Archive for May, 2011

As I write, Daniel Telfort, the Haitian Creole OT translator, is in transit to come to Grand Rapids for the sixth translation checking workshop. Daniel actually left Haiti at 9:10 am, if things began as planned. He is due to arrive at 11:55 pm. I wonder if he could have arrived quicker if he swam and then took the train! Regardless, I’ll be picking him up tonight/tomorrow morning so we can get him settled into Grand Rapids and prepare for the workshop that begins on Monday.

We are a little behind on this project, so we need the Lord to enable us to regain lost ground. We will begin with Genesis 42-50 and then move to Psalms 25. He’s submitted up to Psalm 80, and I’ve prepared up to Psalm 59. Our goal was to finish Psalms and Proverbs by the end of 2011 in order to prepare them and the NT for printing by the end of 2012. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll get all that accomplished, but I have high hopes that we’ll get much accomplished at this next workshop.

The workshop will be 3 weeks long instead of the normal 10-14 days. Plus, I’ll be the only consultant at the workshop, though Paul Weir, a friend who is considering BI for future ministry, will join us for the last week. Since there will be only two of us for most of the time, we should be more efficient in our work. But I’ll need much prayer as I have to make sure I catch everything; I can’t depend on the other consultants to catch what I miss. I’ll also need the Lord’s enablement, since I won’t have any “down time” of listening to others as they ask their questions. It’s only the translator and me this time! It’ll be very intense.

In the evenings and on the weekends, I’ll be finishing up the paperwork necessary to purchase my first house. It’s been going quickly. I saw the house for the first time last Saturday and for the second time on Tuesday. The buyer and I agreed on a price on Thursday. I began setting things up for the mortgage on Thursday and Friday. This Tuesday is the inspection. Closing should be around June 24, if all goes well.

I marvel at how the Lord has manifested His presence as I’ve narrowed my search down to this house. I’m overwhelmed at God’s goodness to me. This house has all I was looking for and more. I didn’t necessarily need to buy a place right now, so I decided to use that to my advantage. I thought I’d find a house that was above what I could afford and then see if the seller would come down. They did! In one week’s time they came down $10,000! If all continues to go well, I’ll have a house that has all the features I wanted and more. Plus, the location is better than anything I could have imagined. I can’t wait to move in (though that’s up in the air–it may be June or not until August). God is so gracious!

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I had the privilege of manning the BI booth at the funeral on Saturday. We wanted to communicate to the attenders all that Henry had done in Bible translation during his many years of ministry. I think I ended up learning more from others than I was able to share myself, since I rubbed shoulders with many of his family members. Speaking of family members, please remember them in prayer, especially that the Lord would meet their spiritual needs.

Here is the paper we drew up to put on the BI display in the church lobby, alongside a sampling of the actual NTs and Bibles listed below:

Dr. Henry Osborn is the founding father of the Text Production Department at Bibles International. Having worked with 78 different languages, he accomplished more in his lifetime than most can even dream of realizing. The consultants at BI now stand upon the solid foundation that he laid, a foundation for which people around the world are eternally grateful.

Dr. Osborn contributed to the following Scripture projects:

  • Benin: Dendi (NT)
  • Brazil: Makushi (NT)
  • Central African Republic: Sango (Bible)
  • Chad: Dagba*, Day (NT), Ngamh (NT), Rito*, Sara Kaba Dem (NT), Sara Kaba Naa (NT), Sara Madjingaye (NT), Tumag (NT)
  • Cote d’Ivoire: Kaowlu (NT), Neao (NT)
  • Ghana: Dagaare (NT), Waalii (Bible)
  • Haiti: Creole (NT)
  • India: Bishnupriya*, Chakma*, Chiru (NT), Darlong (NT), Inner Seraji*, Inpui Naga*, Lai*, Lamkaang (NT), Lyangmay*, Manipuri (Bible), Mizo (NT), Paite (Bible), Ranglong (NT), Simte (NT), Thaadou Kuki*
  • Mali: Songhai*
  • Myanmar: Falam Chin (NT), Hakha Chin*, Matu (NT), Tedim Chin (NT), Zotung*
  • Niger: Zarma (Bible)
  • North Africa: Kabyle*
  • Peru: Cuzco Quechua*
  • Philippines: Tagalog (NT)
  • Thailand: Rvwang*
  • Togo: Kabiyé*
  • Venezuela: Pemón*, Warao (NT)

*Not yet published

17 countries and how many thousands–even millions–of people around the world have been influenced by Henry’s life! How blessed it is to “follow in his train”! His son-in-law told us at BI: “The best thing you could do for us as a family during this time is to keep doing what you’re doing!” By God’s grace we will.

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Dr. Henry Osborn

Last Saturday I attended the funeral for the first Chief Language Consultant (my current position) of BI, Dr. Henry Osborn (see a short obituary and a picture here). On May 13 he passed out of this life into the next, where he met his Savior, for whom he had worked so many years. Having lived a very full and fruitful life, he completed “his course” after 86 years of dwelling in his earthly tabernacle. His wife Anne preceded him by about 5 years.

I had the privilege of meeting Henry and speaking to him on a few occasions, but I never really got to know the man. By the time I met him in 2007, his mental faculties were already severely diminished. There’s so much I wish I would have been able to learn from him. He completed a Masters and a Doctorate in linguistics at Indiana University, and then headed with his wife to Venezuela to serve the Warao Indians. Since their language was among the thousands that hadn’t been written down yet, he had to study the language and determine what it should look like on paper. Then, he spent time learning how to speak it. The Indians said he eventually got to the point that he could speak it better than them!

After 17 years of missionary service in Venezuela, he had completed the translation of the NT. That was in 1969. Because of health reasons, he and his family could no longer live there, but he continued to make trips during the summers, while teaching in Grand Rapids, to help the Warao Indians get the OT into their language (we are still working on the Warao OT). He and his wife made their last trip to Venezuela in 2004, having completed a revision of the NT.

Dr. Paul Versluis (who died in February) recruited Henry and Anne in 1985 (BI was founded in 1981) to become the founders of the Text Production Department, Henry handling linguistics and translation and Anne taking care of literacy. Through his ministry with BI and other means, Henry ended up working with around 78 different languages in dozens of different countries. What a legacy!

But what was emphasized at Henry’s funeral on Saturday was his meekness. Though he was a man of great stature, both in intellectual accomplishments and in height, he carried himself very modestly. He disdained attention being brought to himself and always showed great respect for his national co-workers. The pastor at the funeral read the verse in Psalm 37 and Matthew 5 about the meek inheriting the earth.

What a contrast Henry is from Osama bin Laden who died only weeks before Henry. Bin Laden vowed to take vengeance on first-world foreign powers, after Russia invaded his third-world country. So, he lived the rest of his life seeking ways to show his power, penetrating many different countries. Henry also exercised his influence in many different countries, but he did so to demonstrate the power of God, not his own power. He cloaked his power under Christ-given meekness.

Now Henry is enjoying the presence of the Lord, awaiting that day in which he will join with the saints to rule over this earth, the fulfillment of Christ’s promise that he would inherit the earth. Bin Laden, on the other hand, is probably in a very horrible state, having lost all things and now awaiting final judgment. Bin Laden sought to possess the earth, but ends with nothing. Henry, on the other hand, sought no recognition nor possession for himself, but will, alongside Christ, inherit all things.

What a legacy! What large shoes to fill! By God’s grace I hope I’ll be able to follow in Henry’s footsteps as his second successor.

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Yesterday I celebrated my 39th birthday, so I have one more year to enjoy the 30s. But rather than focusing on getting older, I want to put the emphasis on the joy it’s been to walk with my good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, for most of my 39 years of life. I was saved at the age of 5 or 6 in Florida and have been in fellowship with God through Christ ever since then, partaking of the joys and struggles that the Christian life brings. I’m thankful that I’m not what I used to be, but I lament that I’m still not what I ought to be. But each year I press on by God’s grace, growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. God’s goodness has been lavished upon me in far greater measure than I deserve. I don’t even deserve a single drop of it, but He’s poured down buckets and buckets of His grace. How wonderful the grace of God is!

I look forward to what the upcoming years will bring, if the Lord grants them. I praise Him that my conviction continues to deepen that though His ways are sometimes mysterious and incomprehensible, there’s nothing I’d rather do than remain under His shepherding care. I wonder how people in other countries, who struggle just to survive, can also have the same conviction, but I’m thankful for the work of grace He’s done in my heart, in an American context in which life is so comfortable.

Lord willing, before I turn 40, I’ll be finished with deputation, possibly moved into my first home (no prospects at this time), and maybe even married (no relationship at this time). Maybe none of the three will be true. But one thing I do know, God’s love for me will remain just as strong then as it is now, and by God’s grace, my love toward Him will be stronger then than it is now.

I praise Him for family and friends who helped me celebrate my birthday yesterday. I count around 120 well wishes on Facebook. I also received a few cards in the mail (yes, people still do that, thankfully!) and an e-card. I’m thankful for Steak ‘N Shake who provided such a good turtle caramel nut shake last night (though, not for free). I’m thankful for the nice presents from family, that I enjoyed opening last night. I look forward to supper tonight, provided by some friends in Grand Rapids. And most importantly, I’m thankful for God’s grace that continues to amaze this hell-deserving sinner. May my love toward Him grow in response to that grace!

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Support Increase!

I misunderstood yesterday’s good news about an increase in support, and the news was even better than I thought. My support has increased to 82%!

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After so many different places to slumber, it was good to be back in my bed last night. I learned on a tour in Philly last Saturday that it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Fish and visitors smell after three days.” That’s been the maxim that has governed my deputation arrangements, but I think this past trip went a little further than Franklin intended! But praise the Lord, no more deputation trips for me until my Singapore trip in July. I think I’ll have only two different sleeping accommodations there, and then I head to the Philippines.

Community Baptist Church of Blandon, PA, has doubled their support, so now I’m at 81%! I thank the Lord for my partnership with Pastor Dave Detwiler and his church. And I thank the Lord for this recent upsurge of support. I leaped into the 60s in May 2010 but then remained in them until Feb ’11. Then I flew through the 70s in 3 months! Maybe the 80s will also be as friendly!

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I had a great time with Pastor Dan Fox, his family, and his church (Faith Bible Church in Elkridge, MD) this past weekend. After taking the Foxes through some difficult situations, the Lord has now led them into “a place of abundance.” He has obviously gifted Dan for pastoral ministry and is using him to lead that church in a God-glorifying direction. The Lord blessed my SS talk at his church as well as in the PM service in which I presented my ministry. A number of people signed up for my prayer letter and showed genuine interest in my work. I was speaking to the people for 1.5 hours after the service. We’ll see how the Lord works!

Pastor John Jewers of Calvary Baptist Church in Lancaster, PA, just called this morning to inform me that they voted last night to take me on for support. I first began correspondence with Pastor Jewers in Oct ’08. I didn’t record the date of my first meeting there, but I believe it was in 2009. Then I returned for their missions conference in Oct ’10. Praise the Lord that He has enabled them to begin supporting me this month! My support level is now at 80%!

I’m in Elkridge, MD, for a few more hours and then will head to Chambersburg, PA, for the night. Then, I’ll head out of PA for the last time on deputation. But thankfully, I have at least 5 PA churches to return to, and one in MD, so far!

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