Posts Tagged ‘Calvary Baptist Church’

Though we are very thankful for “our Enola home,” we are excited about relocating our PA headquarters to Kittanning, where we’ll be through Mother’s Day weekend. We will be speaking in 5 more churches during this last week and a half of furlough ministry. We’ll also get to see individual supporters all along the way.

We are thankful for the very encouraging time we had at Community Baptist in Fleetwood and then at Calvary Baptist in York. Both churches were very encouraging and receptive to us. We’ve also enjoyed welcoming spring into this area. This past week was finally a week of consistently warm temperatures. We will definitely miss getting to take evening walks along the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg.


After doing a lot of reading about translation philosophy, I finally cranked out a rough draft of a lecture on it for the Bible translation course. Though scholarship is moving beyond functional equivalence (formerly called dynamic equivalence), this is still the prevalent philosophy in textbooks and the majority of the last translations. So, my lecture focuses on essentially a comparison of BI’s philosophy and functional equivalence. I really appreciated the critical analyses that are available to help me think through the issues, but probably my favorite analysis was done by Vern Poythress in Translating Truth. His article is called “Truth and Fullness of Meaning.” His main point is that functional equivalence has essentially reduced the translation process to a scientific process. This is evident even in the title of his first book, Toward a Science of Translation. He took the advances in linguistics, especially in regard to grammar studies (e.g., generative grammar by Noam Chomsky), and applied them to the task of Bible translation. The process he proposed is one of analysis, transfer, and restructuring, by means of kernel analysis and transformations, in order to produce the proper reader response to the resulting translation. As Poythress explains, this process is too reductionistic, even though Nida does give some explanation of the artistic aspects as well. Like Poythress, I am thankful for the analytical tools that Nida has provided in the theory he advanced, and I also recognize that Nida cannot be held responsible for those who have taken his theory further than he intended it to go. But I really appreciate Poythress helping me to see that translation is much more than a scientific process; it’s an art and a science. Also, the meaning of the biblical texts cannot be discovered simply by linguistic analysis. The transfer to other languages is much more than the transformation of underlying kernels into new forms in the target language. We also depend upon God’s Spirit to guide us, and we bow in humble recognition that some passages elude even our best efforts at trying to discover the meaning.

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It’s been since before our Eurasia workshop that I updated our blog. Life has been a blur since that point and is just now calming down. I was extremely busy during the workshop, as usual, but instead of preparing more text for the workshop, I was compiling the dictionary, studying the grammar, or preparing devotionals that would cover hard passages that were coming up. I’m thankful the Lord gave me the latter idea, because it prepared me and the team well for working through the passage during the workshop. I’m thankful that we covered more material than in the last workshop, but we are still very far from doing 130 verses per day. Maybe we’ll never get to that pace, since I have to work through an interpreter (Oksana), but hopefully we can get close so that we can finish this NT in 10 years.

After the workshop we flew to Ukraine to spend 11 days of vacation. Oksana had a few less doctor’s appointments, so she had a more restful time in Ukraine, and so did I. We were able to minister at a church in a nearby village one Sunday and then in her home church the following Sunday. We also enjoyed fellowship with family and friends.

When we got back to the US, we had two days to unpack and get ready for a deputation/furlough trip that would last 5 Sundays. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Faith Baptist in Lebanon, PA. Pastor Burggraff and his church received us very well, and we received a very generous love offering. On Wednesday, we went to our supporting church, First Baptist, across town so we could be with the Fernetts and the dear people there.

The following week we took a few compensation days to visit Washington DC and spend time with friends at a vacation house on the outer banks of NC. I carried my work to each of these places, but at least we got to spend a few hours here and there learning about the US and enjoying God’s creation.

We really enjoyed our time at Keystone Baptist in Berryville, VA, with Pastor Wright and his church. We spent all day with them, and at the end of the day Pastor Wright assured us that his church would eventually begin supporting us. Praise the Lord! A week or so earlier, we had heard that Peoples Baptist in Frederick, MD, would also soon take us on for support. Plus, a friend in SC began supporting us a week later, so with all three of these additions, we might be up to 84%. Praise God!

After being in Berryville, we drove down to Greenville, SC, to be part of BJU’s Global Opportunities Week. The Lord greatly blessed our visit there. I was quite busy with speaking in 7 different classes (3 of which required that I make new presentations) and in 3 other opportunities, but God also worked in hearts. We were able to make 14 new connections and renewed contact with 4 others. Pray that the interest the students showed was not just a passing thing.

At the end of the week we drove back up to PA for meetings at Calvary Baptist in York and then Calvary Baptist in Elkins Park. The people at York were extremely generous toward us; we received the largest love offering that we’ve been given in a while. They seem to be quite likely to take us on for support. We also popped over to NJ for a few days to be with Pastor Troutman and his people at Heritage Baptist, where we had a great meeting in July. They also really like our ministry.

We finally got to go home that following Monday, Oct 17. That week was restful but not the normal routine all week, since BI’s Harvest Dinner took place on Thursday. We are thankful for the 500+ guests who joined us and for the $40,000+ they gave toward our 7 projects in Chad and CAR. All of those projects are within 2-5 years of completion, so when I was leading the offering portion of the service, I challenged people to consider standing alongside the translation teams until they get to the finish line. Pray that many will!

We are now in WI for a meeting at Harmony Baptist in Beaver Dam next Sunday. We originally had a meeting planned in Huntley, IL, but that church disbanded. But since we already planned some chiropractic appointments for Oksana and a day of recruiting at Maranatha, we came anyway. The appointments have been very helpful, and the recruiting was mediocre. We’ll be hanging out on campus throughout the week, so we’ll see if we can make more connections.

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I’ve been very delinquent in my blog posts! I apologize to those who read my blog regularly and have been disappointed to find nothing since Dec. 17. Life has been pretty crazy since then, but I’m sure I could have carved out a few minutes if I really wanted to.

The last half of December was somewhat of a blur primarily because of Oksana’s miscarriage. We found out on December 14 that she lost the baby. We met with an Ob-Gyn doctor on December 17 to find out that Oksana needed to have a surgical procedure done to clean out her body. Oksana had an ultrasound done on December 21 and were told that she may have had a molar pregnancy. Surgery was set for the 23rd. It was not an easy day, especially when I heard an emergency call while waiting for her in the waiting room. The call said “emergency response team needed!” Thankfully, I found out when I went to see her that the team was not needed for her!

After they tested the tissue from the surgery, they determined that she definitely had had a partial molar pregnancy. Our hearts were heavy, because we thought that meant no more children and also the possibility of cancer.

Oksana’s first few days after the surgery went well as she progressively got better. We had a very enjoyable Christmas together–our first Christmas as a married couple. But then she started feeling worse and worse over the weekend. By Monday, Dec. 29, it became clear that she needed to be taken to the emergency room. Apparently, not all of the tissue had come out, so her body was fighting to get rid of it by bleeding it out. It was not easy to see my wife suffering as she was. Plus, we were both concerned about what it might mean. To top it all off, the weather was terrible that Monday night–howling winds, snow-covered roads, and a wintery mix coming down. The snow plows weren’t able to keep up with the precipitation. People had been let out of work early to avoid the danger, and here I had to drive d0wntown in the midst of it! But thankfully, we arrived safely.

The ER personnel were able to get Oksana stabilized and comfortable, and the doctor who visited us assured us that everything was OK. The surgery took place early the next morning, and by late morning we were on our way home.

Oksana began recovering quite well again. In fact, she had such little bleeding that we wondered if that were a bad sign. We met with the surgeon the following Monday and found out that everything seemed to be going as it should. We had been concerned that we wouldn’t be able to leave for Ukraine the following Tuesday, January 5, but the doctor assured us that the second surgery was quite successful. So, we headed to Ukraine on January 5!

While in Ukraine, she saw many of the doctors that she had seen in the past. She also got blood tests done to make sure her HCG level was dropping, and she got an MRI and a few other things done. The quality of the care in Ukraine is quite good, and the costs are only a fraction of what they are in the USA. It was an extremely busy vacation for us, especially for Oksana, but we are thankful that we got almost all medical things done. We’ll need to follow up with other appointments here in the US.

On January 16, we flew to a country in Eurasia for a workshop, and we had a “scare” happen only a few days later. Oksana began bleeding again, causing us to wonder if we’d need to seek out help in this foreign country where we knew very few people. That night, though, Oksana and I turned it over to the Lord, and then we asked the translators to pray the next morning. The Lord healed her body and gave her such peace that she almost forgot she had anything to be concerned about. Praise God!

(After we returned to the US on Sunday, she had a blood test done. On Tuesday we received a very welcomed phone call–her HCG level had dropped to the normal level, indicating that she doesn’t have cancer. What a blessing!)

This allowed us to focus on the workshop. The first half of the workshop was taken up with a linguistic study of the target language. I had to study a related language in the region, which is extremely complicated, but the Lord gave me grace to understand both how that language works and how the target language works–to some extent. I would ask them about a particularly syntactical issue and then we would look at examples in the translated text they had completed. Then, I would write down my observations. This language has no books written in it, so the written form is not standardized at all. In fact, at the workshop we were trying to finalize what letters they want in their alphabet. It was exciting to help this language group standardize their language so that they can eventually have a quality NT translation. Seeing God’s grace enable me to help them was confirmation to me that I’m right where God wants me to be.

And seeing how God enabled Oksana to help me with her Russian translation was confirmation that God had brought to me the right girl to be my wife. It was my first time to do this type of workshop, and I found that it works better to explain the concept I wanted to teach to Oksana first before she could translate it bit by bit to the team. Normally, when I use an interpreter, I just do sentence by sentence, but that doesn’t work so well for this type of workshop. Oksana’s knowledge of Russian grammar really helped me too. And sometimes, when we were working through the biblical text, she would see something I had missed. What a blessing to see God’s infinite wisdom in leading Oksana and me to each other and to this project!

It was also confirmation for the translation team. They really enjoyed studying the linguistics and grammar of their language, and they appreciated greatly knowing how their language works from a technical viewpoint. They assured me that it would help them produce a better translation. They also expressed great appreciation for having chosen BI to help them with their project. Praise God!

Now I have only 3 weeks to prepare for a Haitian Creole workshop, which will take place here at the BI office. But I also need to catch up from weeks of being overseas or at home trying to help my wife while also getting ready for the Eurasia workshop.

Pray also for my church’s missions conference in early March, especially since I’m the coordinator. The conference begins the day that the Haitian Creole workshop ends. It’s going to be a busy month!

BTW, I thank God for leading Grand Valley Baptist Church to become our sending church. This happened while we were in Eurasia. They will also start supporting us monthly. We are also thrilled that Calvary Baptist Church in Clymer, PA, decided to start supporting us, and my former home church in SC, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, increased their monthly support. We now have 81% of our needed support. We have 17 meetings this year, 11 of which are at non-supporting churches, so we pray the remaining support will come in this year.

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Oksana and I thank the Lord for all the safety He gave us in our travels this month. According to the expense report that I’ve been working on for Sept and Oct, we traveled over 5,000 miles for ministry purposes. Now we get to rest our vehicle and ourselves for a few months! Only one meeting November, but it’s just an hour away from home.

We thank the Lord for His grace in the midst of stress on Sunday morning at Calvary Baptist Church in Geneva, IL. We showed up to the church late and hadn’t informed them ahead of time that we wanted to show a PPT presentation. Sometimes, that’s not a problem, because the church tech guy can just help get things set up quickly, but on this occasion the tech guy was delayed at home by around 15 minutes because of a surprise visit by his son and daughter-in-law. I have quite a bit of experience with church A/V systems, but this one stumped me. After trying various ways to get my presentation to show up, I finally figured something out. But even with that working, the picture was skewed to the right and my remote persisted in not working every time I wanted it to. On top of all that, in the midst of the chaos I set my Bible down at the end of the last pew and then forgot where I put it. When it was time for SS to start, I couldn’t find my Bible anywhere. I determined that I had just left it at the house I was staying at the night before (30 minutes away), so I figured the only thing I could do was preach from my computer and use my Kindle for a Bible. God enabled me to do that, and apparently the Spirit still worked, because I received some positive comments afterwards. I thank God that He overcame my stressful and scatter-brained state to speak through me! (And I found my Bible just before I left the church that afternoon…sitting right where I put it!)

After all that chaos, I definitely welcome some normalcy and routine at home. It’s so nice to wake up each morning, knowing where the bathroom is and where I can make a good cup of coffee. We loved being with friends on the road, but there’s no place like home! Ahhh!!!

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We’ve enjoyed doing another road trip this week. We started off at Bethel Baptist Church in Schaumburg, IL, where we spoke in an Adult Bible Class, Compass (5th and 6th graders’ church), the Sun PM service, and Schaumburg Christian School chapel on Monday. Since my family attended this church for 14 years (1984-1998) and since I graduated from the school, this ministry has always been very special to me. It was a privilege, then, to be back and to be able to bring my wife with me. They rejoiced with us in God’s answer to prayer. On Sunday night they had a church fellowship, and they surprised Oksana and me by doing it in honor of our wedding. They gave us a wedding cake and asked us to cut it and feed it to each other (and jam it in each other’s faces…which we gladly did). They also showered us with gift cards and money. What a joy to be with our friends and to see the outpouring of their love!

On Tues-Wed we spent time recruiting at Maranatha Baptist University. The Lord orchestrated things for us to be able to give a word about our ministry in Tues chapel, Tues night Missionary Prayer Group, and 2 Greek classes on Wed. We also got to speak for 30 minutes about culture shock in Introduction to Missions. We are very thankful for the opportunities to speak with students. We are especially thankful for the 3-4 who had a strong interest in joining our ministry someday. We also got to talk to two pastors about future deputation meetings.

The rest of the week we are hanging out at Bethel Baptist in Schaumburg as we await our Sunday meeting at Calvary Baptist Church in Geneva. We are looking forward to being with that church!

At the beginning of last week, Pastor Collard informed me that his church, Faith Baptist in Pekin, IL, voted to send the majority of the funds Oksana and I needed for the Eurasia trip. What a blessing! We had already received $75, and then two supporters said to let them know if we have any more needs because they want to help. God has provided!

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I’m now into my 6th and final week of this trip to visit churches. It’s been a trip filled with the Lord’s blessings at every turn. It’s not always easy to go from place to place and have to meet so many new friends, but always by the end of the visit, I feel like I’ve gained some good, long-term friends. I did another church picnic, this one being in the Fleetwood area. By the end of the evening, the people at Community Baptist Church had become people I really wanted to hang out with more. Thankfully, we had that opportunity when I reported and ministered the Word all day the next day at their church.

I headed toward the Pittsburgh area to be with Fellowship Baptist Church and the dear people there. I enjoyed spending time with two different families during the week. I even got to hang out in downtown Pittsburgh for a day. God has given me beautiful weather for most of this trip, so it’s been fun to put the windows down and open the moon roof in my Ford Escape and enjoy whizzing along up and down the windy, hilly roads of the Penn hills. Fellowship really wants to take me on for support, but they are just waiting on the Lord’s timing.

This past Saturday I went back toward the east to be with the believers at Calvary Baptist Church in Clymer, PA. I hadn’t been here since 2008 when I was on deputation. I was so encouraged by Pastor Jeffers’ comments just before I got up to preach in the AM service. He said that I was the kind of missionary whom he wished the church had taken on the first time but didn’t. He doesn’t want to miss this second opportunity, so he recommended me to the church. What a great way to be introduced! Plus, I was greatly strengthened by the non-verbal feedback I got from the congregation. You could tell they have a heart for the Word and the Lord by the looks in their eyes. Plus, they gave very positive comments after each service.

I have one more meeting for this trip, and it’s at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Mechanicsburg. Pray for the Lord to work in hearts, and ask Him to give me stamina to make it through this last week of travels.

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When I began this furlough trip, I thought I could somehow still maintain a fairly regular work routine of getting on my computer to keep up with correspondence (in the office I send around 30-40 emails per day and read even more than that). After a few weeks of struggling but failing to achieve that, I’ve finally accepted that furlough travels demand a great deal of flexibility. Sometimes I stay in homes that have no internet, but thankfully I can pull out a book to read for ministry. But then there are the times of fellowship that are very important to this trip. And then there are the unusual opportunities that come up–playing volleyball and ultimate frisbee at a church picnic (Duryea, PA), playing softball at a weekend men’s retreat (Elkins Park, PA), making dinner with the pastor for his family (Reading, PA), speaking in a school’s chapel (Berryville, PA), and getting dessert after church with a new friend (Frederick, MD). I have totally given up on trying to make sure I get at least 40 hours worth of work in each week (I’m pretty sure I am logging more than that)! But I’m thankful for the joy that the Lord has given as I’ve served Him on this trip and for the peace He’s given when I’m not able to keep up with the BI tasks that come my way. I’m actually just barely keeping up, but I’m definitely not getting ahead!

On the other hand, I finally had a number of quiet hours strung together that allowed me to finish two translation helps for translators who work on Habakkuk. At BI we like to prepare a “BI Model” of each book, which can serve as a “consultant-on-paper” when we are not able to be present. It guides them through difficult structures and other complexities in the biblical text. I picked Habakkuk, because it’s short so I thought I’d get through it rather quickly. I quickly came to discover that though it’s short, it’s not easy in Hebrew!

One thing I learned about the book concerned the key verse:  “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” The verse is beset with various complexities, but the most significant one in my mind is how to translate the word “faith.” The word could refer to a person’s trust (faith) or to his trustworthiness (faithfulness). I advised that though many versions use the latter idea (NIV, NET, NLT, CEB), the former is preferred because the more significant versions use it (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, RSV, NRSV). Actually, both ideas are probably in view here, since a person who trusts in God will also be a trustworthy person, because he will live according to God’s Word. This double meaning is probably in view in Heb. 10:35, where Hab. 2:4 is quoted. The idea of trusting is the meaning when Paul quotes it in Rom. 1:17 and Gal. 3:11, where the emphasis is on being justified by believing in God. In order to maintain the connection between all these passages, it would be better to translate Hab. 2:4 with “faith.” (By the way, I also learned that the supposed root meaning of “firmness”, as suggested by older works like Keil and BDB, is not quite as easy to prove as I was taught. Some believe that we should look to other Semitic languages to determine the root meaning, but one scholar noted that the Hebrew verb was probably used earlier than the other languages began using their similar words. Rather than looking for a common root idea behind the words in this group, it’s better to look at the usage of each word in the Hebrew text, which itself is not straightforward. In various cases it means “trust” and in others it means “trustworthiness.”)

I have also had time to do some reading in a book that is highly recommended for BI translation consultants. It’s The English Bible from KJV to NIV by Jack P. Lewis. It’s somewhat dated since Lewis published it in 1981 and then again in 1991, but it has a wealth of information. Lewis has PhD degrees from Harvard and Hebrew Union College. His book is positively reviewed by Bruce M. Metzger and D. A. Carson. Lewis has compiled a wealth of objective information on the major translations up to the NRSV.

I was particularly struck by various comments he made about the KJV. I was already familiar with various archaic uses of certain words: “meat” for “food”, “conversation” for “lifestyle”, “prevent” for “come before”, “suffer” for “permit”, etc. But I didn’t know just how many word meanings had changed, and I realized I wasn’t actually detecting the change in all cases as I use the KJV. I didn’t realize that “wealth” actually meant “welfare” in certain passages (e.g., 1 Cor. 10:24), nor that “wealthy” meant “happy” rather than “rich” (e.g., Psa. 66:12). “Advertise” meant “advise” (e.g., Ruth 4:4), “apparently” and “evidently” meant “clearly”, “sometimes” meant “formerly” not “occasionally”, “by and by” and “presently” meant “at once”, “instantly” meant “earnestly”, “anon” meant “immediately” and not “after a time”, and “comprehended” meant “overcome” (Jn. 1:5). “Virtue” had a broader meaning than it does today, but I was probably focusing on the modern-day meaning and misunderstanding “virtuous woman” in Prov. 31:10 (until I learned Hebrew!). I didn’t know the words “minish”, “astonied”, “clift”, or “pranse.” I didn’t comprehend that when Paul said “I know nothing by myself”, he meant “against myself” (1 Cor. 4:4). I misunderstood the Pharisee when he said, “I gave tithes of all that I possess”, when he actually meant “all I acquire” (Luke 18:12). One misunderstanding that I did catch, though, is how many Christians speak of Jesus’ “broken body,” but that’s based on a textual reading of 1 Cor. 11:24 that contradicts John 19:36 which says “a bone of him shall not be broken.” Another misunderstanding that has become quite firm in the Christian tradition is reflected in the song, “In the Sweet By and By.” As I noted above, “by and by” means “immediately”, not “afterwards” or whatever the song is communicating. Another song issue is “Are you washed in the blood?” which is based solely on a minority reading in Revelation 1:5 (“washed”), though other manuscripts have “loosed.” Lewis points out that this is the only possibly place where persons are spoken of being washed; elsewhere, it is the saint’s clothes that are washed in the blood (e.g., Rev. 7:14). I could go on, but I’ll stop here. Lewis’ book is well-worth a reading for those who, like me, have grown up on the KJV. We need to understand what we are reading!

Back to deputation/furlough activities…. I had a great time at Calvary Baptist in Elkins Park, PA, last week on Wed. I really enjoyed reconnecting with that church. I was also able to have a meeting with a Pakistani man who wants to get the Bible into Punjabi, his mother tongue. We’ll see where the Lord takes that possibility! Last Sunday I reported at Calvary Baptist in Lancaster, PA, and enjoyed being back with Pastor Jewers and his congregation. I swung by Harvest Bible Church in the evening to reconnect with friends and then returned to Calvary for a Sunday evening cookout. On Monday I headed down to Frederick, MD, to spend time with Pastor Ramler and other friends at People’s Baptist Church. I continued farther south and west to Berryville, MD, on Thursday to see Pastor Wright and his people at Keystone Baptist Church. I enjoyed speaking in the school’s chapel this morning.

Tomorrow I head back to PA to be with Community Baptist Church in Fleetwood. I get to enjoy another church picnic tomorrow and then will take all the services on Sunday. It’s been a joy to reconnect with so many friends!


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