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Archive for January, 2017

BI 2016 in Review

Recently I wrote a review of 2016 for Oksana and me. Now that I’ve written my department’s quarterly report, I want to do a review of what happened for BI in 2016 (mostly from my department’s perspective–the Text Production Department). Here are some highlights:

  • On January 12, Dr. Hantz Bernard was released from being director.
  • On February 29, Latoungam Rongmei, an Indian translation consultant who did around 10-12 workshops per year, submitted his resignation.
  • On March 6, Dr. Hye Ree Park was commissioned by her church, Westside Baptist Church in Jenison, MI.
  • In March, Oksana passed her doctrinal questioning and in July she completed Candidate Seminar. She was the only new candidate for BI. (And a mighty fine one, I might add!)
  • In March, BI adopted the Luxembourish OT project.
  • In March, a church in Texas printed around 10,000 copies of the Zomi NT to distribute to Zomi people in various churches in the south.
  • In May, Dr. Lian Muan Kim, an adjunct translation consultant in Myanmar, graduated from BI’s Mentorship Program.
  • On June 5, Susan Hossack, a long-time translation consultant who did around 8-10 workshops per year, moved away from Chad, Africa. She’s transitioning to a different ministry in France, though still with BMM.
  • On June 22, Becky Holub began as the part-time assistant for my department and for the Projects Management Dept.
  • On June 22, Terri Fiebig, our former part-time administrative assistant, died from cancer.
  • In July, Alex Wheeler, a translation consultant based in India, graduated from BI’s Mentorship Program.
  • In July, the Hakha Chin OT project was adopted by BI.
  • In July, Ben Bryant, a seminary student from Shepherd’s Seminary, did an internship with BI.
  • In August, Bethany Boston, a literacy/linguistics consultant, graduated from BI’s Mentorship Program.
  • In August, my department completed a SWOT analysis of our department (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). In August BI also enjoyed its annual retreat with Pastor Patrick Odle as our guest speaker.
  • In August, we held the annual consultant seminar. Verna Stutzman was our special speaker, and she focused on lexicography and dictionary making.
  • In the summer, we completed our Linguistics Translator Training Manual, which we will use to analyze the linguistics of our target languages and help our translators better understand the linguistics of their own language.
  • In September, our BIMS (Myanmar) Director resigned from his position.
  • In September, Isaiah & Rosanna Peterson and Jim & Jenna Wright attended BMM’s Launch Seminar.
  • In November, the Manipuri Bible Revision project was adopted by BI.
  • In December, the following projects in Myanmar were adopted by BI: Kokak literacy, Taisun NT, and Uppu Chin NT (formerly just a literacy project).
  • Around 17 volunteers helped my department in various ways.
  • Primers were completed for the following languages: Dagba, Rito (revised), Sara Kaba Deme (revised), Ranglong (revised).
  • OT Storybook was completed for the Uppu Chin.
  • Scripture portions were completed for the following languages: Matu Chin (Acts/Romans), Sara Kaba Deme (Exo/Deut), and Sango (Matthew).
  • The following Bible translations were approved by my department for publishing: Haitian Creole NT w/ Psa/Prov, Dagba NT, and Warao NT with OT books (17). The Haitian Creole arrived in Haiti in the hands of the people in December!
  • We consultants conducted around 80 translation, literacy, linguistics, and other workshops all over the world.

Praise God for what He enabled us to accomplish! We look forward to what this new year holds!

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Michael Grant, an adjunct stewardship representative for BI, edited three excerpts from the past, added his own introductory and concluding thoughts, and published A Bible for Every Hand and Heart (Xlibris, 2014) to encourage believers as to how we can get more involved in Bible translation. They are as follows:

  1. “The first encompasses all the spoken material of the service held in 1812 commissioning America’s first foreign missionaries, of which Adoniram Judson is the most well-known of the group.”
  2. “The second is a sermon preached in Salem, Massachusetts, by Benjamin Wadsworth in 1815.”
  3. “The third is a sermon delivered by Baron Stow in 1846 to the American and Foreign Bible Society on the occasion of its ninth anniversary.”

Grant did a good job of updating the 19th-century content so that it gives a “modern voice to the material so that it may speak again and be understood by our generation.” He chose these three excerpts for the following reasons:

  1. “Each conveys a deep-seated belief about all men.”
  2. “Each, very thankfully, proclaims the one and only cure for mankind’s guilt and condemnation before God.”
  3. “Each displays a bold, confident faith in the Bible–a faith believing God has authored a Book as eternal and powerful as He is.”
  4. “Each stresses the importance of declaring the Bible’s message to mankind worldwide.”
  5. “Each pinpoints language as an obstacle to this mission of spreading God’s Word worldwide.”
  6. “Each agrees that overcoming the language barrier is a non-negotiable and must be pursued at all costs, whether in personnel or personal resources.”
  7. “Each presents an urgent call to action–to make the Bible available to men in the language they understand best.”

The first excerpt, made up of various speeches given on the occasion, is an excellent reminder of all the reasons why we should be engaged in missions work. I particularly enjoyed Leonard Woods’ sermon to the new missionaries. He lays out the motivations that should move us to action. He writes,

He takes into  account their temporal comfort, and endeavours to promote it… But, when their spiritual interest is before him, when he contemplates the value of their souls and the prospect that the Gospel opens of immortal happiness in the world to come, his deepest inner compassions are moved; his most tender affections kindled, pure and heavenly love pervades and warms his soul. (p. 30)

He gives 7 motives that should move us to reach out to lost souls: “the worth of immortal souls, the plenteousness of the provision which Christ has made for their salvation, the express command of our Lord to preach the Gospel, the peculiar design of Christianity and its adaptability as a universal religion, the spirit of prophecy, and the operations of divine Providence at the present day.” (p. 48)

Samuel Spring’s charge is also moving, especially when he warns them:

Never, never preach the theory of the Gospel until you have presented the practice of the Gospel in your own godly example.

In the second historical excerpt of Grant’s book, Benjamin Wadsworth recommends the Bible as “a volume for the world.” After exalting the many excellencies of the Word, he concludes,

We therefore very justly consider the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God, an invaluable treasure–one of Heaven’s best gifts to men. (p. 76)

He then exhorts us to consider how blessed the world would be if they had the Bible in their hands. He writes,

We have therefore reason to conclude that the streams of widespread goodness will not cease to flow till all nations are blessed with the Word of His grace. (p. 80)

He appeals to us to try to help those without the Word by reminding us that the second greatest commandment should compel us, who “know the excellency of God’s Word and enjoy its consolations and hopes,” to help those who don’t enjoy these benefits. He points us to the fact that the Bible alone gives us knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, which leads us to eternal life, and this knowledge we possess lays upon us an obligation to impart it to the world.

The third excerpt is Baron Stow’s sermon “The Bible for the World,” and this portion of Grant’s book is probably my favorite. He begins by emphasizing how badly the world needs the Bible. He substantiates this point by asking us to consider how awful a condition our country would be in if we didn’t have the Bible. What a sobering thought to imagine!

Stow recommends the Bible as an authoritative standard of doctrine and practice, which is what mankind needs (p. 122). The Bible satisfies our desire to see into the future, and it speaks to our heart (pp. 122-124). Then he explains how the Bible is adapted to the world and designed for the world and concludes,

If, then, the Bible is needed by the world, if it is adapted to the world, if it is designed for the world, why, inquires the thoughtful hearer, has so large a portion of the world never seen it or even heard of its existence? (p. 127)

What a soul-searching question! Stow urges us to realize we are debtors to the world to take the Word to them.

The measure of our obligation is, of course, determined by our ability and by the resources that we have for the effective use of that ability. (p. 129)

Surely, the American church has sufficient ability and abundant resources!

No time is to be lost. The world needs the Bible! The world must have the Bible! Its populations are sinking annually in compacted millions by a starless way to a dreary eternity. Shall we whose souls are lighted by the Revelations of Heaven continue to deny to those wanderers the Lamp of Salvation? We are engaged in a great work and by nothing should we allow ourselves to be diverted from our straight onward path of duty. (p. 131)

Stow ends his sermon by highlighting the immense responsibilities of a translator but also the crucial importance of a preacher to go alongside the published translation, as well as the absolutely necessary work of the Spirit of God.

Grant ends his book with some final thoughts to encourage us to get involved in Bible translation:

  1. “Begin by personally acquainting yourself with the work of a Bible Society.” (He recommends BI as the one to seek out.)
  2. “Establish a friendship with some Bible translators.”
  3. “Consistently follow the progress of at least one Bible translation project while not losing sight of the broader existing work.”
  4. “Financially support the work and workers making the Bible available worldwide.”
  5. “Finally, but most importantly, support prayerfully the work and workers making the Bible available worldwide.”

Grant’s desire and prayer is that “all readers of this book will involve themselves in this endeavor at some level.” I say a hearty Amen to that! May it be so!

You can find out more about Mike Grant at www.treasuringtheword.org. On his webpage he describes his ministry in this way: “We maintain a rare Bible and book museum in Sevierville, Tennessee displaying in an interactive, chronological format the history of our English Bible. We are committed, in cooperation with Bibles International, to providing a conservative, “heart language” translation of the Scriptures for those people groups in need. We also provide Bible study tools to institutions and individuals who are training for the preaching/teaching ministry in underprivileged or mission-restricted countries. We revise and publish rare, out-of-print works relevant to the spiritual well-being of mankind.”

 

 

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One activity that gives me great delight is organizing stuff–putting things in the proper place and attaching labels to find them easily later. I took the time before I left my BI office to do that before Christmas. I filed away all papers and made sure every folder had clear labels. I also got basically caught up on all urgent emails. Considering that I was around 90 behind in the fall, that was quite a challenging task! It was such a good feeling to leave the office on December 23, knowing that I could go back on Wednesday with basically a fresh start–nothing lingering from the previous year.

I also found delight in organizing our storage room at home during the past week of compensation days (which I earned from traveling so much in the fall). I put up drywall so that I could mount shelving and then get everything into its proper place. But before I installed the shelving, I put bright white paint on the drywall and also covered the grey foundation walls with two fresh coats of bright white. It feels good now to know that things that had remained somewhat unorganized for as much as a few years are now in their proper place. My larger motivation was to prepare the house for the baby coming. Since my office will become the baby room, I need to find another place in the house to set up shop. We have a nice area for that right outside the storage room, and that room can function as a place where I can keep office supplies.

Another activity that brings me great delight is reviewing God’s workings in our lives over the past year. I was able to do that yesterday, and here are some highlights of our year on a personal level:

  • Early January started with our final appointments concerning the miscarriage of Salem.
  • We were cleared to travel to Eurasia and Ukraine for 4 weeks in January.
  • While in Ukraine, we heard that the BI director, Dr. Hantz Bernard, was released by the new BMM President, Dr. Vernon Rosenau.
  • On Feb. 2, my mom moved up to Grand Rapids and stayed with us for 2 months until her newly renovated condo was ready to move into.
  • In late Feb and early March I conducted a Haitian Creole OT workshop at the office.
  • During the workshop (3/2), we drove to Detroit where Oksana had her Green Card interview and passed with flying colors!
  • At the end of the workshop (3/4-6), I led a missions conference at our church.
  • Our first deputation meeting was actually on Jan. 3 at our home church here, but then the meetings really began in March. We ended up having 16 deputation meetings throughout the year. 4 of those churches have taken us on for support, and we gained 2 individual supporters. We also visited 8 supporting churches. I spoke a total of 70 times throughout the year in 28 churches and 3 schools. Oksana probably spoke about half that number. We put 6,282 miles onto our car, and we added around 5,000 to two rental cars.
  • We started the year at 74% and saw it go up to 83%. But then because of insurance and baby-needs increases, it went down to 73%. Now, it’s back up to 83%.
  • On April 15 we found out that Oksana’s nephew, Roma, died early on April 16 morning. Oksana flew out on April 16 for a week.
  • On May 19 Oksana passed her BMM doctrinal questioning with flying colors!
  • On May 30-June 10 I led another Haitian Creole OT workshop at the office.
  • In early July Oksana attended the BMM Candidate Seminar.
  • Later in July I began taking courses to become a certified biblical counselor.
  • On July 19 we found out that Oksana’s unsaved father died at the age of 69.
  • Right after the BI Consultant Seminar and Annual Retreat, Oksana and I flew to Eurasia and then took vacation in Ukraine.
  • After the overseas trip we had 2 days before we had to leave for 5 weeks of deputation.
  • We had a week after that before we headed out for another 3 weeks of deputation.
  • Throughout the busy fall, I was also administering a graduate-level Discourse Analysis course to 4 consultants in training.
  • On September 8 we found out that Oksana was pregnant. A few weeks later that was confirmed with doctors, and we were told the due date is on May 11. We are quite excited and thankful!
  • In addition to taking vacation in Ukraine, we also took short breaks in Grand Haven, Chicago, Washington DC, and the outer banks of NC.
  • I read the following 12 books throughout the year: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (John Gray), The People’s Bible (Derek Thomas), Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference (Robert Smith), The Bible Translator (Aug 2015 & April 2016), The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (Rosaria Butterfield), Sticking Points (Haydn Shaw), Pioneer Missions (Forrest McPhail), Holistic Discourse Analysis (Longacre and Hwang), A Theology of Christian Counseling (Jay Adams), What Is a Healthy Church Member? (Thabiti Anyabwile), and A Bible for Every Hand and Heart (Michael Grant, ed.)

It was a good year–filled with God’s blessings and trials. I am thankful that He carried us safely through and look forward to the new year. This year will include:

  • Jan/Feb: Eurasia/Ukraine
  • March: 2 missions conferences
  • Mar/Apr: Myanmar/Singapore
  • May: BABY!!
  • June: Quebec
  • July: missions trip to British Columbia
  • Aug: annual events at BI
  • Sept: Haiti
  • Oct/Nov: India, Chad, Eurasia, Ukraine

May God bless and guide in all our endeavors!

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