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Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

I’m sure you anticipated it: Eliyas’ first trip. Troy the traveling translator doesn’t let grass grow under his feet long, and his wife and his son are happy to travel with him. Well, we hope so (regarding Eliyas)! We are still trying to get him into a good pattern of eating and sleeping, so please pray for that to happen before we leave for Quebec next week. We look forward to seeing our 4 supporting churches up there, and then we’ll head to NJ for a meeting with Pastor Troutman and his church.

Eliyas’ first trip was technically to Grand Haven, MI, when my sister and her son were in town last week. It was a good opportunity to take a few days vacation for some R & R and to help my wife more at home (especially at night). I’m not sure how much of Grand Haven Eliyas got to see, since he slept most of the time, but the rest of us enjoyed it (and yes, I know, newborns can’t see far anyway!). Oksana’s first visit to Grand Haven was for our first Valentine’s Day together, so it was nice to actually see the water this time, not a big mass of snow and ice!

Grand Haven

Eliyas and Oksana will get their first exposure to French when we visit Quebec. Oksana has already been exposed to languages she doesn’t know, since we hear them in Eurasia during our workshop trips. But this will be the first trip where I’ll be able to be an interpreter for her, if my French isn’t too rusty. Not only will we really enjoy visiting friends up there, we’ll also spend a few days touring the old part of Quebec City. It’s the closest thing for Americans to see a European city, so it’s going to be fun.

What are some things I’m working on at the office? Glad you asked! I have to write two papers for our India partner’s (BIIS) 25-year celebration later this year. They are publishing a booklet to commemorate this event, and they’ve asked me to write about the philosophy and methodology of Bible translation, as well as whatever other message the Lord lays on my heart. I’m also refining a presentation on “Literacy in Biblical Times,” which I will present at the Bible Faculty Summit at Appalachian Bible College in early August. I’m also putting together a promotional PPT for an Indian consultant to show to a group of Bible college professors in July. Oh, and I’m preparing to report and preach in French in Quebec. And of course, many other things…

 

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Oksana and I are thankful for a blessed time of fellowship and ministry at Bible Baptist Church in Wakarusa, IN, last weekend. We were impressed by the large number of young people who show a sincere interest in the preaching of the Word. We also enjoyed seeing the high interest level of the rest of the church, as well as a wide range of ages. The church had around 300 in the morning and probably a majority of them came back for our presentation the evening. Pastor David Harper has been there for many years, so he provides stability to the church. He said he’s overwhelmed at God’s goodness upon his ministry. We were also overwhelmed and thankful! We also enjoyed some great fellowship as we stayed with friends who have a small horse farm in the Niles area. What a great weekend!

On Saturday we begin a three-weekend trip to PA, VA, and NC. We look forward to reporting to 5 of our our supporting churches. We will cover over 2,000 miles, so pray for our safety. Pray also for effective ministry and that hearts would be encouraged to see what He has been doing in Bible translation around the world.

During the first weekend of March, I was the coordinator for my first ever missions conference, which was held at our church, Grand Valley Baptist Church. The emphasis was upon home missions, though we also had missionaries make us more aware of the needs in world missions. We were thankful to have a missionary going to China, a pastor/translator from Haiti, a missionary to Nepal, a missionary couple in Cambodia, and then Oksana and me. Our pastor gave the main message in the Sun AM service. I was particularly thankful for how excited the kids got about world missions, as they worked hard to complete their “passports.” It was a blessed time!

As I said, I wanted to emphasize the needs of home missions, so on Saturday we had discussions at the men’s breakfast and ladies’ tea about how we can create opportunities to give the gospel to unbelievers. Below are the ideas we came up with. We are now praying about how each of us can engage in these activities so that we could have an opportunity to “sow Scripture seed.” The idea to have this discussion came from an article in Answers in Genesis article, which can be found here.

 

  1. Ask Pastor what programs/outreach you could lead (if you want to start any new ministry at the church, you should speak to pastor first).
  2. Do random acts of kindness
  3. Share your testimony with others
  4. Fill a need anonymously
  5. Join a hospital support group, specifically at children’s hospitals
  6. Volunteer at Love INC (In the Name of Christ)
  7. Get engaged in Internet social media—find unsaved people to connect with
  8. Send e-mails to unsaved people you know
  9. Speak the gospel to your children and grandchildren, spending time with them to teach God’s ways
  10. Talk to people we work with or play a sport or while waiting for a bus.
  11. Get involved in a jail ministry—Forgotten Man Ministry is always looking for people to train and use
  12. Look for opportunities to give a tract or start a gospel conversation as you walk down the street, as you transact business in town, etc.
  13. Get involved in the elementary school Bible Club—Sue Meerman could use some other workers, esp men to help keep control, Mondays at 3:30.
  14. Volunteer at Positive Options (formerly, Lake Shore Pregnancy Center) – women counselors are needed for the girls who come in; men counselors are also needed for the girls’ boyfriends who may come in
  15. Get involved in ministries in our church to reach our own children and others— AWANA, VBS, Sunday School, youth group, etc.
  16. Complete the counseling certification so you can get involved in a Biblical Counseling Ministry in our church
  17. Host a free-meal/ movie night at our church (we can get the church licensed).
  18. Offer to start a free food/pantry ministry at our church. This too requires changes to the church kitchen.
  19. Start conversations or bring conversation around to biblical things with co-workers
  20. Speak to those who come to your home or work in your apt complex—vendors, repair men, suppliers, landlords, telemarkers, etc.
  21. Get involved at GVSU campus—Christian ministries who are trying to reach the students
  22. Tutor at a local school—GVSU, GRCC, etc
  23. Send tracts with your bills
  24. Do free work for your neighbors or others—shovel neighbor’s driveways, mow their lawn, walk someone’s dog, etc., in order to create conversations.
  25. Start a special interest group in your neighborhood, gardening, parenting, Monday Night Football Club, etc.
  26. Give a gift of free food to a neighbor
  27. Host a block party.
  28. Start a neighborhood Bible study
  29. Start a Bible study at work
  30. Help someone who is sick, injured, handicap, abused, needs a ride, etc.
  31. Speak to classmates at school, give out tracts
  32. Organize a charitable event/ yard sale
  33. Research on Craigslist for opportunities to volunteer at a function, help someone in need of goods and/or services, etc.
  34. Meet community needs—cleaning parks, volunteer at special events, help in public school, council meetings, school board, library board, etc.
  35. Join a group of some kind – but don’t overlook those who are most like us
  36. Pray before you eat at a restaurant, and even better, ask the waitress/waiter what request they have and let them know you will pray for them as you pray for your meal
  37. Look for people who are hurting, burdened, struggling, and let them know you are praying for them
  38. Visit the sick or those in nursing homes, or widows
  39. Reach out to veterans on social media or in person
  40. Take cookies or baked goods to those who visit the church
  41. Send out Get Well cards for families in the hospitals
  42. Display Bible verse(s) in the back window of your car
  43. Host international students in your home
  44. Have college students in your home for a meal or host them for a weekend, especially international students who are far from home.
  45. Start a puppet ministry—can post online as well.
  46. Include singles in your home and events
  47. Babysit children who need the Lord and give the gospel to them.
  48. Attend Farm Meetings.
  49. Start an ESL outreach ministry.
  50. Talk a walk with or without a dog to meet others who are walking.
  51. Do the same routine over and over again so that people will learn to expect to see you and may want to talk to you.
  52. Become a regular customer at a nearby establishment or restaurant, haircutting salon, grocery store, etc…
  53. Be a neighbor by doing a kind deed, cut the grass, shovel the driveway, give a gift of food, have a block party, etc.
  54. Show kindness to people/ kids at a bus stop (but be careful with kids since their parents may not approve of it).
  55. Join a baseball game (or other sport) with a group in order to be able to interact with the players.
  56. Check on getting involved in a crisis hotline ministry—where you help someone who expresses a desire to commit suicide, etc.
  57. Get involved in a rehab ministries are very effective since there are very many addicted people in the world.
  58. Develop friendships with unsaved people at your work, school, etc. Pray for God to lay one soul upon your heart and to love that soul through you.
  59. If you are ever at a loss for how to connect to unbelievers, ask the Lord to send them into your life.

 

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Dear Family and Friends,

Having recently read Sent to the River God Forgot, I was reminded once again of the utter necessity of prayer to sustain this ministry of Bible translation. This book is an autobiography of a couple who spent 17 years of their lives learning an Indian language and then translating the New Testament into it. They expected all of the tribe would be present to welcome them back when they delivered the translations for the dedication–but, instead, only a few tribe members were at the airstrip. A second village proved more encouraging but, overall, the distribution was anti-climatic. The lack of enthusiasm was apparently due to the dark cloud of greed and materialism that overshadowed the villages because of the invasion of cocaine lords. Thankfully, the missionary couple saw about 30 Indians come to know the Lord, though they couldn’t help being disappointed that their life’s labor in translation was so tepidly received. Again, it reminded me of how dependent we are for God to work through our prayers for effective ministry in this complicated work!

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TEACHING LINGUISTICS

In May I had the opportunity to teach Basic Linguistics to 14 students at Maranatha Baptist University. I always enjoy getting back to this school and being with the kind and enthusiastic students there. I also taught some principles of linguistics to around 30 BMM missionaries in July at the Annual Conference. I’m thankful for these opportunities to share what the Lord has taught me through the years and to help equip future servants of the Lord. Thank you for praying for these opportunities! PRAY for the Lord to raise up more coworkers and give us inroads into more resources through these efforts.

HAITIAN CREOLE WORKSHOP

In June I led a translation-checking workshop at my sending church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, in Greenville, SC. I took the workshop there so that I might connect with prospective consultants and to expose this type of ministry to laypersons (including kids!) who support the ministry through their prayers and giving. Thank you for praying, because I connected with 10 prospective consultants and had around 35 laypersons drop in. PRAY for the Lord to continue to guide these prospective consultants as they determine His will for their future. PRAY also for the Haitian Creole project that we would be able to get back on track, as we’ve fallen behind in the work, which is partly due to the fact that we were preparing for a printing of a revised New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. This publication will likely come out in early 2015, so PRAY for a warm reception of this work. My next workshop with this project will be in Haiti in early December.

VISITING CHURCHES

I will be reporting to my supporting churches in Pennsylvania in September, so I look forward to seeing friends, many of whom I haven’t seen since I was last there four to five years ago. PRAY for me to be a blessing to them. PRAY also as I will be seeking ways to bring my support–which has fallen to 93%–back up. Let me know if you would like me to speak in your church or in a church you’d recommend.

PRAY also for a profitable time at the annual Consultant Seminar in August and then the BI Retreat just after that. My next overseas trip will be to Papua New Guinea in late October. Thank you for your prayers!

For the cause of Christ,

Troy

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The Lord really encouraged my heart at the recent BMM Annual Conference. The special speaker used Hebrews 11 to remind us of the importance of walking by faith. Another highlight of the conference was to see what God is doing in other fields through our BMM missionaries. Brazil, our most mature field and the one with the most missionaries, has actually come full circle in that the nationals have formed their own mission agency and are actually sending and supporting missionaries to go to other lands. It was also exciting to see what God is doing in a country that has been closed to missionaries for years. Truly God is at work.

At the conference I was also greatly moved as we honored the faithful service of many different missionaries. The BMM President noted that at least 1,500 years of service was represented by those who were honored. May God give me grace to remain faithful for many years as well!

The conference is also a great time to network. I’m thankful for the possibilities I discovered in India and Peru. I’m also thankful that the Lord helped my session on “Linguistics and Missionary Service” to go well. Around 30 gathered to hear the tips I had to offer and to learn more about Bibles International and the need for heart-language translations.

It’s been a blessing to have a work team from my supporting church, Bethel Baptist Church, in Schaumburg, IL, with us for the second half of this week. Three of them are staying at my house, but all 6 of them are hanging out with me in free times. They have come to beautify the wood trim on the exterior of our building.

We’ve also had the privilege of having Lydia Whitelam, a missionary appointee to Peru, visit us for a few days. I took advantage of her Spanish translation skills to put her to work preparing more material for Spanish-speaking countries. It’s been such a blessing to see the Lord provide around 8 people to help me get materials into Spanish and French.

I look forward to multiple weeks straight of being home before I head out in late August to report to churches. I will be spending some time strategizing on how I can raise my support back up to 100%, because it has dropped down to 93%. Please pray with me about this! I’m also spending much of my time preparing for the Consultant Seminar in August. I have lined up a special speaker (Dr. Bob Bell from Bob Jones University), and I have determined what we will be covering in each session. Now I need to get my multiple presentations ready! We should have a full house of current and prospective consultants, so it should be a profitable and enjoyable time.

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In October 2013, I and a few co-workers were able to attend the Bible Translation conference in Dallas, TX. The plenary speaker, Lourens de Vries, was at one time a missionary Bible translator in Indonesia before becoming the chair of the linguistics department at the Free University of Amsterdam. In Indonesia, he worked among the Korowai people in Kombai.

He noted that when he first arrived, the people had no universal term for “humans.” Instead, they segregated people (in their very limited scope of existence) into three types: persons, demons, and witches. The word for persons was “yanop” and applied only to the Korowai people (and presumably other dark-skinned people who looked like them). White people were identified with the “demon” word, because we resembled the demons who the Korowai saw haunting people at night. These night visitors had putrified, whitish flesh falling off their bones. When the white missionaries arrived, they seemed to resemble those demons. How flattering! And if you weren’t in these two categories, then you must be a witch, someone who helped chase away the demons.

It wasn’t until the gospel began to do a work that people’s thinking was transformed (which is what always happens when the gospel powerfully enters hearts!). The people’s thinking began to adjust to the Scripture’s understanding of humankind. No longer were only the Korowai “yanop,” but now the foreigners were too. Of course, this paved the way for Bible translation, making it much easier to translate verses that speak of God’s love for all people and of Christ’s death to make provision for everyone’s salvation. De Vries commented on the importance of church planting making Bible translation much easier. This is not the ministry philosophy that other organizations always follow, but it is the one that Bibles International always adheres to. Either church planting work must precede our Bible translation work, or it must go alongside it.

On another note, Ken Ham will be debating Bill Nye “the Science Guy” this evening. Live streaming can be found here: http://debatelive.org/. Though I doubt Dr. Ham will change Dr. Nye’s thinking or cause the deception of evolution to crumble, this debate may cause believers and unbelievers to question the premises of evolution and be pointed to the truths of Scripture regarding God’s creation. Evolution has a strong hold upon the minds of the majority of people, and it’s presence is even evident among believers who incorrectly hold to theistic evolution. Let’s pray for God to exalt Truth this evening!

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As expected this month has been filled with activities, but it has also been full of God’s blessings. The month began with me doing a Dendi OT workshop in Benin. By the end of the week I was heading to Niger to fly to France on my way to the US. I haven’t said much about my time in France yet. My trip to Africa included a 5-day stop in France and then a one-day stop on the way back. The first stint was the most interesting. I was able to do a Paris tour on a boat on the Seine River with a friend. I’m afraid I was too focused on taking pictures that I didn’t keep up with all that the guide said, but I picked up on some things here and there. I was so jetlagged that I took a nap along the shores of the Seine before continuing on. We had dinner at a cool restaurant along one of the busy streets before heading to our respective places for the night.

The following day we enjoyed touring the chateau at Versailles. We lost a lot of time at the beginning since we had a hard time figuring out where to find each other. It’s hard to do things without a cell phone (mine didn’t work, though I called to get it unlocked!). But at least we were able to spend a few hours there. The opulence was overwhelming, but so was the paganism. The French kings decorated certain rooms in honor of Greek gods.

My time in northern France went much more smoothly, since I was with a friend who knew her way around. We spent a day touring Rouen, walking along its old streets and learning about Joan of Arc. Then we had coffee with friends at a quaint little coffee shop. Very fun! On Saturday we visited the beaches of Normandy. It was very moving to see the beaches and cliffs (see picture) that the soldiers were on in 1944. We also toured the cemetery where many were laid to rest. The tour guide gave us snippets into the stories of some buried there–the youngest soldier, a journalist, a “donut dolly,” etc. We even got to see Point du Hoc, which is basically an untouched battlefield. The large craters from the bombs are still mostly unfilled (except from the erosion through the years). Very moving!

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A highlight of the time in northern France was getting to meet various Christians as we ate together and then as we worshiped together. I got to preach in French that Sunday morning. It was a great joy! I was pleased to see so many in attendance (around 60), but I was surprised that most were born outside of France–a very international membership (the majority from Africa).

On my second time through France on the Africa trip, I spent time with Tim Bixby and his family. I also got to distribute tracts near an international market. Then I toured the Musée de l’Armée. I got to see where Napeleon was buried. I also enjoyed seeing the armory used in years gone by. Oh, and I crashed on the lawn in front of that museum after the tour, since I didn’t get much sleep during the overnight trip from Africa. I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship with the Bixbys before heading to the US the next morning.

A few days after I returned to the US, I jumped on yet another plane to attend a Bible translation conference in Dallas, Texas. The Lord gave me the perspective to focus on the commonalities of those in attendance, though we are from different denominations and have differing translation and ministry philosophies. Most there are born again believers, and probably all are sincere in their desire to help people. They are also wrestling with the same issues that we are at BI. I learned much from the various sessions, made new friends, and found out about valuable resources. It was so much more profitable than I thought it would be! I’ll share one tidbit. I was taught that the OT text is not simply oral text that has been written down. Though the Hebrews had a tradition of the learned reciting the Scriptures repeatedly and the learners saying it back until it became ingrained in their memories, it doesn’t mean that the text evidences being the product of an oral culture. It’s a much more complex situation than that! It was truly intended to be written text from the beginning.

I returned to Michigan for a few days and was able to do prepare for my time at Bob Jones University. I was excited to be back at my alma mater, but I was also quite nervous about speaking in chapel on the following Monday and Tuesday. But thanks to the prayers of many, I had a great calm as I spoke in front of over 3,000 people, and I was able to share the message the Lord had laid on my heart. It was very cool to have been the chapel speaker, because that gave me an immediate in-road into the lives of many students. I could just strike up a conversation with them, since they already knew who I was. I was quite encouraged by the positive comments I heard and by the students’ interest in my ministry. I hardly had a dull moment at the BI booth! That’s also due to the fact that I spoke in 6 different classes (1 Greek, 2 NT, 2 French, and 1 speech pathology), as well as my mom’s homemade cookies at my booth! Time will tell how the Lord waters the thoughts I was able to plant in the students’ minds, as I tried to get them to think about the many roles needed to fulfill the ministry of Bible translation.

I returned to Michigan on Friday and immediately had to prepare for a meeting at the office. I have another meeting tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise, I’m spending most of the rest of the time preparing for the upcoming PNG trip. I leave on Thursday. The translators didn’t send me the text in the right format, so they are scrambling to get that fixed. So far, I’ve only received two chapters of text. Pray I can receive lots more by tomorrow, as I have slated Tues and Wed to prepare. I usually spend a couple of weeks doing prep, but I have only 2 days left for that before I leave. It’s going to be a grueling trip! Pray for strength as this is the fourth trip since early September!

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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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