Archive for May, 2009

Encouraging Developments

I’ve asked people to pray that my support would increase to 55% by the end of May.  So far, I haven’t seen the increase in any reports from BMM.  But that’s partly because the process of reporting can take some time.  Though I haven’t seen any new support, I have heard encouraging indications from 2 or 3 prospective supporters.  I’m thankful for how God is answering prayers! 

I’ve also been encouraged by how some friends have responded to a BI project.  I began the project back before I even started at Bibles International–the writing of book introductions for each book of the Bible.  I wrote the 27 NT intros, but I needed help from my OT PhD friends to write the 39 OT intros.  I sent out an appeal last summer, but I didn’t get any takers.  But this year, three men have offered their help, and I’ve already received one intro from one of them!  Praise the Lord!

It’s been a year since I posted anything on my “Translator’s Page”, mainly because it takes time to write a meaningful and substantial post for that page.  I finally decided to post something today, partly because it’s of interest to various people as I visit churches.

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And the Doctor Said…

… that my back is healing up quite well.  Praise the Lord!  Today I had my 3-month check-up to see how the back brace did.  Apparently, it did the job.  I’ll see her again in November to make sure that it continues to heal properly.  The only concern with my back’s healing is that such an injury might cause the spine to start curving forward.  She said this happens with less than 5% of patients with such an injury, and so far it’s not happening to me.  Exercising and stretching will also reduce the chances.  I haven’t started doing those activities yet, because I wanted to wait until it was strong enough for the basic daily activities.  I think it’s there now. 

The doctor said that I have no major restrictions but that I shouldn’t do any heavy lifting for about a year.  It takes a full year for my back to return to 100%.  Apparently, since it’s still healing, that’s why I still feel pain at about 3 or 4 am each evening.  I’m praying that this sleep interruption will go away.  Thankfully, I can usually get back to sleep, though last night was an exception.   The doctor said that exercises and stretches will help.

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Is it really possible to put those two words–“blessings” and “deputation”–in the same phrase?  To tell you the truth, I might have questioned that a few weeks ago, but a former deputizing missionary (who’s now on the field) helped me to renew my perspective by some comments she made about her experience.  It’s easy to focus on the various negative aspects of deputation, but I have had the positive aspects taking front-and-center in my mind recently.  The negatives pale in comparison to the positives.  Of course, I can only comment on my own experience (as a single missionary), but that’s what my blog is all about anyway–comments from my own perspective! 

First of all, I am always treated so well by the churches that I visit.  Churches typically find hosts with very nice homes to house me in.  And the hosts typically go out of their way to make my stay so pleasant and comfortable.  Even if I don’t speak in a particular service, the pastor usually recognizes me and often even has me say a word.  They definitely make me feel special.  I have to be careful about this, because I don’t want to become proud and selfish because of this kind treatment.  I always have to come back to servant-mindedness.  (There are typically enough experiences on deputation to bring me back to this point!) 

Second, I get to meet such wonderful people.  I find it very exciting to know that I have friends in so many different states, and I also have “homes” in those states.  Though I don’t have my own home at this point, the Lord has certainly made up for that with so many kind people.  I’m so thankful for these friendships that span from the elderly to the very young.  I really appreciate the friendships with the elderly, because I know I have met many prayer warriors.  I also cherish the friendships with children.  I am now corresponding regularly with a young boy in Gilbert, IL.  We “hit it off” at a meeting in Geneva, IL, when I joked around with him a few times.  Also, I met a young girl in Raleigh, NC, this past weekend, who waited outside my door on Sunday night with the hopes that I would come back out so that she could give me a hug good-bye.  Since I thought everyone was already on their way to bed, she had to resign herself to writing a letter to me, telling me how much she enjoyed my visit and that she would miss me.  I am so grateful for the impact I can have upon the youth. 

Of course, I’m also thankful for the new friends I’ve made who are between the elderly and the youth–the married couples and the singles.  Last week I went out to eat with a singles group made up of complete strangers.  But by the end of the night, it seemed that we had been friends for years.  The pictures on Facebook testify to this! 

A week ago I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Robert Vincent’s parents.  Pastor Vincent has contributed significantly to my life through the years, so it was a real privilege to meet his parents.  Unexpectedly, I found myself getting choked up when I shook his father’s hand.  I also had a hard time making mention of that encounter when I introduced myself to the church at the beginning of my presentation. 

At the same church I renewed contact with a former principal–Dr. David Pennington.  He was my principal in high school.  After earning a PhD and 20 years of other experiences, I was able to converse with him on a more adult level.  I also renewed contact with another of my high school principals–Randy Thaxton.  I enjoyed staying with him and his wife when I was in Lansdale, PA. 

Third, I’ve enjoyed renewing old friendships.  Recently, I ate supper with a guy who was the basketball team manager for my high school team.  It was fun to meet his wife and four boys.  Then that night I drove down to spend a few days on the farm of other friends from the same era.  I found out that they were at a church where I presented my ministry when their youngest boy came up to me to have me sign an AWANA page.  When he told me his name, I quickly realized that I knew his parents from about 20 years ago.

I’m also thankful for the chances to stay with family.  I was able to stay with my sister and her husband and my uncle and his wife.  Both were married only a year ago, so it was good to get to know the new additions to our family! 

Fourth, I am getting fed quite well in my travels.  Thankfully, I have not put on hardly any extra pounds, but that’s not because there hasn’t been plenty of good things to eat.  I’ve appreciated the kindness of so many people to feed me so well.  Of course, I also enjoy the many times I get to eat out.  Maybe some day it will get old, but so far so good! 

Fifth, and maybe most importantly, I’m thankful for being able to witness the works of God in various places and lives.  It increases my faith in His power and goodness, and it strengthens me to live more for Him.  In some cases, it also gives me cause for concern, but that also means that I have more to pray about. 

I have left out many experiences and people (but please don’t get offended if you are one of them! :-)), but if I were to include them all, I wouldn’t have time to do the ministry I’ve been called to.  But hopefully this overview (mostly of recent activities over the past month) will give a good feel for the way in which God has blessed me during my deputation travels.

Speaking of ministry, please pray especially for our Chad field.  The regular readers of my blog will remember that our Chadian consultant, Ouya Bongo, tragically died in December.  A few months later a BMM missionary couple, who helps in a complementary ministry, had to leave the field because of health issues.  Now, the wife of a BI consultant that has been on the field for less than a year is having a terrible battle with malaria and possibly other health issues.  She might need to be evacuated.  Satan is definitely attacking this field, where we are working with 8 different languages and are close to completing two NTs.  Please pray for God to gain the victory on this field!!

On a personal note again, my back is still weak and sometimes sore, but it seems to be getting better.  I see the specialist tomorrow to find out the results and to get guidance for rehabilitation.  Please pray for wisdom.

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Translators.  I just finished reading The Theory and Practice of Translation, by Eugene A. Nida and Charles R. Taber (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1969).  David Bell called Nida “undoubtedly the most influential figure in modern Bible translation.  He coined the term “dynamic equivalence,” which he defines in terms of receptor response.  Though the book posits various principles that I don’t agree with, I have found much helpful information.  As linguists and translation theory experts, the authors make a comment about language acquisition that is very supportive of Bibles International’s use of mother-tongue translators:

The average person can quite well master the syntactic structure of a language in four or five years, but it is a rare individual who masters the semotactic structure of a foreign language in less than twenty years, especially if he begins this process after he has become an adult. (‘Semotactics’ has to do with ‘the linguistic context which pertains to the meanings of terms surrounding a given term.’) (pp. 158-159)

In other words, you can learn the grammar fairly rapidly, but you cannot know how to use words in proper context with extreme precision until you have spent years being exposed to the language.  They also note:

Even with all the formal analysis of texts which he might be able to undertake, there is simply no substitute for the millions and billions of words a person should listen to and speak, if he is to build up a ‘feeling’ for the semotactic appropriateness of certain combinations.

So, rather than spending 20 years to master a language, it is better to train mother-tongue translators who already have this mastery.  That’s what we do at Bibles International.

Graduation.  I believe this year was the first in which Bob Jones University streamed the commencement ceremony live on the internet.  I remember finding the ceremony to be quite the bore as an undergrad, but after graduation I began to value the spiritual impact of it.  What an encouragement to listen as students recounted the marvellous works of the Lord.  How many other opportunities are there in life to hear this great concentration of such God-glorifying testimonies?!  It was a great blessing to listen to these graduating students.

Speaking of this graduation, I must note that I had many of these students when they were sophomores.  With this graduating class of seniors exits the last class of students that I would have taught during my two years at BJU (2005-2007).  It’s very encouraging to think that I had a spiritual impact in some of the seniors’ lives.

And finally, congratulations to my friend, Michael Cole.  He was the lone PhD graduating this year.  Now that the formalities are behind him, he must continue to travel on the deputation trail.  Pray for him as he and his family prepare to serve as missionaries in France.

My Back.  My back was quite sore this morning, but I believe that’s because of the bed.  It is getting better now as I move around.  I was worried that maybe I had made the wrong choice in not having the surgery done.  Pray that I will be patient in this healing process!  And pray for me to sleep in better beds in the future!

My Support.  Will you join me in asking the Lord to meet my prayer goal of 55% by the end of this 5th month of 2009?  That would mean an increase of 10%.  I believe I will add two supporters soon, but I will need more to arrive at 55%.  God can work!!

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No More Armor

It’s been three months since I had the sledding accident in which I fractured the T-12 vertebra.  The doctor said that the healing would be advanced enough that I could go without the brace at this point.  Since the temperatures have been rising recently, I decided I would get some relief by taking it off.  I knew that I would be in my car for 4.5 hours today too, so I thought it would be a good day to begin easing back into normal life.  So far, so good!  I’m still trying to be careful, though, since my muscles are not as strong as they were.  Though my “armor” protected me from certain things, it didn’t allow my muscles to do their job.  So they are weaker than they used to be.  I can definitely tell!  In about a week, I’ll probably start doing some exercises to strengthen the muscles. 

I’m so thankful for how the Lord has answered prayers.  I don’t feel any pain, except when I sleep in certain kinds of beds.  I’m not sure what kind that is, but I know that after about 6 hours of sleep, I get waken up because of a dull pain in my back.  Thankfully, some beds don’t cause such pain.  But at this point in my life, I don’t have a choice as to what kind of bed I sleep in.  Right now, I’m in a comfy prophet’s chamber at Grace Baptist Church (Leigh Crockett) in Anderson, IN.   We’ll see how this bed does tonight. 

What a blessing that I can take my brace off just as we move into summer and just as I begin heading further south!

On another note, I had a great time at Grace Baptist Church in Springfield, IL.  They have already shown their heart for Bibles International by taking on another consultant, Anna Beth Wivell, recently, and they demonstrated it again by their attentiveness to my presentation.  I also enjoyed fellowshipping with the Bradys, especially Dave Brady, the assistant pastor.  He and his wife got married only a little over a year ago, and Dave is older than I am.  Their testimony was an encouragement to me!

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When I present my ministry to churches, I pray that the people will gain a burden for believers around the world who have no or insufficient access to the Word of God.  But recently a friend of mine let me watch a video on the internet that helped me to focus my thoughts in the right direction.  I’m referring to the “Revival Fire Video” on this website: http://www.plow.org/.  I don’t know much about this website, so I am definitely not endorsing it, but the video is well worth watching.  It had a very sobering effect upon me and challenged me to have right thoughts about my ministry. 

After watching this video and after meditating on some passages in Scripture over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that though we ought to have compassion upon those in need, our primarily burden ought to be for God’s glory.  Romans 15:25-27 puts everything in right perspective.  In missions work, our goal is the “obedience of faith.”  And as we strive toward that goal, we are seeking ultimately the glory of God. 

So when I think of those who do not have sufficient access to the Word of God, I ought to be burdened because God is not receiving glory through their lives as He should.  John 15:7-8 explain that we glorify God when He answers our prayers that issue forth from His words abiding in us and our abiding in Him.  If a person doesn’t know God’s Word well, he cannot allow God’s words to abide in him.  Consequently, his prayer life suffers, and then his fruitfulness is limited.  And as a result, God is not glorified. 

Bibles International must get God’s Word into people’s hands in a language that they understand–their heart language–so that God’s words can truly abide in them so that they can experience a fruitful prayer life and thus glorify God.  I hope I never lose sight of these truths. 

The Lord gave me a good time at Morning Start Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, yesterday.  The people showed great interest, and their love offering was very generous.  I head to Amboy to be with friends for a few days and then on down to Springfield for a meeting on Wed.  Then on to NC.  I plan on taking my back brace off later this week.  I think my body’s ready for that.

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