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Posts Tagged ‘Harvest Dinner’

We sang these words this morning at my home church in the song “As the Deer,” and I sang those words with believers on the other side of the world in a different language just two weeks ago. In both cases, I got choked up as I sang those words, because I could reflect on how God had been my strength and shield during my travels. God truly gave me strength throughout the trip, even though I had many disturbances to my sleep (traveling through the night on four different occasions, waking up early for flights, and sleeping in less than comfortable situations many other nights), and He protected me from evil (from terrorists, traffic, bad roads, religious extremists, etc.). He was also my family’s shield, though they seemed to face many attacks from Satan. My wife said she didn’t get a single good night of sleep while I was gone (but she’s already had 2 since I came back on Thursday).

My greatest joy on the trip was dedicating the Inner Seraji NT. The translator and his wife began working among the Inner Seraji people in 1990. He married a woman, who also helped with the translation work, a few years later. They had to leave the area because of health issues and the need for more training, but returned in the early 2000’s and began translation work in 2005. Twelve years later, the NT was completed and ready for dedication, and God gave me the privilege of preaching at the dedication on October 4 and praying for God’s blessing as people begin using it. The service was 3.5 hours long, but I enjoyed every minute of it. There were many tears as we recounted God’s goodness through the years. There were around 450 people present, 100 of whom were unbelievers. When the translator and a few other missionaries arrived in that area called “the valley of the gods,” there were no believers. Now there are 5 churches and another Bible study. There are estimated to be around 750 believers, which is slightly over 1% of this language’s population. I look forward to seeing how this number will multiply greatly now that they have good access to God’s Word in their own language.

On this trip, I also got to thank a church in Bangladesh for their faithful support of us since 2009. In Bangladesh, you have to have a police escort with armed policemen accompanying your travels through the country, because terrorists are targeting all foreigners. The situation was rather tense for me to see armed policemen in a pickup truck just in front of our vehicle. Thank God for keeping away any problems! I probably faced more danger when I rode on the back of a motorcycle with a friend in Dhaka to visit a nearby prayer meeting, but thankfully, that trip was quite short. Dhaka seems to be the rickshaw capital of the world, as they share the bumpy roads with other vehicles of all shapes and sizes. This capital city teems with around 18 million people, so it’s one of the largest cities I’ve ever visited. As you can imagine, the traffic is absolutely awful in this underdeveloped city. But one positive thing I can definitely say about the country: I didn’t see a single immodest girl the whole time I was there. Apparently, the Muslim religion at least has that positive influence on the people.

The third major portion of my trip was to gather with around 10 co-workers in BI in another location in Asia to do strategic planning about how to get more projects and personnel in that part of the world. I invited two cross-cultural translators (one from the Inner Seraji project) from within BI to join us for the discussions; their presence among us was profitable both for them and for us. We spent 2.5 days discussing research strategies and ways to connect with Bible college graduates to target Bible-less language groups. We still have a long ways to go in this strategic initiative, but I’m thankful for the significant strides we took during these planning meetings. I look forward to seeing how God will continue to bless these efforts.

When I arrived on Thursday, I had exactly three weeks to prepare for our departure to Eurasia, Ukraine, and Chad. Pray for our preparations during these busy 3 weeks. Pray also for the annual Harvest Dinner on Thursday, in which we will highlight our 3 newest projects in Myanmar.

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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’m still slugging through the Sara Madjingaye translation of 1 Kings. It was especially slow going when I was in the section that describes the construction of the temple. But then things picked up when I got to the section on the various kings of Israel and Judah. It’s also getting easier to piece together the highly literal French backtranslation so that I can actually make sense out of it. Sometimes it involves reversing the order of words in a phrase, but I’m getting the hang of it! I’m in 1 Kings 20 now, so I have around 2 chapters remaining. Instead of moving on to 2 Kings when I finish with 1 Kings, I’m going to switch over to the Dendi translation that I’ll have to check in Benin. I can’t put that off until after I finish the workshop in Chad, because I’ll probably have only 2 days of down time in Chad before I have to fly to Benin. If I see that we are going to finish 1 Kings in Chad, I can begin working in the evenings during the first week of the workshop to get more material prepared. Regardless of how that first week goes, though, I’ll probably be working in the evenings. Often, questions come up during the workshops that I have to research in the evenings, or I have work emails to answer. It’ll be hard to keep up with my other responsibilities when I have two workshops back-to-back all day every day for four weeks! But the Lord will give grace! Thanks for your prayers.

Please pray for the Lord to resolve various issues that have arisen among the Sara Madjingaye churches. Some people are stirring up division, and it has already caused missionaries to have to relocate. Pray that the disturbances won’t affect the workshop, but that they will get resolved soon so that the righteous Sara Madjingaye believers who are still waiting for their Old Testament won’t have to wait any longer than necessary.

Pray also for BI’s upcoming Harvest Dinner on Oct. 18. We still need around 25% for sponsorship of the expenses. We like to get all of the expenses covered by sponsorship so that all money received at the banquet can go toward the projects being highlighted. The projects in the Americas and Caribbean are the focus this year, and the Tenek translator from Mexico will be the main speaker.

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Bibles International recently began the translation of the Bible into Luxembourg. Few people that I’ve talked to about this project even know where Luxembourg is. When they think about the fact that it’s in the heart of Europe, they wonder why that small country needs a translation. Well, the translation team has wrestled with the same issue, and here’s the response they came up with:

We thought about what makes a person Luxembourgish: Who is a Luxembourger? Here is what we realized during the time we analyzed the Luxembourgers: 2 criteria – The Luxembourgish language and Catholicism (religion). The people that speak the language, and live among the Luxembourgish speaking people, that makes them Luxembourgish. A family I know, his father is a Luxembourger and his mother is Spanish. He is Luxembourgish, even if he has Spanish blood in his veins. When Luxembourgers become followers of Christ they have to give up a large part of their traditional identity in Catholicism. In order to attend grow as a Christian they are then required to further give up their mother tongue and get to know God in a foreign language. We concluded that taking away the most important part of the Luxembourgers’ identity, the Luxembourgish language, makes God a foreigner and someone who is not interested in the Luxembourgers themselves. He is a distant God.
Clearly, the Luxembourgish people need a Luxembourgish Bible!
BI’s Harvest Dinner went well last Thursday. We had around 750 guests, the most ever! It seems that all the preparations and the actual event went quite well and that the guests really enjoyed their time. Dr. Gary Anderson, the president of BMM, was the main speaker. He gave an engaging presentation on the crucial importance of BI. Our director, Dr. Hantz Bernard, also highlighted the strategic and essential role we play in missions. Our DVD did the same. What a blessing to spend an entire evening reflecting on the value of the work that God lets me be a part of! We praise the Lord that we raised over $44,000 through the event.
I leave early next week for a missions conference at Grace Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC. I will speak at a men’s luncheon on Thursday and at the elementary school chapel on Friday. I am not sure when I’ll get to present my ministry, but I’m sure I’ll get more information when I get down there. I’ll have many informal times of fellowship and forums to speak to people about the great needs of Bible translation. I’ve been to this church before, so I look forward to this return visit.

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