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Archive for July, 2013

Laundry room renovation

I just posted pics of my laundry room (before and after) on Facebook, but some of you don’t have access to FB, so I’ll post two here.

Before:

IMAG0234After the summer renovation project:

IMG_0191

These projects always take longer than planned, so, yes, I do have a little more work to to, but it’s quite close to being finished! I just need to install a bifold door in the closet opening (not pictured). Now the house is completely finished!

 

 

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Wycliffe has updated the statistics on the Bible Translation needs around the world: http://www.wycliffe.net/resources/scriptureaccessstatistics/tabid/99/Default.aspx. They noted two key points about the current situation:

  • For the first time ever: the number of languages that may have a need for Bible translation fell below 2000. Current estimates stand at 209 million people speaking 1,967 languages.
  • For the first time ever: the number of languages with translation in progress exceeds the number of languages needing translation.

We can praise the Lord for the incredible progress that’s being made. Truly, this is the greatest era of Bible translation work! However, I have to point out that just because a language receives Scripture doesn’t mean they receive good access to the Scriptures. Sometimes translations can be so poor that they essentially still haven’t received access to the Scriptures. That’s why we at BI are interested in helping those with no or inadequate access to the Scriptures! Our projects are evenly divided between these two needs.

Pray for me as I minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Fair Haven, NY. I will be filling all three slots tomorrow morning. I plan on showing them some of the needs and complexities of Bible translation in the morning. I’ll be doing a regular sermon in the Worship service, and then I’ll show a BI DVD and give a short devotional in the PM service.

I thank the Lord for helping things to go so well at Elmira, NY, last week. The people at Hillcrest Baptist Church have been giving me half of their Christmas offering each year since I began in 2007 (the other half goes to BI). I was given all three slots last Sunday too, and the Lord really blessed. I also shared a challenge at prayer meeting on Wed about the importance of prayer in the work of missions.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time in PA during my deputation days, and now I’m enjoying my furlough time. My week actually started in WV at Lowman Baptist Church for the Sun AM service. (They don’t have a SS, because they are trying the SS crowd and the Sun AM crowd to join together.) It was a real joy to see Pastor Cooper and the believers there. It’s encouraging to hear of their assurances of prayer support for me. I just wish I could have spent longer there! The pastor’s son and I had a great time doing “police patrol” around his house on Saturday evening and then taking an extended flight to AZ, GA, and SC, on Sun afternoon. That boy has quite an imagination!

I absolutely love driving on windy roads through the mountains of WV and southwestern PA. I praised God for the beauty of His creation as I drove through that area on Sunday afternoon on my way to the Pittsburgh area. It was a blessing to reunite with the believers at Swissvale Baptist. I hadn’t been there since Sept 2009, so it was very nice to renew acquaintances. It was a special blessing to see my name on their prayer sheet on Wed, even though they are not financial supporters. They are definitely prayer supporters! I’m also thankful for the gracious hospitality of Pastor Hill and Union Baptist Church, who let me stay in their prophet’s chamber for 4 nights.

During the week I got to spend lots of time with a supporting couple and their family. I definitely gained some good friends during this week!

Now I’m at a Bed and Breakfast run by friends I made when we were both in Reading. I definitely recommend Old Wellsboro Inn if you are ever in this area. In fact, I recommend this area as a place for a vacation. If you are into Charles Dickens, you would surely want to come up in early December, but make your reservations early.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be driving to Elmira, NY, for a full Sunday there. I’ll be teaching in SS and preaching in the AM and PM services. Hillcrest Baptist Church has been sending me half of their Christmas offering almost since I began at BI, so it will be great to see them again.

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I’m thankful for the many blessings the Lord poured upon me and the other BMM missionaries at our annual conference this week. Dr. Dan Anderson of Appalachian Bible College was the main speaker, and the Gospel Heralds from ABC provided most of the ministry in music. Both were excellent! It was good to get a glimpse into ABC through the president and this ministry team, and it was refreshing to see another institution that hasn’t capitulated to the contemporary pressures to be more “progressive.” Dr. Anderson, who was also my teammate in the golf outing on Wednesday, dealt very carefully with the Word and was not afraid to confront sin, though he was also quite desirous of encouraging the missionaries. His messages revolved around the conference theme “Be Still and Know” from Psalm 46:10. He walked us through 2 Peter and in a sense vindicated Peter from the “bad raps” he receives from people who only focus on the less sanctified aspects of Peter’s personality. Dr. Anderson helped us understand better Peter’s carefully crafted message in 2 Peter that leads us to be still and know that Jehovah is God.

I praise the Lord for His help with my session on Wed, “Speaking to the Heart: Linguistics and Missionary Service.” The classroom was full, and the missionaries stayed focused throughout the 50-minute session, as I helped give them tips on how to shed their foreign accent when speaking a foreign language and as I emphasized the important role that Bibles International plays on the mission field. My burden for the former topic was that they strongly consider taking a linguistics course on phonetics, primarily under Bob Jones University’s Missionary Linguistics Program. There really are very few shortcuts to learning a new language, and knowing how to speak the language correctly must not be devalued. My burden for the latter topic, a presentation of the importance of mother-tongue translations, was that the BMM missionaries call upon us more for help with translation projects and that they be willing to partner with us as they do church planting and as we do literacy and translation work to reach the unreached language groups. We’ll see what the Lord does with that session! Around 35 were present, but I believe others will be able to listen in on the audio recording of the session.

Dr. Gary Anderson, the president of BMM, announced that the General Council has begun the process of finding a successor for both his role and that of the treasurer. The process will take around 2 years total, ending in late 2014, so at least we have Dr. Anderson around for another year and a half. I’m so thankful for putting such a godly man at the helm of this large mission agency, and I beseech you to pray with me that God would provide another capable man to take his place, as well as that of the treasurer.

I’ve put together a presentation for my reporting this Sunday in WV and PA, and I have trimmed up a sermon to fit the slots I’ll have in both services. Pray for safety as I travel and real fulfillment for both my supporters and me as we reunite after not seeing each other for 4-5 years.

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The Lord gave me a refreshing and productive two weeks of vacation at the end of June. The first week was spent at home doing various projects, especially the completion of the laundry room area (it also serves as a hallway between a bathroom and a bedroom) and the adjoining bathroom. That involved ripping up carpet, putting up paneling on a concrete wall, putting up drywall in a few places on the walls to fill that out, installing a drop ceiling, and putting down vinyl on the floor. I’m actually still finishing up that project–staining and finishing the molding pieces. I won’t finish it completely until after I return from being out of town, because I had to order a custom made door for one opening. Home projects always take longer than planned!

I spent all of yesterday getting other home projects done that were on my vacation list, and I’ll be doing more. I guess one reason why I didn’t get everything done over vacation was because my mindset was “hey, your on vacation, don’t keep a strict schedule, enjoy yourself.” So, I did! I had a very relaxing 3 days of pure vacation in Grand Haven during the second week. I highly recommend the Khardomah Lodge that’s only a few hundred feet from the beach. It cost me only $75 per night, which is quite good for peak season in GH. I got to go golfing, biking, and did some reading on the beach. I felt quite refreshed after those three days. I guess my favorite part was getting to splurge for breakfast and supper. I just couldn’t resist the caramel cheesecake! I praise the Lord for giving me such a good time and such nice weather, even though it was predicted to rain all three days (and started out quite rainy on the first day). The weather was beautiful the whole rest of the time!

On Wednesday I’ll be doing a presentation entitled “Speaking to the Heart: Linguistics and Missionary Service” at BMM’s annual conference. I thought I’d extract out a few quotations from my presentation even at the risk of stealing my own thunder. I highly doubt that any who will read my blog will also be at my session on Wed, so here goes…

The first half of my presentation is on helping the missionaries know how to shed their foreign accent so they can sound more like the nationals. Here are some quotes from that section:

“One serious error in pronunciation was the confusion in one of the languages of central Africa between the words for ‘poison’ and ‘blessing.’ The differences were only slight distinctions in tone, but the missionaries had never learned to distinguish them properly. As a result, in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper they said, “This cup of poison we do bless, ‘ rather than ‘This cup of blessing we do bless.’ The local church had constructed an elaborate explanation when the problem was simply a mispronunciation. Since the indigenous pagan practices included the drinking of the poison cup to prove innocence, they concluded that the missionaries concocted a poison brew and then blessed it. Because none of those who drank of it died as a result, the people thought that this sacrament was a means of demonstrating the Christians’ innocence of any major offense against the spirits of the dead.” (Eugene Nida, Learning a Foreign Language, p. 86.)

Dr. Bill Smallman: “Half of the battle is WANTING to learn.  Speaking fluently and idiomatically is one way of saying, ‘I like you; I want to be like you; I don’t want you to be distracted by our differences; I care enough to come more than halfway to meet you on your turf.  God lovingly speaks through me in the language of your heart, so I want to transparently let Him shine through.’”

Hopefully these quotes furnish enough material to convince you of the importance of learning how to speak like the nationals! If not, you’ll have to come to my presentation to get more information.

The second half of my presentation is on the importance of mother-tongue translations. Here are some quotes from that section:

Writing from 23 years of experience in Africa, Julia R. Van Dyken states about the continent that has the world’s highest rates of illiteracy, “It is believed that the continent’s limited literacy is related to the degree to which the mother tongue has been ignored in favor of the international colonial language.” (“The Role of Languages of Minority Groups for Literacy and Education in Africa,” African Studies Review, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Dec. 1990), p. 40.)

Later she writes, “Personal observation in Africa suggests that ignoring the mother tongue as a language for learning literacy can be correlated with three factors: a) academic success often limited to those with a gift with languages; b) high dropout rates; and c) a sense of failure and inadequacy weighing heavily on the many in the society who drop out academically.” (“The Role of Languages of Minority Groups for Literacy and Education in Africa,” African Studies Review, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Dec. 1990), p. 45.)

“As [Luther] had always said, the Word would do it all. If there is a single thread running through the whole story of the Reformation, it is the explosive and renovative and often disintegrating effect of the bible, put into the hands of the commonality and interpreted no longer by the well-conditioned learned, but by the faith and delusion, the common sense and uncommon nonsense, of all sorts of men.” (Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message, p. 79, quoting G. R. Elton, Reformation Europe: 1517-1559, p. 52.)

“When converts are made from heathenism by modern missionaries, it becomes an interesting question whether their faith possesses the elements of permanence, or is only an exotic too tender for self-propagation when the fostering care of the foreign cultivator is withdrawn. If neither habits of self-reliance are cultivated, nor opportunities given for the exercise of that virtue, the most promising converts are apt to become like spoiled children. In Madagascar a few Christians were left with nothing but the Bible in their hands; and though exposed to persecution, and even death itself, as the penalty of adherence to their profession, they increased tenfold in numbers, and are, if possible, more decided believers now than they were when, by an edict of the queen of that island, missionaries ceased their teaching.” (Missionary Researches and Travels in South Africa, 1857, p. 115.)

“The most convincing vindication of indigenizing mission is the many examples where missionaries failed as they attempted to impose Western cultural forms on non-Western people.” (Sanneh, p. 90)

Studies prove the importance of integrating the people’s mother tongue into their education, both in the public schools and in the churches. Pray that I will help the other missionaries to see that as well! Pray also as I will be reporting to churches in July. It takes a little bit of thought and prayer to get back into that mode.

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