God’s Faithfulness In This Ministry

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God Is Truly Blessing Our Mission

For 17 years, I have had the privilege to be a part of a mission group called Pioneer Bible Translators, whose goal is to bring the translated Word of God to all the Bible-less people groups of the world .  In 2007, the leadership of PBT believed that the only way to get the task of Bible translation done within this next generation was to also believe that God would provide the workers to join PBT and many other mission agencies doing this work.  Listen to what a colleague of mine shared in 2010, halfway through our 6-year goal to double the number of our career missionary members.

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Dear friends,

I just want to give you a snapshot of God’s faithfulness since our last prayer e-mail.  Please keep praying!  God is doing AMAZING things!!!!

– For over a year now, we have been asking God to provide teachers for our missionary families.  I am excited to tell you that God answered this prayer by providing 3 teachers in West Africa and another one for a family in North Eurasia.  We still have an urgent need in the southern part of North Eurasia and would like to have 2 more in Africa.  Please keep praying with persistence!

– In our last update, we asked you to pray that our interns would be a blessing to the missionaries and people God put before them.  One of our interns got to go on a survey trip to a people group of 100,000 speakers in West Africa (where there isn’t a single missionary working amongst this language group).  He walked up to a group of elderly men in the village and began to talk with them.  He asked them if they would like to have the Bible in their language.  Two of the old men (from a neighboring religion) began to well up with tears.  One of the elderly men said, “It would be good for you to come, but it would be even better if you left something that will remain.”  This intern told us that he feels led to become a Bible Translator.

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– We recently announced 9 more missionary recruits for PBT (which makes 25 for the year so far).  In the next 6 weeks, we anticipate another 16 people will be announced.  These are people God has brought to us through your prayers and support.  Wow!

– From the time I began to hear about Pioneer Bible Translators in 2004, I heard prayers asking for individuals to go to Southeast Asia. It has long been said that this could easily be our largest branch if God began to mobilize missionaries in this direction.  However, in my time with PBT I have never seen anyone make a commitment to go to this region.  This week, two families told me that they feel God leading them to join this project!

– I received an e-mail this week from a couple in South Asia who are currently working in a language group of 13,000 speakers where 100% of the people are Buddhist.  This family believes God is leading them to join PBT to do translation work.  As they explained their work and I talked with our president, we all came to the consensus “this is why PBT exists”.  God has brought us in this time in history to go to the Bible-less and church-less people.

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– Our interns made it home safely.  Over the last two weeks, we have had the joy of listening to their stories of what God taught them and the prayers they have for the future.  God used this summer to help confirm for some of them that this is where they should be.  God used the summer for others to give them more data about what they could do in the Kingdom.  We are praying for God to keep speaking and revealing Himself to them.

– I received an application from a gentleman who was on PBT’s first internship team…in 1990.  Over the last 20 years, God has prepared him and given him the training he needed to NOW become a missionary with PBT.  God’s timing is impeccable.

– Last but certainly not least, I had the joy of holding the newly printed Susu New Testament in my hand today.  This translation is the culmination of 20 years of blood, sweat and tears from one of our translators in West Africa.  Through God’s grace, this people can no longer be called Bible-less

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Thank you for praying, giving sacrificially and for believing that every child of God is worthy of hearing about Jesus in the language they understand best.

Until They All Have Heard.

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Last week I had the privilege to help teach a one-week intensive introductory course to Bible translation and the work of PBT.  There were sixteen students who attended this course, and already almost half the class has started the application process to become members of PBT. It is very likely that we will not only reach our goal of doubling the size of PBT, but will surpass the goal this year.

There is no doubt that God has His hand in this, and we praise Him for this.  I share this all with you so you too can rejoice in what God is doing in the world.  But also so that you can see that God answers these kinds of bold prayers.  My request to you is that you do not stop praying, for there is surely still much to do for God in the world.

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Being A Missionary Recruiter

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Who Am I?  Part 21

The last article in my life journey story ended with the announcement of my son’s diagnosis of leukemia and our departure of our family from our mission work in Papua New Guinea. The first chemotherapy treatments for Eric occurred in Brisbane, Australia since it was necessary to start treatments as soon as it was possible. It was five weeks before the first window of opportunity presented itself for us to take Eric back to Canada and to continue with his treatments there.

Those early days in Brisbane and our trip to Canada deserve their own story, and I hope to tell that in some future article. I will relate one part of it though so you can get an idea of what our family was going through at that time. When we left PNG,  we barely had time (actually less than 24 hours) to pack a few suitcases. What happened next occurred both in Brisbane and then also in Calgary. Here is how it played out.

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Upon landing at the airport, we immediately took a taxi to the hospital. The four of us in our family, along with our eight suitcases, went up to the Admitting Desk and announced our arrival almost like you would do when you check in at a hotel. The hospital had already been alerted to are coming, and so the chart was already there for Eric. The nurse, or attending clerk, would go over the admitting papers and confirm all of our personal information. We did well on all of the lines until she got to one of them.

The question that stumped all of us was this one, “And what is your local address?” We heard the question. We looked around. We looked down at our luggage. Then we looked at the nurse again and said, “Here?” And that was the beginning of the next three years that we all now refer to as “The Cancer Years”. Not a very promising start, was it?

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Obviously, our primary focus in the years of 2002 – 2005 was to take care of Eric as he went through his 33 months of chemotherapy. Those were very difficult years for all of us, and for a lot of different reasons. But God was very good to us in many ways, and many people were very kind and helpful to us as we walked along this road. And certainly our faith in God and our love and commitment to each other in the family were also what helped us to survive those years.

But for me personally, I was faced with a huge issue that had no immediate answers for me when we first got back to Canada. I had to answer the question of, “So what do I do now?” I had prayed for, and prepared for many years to be a Bible translator. And in the previous five years to this moment, I had actually been involved in translating Scriptures into the N. language of Papua New Guinea. But now what was I going to do?

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The decision of what to do with me was partly taken out of my hands. The leadership at our international office conferred with the Board members of Pioneer Bible Translators of Canada and made a decision which they felt would be in our best interest. We were immediately “unassigned” as members of the PNG Branch and were reassigned to be staff members of our Canadian PBT organization.

What was positive though, was that this did give me something to do. I was asked to become the Director of Recruitment for PBT of Canada. (Isn’t it funny how we like to give ourselves titles?) And so in the midst of these difficult health years for Eric, suddenly I was given a sense of purpose again, and all of us need that in life, don’t we?

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For over two years then, God took me on trips all over Western Canada in order to publicize our mission and to try to recruit new members. At the same time I taught Greek and Missions courses for one year in a Bible College in Calgary, and then the next year I taught New Testament studies and Missions in a Bible College in Regina, Saskatchewan. (You never know where you’ll end up when you commit to serving the Lord, do you?)

This wasn’t exactly what I had planned to be doing as a missionary, traveling across Canada to do recruitment.  But if PBT of Canada was going to really stand up as an independent mission organization, then it would have to grow by getting new members.  It was in 1994 when God put the vision in my heart to see PBT-C be born, but by 2002, Jill and I were still the only missionaries in the mission.

There were some seeds planted in a few individuals and couples during my two years as Director of Recruitment.  Just like the parable of the four kinds of soil, I did see that many people showed little interest, some showed rapid interest but fell away later, and still in a few others there was receptive soil to the idea of becoming active with our mission group in Canada.

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Well, that is a quick overview of what happened for our family and how my ministry work for the Lord took a different turn. Many other things have happened to our little mission in Canada. Suffice it to say that our Canadian Board has become strong and quite active lately. And Jill and I are not the only missionaries now who are a part of PBT-C. Not in every case, but in some cases, I’m glad to know that I had a small part to play in that.

God’s Traveling Team Pt. 1

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Who Am I?  Part 5

1979 was  an exciting year as well as a transitional year.  I had finished one year of University, and at the same time I was preparing to go on my first real missionary experience with Teen Missions International (TMI).  I was going to go to Brazil for a summer and help build a school extension and a guest house for a New Tribes Mission base up the Amazon river.  That will be the content for a future story.

What I can say is that the summer mission experience was life changing for me.  From the very beginning of the training we received in the swampy Everglades of Florida, until the summer mission project was finished, I knew that I had discovered a mission that I could believe in and put my energies into.  You can read about the Boot Camp training we received before we went to our overseas country in another article called, “Get Dirty For God“.

During the Boot Camp time, I did hear something that caught my attention.  Some of the TMI staff told all of us about a marvelous opportunity to serve the Lord after we had finished our summer mission.  What they wanted to do was to form one or two small teams that would travel all over North America to visit churches and Christian schools to do recruitment and advertise for Teen Missions.

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And so as my summer time in Brazil came to a close, I thought about my two options: go back to the university in Calgary, or travel around North America and do mission presentations.  Hmmm….tough choice, right?  Well, actually it was.  Considering that I had received enough scholarships to pay for four years of university training, the idea of giving that up and trusting God to provide enough money for me to buy my next meal was quite a staggering idea for an 18-year-old.

But I felt the leading of God’s Spirit to say yes to the idea of joining a Teen Missions Travel Team.  And part of my personal confirmation of this was the fact that at the last minute, while I was raising support donations for my summer mission work, a donation came in that nearly doubled what I needed for the summer.  (You can read that story here.)  And that was enough to carry me through part of the Fall.

And so when I came back from Brazil, I asked the leaders of TMI if I could join one of their travel teams and they said yes.  I had a few days in Florida before the training started, and I phoned back to Calgary to talk everything over with my parents.  Just like with my decision to go off with the Navy, my parents once again gave me their blessing to follow my own decision.

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The Travel Team training was conducted at a camp in New Jersey and lasted two weeks.  There were enough volunteer members that we were able to form two teams.  During this time, we learned a number of important skills for doing presentations, like short dramas, puppet skits, musical arrangements, working with stage props and becoming familiar with the TMI promotional materials.

Once we finished our training, we immediately hit the road and started driving toward our first places to do our presentations.  The other team headed toward a different state, while our team headed toward Canada where we were  going to do some presentations in Ontario and then head west across Canada.  I guess they figured I would be their personal tour guide across the country being the only Canadian on the team.  : )

We went through the state of New York and crossed the bridge at Buffalo, NY to enter Canada.  The Customs Officer there asked our leader lots of questions about what our Travel Team was going to do and I think he got nervous and started telling a whole lot more than he needed to.  So when he got to the part about how we would visit churches and they would take up an offering, immediately the Officer thought this was a form of “work” and denied the team entry into Canada.  : (

Although we tried to convince the Officer we were not coming into Canada illegally to do work, we still ended up going back to Buffalo in the middle of the night.  And what a night that was!  On that night, God showed His hand powerfully in both providing for our team and also protecting my life personally from a life threatening situation.  And that unfortunately will also have to wait until a later posting.

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Now to make a long story short, the rest of the team went back to Florida while I went back to Calgary for a few weeks until we could come up with a new plan and a new travel itinerary.  It worked out that our team was able to come back together to do a tour of schools and churches in the province of British Columbia and the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  (We had a new leader this time and so getting across the border into Canada went well.  Hurrah!!)  : )

Stay tuned for many more stories about my adventures with Teen Missions.