs were completed in 1982 and 1992. But our literacy efforts were brutally interrupted by two civil wars. Many believers survived the wars and continued following Christ in spite of significant obstacles. Now they have a vision to reach their entire country for Christ. Why wouldn’t we want to come alongside them to help? We restarted our work among them last year.

There are probably other reasons why we should work among such small language groups, but these are sufficient to keep me motivated to persevere the many years of work to complete our translations. May God help us!

Updating our schedule

I just realized that I never updated our “where are we?” page for August. Here’s what happened (and why we didn’t have time) last month and the beginning of this month:

Aug 3-13: hosted an intern

Aug 9-16: led the BI Consultant Seminar (which includes activities almost every evening)

Aug 17-19: BI Annual Retreat

Aug 20-Sept 3: Metanoia NT workshop

Sept 3-14: vacation in Ukraine

Sept 18: Calvary Baptist Church, Westminster, MD

Now I will update our blog for the rest of this month and October.

Dear Family and Friends,

In Jay Adam’s A Theology of Christian Counseling, my current counseling book to read, he points out the seriousness of the accusation “That isn’t fair!” that counselees often make. It’s tempting to say such words when we don’t understand how good things can happen to bad people and vice versa. But with this accusation the counselee is “challenging the justice of God and the faithfulness of His Word.” It also demonstrates “a clear lack of faith.” As believers, we must trust God and accept by faith what He says about how He will reward good and punish wickedness.

PROGRESS AND LOSS

The month of July began with Oksana attending (with me at her side) BMM’s Candidate Seminar. We enjoyed the fellowship and learning at the week and a half of orientation, and we are rejoicing that Oksana now has “appointee” status. Eventually, we’ll both be commissioned by our new church in Grand Rapids, and she’ll then have full missionary status. PRAY as we continue to seek monthly support, which is currently at 81%. PRAISE Him for the 1% increase!

During the seminar, Oksana’s dad had some sort of mild heart attack. He refused to get medical help, and passed away a few weeks later. He most likely died in the same spiritual state he was in throughout his life—a hardened atheist. Oksana wasn’t able to make it to Ukraine for the funeral, but she got to visit his grave when we stopped in Ukraine after the Metanoia NT workshop. PRAY for her and her family as they now deal with the loss of two loved ones—her nephew and her dad. PRAY especially that Oksana’s brother-in-law will turn from alcohol and false religion and run to Christ.

ANNUAL EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS

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In August, I led another Consultant Seminar, which was probably the most well-attended since I began leading in 2007. Current consultants, prospective consultants, and others enjoyed our focus on dictionary-making and literacy. It does no good for us to publish the Scriptures if the recipients can’t read, and one thing that encourages literacy is having a dictionary in the target language. PRAY for wisdom to put into practice all we learned. PRAISE God for my mom’s leadership over all the food service. Next year our new administrative assistant, Becky Holub, will be in charge. PRAISE God for His provision of a new assistant!

After the seminar, we enjoyed three days at the annual BI Retreat. We are thankful for the emphasis on living by faith. On October 20, we’ll have our annual BI Harvest Dinner, which will focus on our Chad and Central African Republic projects. PRAY for a good offering.

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The day after the retreat, Oksana and I flew to Eurasia for another Metanoia NT workshop. We checked James, 1-3 John, and Mark 1:35-3:22. I’m so thankful for Oksana’s significant aid as my Russian interpreter. PRAY that God will provide more funds for her to go again in January (designate gifts to “Troy Manning—Passage”), which we need until we get full support. PRAY for better progress on this project too and for the health of the two translators.

PRAY for the Haitian Creole OT translator to finish enough material for us to have a workshop in November. He’s been struggling with electricity outages in Haiti.

For the cause of Christ,

Troy (for both of us)

 

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!