How It All Began

When I tell people that I am a Bible translator, they often ask me if I am a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators.  That’s not unusual since WBT is the single largest Bible translating organization in the world and has been around for over 80 years now.  So I respond, “No, I’m with a smaller group called Pioneer Bible Translators.”  And you can read here about how PBT first got started in the States back in the ‘70s.

When I say I am with PBT of Canada, then people want to know how it began.  This is a great story and I love to pass it on.  It goes back to the early 90’s when Jill and I were seeking direction from God as to how we could be involved in the overseas ministry of Bible translation.  Ever since I was a teenager I was interested in becoming a translator.

In 1990, Jill and I attended a month long orientation course in California put on by Wycliffe which allowed us to see what they were like and they could get to know us.  That course confirmed for me that this is what I wanted to do as a ministry.  At the end of the course, the recommendation was that Jill and I stay settled a little longer in Canada, get our debts reduced and strengthen our marriage before we head to the mission field.

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So we spent the next couple years doing pastoral ministry in Central Canada and worked on all the things we were told to be working on.  We got to the point where it looked like the timing was right to move ahead with our application with Wycliffe.  We sent in all our paper work, but we didn’t hear back from them.  So life carried on and our family by this point in 1993 was in Prince Edward Island in the Maritimes of Canada.

In talking with a good friend at that time, the question came up about whether I was going to go into mission work.  The desire was there, but the timing wasn’t right.  But from that discussion the door opened to pursue my biblical languages again and we moved to Lincoln, IL.  I loved the Greek and Hebrew studies.  And then someone introduced me to one of the staff of the school who just happened to be on the Board of Pioneer Bible Translators.

After having a good discussion with this man, he invited me to drive with him to Dallas to attend their Fall Board meeting.  For a period of four days, I heard all about what PBT was and what they were doing in the world.  My interest in Bible translation was then fanned from a small ember into a blazing fire.  When Jill asked me when I got back as to what I thought, I said, “Start packing.  We’re going to Dallas.”

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In September of 1994, I began my two years of linguistic studies, mostly in Dallas, but also one summer in North Dakota.  Part of PBT’s training was to attend two one-week courses held each June to get more familiar with PBT and get ready for field ministry.  We took our second course in 1995.  At that time, the Board also met to make decisions for the mission.  As students, we were invited to attend one of their sessions.

After the hour together with the Board, the Chairman asked us all if we had any questions or thoughts to share.  It was at that moment that I believe God empowered me to speak up and say, “One day I believe there will be a PBT of Canada.”  Everyone in the room paused to consider this thought and then they broke out into applause.  What a wonderful moment that was to think about what God might do next for us and through us.

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There was a very practical reason for wanting to believe that there would one day be a PBT of Canada.  As Canadians, there was no legal way for churches or individuals in Canada to send money to PBT-US to help support the work we would be doing and be able to get a charitable donation receipt.  There had to be a Canadian mission agency existing through which we could be sent to the field and through whom people could send their donations.

Many discussions were held between me and Rondal Smith, the president at that time of PBT-US.  We both felt that we needed to have a meeting with Canadian pastors.  I told him about the annual “Pastors and Wives Retreat” held in western Canada each winter and suggested that we try to speak with them at that time.  We did get an invitation to attend the Retreat and Rondal spoke for a half hour one afternoon challenging the pastors to consider started a Canadian organization and help in the task of bringing God’s Word to the Bible-less peoples of the world.

We announced that we would have a meeting that evening for anyone interested in starting a PBT of Canada mission.  Quite a few pastors said yes.  The funny part about this story is that the Retreat was held at a hot springs resort, and wanting to enjoy the facilities while having this meeting, we all agreed to get our swim trunks on and meet in the hot pool.

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And that is how PBT of Canada started.  From that famous “Hot Pool Meeting”, a handful of pastors worked with us to build the foundation of a new Canadian mission.  In June of 1996, it was announced at the annual PBT training course that PBT of Canada had just been granted its official status as a Christian Charity in Canada.  Eight months later, on February 15th of 1997, Jill and I and our two young boys stepped on to the soil of Papua New Guinea to begin our career as a Bible translation family.  Praise the Lord!