Networking & Praying For God’s Word in Southeast Asia

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[Editor’s Note:  It is exciting for me to be able to share with you about a couple who are colleagues with me in Pioneer Bible Translators.  There are two reasons for this.  First of all, for many years they helped to impact a people group close to where my heart is, the Island of New Guinea.  Now God is using them to impact the lives of millions of people in a large region of Southeast Asia.  How exciting!

What makes this especially meaningful for me is that I have the privilege to work along side with this couple in their new work.  Once the Scriptures have been drafted and checked through a couple of times (for comprehension and exegetical accuracy), then the team sends me the language files electronically and I do the final consultant check on their Bible translation work.

In the past two years, I have had a hand in checking parts of or the whole of Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, Matthew and just recently Philippians.  The work is progressing well and it is hoped that the New Testament will be published for this regional language in 2013.  Come along with me as we learn more of what this couple is doing to promote the advancement and distribution of God’s Word to Southeast Asia.]

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Phil and Gale came to Pioneer Bible Translators with 29 years experience with another Bible translation organization. They worked with a language group of 2,000 people in the rainforest of Papua, and didn’t need much in the way of networking skills. Work proceeded smoothly once a few government and church officials were aware they were translating the New Testament.

Now they are working in a vastly different situation, translating the Bible into a national language with a potential audience of over 200 million people. The work is no longer just faithfully translating each verse; it is about knowing the right people, and what partnerships can be set up with various Christian organizations.

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The people who make decisions are in the cities, but the people who need the translations are mostly in rural areas. Rural language groups won’t have a chance to hear God’s Word if we don’t succeed in advancing our projects in the cities. Phil travels often by taxi, giving out local translations of Scripture to every driver. He rode with 51 drivers on his last trip; only one was a Christian.

He visited the managers of a Christian radio network and discussed sending out our books as free gifts from their stations. He is scheduled to meet with a producer of a free satellite TV network that has viewers in cities and rural areas all over the area. He met with a Bible class that is part of a huge mega-church in the capital, and he will soon be visiting seminary students who will distribute our Gospel of John on their mission trips.

There are approximately 400 languages in South Asia that need a Bible translation. After Phil’s presentation at one seminary, 10 students made the commitment to pray about becoming Bible translators for 10 of these languages. It is amazing to see God work out the details! Pioneer Bible Translators has an enormous task ahead of us. We must complete our translation work and get God’s Word in the hands of these people.

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Prayer Requests

  • Pray local supporters would be found to publish local translations of the New Testament and find channels for distribution to rural areas.
  • Pray that Phil will successfully navigate unfamiliar cultural expectations as he speaks with important people.
  • Pray that God will provide a means whereby nationals can be trained and equipped to translate for many needs. There are many who would volunteer to become translators, but cannot see past practical reasons.
  • Please pray that churches in the area would feel called to support Bible translation, and that training centers would be established in the area.
  • John 4:23 – Pray that many from among the Bible-less peoples will become true worshipers who will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

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[Editor’s Note: For almost two years I have been writing articles about my work and the larger work of Pioneer Bible Translators in the world.  I have asked my readers from time to time to pray about some important issues and current events.  This is the first time that I would like to suggest to my audience that they consider taking the next step after praying for Phil and Gale and their translation work and to consider the possibility of helping them with a financial gift to see this work accomplished.  I end this article with a quote from Phil, and a link to where you could become a financial partner.]

Southeast Asia Plain Translation
“This island nation in Southeast Asia has a Bible, but the translation is old and very hard to understand. Our team is creating an easy to understand translation that will be life-transforming for millions in this area. These books of the New Testament will offer Living Water to a thirsty land. Click to donate. Choose ‘Projects’ and ‘Southeast Asia Plain Translation’ from the drop-down menus.”

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God is Not Finished With Us Yet

It has been three years now that I have lived with a muscle disease.  Undoubtedly, there have been some discouraging days, and there was a period of time when I thought that my service for God would be ending due to the many restrictions on my physical activities.  I’ve wrestled with the battle to give up and give in to the disease, and I think for the most part I have believed that my desire to serve God has won over the pain and disability.

For those who are interested in more details of what choices I face on a daily basis you can read more in the article “My Pain vs. Serving God.”  In that article, I mention how the trip to California was a test for a new pain relief medicine as well as the plan to go back to Papua New Guinea for two months to do Bible translation consultant work.  I am very happy to say that both trips went extremely well, and now we are looking at what future plans of ministry God has in store for me and Jill.

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In talking with the PNG and Dallas (International office) leaders of Pioneer Bible Translators, we have been offered three very exciting opportunities of ministry.  We still expect to take another long trip to PNG next winter (Jan. – March/April) to do more consultant checking of Scripture.  Second, the Dallas leaders would like me to come down later this year (Aug. – Dec.) to help teach and mentor our new missionary recruits.

And then thirdly, I have been asked to help a Bible translation project in Southeast Asia as a consultant.  The translation is a new version of an official language, but written at an easy reader level.  What is exciting for me is that the team is so well-connected by internet that I can trade files electronically and do some face-to-face consulting sessions by means of a Skype conference.  This allows me to work year-round from my own home.

Over the years, I have come to learn one very important principle of ministry.  The work of the ministry cannot function at its best without the involvement of others in the ministry.  First and foremost, there must be a significant group of Christians committed to supporting the work in their prayers.  There will be much more that I will say about this translation ministry over coming months, but in this article I want to call on the help of others to pray with us about these ministry opportunities.

As we go forward by faith to do all that God is asking us to do, we ask that some of you who are reading this article will join us as prayer partners.  I know how busy life can be for most of us, but I believe that many of you can commit to at least one or more of the following patterns of praying for us and our work:

1.  Regularly Praying

As you may know, I post three articles a week on this devotional blog site to talk about God in my life and work as a Bible translator.  I try to write a short News Feed on Facebook each day to let people know the topic of these articles.  I would ask that any time you see my name on FB or read an article that you offer up a short prayer to God on our behalf.  Pray that God would work through us to bless others in our ministry work for God.

2.  Monthly Update Prayer Partners

Each month, Jill and I write an update that tells more about our ministry work, as well as how the family is doing.  Normally we send out our ministry updates by email, but I have also started to include some of them (in an edited form) as an article here on this blog site.  We include some specific prayer and praise points in these updates, and you could receive them if you would like.  Then you can pray more specifically each month for us.

3.  Weekly Special Prayer Partners

Finally, I would like to start up a special prayer team.  The work that God has placed before us is so important to the advance of God’s Kingdom here on earth, that I believe we must have a group of committed prayer warriors who will lift up this work before God on a weekly basis.  Chapter 6 verse 12 of Ephesians says:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

I ask you to please consider becoming one of our Special Prayer Warriors.  But if not a Prayer Warrior, would you pray for us monthly or on a regular basis?  Here is how you can tell me what you have decided:

This website is very secure.  Anyone who sends me a response, their answer will only be read by me.  I would ask you then to consider copying and pasting one or more of these next statements into the Reply Box below.  I will reply to you privately and thank you for becoming a member of our team.  God bless you.

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Please copy and paste the statement or statements below in the Reply box:

1.  Yes, I will pray for you and your ministry work every time God brings you to mind.

2.  Yes, I want to receive your monthly updates with your prayer and praise items so I can pray for you on a monthly basis.

3.  Yes, I want to be one of your Prayer Warriors and pray for special requests on a weekly basis.

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Thank you so much for your interest and support of our Bible translation ministry for the Lord.