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Posts Tagged ‘Scripture Use’

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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At the beginning of the year my department had swelled to 29 consultants. Everything was looking very promising. BI seemed to be getting poised for some wonderful things. But then our director was released, causing me to lose his help with 1-2 workshops per year (not to mention his leadership and support in general). Then, we were informed about a missionary consultant wanting to transfer out. Then, we were told that a national consultant in India wants to start doing another ministry. We added two national consultants in India sometime last year, and we thought that would really help make up for the loss in India, but just this morning the wife wrote saying that she doesn’t think it’s going to work for her to become a linguistics consultant. And then a literacy consultant announced last week that she’s going to be ceasing her work with BI sometime this year. That means we will be down to 24 consultants! Instead of being poised for growth, we are just trying to hang on and keep fulfilling our current commitments.

However, we are confident that God wants to keep this work moving forward, so we will soon be adopting a new OT project in Myanmar. We hired a part-time administrative assistant for my department and the Projects Management department, so that will greatly streamline my workload. Plus, I’ve seen the Lord bring along volunteers to help bear the burdens. A friend just volunteered to take over the development of one of our major translator tools, and another contact has agreed to help me with the completion of our whole Bible topical index. And then there are the friends in France, Quebec, and SC who continue to work on the translation of materials into French and Spanish. And then there’s the son of a friend in PA who is helping me format Book Worksheets. So, clearly the Lord is still working! When God closes a door, He opens a window. Though the work isn’t getting done as I had originally planned, it’s still getting done.

We are also trying to form up a new Scripture Use department and praying that the Lord would provide a manager for that department. We need someone with at least an MDiv (or even PhD) with significant missionary experience. This department will be less technical but will still have emphasis upon helping our new readers make those first steps from receiving their new translation to using it effectively in life and ministry.

We are also seeking to start one new partnership with a Bible college, whether overseas or in the US. We need to keep connecting with students so that we can recruit more consultants and other workers. In fact, our greatest need at BI is projects coordinators and a formatter. God will provide in His time! Meanwhile, we’ll keep working away at our 41 projects in 16 countries. My department hopes to submit 3 NTs and a OT-portions/revised NT later this year. Next year we hope to complete three new Bibles, finish a revised Bible project, and wrap up 3 NTs (one with Psa/Prov).

Isn’t it obvious that BI needs prayer? God will answer as we work and pray!

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The Lord has really answered prayers concerning the various events of this week. I met with 7 other co-workers to figure out what we can do to help the Sango Bible revision project overcome the current obstacles. Though I read many pages for the meeting and wrote a 10-page report about my findings, there was still much to learn. Some of the BI missionaries have lived the Sango project, so to speak–two BI couples lived in the Central African Republic as full-time missionaries.

The project has dynamics that are similar to the version debate in the U.S. (and abroad), but it also has some unique elements because of the nature of missionary translation. This project goes all the way back to the beginning of BMM and beyond. The founder of BMM, William Haas, ran into this language in the 1910s during his mission trips into the French Equitorial Africa. After spending a few years there, he returned to America, founded BMM, and recruited missionaries to go back with him. Years later (1966), the Bible was published in Sango. For many this is the only Bible they’ve ever known, and it’s the only piece of literature they’ve ever read from. But since Sango is experiencing language change, as all languages do, the orthography of the 1966 Bible no longer reflects the Sango spoken today. But as in the US with the KJV, many are resisting the changes, especially in regard to the Sango orthography revisions that we are trying to implement in the Bible revision. Please pray for wisdom and for a heart of cooperation among the Sango people! They need a Bible that speaks to them in their Sango of today.

The Lord also answered prayers in regard to my meeting concerning Scripture Use. I met with a subdepartment head in my department to start laying the foundation for this other subdepartment. We still have much to cover, but I’m thankful for the ground that was laid on Thurs. I praise the Lord for how He answered prayers in helping both meetings to be characterized by a spirit of teamwork and Christlikeness. Your prayers were very evident!

The Lord is also showing His presence in the Haitian Creole OT workshop, though not exactly as I desired, to tell you the truth. He has been helping us improve the quality of the translation (which was already well-done by the translator), but so far the pace has been quite slow. So far we have finished Gen. 7:1-17:12. We need to cover all the way through Gen 25 as well as Psa 11-25. Please pray for us to know how to move more quickly next week. Yes, I want to make sure the translation is accurate, but I also want the Haitians to receive their Bible in 2020 or soon after.

Here are some specific ways that you can pray:

  • Wisdom in knowing what the Hebrew is saying
  • Wisdom in knowing how to render that in Haitian Creole
  • Good communication amongst the team
  • A spirit of cooperation and Christlikeness

I include the last one because you might be able to imagine how difficult it can be for one consultant to defer to another, when the feelings about what a passage says can be quite strong. And it’s not always easy for the translator either, because he has spent so many hours trying to word things just right. We need grace to defer to one another and accept that someone else may have a better solution.

Lastly, praise the Lord that my support went up again this week. Another supporter decided to increase their monthly amount. It doesn’t change my percentage at all (66%), but receiving $25 per month more does help with the bottom line figure that I need to raise. Praise God for His provision!

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Daniel Telfort, the translator for the Haitian Creole OT, will be arriving in Grand Rapids tomorrow. We begin a two-week workshop on the translation on Monday. Currently, he has sent us 28 chapters to work on. He has translated 6 others and hopes to get those backtranslated into French for me to read. That will give us 34 chapters to check in two weeks. In December we were able to check 4 Psalms in one day, so with 10 days for this workshop, we should be able to get the work done. But we will definitely need prayer!

We were supposd to cover 26 more chapters in Genesis, but the earthquake put a large crack in those plans. This project has a stylist to check the flow of the Haitian Creole. His wife died in the earthquake, so that really set things back. He is supposed to check the work before it can be backtranslated. We’ve had to reorder the steps a little so we could get the translation ready for next week’s workshop. The chapters have been trickling in for the past few weeks. Hopefully the remainder will come today or tomorrow.

I’ve been able to work through 22 chapters, so there still remains much to be done in my own preparation. I’ll probably be working on the material over the weekend and in the evenings to stay on top of things. I probably also need to have a few devotionals ready, since we start each day with one.

In the midst of the workshop, I have a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Sango Bible revision, so that we can figure out how to overcome various obstacles we’ve faced. (I’ll be preparing for that today.) On Thursday, I meet with someone in my department to begin developping our Scripture Use sub-department. We are just laying the foundation structure-wise (though we have already been doing many activities in this area), so the meeting is very important. Please pray!

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