Feeds:
Posts
Comments

On Friday a consultant submitted to me the Falam Chin Bible for final approval. This Bible is for the Falam Chin people who are in mainly in northern Myanmar, but whose diaspora is all over the globe. The translator, our new director for the Myanmar office, is an extremely hard worker (along with his team). He began his NT in 2002 and finished that in 2009. We quickly adopted the OT project in 2010, and he’s just about got it done. Only 15 years to translate an entire Bible! That may seem like a long time to you, but for those of us who do this work every day, that’s an incredibly fast pace. Our current average for finishing a NT is just under 15 years, and then just under 18 years for the OT. So, that would be an average of about 33 years to complete the Bible. In comparison, the Falam Chin Bible took less than half as long as our average. What an amazing feat that God enabled the Falam Chin translation team to accomplish. Praise God!

The prayer request, though, is that we would be able to complete funding, which has to be done before we can send it to the printer. We still need around $40,000. Pray that God would provide these remaining funds soon!

Last week I exchanged a number of emails with our Metanoia NT team and with linguistics consultants with another organization, and we had a Skype conversation or two. We are trying to figure out what letters to use for the velar and uvular sounds–e.g., like our English “k” and “q.” Metanoia has aspirated sounds and ejective sounds in this area of the mouth, and it can be quite difficult to tell the difference. As my wife was speaking in Russian to the translator, he was giving her examples of words with these sounds, and then she was trying to reproduce them for me to hear. Since Russian and Ukrainian don’t have the same exact sounds, it was almost impossible for me to hear a distinction. Needless to say, we need to wait until we see them in June to hear the sounds in person. Pray for us to have wisdom to know how to help them! We want to get this settled soon so that we don’t have to keep correcting the spelling of words in the NT translation. Pray also for wisdom for us in helping them decide whether to use words based on the language of a neighboring country (which most believers in their area know) or words based on their current country (which most unbelievers would know). That’s another issue we have to tackle in June.

Since I couldn’t go on any trips because of the possibility of a Pente research trip (which hasn’t happened yet) for the first three months of the year, I was stuck at home (which I loved!). That gave me the opportunity to get caught up on emails and projects. Some emails, which I call my “backburner” emails, went back to 2010. I had 62 of them waiting for me! But as of today, there are only 10 more! Of course, the craziness is going to get started up again on Friday, when we go on furlough for 2 months, and I don’t know when things will calm down again, though December looks pretty promising. May God give grace!

We at BI praise the Lord that the BMM General Council ratified the new BI constitution yesterday. We haven’t had a constitution since 1981 when BI was created. Since then, there have been many complex discussions about how BI should best relate to its parent organization, Baptist Mid-Missions. The new BMM president, Dr. Vernon Rosenau, determined that we should be considered a ministry team, just like the other ministry teams at BMM (no longer called “fields” since some teams are not tied to any particular location). Then, it was a matter of writing a constitution. That process began almost a year ago, and now it’s finished. What a relief! What a blessing!

I’m also thankful for the 7 volunteers, whom the Lord has provided, to help us develop materials for our projects. It’s such a blessing to see how the Lord leads people to us to help with the work! Plus, on Sunday I met a Mexican lady who has a PhD in exegesis, is a professional writer, and has a heart for Bible translation. She can help me determine what Spanish terminology to use for our technical documents. And then today, an adjunct consultant in Asia, who said he couldn’t help this year, changed his mind and said he is available to help. We really need his experience to work alongside a new consultant in Myanmar, so I’m very thankful for his willingness to help!

So many blessings to be thankful for!

March Prayer Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

While reading for my Marriage and Family Counseling course, I was convicted by these words in Stuart Scott’s The Exemplary Husband: “Many Americans seem mainly interested in three things: getting things done, achieving personal goals, and protecting their personal space” (p. 48). PRAY for God to give me wisdom to focus more on developing relationships.

COMMISSIONED!

Oksana and I are so thankful for the encouraging Commissioning Service at our church on January 21. Friends and family came from various places to join us in this special occasion. God used that time to strengthen us for the trials that lay ahead. We’ll continue to think back upon the challenge to be “His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10) that brings glory to Him.

favto18-small

We are also thankful for the love gift from that service and other generous gifts that will help us as we look for a second vehicle that will meet our family and furlough travel needs. PRAY for God to provide a reliable vehicle at a good price before our upcoming two-month furlough trip to PA, WV, and NY. We look forward to ministering in 13 different churches. PRAY for strength to be a blessing amid that busy schedule while also keeping up with the translation ministry.

COMPLETING!

We’re very thankful that the BI constitution is almost completed. I have been part of the overall process since 2014 but, Lord willing, it will come to an end later this month.

We are also PRAISING God that the Akha NT with Psalms and Proverbs (Thailand), the Songhay NT (Mali), and the Tagalog revised NT (Philippines) are almost ready to be sent to the printer. I and another consultant worked extensively on the Tagalog NT to get it ready. Using software that allows us to sync the text through the internet, we were able to work in two different countries while also connecting with the revision team in the Philippines. PRAY for the final details to wrap up well and for preparations for the dedication and distribution. Two more projects are nearing completion: Falam Chin Bible (Myanmar) and Manipuri revised Bible (creative-access country). PRAY for the final tasks on these texts. There are also seven trial editions and 16 literacy and linguistics books coming down the pike. We are thankful to God for helping us bring so many texts to completion!

We have begun recruiting efforts in a creative-access country, so PRAY for God to lead us to new projects and personnel. PRAY also as we wait for God’s timing regarding a research trip to another creative-access country and a separate trip to Mexico.

PRAY for the work in Chad, Africa. The OT translators are still getting used to working with solar power, computers, and Bible translation software. Also, our new Chad literacy coordinator is learning his new job. We would like to take on two new projects there without slowing down our five current projects, so PRAY for God to provide a Chadian translation consultant.

PRAY also for personnel needs at the home office: director, projects coordinators, and Scripture Use manager.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

One more month at home

My wife and I are thankful for the safety the Lord gave us during our recent trip to IN and IL. We ended up logging around 800 miles on the trip. We were quite worn out after we got back and needed some extra sleep to recover, but we are glad we went. We got to see pastors from two of our supporting churches, and we spent Sunday morning worshiping with a third, and spending a good part of the afternoon with the pastor and a few others. We also got a ton of free items from Widow’s Jar Ministries, mostly for our growing boy. We are so thankful for that ministry, because they help us save hundreds of dollars. And we need those hundreds too, because we are looking for a second vehicle that will more adequately handle our needs as a family on furlough trips. We hope to get one before our upcoming trip that begins on March 23.

Being at home for an extended period of time has allowed me to get into a regular routine. I’ve been able to spend more time studying Russian, and I’ve been able to keep up with emails better. I only got to 2 of the 64 non-time-sensitive emails so far, but I have hopes that I can deal with more next week. I have difficulty getting the time-sensitive ones below 10 (currently at 14), but as long as I can keep them to a manageable amount, I can work on other things. Soon, I’ll need to prepare sermons and devotionals for our upcoming trip. The original plan was to visit 7 supporting churches in PA and WV, but then it expanded to 9. But now we’re up to 13. It’s going to be a two months packed with ministry opportunities!

I just finished the quarterly report of my department (text production) for the 4th quarter of 2017 (including some activities from January). I noticed that we did 31 translation workshops and 6 literacy/linguistics workshops. That’s a very busy quarter! That also meant that I had to read all the reports for those workshops (not all have been submitted). No wonder I had 100 time-sensitive emails at one time!

As one of my responsibilities as the head consultant, I have to read the latest issue of The Bible Translator. In one article, the author discussed the challenges in translating into Kkmer, the primary language of Cambodia. He explains that there are 16 different second-person pronouns, identifying differences in age, gender, and social status. Greek has only two such pronouns, and they distinguish between singular and plural. Imagine the difficulties, then, that a Khmer translator has when trying to determine which of the 16 pronouns to use for the 2 Greek pronouns. This is particularly challenging when you consider Jesus, the Son of God, who had divine social status, but yet also lived within the realm of human society with its family relationships, government relationships, etc. The author discussed three case studies in John: Jesus and his mother (John 2:4), Jesus and Pilate (John 18:33-36), and Jesus and his apostles (John 15:15). These are the types of things that no commentary gives us guidance on, so we translators are left to work through the issues on our own. Thankfully, though, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and committed team members to work together with.

 

This weekend my family will take a few days off to spend time together, visit my sister and her family, and stock up on baby clothes for our growing-into-a-giant boy. We look forward to some time away! We’ll also get to make contact with three supporting churches: Bible Baptist in Wakarusa, IN; Calvary Baptist in Geneva, IL; and Colonial Hills Baptist in Indianapolis, IN. It’s going to be a packed weekend, but hopefully fun and refreshing–and safe!

The Pente research trip keeps getting pushed back, since we are waiting for documents to be processed for the main coordinator with whom we are traveling. So, that’s given me the opportunity to spend almost 3 full months at home (minus the upcoming weekend trip). What a welcomed time to get into a normal routine and actually get caught up on emails and other tasks! At one point earlier this year, I had close to 100 time-sensitive emails in my inbox, but now I’m down to around 10. Maybe I can actually get to the 64 non-time-sensitive emails that have been waiting for me for a while, some going all the way back to 2010.

It’s also given us the chance to take care of various medical requirements that BMM asks us to do in order to get missionary clearance. It may not be until mid-May that we get these things done, but we are slowly making progress.

I’ve also used this time to try to finalize BI’s constitution, which should be ratified sometime in March, and to establish my department’s budget for the coming fiscal year, that starts on April 1. I think I’m getting spoiled, because I normally have to keep up with all these things while preparing for a workshop and then traveling to do that workshop. In early 2019, I’ll be wishing my year started as 2018, but instead it looks like I’ll be traveling to India and Haiti in the first two months. I guess I can’t have this privilege of being home multiple months in a row too often, or I’ll actually see grass growing under my feet. God gives grace for every season of life!

I wonder if anyone’s ever heard of a two-year Bible reading plan–i.e., reading through the whole Bible in two years. I haven’t heard of it, but I think I am creating it as I go. My wife and I decided to start reading through the Bible together last year, by doing 1 chapter in the OT and 1 chapter in the NT each day (the previous year, we started in Genesis, but we missed the NT too much to want to do that again). We got through the whole NT last year, so we started into the Psalms, while plowing through the rest of the OT for the other daily chapter. We finished the Psalms sometime in January, so now we are reading back through the NT. I’m actually reading through the NT in Greek this year–for the first time! I know, I should be ashamed that I as a translation consultant haven’t done that yet. But the reality is that I hadn’t taken the time to figure out how to do it easily, until I discovered that I could just bookmark as I go in the electronic text on Kindle. My big obstacle was figuring out where to mark my stopping point, without putting marks in my Greek text. I finally discovered the answer this year!

So, we should finish the OT sometime later this year, and we’ll hopefully finish our second read-through of the NT. It will end up being a 2-year Bible reading plan.

But you may ask, Doesn’t every good Christian read through the whole Bible in one year? Many, of course, don’t, but it is often what is promoted and encouraged (some are encouraging reading through the whole Bible in 90 days, while others encourage reading through the whole Bible in a year with two read-throughs of the NT). While I like the idea of getting an overview of the entire Bible in one year, I found that in the time I’ve allotted to do Bible reading, I just can’t stop and meditate very much if I have to read 3-4 chapters per day. So, reading 1 chapter in the OT (with the first few verses being in Hebrew) and 1 chapter in the NT (or for this year, reading as many verses out of the Greek NT as I can) each day is much more doable. I can actually take the time to think about what I’m reading, and even look at some of the notes in my study Bible.

Maybe someday I’ll formalize this 2-year plan and market it!

On a personal note, Oksana and I are enjoying almost three full months in a row of being at home. Even in spite of having to do all the snow clearing myself, we are thankful to be in one place for a long period of time for a change! Speaking of snow clearing, I finally sold off my wimpy Toro single-stage snowblower. On Sunday I finally got fed up with it not doing its job, so I sold it on Tuesday. It took me 45 minutes to clear a driveway that’s 20×60. I was actually pushing the snow half the time instead of letting the snowblower throw it, because it couldn’t handle the amount or weight of the snow. Lord willing, I’ll be the happy owner of a two-stage lightly used snowblower this evening.

We are Commissioned!

We are thankful for the encouraging commissioning service on January 21 at our home church, Grand Valley Baptist. Though I was commissioned as a single man in 2011, it was important that we be commissioned as a married couple. In addition to needing to fulfill a BMM requirement, we wanted to do it so that we could be solidified in our partnership with our home church. We are so thankful for their ministry to us, and we hope the time was both a blessing and informative for them.

favto18

We were blessed to enjoy the ministries of Dave Ferguson (BMM Vice President), Gary Walton (interim BI director), and Glenn Kerr (BI translation consultant) that morning. God challenged and encouraged us through these men, as well as the words of Pastor Dan and the music ministry. The two main messages tied into each other quite well: we are His workmanship to glorify Him and to spread the knowledge of His glory around the world.

We are thankful to be at full support and to be able to focus full-time now on our ministry. Of course, we will need to keep up with our supporters, but we consider that a privilege and opportunity–both to be with churches and to be together on the road. We look forward to 2 months of reporting in the late spring. (You can find out where we’ll be on the “Where are We?” page.)

We are also rejoicing in how God answered prayer concerning the BI constitution. We had our final meeting as a constitution committee last Thursday, before we allow the BI Ministry Team to view the “nearly final” version. I actually wondered if we would be able to resolve some complicated issues during last week’s meeting, so I was quite pleasantly surprised when all roadblocks were so easily and clearly taken out of the way. Praise God! On Monday I shared the new version with the team, and by late February we’ll hopefully answer any questions and be ready to ratify it. We thank God for how He has answered so many prayers for so many years.