A Lifetime of Missions

Charles V. Turner in 2021

Charles V. Turner was born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1934 and born again in 1951 at a summer camp ministry of Marcus Hook Baptist Church in Pennsylvania. It was at this church that he dedicated his life to the work of missions in 1952. The following year, he enrolled at Columbia Bible College and graduated in 1957.

Classmates of Charles were Wanda Sifford, Mary Lou Pruitt, and Joshua Crocket. Charles married Wanda and they served the Lord in Papua New Guinea as missionaries with New Tribes Mission. Joshua married Mary Lou, and they were home missionaries helping struggling Native American churches.

Charles was busy in 1957. He finished Bible College, took the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) course in Norman, Oklahoma, got married, and began training with New Tribes Mission (NTM). No sense wasting time when you know what God wants you to do! During summer vacation of 1959, while still students at New Tribes, the Turners returned to Norman to re-take the SIL training.

In 1960, after six years of formal training, the Turners were sent by Marcus Hook Baptist Church to Papua New Guinea where they served until 1980. First, Charles and Wanda learned the trade language, Tok Pisin. Then they learned the unwritten language of the Sinasina tribe. Applying the linguistic skills, they learned at SIL and NTM, they developed an alphabet, giving the language a written form. They produced literature and taught the people to read. In 1975, they completed the translation of the New Testament. After several years of use in the churches, Brother Turner and the church leaders revised and improved the Sinasina scriptures. For twenty years, Charles and Wanda spread the Good News, baptized converts, taught literacy, and began four or five churches and a Bible institute. In recent years, the work has flourished, and many more churches have been established in the Sinasina area. According to family members and medical experts, Wanda should never have gone to the mission field because of a heart condition. However, she did go and was a good missionary/linguist. In 1975, Wanda had open heart surgery, and then returned to the field.

In 1980, the Turners returned to the NTM training center where Charles taught Bible translation, linguistics, and language and culture learning. He began writing the book Biblical Bible Translating. In 1982, they transitioned to Baptist Bible Translators Institute (BBTI). They took the BBTI training which was a review that prepared Charles to teach the same courses at BBTI. In 1991, he became the director of BBTI and served in that position until 2005.

Wanda passed away in December 1994. Later, Charles married Mary Lou, whose husband, Joshua had died a few years earlier. Mary Lou took the BBTI training and served the Lord and the BBTI students. She went to be with the Lord in November 2020.

Charles desires to visit the Sinasina people again; pray that his health will allow it. He currently serves the Lord as a BBTI trustee, a deacon at Truthville Baptist Church in Truthville, New York, and a teacher in their Christian school. Servants of Christ may change locations and job descriptions, as Brother Turner has, but when he signed on, it was for a lifetime of service.

Fall 2022