Posts Tagged ‘Mt. Calvary Baptist Church’

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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We praise the Lord that a couple has committed to taking us on for $200 per month! That brings our support level up to 72%!

Oksana’s and my first three weeks in Michigan together have been quite busy. I set aside the first week to help her get established. We got a good start to that process, but we are still working on that. Today is only her 5th day at home by herself to get oriented to my house. During the second week of August the annual Consultant Seminar, which I lead, began. Our days were busy from 6 am to 8:30 pm. We ended up housing a family of 7 because they had an emergency situation come up. We were thankful to be able to serve them in that way, but that made our life even more interesting.

The seminar was a real blessing as we had around 25 in attendance for the 6 days. Mark Vowels from BJU was our special speaker for the first two days. He addressed the issue of how to relate better to millennials, the next generation at BI. On the second day he spoke about contextualization and then gave us some feedback regarding our short-termer programs. On the following days we deal with NT Quality Checks, OT Translator Training, NT Translator Training, a book study on Job, Discourse analysis, a new linguistics translator training manual, new word formation, strategic planning, and various IT matters. I’m thankful for a good team that helped me pull together a successful seminar, even though I was quite preoccupied with personal matters for the 5 weeks before the seminar.

The day after the seminar, Oksana and I headed north for the annual BI retreat a local bed & breakfast called “The Shack.” BI has been going there for over 15 years. I had been going up by myself for the past 8 years. It has gotten harder and harder to be by myself. As I was getting to know Oksana during last year’s retreat, I texted to her that I hope I never have to return to The Shack by myself. She also desired the same thing. But neither of us thought the Lord would actually work it out such that she would be with me the following year. Praise God for working wonders to bring her here so quickly so we could enjoy the retreat together! One of my favorite activities is getting up early to watch the sun rise over the lake, while sipping coffee and reading the Bible. It was a joy to do that with her this year!

IMG_2570We have two more weeks in MI before we begin traveling to other states. Our first trip will be to SC to report at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, on Sept. 9 and then to enjoy a wedding reception on Sept. 10. I look forward to showing Oksana my old stomping grounds and introducing her to family and friends. If you will be in the area that week, please look us up! We will be worshipping with Mt. Calvary the following Sunday before heading back up north.

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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!



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.


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.


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,


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The first week of the Haitian Creole workshop was quite intense. I probably put in around 65 hours in actual consultation work, preparation for it, preparing English back-translations for the visitors, fellowshipping with the various potential consultants, and also keeping up with urgent administrative matters. I thought we’d get through all of Leviticus, so I wanted to get through the whole book in my preparations. I got all the back-translations finished by Wed, but when I saw that we weren’t going to get through all the book in this first week of the workshop, I decided I could ease up a little bit. At one point I began to get concerned that we’d even get through the book in the two weeks, but it seeming pretty likely now. We have finished through chapter 19, so we have only 8 more to do. We are not planning on meeting Mon and Wed, because I wanted to give the translator time to prepare more material.

I’ve been able to connect with 9 potential consultants. I had targeted 15 in the area, but only 5 of them have showed up so far. But the Lord has sent 4 others! I haven’t had too many observers from the church, but I’m thankful for the dozen or so who have come throughout the week. Pray for God to continue to work in this second week! The church has been such extremely gracious hosts, so it’s made the workshop so pleasant!

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My teaching of basic linguistics at Maranatha Baptist University finished up yesterday, though the students will be turning in homework until Monday morning (and two graduates students will turn in papers by mid-June). I had such a wonderful time with the 14 students. They showed great energy and enthusiasm for the course, so that fueled my teaching. I praise the Lord for helping us through another successful module!

I’m visiting friends north of Rockford this weekend and then stopping by my supporting church in Geneva, Calvary Baptist Church, on the way home tomorrow. I look forward to the worship and fellowship with them and on reporting what God has been doing in and through me the past two years. Then, I’ll head back home for less than a week.

The first two weeks of June will be spent at my mom’s and at my sending church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. They’ll be hosting the Haitian Creole OT workshop that I’ll be leading. There will be anywhere from 4-9 prospective consultants joining me as well as friends and supporters dropping in during the afternoons. Please pray that the translator will be able to finish more material, as his health has not been good recently. He has submitted the rest of Leviticus this week, so I have plenty to work on in preparation. Please pray for my preps!

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Dear Family and Friends,

As I tried to endure the heat during rest breaks on my Africa trip, I listened to an audio book about William Tyndale. His life has been a great source of encouragement for me, and it has reminded me that English speakers were once destitute of the light of Scriptures. In his Prologue, Tyndale writes that “light should be shewed to them that walk in darkness, where they cannot but stumble, and where to stumble is the danger of eternal damnation.” We can praise God for using Tyndale to “give God an English voice”!


After a very restful and relaxing two weeks in South Carolina with family, I dodged the winter storms and headed back to Michigan with intern Jim Wright (with GFA), who stayed with me for two weeks in January. When Jim flew to Texas, I flew to New Mexico to learn about the ministry of Faith Comes By Hearing, an audio Scriptures ministry. They have a wealth of resources to enhance our distribution of Scriptures, including the means to help us create our own smartphone app, so we look forward to taking advantage of their services in the near future to help the non-literate and newly literate recipients of our translations.


In March I was able to travel to my fifth African country, Mali, where I worked with my twelfth translation project, the Songhai NT. It was a joy to guide these first-generation believers, who have been saved out of Islam, through 1 & 2 Peter and half of Revelation. Only one and a half books remain to be consulted. PRAY for the effective distribution of the trial edition of three NT books that should arrive in country very soon.

After spending two weeks in Mali, I passed through Niger to arrive in Benin for my third workshop with the two Dendi OT translators. I checked Esther, Jonah, Obadiah, and Ecclesiastes 1-8. During the workshop, the head translator’s two oxen (worth probably a year’s salary) were stolen in the middle of the night. After searching for thirty hours and not finding them, it seemed that they would never be found.  Surely the thieves had taken them far away during the two nights or had gotten them butchered. The whole village, which has typically been quite antagonistic to this dear pastor/translator, was helping him look for his oxen. In God’s providence, on the second day the oxen were found by themselves in the bush. This huge answer to prayer caused many to become more aware of God’s power. PRAY the Lord will continue to shed light into this small village of Guéné, which for years has been ensnared in the darkness of Islam and spiritism.


This year we are bringing to completion seven different projects (one complete Bible and six New Testaments) for six different countries. PRAISE the Lord that we are reaching this milestone for these projects. PRAISE Him for the funds that have come in, and PRAY for the remaining $40,000 to come in soon.

While we complete these projects, we also adopted three new projects: two in India and one in Eurasia, a new region for us. We are excited about launching into this new region and look forward to how it might open doors for other projects. PRAY for wisdom!

PRAY for my two weeks of teaching linguistics at Maranatha Baptist University in May. PRAY also as I’ll be conducting the Haitian Creole OT workshop on June 2-13 at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, for the first time. Please join us to observe in the afternoons!

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On last night’s program, the words of Acts 13:2-4a were written:

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed…

After drawing a distinction between an ordination service and a commissioning service, Pastor Minnick reviewed the highlights of my 19-year relationship with Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. Though we all wanted to have the service in the newly renovated and expanded auditorium, it wasn’t ready yet so we squeezed into the old auditorium, what we call the “Fellowship Hall.” In a sense I was brought “full circle” since I first visited Mt. Calvary 21 years ago in that old building. I began attending regularly in 1992 and joined in 1996.

After Pastor’s introduction, I was able to give testimony to my call to missions and to BI, and then to review what I’ve been doing since 2007.

Dr. Hantz Bernard challenged the church to consider its stewardship of the Word of God. God has entrusted to the church, the pillar and ground of truth, with the custody of the Word of God (Jude 3). The Church must take its responsibility seriously. And in its partnership with the head of the technical department of the only fundamental Bible society in existence, Mt. Calvary has a great responsibility to uphold me in prayer and in finances. Hantz’s words were both sobering and encouraging. He explained to the church the “behind the scenes”, intellectually and physically demanding ministry I have. At one point, I said to myself, “What are you getting yourself into?!” But then I reminded myself of God’s calling on my life and of the unique privilege I have to help people gain access to God’s Word all around the world!

Pastor Minnick began his charge to me by remarking that it was significant that I would be commissioned into the Bible translation ministry on the 400th anniversary of the King James Version. He magnified the importance of this ministry when he stated that the work of Bible translation actually preceded apostolic ministry. In Ephesians 4 we are told that the Lord gave apostles (and others) to the church, but as they conducted their ministry, they carried with them a translation. The Greek translation of the OT had already been done 150 years earlier and provided them with the Bibles they needed to evangelize the Mediterranean world.

Pastor Minnick tried to get us to realize the significance of what we have in the English language by having us imagine what our culture would be like without the English Bible. He drew a hypothetical picture in which the Chinese have all the resources we have, not us. He had us explore what life would be like in such a situation. Deep darkness!

Pastor challenged me from 2 Timothy 2:15:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15 KJV)

He encouraged me to be a faithful steward of God’s Word both in life and ministry. He assured me of the church’s prayers for me. The missions committee laid hands on me and prayed for me to close the service. Many came up afterwards to assure me of their prayers and support.

So, just as with Barnabas and Saul, tomorrow I depart. I head back north to stay in Indianapolis for a few days before going to a deputation meeting in Kankakee, IL, and a work meeting in Cleveland and then back to Grand Rapids at the end of next week. Full-time ministry basically begins for me on Monday, as most of my deputation meetings will be behind me. I still have 1 more in January and 3 in March. Otherwise, I’m praying that some of the 170 churches I’ve already presented at will take me on for support to complete the remaining 9%. Please pray!

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