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Archive for May, 2010

About three weeks ago, I wrote a post on how much I enjoy foretasting full-time. It’s nice to be able to go into my office every day for the full day and give most of my energies to the ministry. I have access to all of my resources and to others in the office to get some tasks done. But though I’ve enjoyed this time, I’ve also found myself getting swallowed up in all the work that needs to be done. I said “most of my energies”, because I still need to give attention to deputation. I have 65%, so there’s still much work to be done in that area!

But the pace has really picked up as May rolls on. It’s such a blessing that I don’t have to be out of town for a few months, because I have to deal with some very important matters. In early June I’m conducting a meeting about the revision of the Sango Bible. We revised the orthography and have run into resistance, so we need to determine how to overcome the obstacles. This project is very important to BMM, since we have our roots in this area of Africa and since William Haas, the founder of BMM, did the foundational work for the Sango language.

I also have to give attention to the development of our Scripture-in-Use activities, which forms a sub-department of my department. We haven’t been able to do much with SIU yet since BI has been limited in resources and personnel. But we’ve reached the point where we can no longer put it on the back burner. With 22 NTs and 3 Bibles published by us, we have to make sure the people are connecting well with the Scriptures. So I’m thinking through foundational issues like purpose, department structure, activities, etc.

I’m also trying to complete a written form of our Translation Philosophy. We need it to help our consultants, inform our constituents & supporters, and educate our readers. But as you can imagine, it requires some very deep thinking since it involves very technical issues.

In addition to these activities, I’m also preparing for the Haitian Creole OT workshop in early June. I have to prepare to consult on around 20 chapters in Genesis and 15 Psalms. Then there’s the Day OT workshop in Chad in late July. We will be covering 1 & 2 Chronicles. And I also need to prepare sermons in French to preach while I’m in Chad. Oh, and there’s also the Consultant Seminar in early July, the most important week for my department. I’m leading at least 6 of the sessions.

No wonder I don’t have time to give much attention to deputation! Please pray for me. Pray for wisdom in all of these issues. Pray for grace to not get stressed out. And pray for me to make contact with pastors as I continue to set up meetings in early 2011. Pray that the pastors will call me back, so I don’t have to spend precious time leaving more messages.

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More Answered Prayers

Sometimes I look at what needs to be done in regards to deputation, and I just have to say, “Well, I’ve done all I can at this point, and now I need to pray for God to bless according to His will.” If I’ve already called a pastor numerous times, I don’t know that it would help to call again, though I do make that call eventually. But what I really need is for the pastor to call back. So I pray for the Lord to move in that way. Praise the Lord that two pastors just called back this morning! One meeting was set up in VA and one in IL. Only three slots left to fill in Jan/Feb in VA and two to fill in IL in Mar. Please keep praying!

Another huge answer to prayer is that Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN, has agreed to become a supporting church! It thrills my heart to form this partnership with Pastor Chuck Phelps and his people. I really appreciated their heart for the Lord and for missions when I was with them for their conference in early April. Now I get the privilege of forming a deeper connection with them!

With this new support and other adjustments, my support level is at 65%! That means I now qualify to attend BMM’s Launch Seminar in September. It’s such a blessing to know that I’m getting closer to the goal of full-time support! Thanks for your prayers! Don’t stop!

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This morning my Bible reading took me to Psalm 64. As I watched the sun rise over the houses across the lake, I read verse 8:

They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy. (NASB)

What a blessing it was to meditate on God’s wonders as I watched one in action! The explosion of colorful light and warmth from the sun is a pictorial shout for joy. Truly, we worship a powerful God who’s glory speaks loudly to us each day of His infinite wisdom and power.

As I gave more attention to my department this week, I began doing some reading on the issue of Scripture-in-Use. This is the technical term that Bible societies use to describe the activities that come after Bible translation to integrate it into church life. In a sense, this is what Bibles International is all about–making sure people use our Scriptures. But the complexities involved in it require focused attention, which we are just now beginning to give to it. We have been relying on the local churches to do this work, but now we are beginning to see how we can give some significant help.

One manual for Scripture-in-Use begins by presenting some obstacles to the work:

Pastor A: “Yes, I know there is a New Testament in my language, but I am afraid to read from it on Sundays in case I read badly.”

Pastor B: “The New Testament in my language sounds like ordinary people talking. It isn’t holy language any more. I don’t like it.”

Pastor C: “If I preach from the translation in my mother tongue, what will I say? There will be nothing to explain any more!”

Pastor D: “I worked very hard to get a good education. If I read from my own language Bible, how will people know I speak good English?”

Pastor E: “Of course I know that our faith in based on the Word of God, but very few people in my church can read the Bible with understanding in any language!”

We definitely need prayer as we strategize on how to help local churches integrate our translations into the people’s lives!

On the deputation front, I still haven’t heard of any new support. I’m thankful for the one pastor that returned a call and for another that seemed to show real interest in my ministry. I wasn’t able to set up any new meetings this week, so pray for a more fruitful week in that regard next week.

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I returned safely back to Grand Rapids on Monday evening. I had a good day of ministry at Spring Hill Baptist Church last Sunday as I filled all three slots. It was a blessing to spend time with the pastor, his family, and the church people. I really appreciated their interest in my ministry as they had many questions to ask. I hope they will never forget the worldwide needs of Bible translation, because the needs are not going away quickly.

This week I’ve been able to get a foretaste of what it’s going to be like to be full-time in my ministry, and I really enjoyed it. It was such a blessing to have full days to give attention to various needs here at the office and overseas. One of the main tasks on the agenda this week was the preparation of the Day OT trial edition (Chad, Africa) for printing. Since I was in the office, I was able to help the editing crew as they had various decisions to make about formatting issues. This is the first OT trial edition that we have printed here in the office for a project in a French-speaking world, so there were some new complications to confront. We usually try to conform to the standards set by the majority language Bible in the area. Chad uses the 2nd edition of the French version by Louis Segond. But I found out this week that two publications of that version produced only a year apart by two different organizations can have differences (e.g., in versification). Same version but different publishers. What in the world?!

I actually didn’t spend hardly any time on deputation activities other than the drive back on Monday. But I plan on calling pastors this week to set up more meetings in IL and VA next year. Please pray for success. Pray also for two churches that should be voting on me very soon. One pastor said that the deacons have already approved me but that the church needed to vote in the next few days. Please pray!

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Last Sunday I was able to minister at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Wilson, NC. That’s the church where Dr. Bob Jones Jr had his membership for a number of years, because his brother-in-law, Otis Holmes, started the church. The church has a good long history, but an uncertain future. They are looking for a new pastor, trying to find new property to build on, and thinking through how the Christian school relates to the church. They definitely need our prayers to make it safely through this time of transition.

On Wed night I enjoyed the fellowship at Grace Baptist Church in Plymouth, NC, where Lee Price is the pastor. He and his church were very gracious toward me. The people showed great interest in my ministry. I believe almost everyone in the church spoke to me before and/or after the service, and many signed up to receive my prayer updates. Of course, there were only around 20 people present at the prayer meeting, but that’s still a good ratio.

After spending around three weeks in NC, I finally started heading back north. I stopped off in the Roanoke, VA, area to meet a pastor on Thurs and then drove further north to South Charleston, WV, on Friday for Sunday’s meeting. I look forward to speaking in the worship service, teaching SS, and presenting my ministry in the PM service. It’s been good to reconnect with the pastor, Mark Patton, who is a friend of mine from our college days.

I’m happy to report that a couple has decided to support me monthly, bringing my support level to 59%. Hopefully it will keep going up!

I’m reading another book on translation philosophy, D’une langue à une autre (From One Language to Another), published in 1986. The authors, Jan de Waard and Eugene A. Nida, discuss some of the complications that our translation work has to wrestle with. I bring this discussion up because they refer to the situation in Haiti, which is where we are translating the OT into Haitian Creole.

They describe the different functional levels of language in a particular region–e.g., primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary levels. The first level would be the international languages; the second, national languages; the third, regional languages; and the fourth, tribal languages. Haiti has an international language (French) and a national language (Haitian Creole). Though French has such a powerful presence in that country, the need for Scriptures in Haitian Creole still remains strong. They note,

One would think that policies in the area of education inevitably eliminate minority languages, but this is far from always being the case. In Haiti, where French is the official language of the country and of the educational system for more than 150 years, probably less than 25% of the population is able to use French effectively; everyone speaks Haitian Creole. (my translation)

Thus, in case someone is wondering why we need to do a translation into Haitian Creole when the Haitians supposedly have access to the Scriptures in French, they need wonder no longer. A long history of a fairly stable educational system obviously does not always diminish the need for vernacular translations!

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