For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.   Ephesians 2:10

A question that many people may have asked you is, “So what did you do to celebrate the beginning of a new year?”  And I would love to hear what your answer is to that question.  Right now, I would like to share with you a wonderful experience that I was able to have over this past week.

On January 2nd, I flew in to Los Angeles, California where I was met by Steve & Linda Whitmer and driven about 40 miles to Fullerton, to the campus of Hope International University.  There I met up with my three other colleagues from Pioneer Bible Translators.  For the next five days, we would introduce ten students from Hope into the principles and foundational materials that are essential for anyone who is interested in the ministry of bringing God’s Word to the Bibleless peoples of the world.

Many of these students have already had a short-term experience in overseas mission ministry.  But for a number of them, Bible translation and its support ministries was relatively new.  As the week went on, you could see the growing interest in the students, and the questions they asked and the interaction of them with all the teachers showed that they were tracking with us very well and were capturing the vision and the passion that we have for this ministry.  (There were still many moments of simply having fun together, whether it was sharing 3 foot pizzas, or posing for a camera shot.)

There were so many important topics that we touched upon, (such as linguistics, anthropology, spiritual disciplines, regional area overviews, literacy, community development, and more), that it is just about impossible for me to sum up the whole experience into a few paragraphs.

Some of the things that I specifically taught to the students were as follows:

Phonetics & Phonology:  was that a velar fricative or a bilabial click sound?  : )

Translation Process:  starting with a rough draft of a translated text, you then check it exegetically to ensure the true meaning is preserved, and follow that with many levels of checking before you can finally publish the material.

Language Learning:  I eat part of a banana and ask in my Nend language, “What am I doing?” and Richard answers in his African language.  I repeat what he said and write down what I hear.  Ta Dah!!  That’s how to learn a language.  What fun we have!

Anthropology:  the best way to understand and change behavior in any culture is to first find out what their worldview is and address beliefs at that level.

Now when I was first asked to come and help teach this week-long missions course, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to teach about Bible translation work.  As many of you know, I have had a passion for mission work and especially the ministry of Bible translation for most of my life.  I had discovered what my passion was at a very early age, and even though there have been some detours and side trails in my life, this passion has always stayed with me.

One of the questions though for me and Jill, was whether or not I would have the physical energy to handle the demands of teaching this course.  Thankfully, we had an excellent team of teachers who would take turns covering material that was presented, according to the strengths and experiences that each person brought with them.  (And by the way, if you are reading this: Nathan, Marsha and Richard, you all did a great job.)

I was also blessed in many other ways which made it possible for me to make it through the week without becoming overwhelmed by fatigue or pain.  Regarding pain, the latest tactic of battling it seems to be working, namely the narcotic patch that I wear that gives me a small release of an opiate drug 24/7 over a seven-day period and then I put on a new patch.  Praise God, my pain has been minimal this week.

The other blessings came from the school and their staff.  I was allowed to stay in a Guest Suite on campus that was quite large and allowed me the ability to get at least one extra nap in each day.  And thanks to Steve & Linda, I was able to literally put my feet up and relax in comfort between sessions when I was not teaching.  They moved a recliner love seat into the room just for me.  : )

So how do I sum up such a great week as this past one.  Well, I believe that the four of us who taught the class came in with a real passion to share our “stories” about what God is doing in the world through the work of Bible translation and its supporting ministries.  And as we taught, and shared our field experiences, we were constantly challenging the students to “Discover Your Passion”.  In other words, we encouraged them to find out what it was that God was calling them to do for the Lord, to find out how God had created them to do His good works in the world.  And maybe, just maybe, working with Pioneer Bible Translators will be what He wants them to do.

As for me, I am on my way back to Canada.  It seems I am always on the go somewhere.  In fact, I will be heading to Papua New Guinea in 19 days from now (with Jill to follow) on a 9 week trip to do the consultant check on multiple books of the New Testament (Hebrews in one language, Eph./Phil./Col./Philemon & Jude in a second language, and finishing up Matthew in a third language.)  I may not move very fast any more, but it seems I am constantly on the move.  It’s because God placed that passion in my heart and I know I must follow where He leads me.  I would appreciate your prayers for the work of the next two months.