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I just completed the painful process of saying goodbye to my family, and now I’m waiting for my first plane toward my destination in Asia. Thankfully, I’ll have only one layover, and then a 14-hour flight to my final destination. This week will actually be mostly a “blank week,” since what I had planned for the week got cancelled. Since that’s the case, I have time to catch up on work and sleep, and also do some site-seeing, which is what I said I would do when I applied for the visa. (It was too expensive to reschedule my itinerary.)

Though I will enjoy doing some tourism, the real fun begins at the end of the week when I fly out to another country in the region to visit a supporting church. These people live in a very poor country, but yet they still send money from time to time, and they pray regularly for us. It’s actually a very expensive ordeal for me to visit them, but well worth it to meet people who have been supporting us sight-unseen. We’ll finally get to fellowship together, and I’ll get to thank them in person for their support to us. I also get to minister the Word with the hopes of being a blessing to them. I just wish my family could have come with me! Maybe another time when our son is fully immunized and ready to travel to such tropical climates.

Then I return to the first country to prepare for a NT dedication. Though I’ve been doing this work for over 10 years, I’ve never been to a dedication of our translations. So, needless to say, I’m very excited to go! Again, I wish my family were with me to enjoy this special moment. The translator is a national, but it’s not his native tongue, so he’s considered a cross-cultural translator. He moved up to live among the people in 1991, and he’s spent his life energies since then learning the language and giving the gospel. Translation work began soon after he got there, so it’s been around 24 years since the work has been in process. Finally, these people will have the complete NT in their hands! I get to preach to them and give a prayer of dedication of the newly published NTs. What a privilege!

I hope I’ll be able to encourage them to get on the right course of an effective use of the Scriptures. As I’ve already posted on my blog, we are working through Scripture Use issues at BI, so this is my opportunity to try to preempt future problems with Scripture use. Here are some issues that sometimes arise after translations are put into use:

  1. Church leaders may refuse to humble themselves to learn how to read their language publicly (they learned in a majority language).
  2. Church leaders may not know how to show the relevance of the Scriptures to the people’s daily lives.
  3. Men may feel that learning to read is for women and children.
  4. Women may feel that it’s the man’s job to read, while she does housework.
  5. The people have a low view in general about written material.
  6. The people may develop a negative attitude toward their own language.
  7. Speakers of another dialect may not want to read in the chosen dialect.
  8. Church leaders may not raise awareness about the published translation, or they may not make the translation easily available.
  9. The laypeople may not want to sacrifice time and money to get their own copy of the Scriptures.
  10. The laypeople may get dissatisfied with carrying two books to church, if they only have a NT in their language.
  11.    The people may not be pleased with the format of the translation—number of columns, font size, etc.
  12.    The people may not like the orthography that has been developed.
  13.    The people may not like the terms that were chosen for key concepts in the Scriptures.
  14.    Translators may fall into sin, casting a shadow on the translation they helped produce.
  15.    Churches may become estranged from the ones associated with the translation project.

Pray that God would help these people overcome these challenges to Scripture use, and pray that the Lord would use me to help them get on the right track. Pray also for the cross-cultural translator as he continues to work with the people concerning Scripture Use and works toward starting the OT in a few years.

I’ve spoken of leaving my family behind a few times in this post. I think this calls for another picture of us. This one was taken in Shipshewana a few weeks ago.

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We were planning on going down to Charleston, SC, for a missions banquet at a supporting church, but the Lord decided to change those plans by sending Hurricane Irma. Thankfully, our friends in Charleston were not greatly affected by the hurricane, but we couldn’t have predicted the Wed before. So, that meant we weren’t leaving that Thurs but instead would stay home. That meant I got a week and a half of my life given back, because we would have been quite busy during the entire trip. What do you do when you are given your life back?

Well, we had worked so hard to get things done before the trip that we had nothing pressing to do last Saturday. Since my mom’s bday was coming up (Sept 13), we decided to celebrate it with her by an all-day trip to Shipshewana. We capped that off with a surprise stop at a church in the area, because the pastor helped me purchase a new porch swing frame for my mom. She was quite pleased to see it waiting for her. I didn’t realize how much that swing meant to her until she sent a thank-you. It’s the one that she had at her home in SC, so she spent much family time (with all of us) on it and did her devotions on it after my dad died. Now she can use it in her new home in MI!

I also got to spend lots of quality time with my wife and my son. Here are some of our favorite recent pics.

What I didn’t expect is that though I had 7 work days given back, I still got behind in emails! I had my urgent emails down to around 5, so I thought I could chip away at the 70 non-urgent ones. But instead, I couldn’t even keep up with the new emails that came my way. Thankfully, I’ve been able to get the number back down to 10, but that’s with writing 30-40 emails a day. I can’t imagine how far behind I’d be if I didn’t have those 7 working days given back! When I fly to Asia for two weeks, I’ll definitely get behind, because I’ll be doing a lot of traveling from place to place: 2 days to get there, half a day to fly to another country, half day to fly upcountry, half day to drive down-country, half a day to fly back to the first country, overnight bus trip upcountry, overnight bus down-country, half day flight to another location in the same country, and then almost 2 days to fly back home. Lots of traveling, but also lots of good ministry opportunities! I’m actually a little fearful of the safety in the second country, so pray for safety and protection!

With 2 days of training next week and 1 day of work meetings (constitution and Admin Group), I’ll be quite busy throughout the rest of the week. Then it’s two weeks in Asia, so don’t expect any blog posts until mid-October.

Pray for good meetings at Bible Baptist in Wakarusa, IN, tomorrow. We are excited to get back to this church, which is our newest supporter.

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September Prayer Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

At BI’s Annual Meeting, we had the privilege of hearing Dr. Les Ollila challenge our hearts. God has given him a way of putting thoughts into memorable phrases. In one sermon, he reflected on God’s call on Moses and how Moses tried to dodge his mission by bringing up excuses. But, as Dr. Ollila pointed, “You don’t say ‘I can’t’ to ‘I AM.’” When God calls, He equips because He’s the ever-present One who comes alongside to strengthen us!

BEGINNING AND ENDING LIFE

 

There have been significant challenges while getting used to our new little family member, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. Eliyas has brought so much joy into our lives! He just passed the three-month mark, so he’s sleeping through the night without a need for food, and he’s responding more and more to us. We considered taking him to Asia with us in late September, but then we decided to wait on an overseas trip until he gets more vaccines. His passport should arrive soon, and then we’ll begin making plans to travel with him in November. Meanwhile, I’ll travel alone to Asia in September & October. PRAY for preparations for this trip: a New Testament dedication (my first!), strategic planning, and ministering in churches.

Eliyas is just beginning his life course, but a dear consultant, Ross Hodsdon, completed his on August 6. After translating a New Testament in Brazil, he joined BI and traveled to 14 different countries, working with 21 different languages. Twenty-three of BI’s publications have his fingerprints all over them, and countless missionaries have been deeply affected by his life, not to mention the thousands of other souls. What an amazing legacy he leaves behind! His translation work lives on! PRAY for his wife Cathy and the rest of the family as they mourn his loss and adjust to life without him.

SUPPORT ALMOST COMPLETE

Thanks to Bible Baptist Church in Wakarusa, IN, our support now stands at 98%. Indications are that our support will be completed in September. PRAISE God! We have one more church trip for this year in September: Charleston, SC, and then Wakarusa (with a stop-over at BJU and Mt. Calvary Baptist). We PRAISE God with you that He gave us safety and good ministry at six churches in Quebec and two in the US in the summer.

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(Picture: We visited Ross & Cathy in Maine in July.)

MINISTRY

We still await BMM’s input regarding BI’s new constitution. We actually hope to get everything settled this month and have it ratified in November. Please PRAY!

I PRAISE God for answering your prayers about wisdom as I prepared various presentations (a long article for India about the philosophy and methodology of Bible translation, a presentation about literacy in Bible times for the Bible Faculty Summit in WV, and others) and led the Consultant Seminar. God really blessed the seminar, with four attendees seriously planning on joining someday. We also had good discussions about Scripture Use (SU) and other topics. PRAY for God to send us personnel to help with our SU plans. Please check out my blog if you are an interested candidate yourself. We still need a new director as well as project coordinators.

PRAY for God’s blessing on our Harvest Dinner on October 19. We will be highlighting our newest translation projects. PRAY also for our overseas trip to Eurasia, Ukraine, and Chad (Troy only to Africa) later this year. We look forward to introducing Eliyas to Oksana’s family and friends and also getting lots of work done.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

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After being away for almost a month for furlough in Quebec (and one deputation meeting in NJ), the work really piled up, and I’ve not been able to catch up. It seems that fairly significant things (including approving two NTs for formatting) keep coming across my desk as I try to get caught up. So, I have to give those things my attention instead of the emails, some of them waiting for me since early in the summer.

One event that occupied my attention was the Bible Faculty Summit at Appalachian Bible College in WV. It was a great time of fellowship and academic challenge as we shared scholarly papers with each other and just grew in our professions and in our walk with the Lord. It was also nice to get to know ABC better. It was my second time to visit but my first time to get a tour. I appreciate their desire to keep things simple but squarely focused on the Lord. My friend, Dr. Mark Ward, is the main driving force behind this summit (though he’s only one on a committee), and I really appreciate his desire to provide a forum in which well-trained fundamentalist men and women can gather to sharpen one another academically and spiritually. I hope to keep attending in years to come! (My main purpose in attending is to network with profs to get more recruits and maybe even to get help with our translator/consultant tools.)

2017.08 Bible Faculty Summit

While traveling for that, I was also preparing for the upcoming Consultant Seminar, which I lead every year. It got off to a great start on Tuesday morning. During the opening session, I shared an article, “The Life of a Consultant,” that I had written to help candidates considering becoming a consultant. They need to know what they are getting into before they get into it too deeply. Then, I reviewed the life of Ross Hodsdon, who had been with BI since it began in 1981. He actually joined BMM in 1976 and then in 1989 he became a translation consultant. He had worked with at least 21 languages in 14 countries, and he was directly involved with the publishing of 23 NTs/Bibles. Ross died last Sunday, and he will be greatly missed. But what a legacy he left behind! And his imprint is all over BI’s material and consultants. Somehow he managed to be extremely productive in consulting while also developing translator/consultant tools and recruiting extensively. Few can do all those things well at the same time!

We focused on Scripture Use (or Scripture Engagement) for this seminar, and we had a special speaker on Thurs-Fri to address this topic. It was a very fruitful time of discussion and learning. Pray for wisdom as we implement these ideas into our current workflow.

We have two more days of seminar, when we will have just BI members and will focus on tools development.

Praise God that at least 2 of the attendees are planning on joining BI in the future, and others are quite likely. (The seminar is always a time of recruiting, and this year it was more so than in the past, since we had more non-BI members than members.)

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After around 3,300 miles of traveling, we made it back safely on Tuesday night. It was a trip filled with God’s blessings throughout–safety in travel, wisdom and support in helping Eliyas, no problems with border crossings, great times with friends, and many opportunities to minister. We have four supporting churches in Quebec, so we were able to report to them, but we also got into two other churches. I thank God for helping me with the French (each speaking opportunity got easier and easier) but also for making it easier on my wife by allowing us to connect to so many who know English. I think there were only a few situations in which someone could speak only French, but there were always one or two to help with translation.

We started our trip on Friday, June 23. We got to have lunch with a supporting couple on the east side of the state before heading across the border to Toronto. The border officer asked very few questions, so it went much more smoothly than I expected. It was a late night getting to bed in Toronto, and then it was a long day on Saturday driving to St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. It was our longest amount of driving with Eliyas–6 hours that took around 8. I’m thankful that we drove a rented minivan, because it let Oksana easily jump into the back seat to try to calm Eliyas or meet his needs as best she could while on the road.

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We really enjoyed spending time with Pastor Claude Jutras and his wife Cecile that first night and then with the whole church the next day. On Monday we toured Fort Chambly with François Rochefort and his family. Because of the 150th-year anniversary of Canada’s independence, it was free to tour the fort.

We did our best to celebrate with the Canadians by sporting some military duds from the past. We also got to march alongside the marching band and the soldiers in Quebec city as they headed to the Terrace Dufferin later on July 1.

Then we headed to Trois-Rivières to spend a few nights with friends, Rob and Becca Spare. They helped us get an opportunity for me to talk about the ministry of BI to some VBS kids at the church they attend. It was such a blessing to see the Spares’ dedication to the Lord as laypeople helping in a small church, separated from family in the US.

At the end of the week we enjoyed a few days of site-seeing in Quebec city. Actually, we probably only spent a few hours each day site-seeing, since it’s quite complicated to go anywhere for a long period of time with a newborn. But we had fun nonetheless.

20170702_195944They we headed north along the St. Lawrence River to go to our church in Rivière-du-Loup. Since I was there last in 2012, the pastor had died, and the church is still without a pastor. But they still had a strong love for the Lord. We absolutely loved the fellowship and also the beautiful sites along the river.

We went back south to the Montreal area to spend a few days with Steve and Brenda Faucette, BWM missionaries in Laval-Ouest. We had great times of fellowship with them and their small church and got to share testimonies at their Wed prayer service. They are currently our smallest Quebec church (English-speaking too), but they are our biggest supporters. Praise God!

Then we headed west to spend time with Pastor Benoit Carrier, his family, and his church in St-Jérome. We ministered at their church in the morning and then at the Faucette’s church in the evening, so it was a busy Sunday. It was a real joy to see David Brind-Amour and his family in St-Jérome. They drove down from their city north of Ottawa, Ontario, so they could see us. We got to spend a few extra days at the Carrier’s house since they were going away for a vacation. It was nice to stay put for a few days!

On Wed of that week, we headed southeast to Sherbrooke to spend the night with Pastor Mario Roy and his family. We also got to minister in their church that night, since I shared a devotional with the few couples who came out to pray.

20170714_081626On Thursday we drove down to Maine so I could introduce my family to Ross and Cathy Hodsdon. Ross is dying of cancer, so we wanted to be a blessing to him. I knew the trip was worth it when I saw a big smile on Ross’ face as Cathy held Eliyas and spoke cute things to him.

On Friday we headed to NJ for our last meeting of the trip. It was not an easy trip, since it meant over 7 hours of driving and many hours of stopping (around 12 hours total in the car), but we enjoyed seeing the eastern states. Pastor Troutman and his church welcomed us so graciously. We hope they will become a supporting church very soon!

Then, we began the trip home on Monday, July 17. We got to spend a night near Erie, PA, with friends Oksana knows from Ukraine (technically, the wife is from Belarus). I’m thankful Oksana got to use some of her Russian on the trip! (She even used it in the NJ church with a lady from Romania.)

Overall, it was just such a thrill to return to these churches that I hadn’t seen in a while to be able to share with them God’s blessings upon my life. The believers were thrilled to rejoice with me. When I went to Quebec last time, I was by myself. But now I’m richly blessed with a Ukrainian princess and with a cute little boy. Blessed beyond worthiness!

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In other news, I wrote both papers for India’s celebration before I left for the Quebec trip. I also finished putting together the PowerPoint presentation for one of our consultants to show as he promotes BI in India. Plus, I just about finished up the Literacy in Biblical Times paper for the upcoming Bible Faculty Summit–all before we left on our trip. I could tell God was working as people prayed, because it all went so smoothly. During the trip I was able to complete a Pastoral Counseling course (as part of certification to become a Christian counselor) by finishing a 12-page paper, writing a Bible study based on the paper, completing a 4-page reading report, writing a self-improvement project, and writing a 4-page course evaluation. God also helped these to flow quite smoothly once I actually sat down to write. Now to the next course: Marriage and Family Counseling.

One other big news item: our support has increased to 98%, thanks to the new support from Bible Baptist in Wakarusa, IN. I’ve been in connection with them since 2008, but just now the relationship has ripened. Praise God!

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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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Dear Family and Friends,

In preparation for the arrival of our son, I read Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Tripp focuses on parenting that addresses the heart of the child, not just his behavior. He makes his point strongly with this statement: “A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable.” May God enable Oksana and me to raise our son with a gospel-saturated focus on his heart.

OUR SON IS BORN!

We PRAISE God for bringing Eliyas (pronounced EL-i-yas) Joseph into this world on May 19! He weighed 8 lbs and 15 oz, and was 22 inches long. Oksana was in labor for 27.5 hours, but we praise God for strengthening her to delivery normally. The timing was not what we had planned, but it turns out that God’s plan was better than ours. Oksana called me to come home at 4 p.m. on Thursday and, after everything was completed at the hospital, we went home Sunday afternoon. So, I missed only one day of the Haitian Creole workshop. I was able to do the second week of the workshop, because my mom helped Oksana at home during the day. Also, we got our first two meetings in Quebec moved into July, so we have a little longer for Oksana and Eliyas to get into a good routine.

Eliyas’ name means “my God is Jehovah,” and that’s our prayer for him—that he would follow only Jehovah all his days. Please PRAY with us in that regard and PRAY for us that God would enable us to lead him in that way. You can read more about the birth story and our choice of his name in previous posts on this blog.

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Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psa 127:3)

God makes a home for the lonely. (Psa 68:6a)

SUPPORT NEARING 100%

Our support increased again this past quarter, thanks to our sending church, Grand Valley Baptist; Lake County Baptist in Waukegan, IL; Calvary Baptist in York, PA; and a family, who are dear friends. Due to some anticipated expenses, our support estimate went up some, so the bottom line is that our support level is at 94%. Please pray for the remaining support to come in this year. During the summer, we will be visiting four supporting churches in Quebec and two non-supporting churches in the US.

MINISTRY

We PRAISE the Lord for giving me a safe trip to Myanmar (consultant seminar), Singapore (two churches), and India (school partnerships). The seminar was a tremendous team-building experience, the visits to Singapore churches were refreshing, and the exploration in India was very profitable. PRAY for wisdom as we strategize on how to move forward in India, which will include another trip to India in October.

We also PRAISE God for His help in writing the BI constitution. The committee worked very hard, and we should have the rough draft complete by the end of this week. PRAY as it will be sent to BMM for input at that point.

The Lord really helped me to stay focused for the Haitian Creole OT workshop in May, and we finished checking 1 Kings and 2 Kings 1-6. PRAISE God!

PRAY as I try to finalize plans for the Consultant Seminar at BI in August. PRAY for wisdom as I lead my department and prepare various presentations.

PRAY also for God’s provision of more laborers. PRAISE Him fo His provision of financial support for BI, though we continue to wait for His choice of a new Director and the filling of other strategic roles.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

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