Archive for May, 2016

The biggest news in our lives during the past two weeks is that Oksana passed the oral doctrinal exam by BMM on May 19. Praise God! This brings to completion a very long process for me of finding the right girl who can pass the exam. Truly, I have to admit that it was God who brought Oksana to me, and by God’s grace, I waited for His provision. It tested my faith to wait for the right one who would fit my life and ministry well, and Oksana’s passing of the exam is just one more confirmation that she’s the perfect fit! (So many other confirmations already made it clear she was the right one, so I guess I should have expected she would pass!)

I won’t go into the details, but this passing of the oral exam was not without its hurdles along the way. Oksana and I had to work through some misunderstandings about the qualifications to be a BMM missionary and then some doctrinal points that can be kinda tricky. From Oksana’s perspective, she had to overcome the major language barrier, since she is familiar with the Russian Bible and even studied only from the Russian Bible as she prepared for the exam. I told her that was the right way to go, because it’s so much more natural and accessible for her to learn the verses in Russian. I would be there to help put the verses into good English, if she needed me. It turns out she hardly needed me at all. The Lord really helped all the material to come together so well in her mind.

Now she has to attend the Candidate Seminar in July (I will accompany her) and then she’ll be an appointee. Since I’m already a missionary with BMM, we’ll get commissioned sometime later this year or early next year (we have a lot going on in the fall).

We are still at 80% of our support, but I am so thankful that we have 25 total meetings scheduled for all of 2016 (10 are already behind us). I had great conversations with three more pastors a week ago, and I got two meetings set up from that with one more to be set up eventually.

Oksana and I really enjoyed our time at Faith Baptist Church in Morristown, IN, and Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indy almost two weeks ago. We went to the former in the morning and the latter in the evening. The people at both churches were extremely welcoming. We especially enjoyed joining Pastor Chuck Phelps at his house to meet three Russian-speaking couples.

Tomorrow I will pick up Pastor Daniel Telfort, our Haitian Creole translator, so we can begin the next workshop on Monday. His wife gave birth to their third child a few weeks ago, but because the child was born with Down Syndrome, he has not been able to translate as much material. That means we won’t be busy the entire two weeks. Pray for God’s protection for Daniel as he travels, for his wife and third child as they are still in Boston, and for his two oldest children who are without their mom or dad (but in good care) in Haiti.


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In spite of how easy it seems to be for our southern neighbors to migrate into the USA, it can be extremely difficult for those who follow the legal process. We tried to get visas for an Indian couple to attend the missionary linguistics courses at BJU this summer, but they were denied. So, we tried again but this time to just have the man go, but once again we were denied. After sending many, many emails to try to get this process to succeed, we have to set aside all that work and go with Plan C, which is to figure out how to get them training in-house. I’m currently collaborating with my consultants to figure out an in-house training program. I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do through this process. At least, we saved BI from having to spend thousands for this couple to go to the USA to get the training, but it sure creates a lot of work for us who have to do the training ourselves.

BI needs someone to help put down new mulch on our small campus, so I wonder if someone in the area would be willing to give half a day to do that. This may sound overly spiritual but it’s true–it’s a simple way to be part of missions work!

BI has also broken down some of our funding needs into “bit-sized” chunks. Below is a list of “small projects” that churches or individuals may consider contributing to. All of these have merit and are needed, but I’m particularly interested in seeing the resources for Lun (and his wife) supplied as well as the computers for the projects in Chad. If we could get our Chad projects computerized, we could save thousands of dollars in the long-run, since it would really speed up the work, especially the quality checks at the end.

Small Project List 2016


Project: Funding Need:
Waalii (Ghana)  – Dictionary $ 500
National Translation Consultant (Lun Hangluah) – Resources $750
Chakma (India) – Literacy Printing $ 1,000
Chiru (India) – Literacy Printing $ 1,000
Kamar (India) – Literacy Printing $ 1,000
Kaulong (Papua New Guinea) – Literacy Printing $ 1,000
Matu (Myanmar) – Scripture Portions $ 1,000
Ranglong (India) – Literacy Printing $ 1,000
Tenek (Mexico) – Literacy Printing $ 1,000
Day (Chad) – Computer(s) $ 1,200
Kaowlu (Côte d’Ivoire) – Computer(s) $ 1,200
Metanoia (Unnamed) – Computer(s) $ 1,200
Sara Kaba Deme (Chad) – Computer(s) ($1,200) & Scripture Portions ($1,000) $ 1,200
Sara Kaba Naa (Chad) – Computer(s) $ 1,200
Tangkhul Naga (India) – Computer(s) $ 1,200
Neao (Côte d’Ivoire) – Computer(s) ($1,200) & Literacy Printing ($1,000) $ 2,200
Ngam (Chad) – Computer(s) ($1,200) & Literacy Printing ($1,000) $ 2,200
BI Building – Attic – Insulation & IT Wiring $ 3,000
Total Funds Needed to Complete Projects $22,850

This week I’ve read a few articles on how to translate γύναι in John 2:4 and 19:26. One article suggests that “woman” is too disrespectful and that “my lady” or “dear lady” are better. Another article pointed out that the Greek term is quite neutral in its usage in general, but that it’s quite shocking for Jesus to use it in reference to His mother. Thus, Jesus is expressing a detachment from His mother by His use of the term, as well as of His question “what does that have to do with us?” Maybe “dear lady” would express that in English, though I still favor “woman” as the best translation, as long as it is read with a soft tone of voice.

Oksana and I look forward to heading back to the Indy area this weekend. We will be with our friends at Faith Baptist Church in Morristown, IN, first. I went there a number of years ago and really enjoyed my time with Pastor Scott and his congregation. They have continued to stay in touch, though they don’t support us financially. I even dropped in on Pastor Scott and his wife one icy winter day when I was trying to get back to GR. They graciously housed an intern and me when we realized it was going to be impossible to get any further.

Then, on Sunday evening we are going to return to Colonial Hills Baptist Church so the people can meet Oksana. She missed the last visit because of the emergency trip to Ukraine. I look forward to having the church hear her salvation testimony and then getting to know the people, especially the Russian-speaking couples.

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This morning I just dipped into Stephen Doty’s dissertation (2007), The Paradigm Shift in Bible Translation in the Modern Era, with Special Focus on Thai. He explains that it was Eugene A. Nida of the United Bible Societies in the mid-20th century who greatly influenced the Bible translation world by his development of the “functional equivalence” (he actually coined the term “dynamic equivalence,” a translation philosophy that predates him but was brought to a systematic form by him; but today people call it “functional equivalence) approach to translation.

Doty then explains that SIL extended this approach toward a “meaning-based” approach. He explains that this new approach is “freer in several respects than Nida’s approach.” He notes in chapter 3 that some translators have taken this new approach too far (which I will heartily affirm!).

However, his dissertation documents how the pendulum has shifted back to a more literal approach in the 1980s and 1990s. He explains that translators realized they were going farther than Nida had proposed, but that they should also progress beyond his overemphasis on the “Code Model” of language and instead focus on “relevance.” Therefore, translations into minority languages became more literal in the late-20th century (a welcomed shift in my mind!).

I look forward to reading more of Doty’s dissertation someday, but I at least wanted to get these introductory thoughts down.

On the other end of the spectrum, I recently read bits of Richard L. Heldenbrand’s Christianity and New Evangelical Philosophies (1999) in which he exposes the relativism that underlies Nida’s thoughts. He explains the two key thoughts that show Nida’s view of Scripture:

The Biblical revelation is not absolute, and

All divine revelation is incarnational.

Heldenbrand rightly sees the Hegelian dialectic in these ideas. If Heldenbrand is correct in his identification  of the relativistic threads in Nida’s thinking (and I have no reason to think otherwise), Nida’s theory of translating is surely built upon shifting sands. These threads, then, are interwoven into all modern extensions and developments of his theory. How much better it is to see Bible translation as a means of preserving God’s Word, rather than stepping in to mediate it by added interpretation and clarification!

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