Archive for September, 2010

Getting Past 66%

My support has hovered around 66% since early June. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean that my support hasn’t gone up at all since then. It’s complicated. Basically, the calculations in my support spreadsheet were incorrect, so I adjusted them as my support went up. But since the adjustments made the percentage go down, I’ve stayed right at 66% through it all (and no, it’s not 66.6%, thankfully!). In June and July, three new supporters joined me and two current supporters increased their monthly amount, all totaling around 3%. I do praise the Lord for how He has moved in hearts over the summer.

But my main point for this post is to ask for your prayers! I’d really like to be able to report an increase in my percentage on my next prayer letter, which is due to go out in the next week. I don’t want to send out the letter until I see some increase, so that I can report on that good news. Please pray with me! One man did promise that he would start supporting me, so pray that the Lord would enable him to do that.

I do want to take this time to thank the Lord for how He has raised up 13 churches and 12 individuals (or couples) to partner with me in this ministry. It’s easy to focus on the amount needed, but I want to make sure I also always take note of the amount being given. God has been so gracious!

I leave Pennsylvania tomorrow for Maryland. I must say that I will miss being in this state (though I won’t miss the stink bugs!–have already killed around 30 today in the prophet’s chamber where I’m staying for a couple of days). I’m still unsure whether I like Pittsburgh better or Philadelphia. I’m leaning towards the latter because of its significance in American history, but the former has many exciting things to offer. I’ll definitely miss seeing all the good friends I’ve made, though thankfully I will be back. It’s amazing the number of people who tell me I am welcome to come back and stay with them whenever I’m back in their area. Though I hear this in other states, Pennsylvania has to rank in my book as the most hospitable state of all the ones I’ve been to so far. I’ll also miss the beauty. I’m afraid that I’ll be leaving before the leaves really start turning, but it comforts me to know that I have a missions conference in Lancaster in mid-October. Hopefully, I won’t be too late!

Continue to pray for my preparations for the upcoming missions conferences. I’m still working on 2 new sermons and a new SS lesson. I haven’t even gotten to another lesson I need to prepare on Being Single in Ministry. I’m looking forward to all the ministry opportunities!

Check out my newest post on “Translator’s Page.” It discusses three issues I had to wrestle with when I was in Chad in July/August.

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This Friday I begin the stint of 5 missions conferences in 5 states. The first one will be in Westminster, MD, and it won’t be extremely taxing on me. I speak on Friday and then present on Saturday evening. I’m looking forward to seeing the Kindstedts, who used to attend my home church in SC. I’ll also be there with two missionary families from that church–the Bakers and the Martins. So we’ll have a good time together!

After this conference I’ll head back to Grand Rapids to “reload” and prepare for my late fall meetings. On Oct 10th I’ll have 8 days straight of meetings and then a two-day break and then another 8 days. I found out today that the church at the end of the second stretch wants to reschedule for 2011. That means I don’t have to drive down from VA to NC that Sunday afternoon. That’s a blessing, because I’ll surely be tired!

I began preparing new sermons for the Ohio conference. I realized I actually have to speak 7 times! I began developing a sermon on the theme (Phil. 3:10–“that I may know Him”) and also started one on prayer and missions. I’m thankful for the two days I spent at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary’s library last week, because I was able to take advantage of their resources. I also spent 4 hours on Saturday studying the New Testament’s use of the Septuagint. A very fascinating study! I’m thinking through that issue so that I can know what to say about it in BI’s Translation Philosophy. I hope to get that philosophy statement finished by the end of the year.

I had a great time at Calvary Baptist Church in Elkins Park, PA, this past weekend. I spoke in all three slots and had a wonderful time! I thoroughly enjoyed staying with the pastor and his family and getting to know his church. The people are very zealous for souls and truly want to pursue holiness. I hope I can get partnered up with them!

The pastor’s son took me on a tour of Philadelphia on Monday, and I loved gaining a better understanding of some of the historical and modern sites in the city. I saw the Liberty Bell for the first time as well as Independence Hall. I also saw a beautiful mosaic of Tiffany glass in the Curtis building. I also saw the largest instrument that’s still being played–a huge pipe organ in Macy’s. We arrived at around noon, so we were able to hear part of the daily noon concert. I would love to hear it at Christmastime! I can’t wait to get back to that city! My previously negative view of Philly has definitely been transformed! I can’t decide now whether I like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia better!

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BMM’s Launch Seminar

The seminar began last Tuesday afternoon and ended the following Friday afternoon. We had very instructive sessions throughout the days of the seminar, such as Dealing with Culture, Personal Finance Issues, Restricted Access Issues, Finance Review, Field Teams, Body Life, Missionary-National Relationships, Missionary Finances & World Relief, Discipling, and Conflict Resolution.

The seminar renewed and increased my thankfulness that the Lord has linked me up with Baptist Mid-Missions. I greatly appreciated the godliness of the staff, their love for us missionaries, and their support in the ministry. The staff showed their love and support by their instruction, service, and hospitality. We were treated to excellent meals in nice restaurants for lunch and supper. My only regret in regards to meals is that I caught a 24-hour flu on Wed afternoon and wasn’t able to eat my normal share during the flu. But thankfully, I didn’t miss any of the daytime sessions. I just needed to rest more on Wed pm.

I learned many practical things in the conference. I realized there is a way that I can save a large amount of money on health insurance costs. Though I had to elect the high-level insurance when I hurt my back, I can now choose a lower-level insurance as long as I maintain my current good health. I also gained some other valuable tips on how to better steward the resources the Lord has given me.I wish I would have remembered these things at Candidate Seminar in 2007! (But there was so much to learn back then! And it was all new!)

I also gained valuable spiritual lessons. I was taught some important principles on how to resolve or even avoid conflict with others in the ministry. One such principle is to fully assess the values and interests of the other party before trying to work out differences in position.

I also learned an important principle of discipleship–don’t automatically plan on investing in those who outwardly appear to be the best candidate. Instead, focus on those who have proven themselves faithful, regardless of whether or not their outward appearance appears “promising.”

One of the administrators taught the importance of avoiding paternalism on the field. Missionaries must immediately begin training nationals to be future leaders and must start entrusting ministry to them.

Dr. Anderson, the director, gave a report about one of his past trips to the Central African Republic. He recounted many of the sacrifices the Africans had to make in order to attend a conference he was speaking at. This report gave me a renewed appreciation of the dedication of these faithful servants in difficult places. He reminded us that most Africans are probably only a few steps away from death. No wonder they often don’t come when the weather is inclement. Having bodies already filled with various parasites and viruses, they don’t want their immune system to be weakened by the cold from getting wet, so they stay at home. How ashamed I am that I was displeased at them for not coming to church “just because of a little rain”! (Actually, rain showers in Africa are rarely just light showers, but I would still be displeased!)

Dr. Joy Anglea taught us many things about Culture Shock. One principle that stood out to me was the value other cultures place in storytelling. Having gone through seminary in the U.S. and having been exposed to much excellent expository preaching, I thought the logical presentation of exegetical thoughts was the only way to preach. I’m beginning to realize that I might connect better with believers on the field if I adjusted my preaching/teaching style to fit what they are more accustomed to.

So, I praise the Lord for all the lessons learned at the seminar, the relationships strengthened, and the safety I had to and from Cleveland.

On Saturday I drove 5 hours to get ready for my meeting at Open Bible Baptist in Reading, PA. The Lord really blessed my time there as I taught SS and preached in the AM. Many people showed great interest in my ministry. One man even came up to me and informed me that he would like to begin supporting me monthly! Praise the Lord! That’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen, and I hope it’s not the last! (though my prayer is that I will establish solid relationships mostly with churches)

During the next two weeks, I’m going to be preparing for my 5 missions conferences in 5 states in October. Please pray for wisdom. I’ll be the main speaker at the one in Madison, OH, so I’ll be preaching 6 times. I have to develop at least 2 new sermons in order to be ready for that conference. Please pray!

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I had a refreshing week-long vacation last week. The Lord gave me beautiful weather the whole time! I began the week by visiting some sites in the Laurel Highlands area–Flight 93 memorial, Quecreek Coal Miner’s memorial, and the Johnstown Flood Museum. I was particularly moved by the cell phone transcriptions of those on Flight 93 on 9/11/2001, as they gave their last words to friends and loved ones. I was also struck by the fact that though there were only 40 passengers, 41 actually died–one lady was expecting a child.

I finished that day by enjoying a Labor Day Picnic with Pastor Anderson and his family on Mon evening. I’m so thankful for the time I got to spend with him, his family, and his church. The Lord gave me a great day at his church as I taught in SS and preached/presented in the PM. The pastor said that the church gives almost half of their funds to missions. He also said that if the church did take me on, it would come after they give consideration to a few others in front of me.

On Monday evening I drove west to Distant, PA, where I spent the rest of the week. I enjoyed hiking in Cook’s State Forest (until I heard the bear-like sounds in the woods! Yikes!), spending more time in the Word and in prayer, and touring some Amish sites with Pastor Tucker of Springside Baptist Church. I also had a great time in Pittsburgh as I visited a couple different museums. I was quite impressed by the rich history of innovators from Pittsburgh.

Yesterday I had a full, but encouraging, time with Springside, as I taught SS, preached in the AM, and again in the PM. The people were very encouraging, and it seems like a very likely possibility for support. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Pastor Tucker, his family, and his church. The Tuckers were missionaries to Togo for a number of years, and I did consulting there last year, so we have that Africa connection. Pray that the Lord would move such that this church would begin supporting me soon.

I’m back to work today and very thankful that I have such a rewarding job to do! What a blessing! Tomorrow I head to BMM’s home office for Launch Seminar, a seminar to prepare missionaries, who are nearing the end of their deputation, for full-time ministry. I’ll be there until Friday afternoon. I look forward to the fellowship and instruction.

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Translator Training

I’m planning on taking a week-long vacation next week, so I thought I’d update my blog now so that I don’t have to worry about it next week. I’ll be staying most of the week in a prophet’s chamber at Springside Baptist Church in Distant, PA, but I’m also going to take two days to visit Pittsburgh. I’ll spend a day at the Heinz Regional History Center and a day at the Carnegie Science Center. Otherwise, I’ll be hanging out in the Distant area, resting, spending time with the Lord, and getting out into nature for refreshment and exercise. After a very intense summer, I’m looking forward to a break! The Lord provided money through my tax return, so I’m very thankful for that provision!

Speaking of Springside, please be in special prayer for that meeting as well as the one tomorrow at Laurel Hill Gospel Chapel. Both churches have shown real interest in my translation ministry, even before I contacted them for a meeting. It seems obvious that the Lord is working, so pray for the Lord to help us to connect into a long-term partnership. My only responsibilities tomorrow are to present my ministry in the evening service, but I’ll be at the church all day so that I can get to know them.

I had some good fellowship at Calvary Baptist Church in New Stanton, PA, with Pastor Sementilli and his people. I presented my ministry to them a year ago, but looked them up again when I need a place to stay for a few days. Pastor Sementilli asked me to give a short devotional on Wed. Since I had just spent a few hours on a recent day off meditating on Psalm 63, I decided to develop those meditations into a devotional. The subject was “Right Passions.” The Lord has been dealing with me about focusing my passions in the right direction, so I shared some of those thoughts. How I wish I were more passionate about knowing the Lord and helping others to come to that knowledge or grow in it.

Interestingly, I’m the main speaker at a missions conference in mid October, and the theme is from Phil 3:10–“that I may know Him…” I found out a few days ago about the theme and about all the times I’ll be preaching. I’m thankful that I already have the beginnings of a sermon on the conference theme. I have others that will also work, but it looks like I need to develop 2-3 more sermons between now and October 10. Please pray!

I’m thankful for the times of good fellowship that I had with the Seiberts at the end of this week. This is the fifth time I’ve stayed with them, and I’ve enjoyed every stay! We knew each other well when we were both at BJU, so I’m glad we can stay in regular contact. Their boys are going to transition from homeschooling to a Christian school next week, so I know they’d appreciate your prayers. Dan will helping Pastor Bob Harrison at the church office of Fellowship Baptist, and Sharon will be seeking ways to use her new-found free hours. So all four will need our prayers!

The title of this post is “Translator Training”, because I spent most of Thur and Fri reading through a revised version of our Translator Training Manual. We’re trying to strengthen the manual and need to have it ready for training sessions this fall. I can remember when I first began with this ministry and was overwhelmed at the material in that manual. I’m thankful that I have progressed enough that I can actually evaluate it now and offer constructive criticism. Praise the Lord for the progress!

I just wanted to give a sampling of some things that we have to train the translators on, since they need to understand how their language works before they can translate into it. For example, some languages are quite different in how they use pronouns in a given passage. In some languages, the main character is referred to by name only at the beginning but by pronouns in the rest of the passage. Since he or she is the main character, restating their name is unnecessary and even misleading (they might think you are introducing another person with the same name).

Another issue is tense–when the verbal action took place. I am reading a book about language, and it said that one language had something like 2 future tenses and three past tenses. (It also commented on a well-known fact, but unanticipated among non-linguists that languages are more complex the less contact they have with other languages. As they come in contact with other languages, they lose those fine distinctions, as Kamilaroi is doing in north-central New South Wales. This language used to have a complex verbal system for framing events from sunrise to sunset, but these distinctions are disappearing.)

Another interesting example is what are called “discourse markers”–e.g., how a speaker indicates that he’s coming to the end of his speech. Here’s what our manual says about the Makusi in Brazil, the first language that BI worked with:

The Makusi language in Brazil has a very strict pattern that good speakers always follow to signal that they are approaching the end, and have finally come to the end of their speech or story. Natural Makusi demands this pattern in all stories, sermons, and epistles. The speaker or story teller uses an expression which means “only that.” It is used once when he has reached the conclusion section, once again when he is about to make his final statement, and once when he has finished speaking. Every well-told story or proper speech will contain these three “only that” phrases.

Though we don’t necessarily have this in English, I have found some preachers using a certain pattern in their preaching. Of course, some say “in conclusion” but then continue preaching for another 20 minutes, so I guess even those preachers are not very good examples in regards to discourse markers!

Enough technical stuff, lest I bore the average reader. I imagine some will find these things quite interesting, as I do, but others will be ready to move on to the next blog!

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