When I was very young, going to church every Sunday was the normal thing for our family to do. I should qualify this by saying that it was my mother who would bring the kids with her to church. My father wanted nothing to do with religion. By the time I was in Grade 6, my older brothers were in High School and we were not really serious about God. Only my sister seemed to like going to a Youth Group at another church.
My sister invited me the next year when I was old enough, and I started to see that not all Christians were boring. In that Fall of 1972, our Youth Group went to a Youth Conference in northern Alberta, and I was surprised to find hundreds of young people getting “excited about Jesus”. It was at the banquet night, when a girl sang the song “For Those Tears He Died”, that I suddenly found that I too was crying, for Someone was starting to melt my toughened little heart.
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I started to attend this church in Calgary with keen interest and I would listen to the messages each week. Afterwards, I would go up to the preacher and ask lots of deep questions. I also started to read through the Bible to see if the same answers could be found within this Book. For six months I searched for the Truth, and by the Spring of 1973, I was ready to give my life over to Jesus. I was baptized then at age 12, and I committed to making Jesus the Lord of my life.
Within two years, I felt the strings of my heart being tugged by the Holy Spirit as He began to call out to me to walk toward the path of becoming a missionary. I would go to many evening services at church and listen to the missionary stories and I knew that someday I would also be a missionary.
The next step forward in my life happened when I was just 16, serving a year in the Canadian Naval Reserve. The ship that I was stationed on had traveled from Victoria, Canada to Lima, Peru. While docked there, I was given permission to go up to the mountains of Cuzco and visit a family that I had heard about. They were missionaries which our church supported, and they were doing Bible translation work. After spending a few days with them, I knew in my heart that this was the kind of ministry that I would want to give my life for.
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Over the next four years, while finishing High School and entering University, I sought out mission groups and was able to do some short-term mission work with Teen Missions Int’l. I enjoyed that so much that I actually stayed past the summer mission and became part of the staff of TMI, allowing me experiences in Brazil, Honduras, Scotland and doing mission presentations across America.
I became convicted though that my zeal for the Lord did not match my understanding of the Scriptures. In 1981, I entered into Bible College and worked diligently at learning the Bible and being involved in church life and ministry. I found preaching hard at first, but as my love for God and my knowledge of Scripture increased, I found that 30 minutes was often not enough time to express the truths of God.
I still hungered to go work in overseas missions, but it seemed that so few people around me had any concept of what that was all about. There was one person though with whom I would spend long hours into the night talking about the things each of us would like to do for the Lord in missions. We developed a great friendship, even having good arguments too about how life ought to be lived. But our friendship prevailed, and our passion for missions led us to become husband and wife one week after I graduated from Bible College.
Jill and I both felt strongly about being well prepared to serve overseas, so I pursued a Master’s degree in missions, while at the same time, Jill pursued one of her heart’s desires, to become a nurse. We felt like we would make a great team together for the Lord.
Married life and education bring with it financial responsibilities, and so we found that God led us through a winding path of nursing jobs for Jill and church preaching experience for me. And we also started a family in this time with God blessing us with two wonderful sons.
Always the mission field beckoned though. And after some good advice from a friend, I returned to do a little more study of Greek and Hebrew at a Seminary in Illinois, and that is when we found out about Pioneer Bible Translators.
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The moment I met some of their leaders in Dallas, I knew this was the mission group we were looking for. In 1994, we moved to Texas to get the linguistic training I would need. And then in 1997, our family stepped off the plane over in Papua New Guinea and began our five year ministry among a tribal people group there.
In that time, after learning the language and culture, a team of national men and I were able to translate the book of Mark for the people. That is the beginning of what is now almost 20 years of ministry with PBT, first in PNG, then across Canada while our son underwent some cancer treatment, then to East Africa for 18 months, and now for five years of travel back and forth to PNG to do Bible translation consultant work.
This adventure of serving the Lord began 40 years ago, and I find that it is still just as exciting to me today as it was the first time that I stepped out of North America and into a different culture group. I look forward to what the next 20 years will hold.