Written by Charles Turner
BBTI offers a nine-month training program, starting in August and continuing until the following May. It is our desire that you would benefit from the same missionary training that we have found to be effective in our ministries. It would save you many heartaches and make your missionary career much more fruitful and enjoyable. I know. I had the training, and I don’t know how I could have done with out it. I worked in Papua New Guinea for twenty years, and I needed every minute of my missionary linguistic training.
The ministry of BBTI in Bowie, Texas was commissioned to provide a missionary training program for independent, fundamental, Baptist missionaries. We carry on this ministry with the help of independent Baptist churches that support this work each month. To learn more information about the school, watch our video presentation.
BBTI prepares missionaries for working in any cultural situation, whether in a foreign city like Paris, France, or a jungle situation among a pygmy tribal group in Zaire, Africa.
The basic ministry of BBTI is to train missionaries in linguistics. This prepares them to hear any sound made by the human voice. It enables them to say that sound just like a native speaker and symbolize that sound with a symbol taken from a phonetic alphabet. This study of speech sounds and how they are made by the human vocal apparatus is called Phonetics. It enables the missionary to have a very good ear for hearing the distinctions of sounds made in any language in the world. It also enables him to describe how these sounds are made. For example, the sound “p” is described as a voiceless, bilabial stop. That is, the air stream coming from the lungs is stopped at the closure of the two lips, thus forming the sound “p.” Every sound made by the human voice can be so described. Once the missionary knows how the sounds are made, he can say them the same way and symbolize them with a phonetic symbol.
These symbolized phonetic sounds become the basis for the study of Phonemics, an analysis of the sound system of a language. By doing a phonemic analysis of the sounds found during the study of the phonetics of a language, the missionary can discover which of these sounds is heard distinctly by the native people. This is especially helpful for missionaries who are reducing a language to a written form for the first time. This enables them to make a scientific alphabet based on phonemic principles rather than just guess work.
After learning Phonetics and Phonemics, we teach the students to discover and describe the word structures of several languages. The principles they learn will apply to learning the word structures of any language. This study is called Morphology. After this, they learn how to discover and describe the sentence structure of any language on earth. This study is called Syntax.
These four studies in Phonetics, Phonemics, Morphology and Syntax cover all that is known about how languages work. After this we apply these studies to the principles of language learning. We teach a method of Situational Language Learning that uses a dialogue approach to language learning. It has been very effective in helping missionaries learn both written languages like French and Spanish as well as unwritten languages like Sinasina and Hamtai.
After language learning principles we teach a course in Ethnology (cultural anthropology). This teaches the missionary how to learn a peoples way of life. It involves learning their customs, their value system and their way of perceiving the world in which they live. The study of Ethnology becomes very helpful in understanding what words mean in any given language context. After Ethnology we have a course in Cross-Cultural Communication. In this study we try to apply the principles learned in Ethnology to the Yurok Indians who lived in Northern California in the 1800’s. The students study these people and write papers presenting the way of salvation to them based on the students understanding of the Book of Romans and the Yurok’s way of life.
Next comes a study of New Testament Greek. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, we want the missionaries to be able to understand enough New Testament Greek to be able to read Bible commentaries that discuss the Greek text and understand what the authors are talking about. We hope this will help them with their Bible Translation work as well. As they learn to translate from Greek into English and from English into Greek, the students gain a personal experience of the translation process.
This provides an introduction into the next course which is Bible Translation Principles. This involves the many complexities of translating the Word of God into another language. I have translated a New Testament and some of the Old Testament into a New Guinea language, so I know first-hand the problems involved and the ways these problems can be solved. After this, we have a course in New Testament Baptist Church Planting Principles. We emphasize the importance of planting churches that are indigenous, self supporting, self governing, independent, fundamental, Baptist churches.
The main qualification we ask of those we accept as students is that they be those who have proved faithful and loyal to their home church. After this they may be sent to us to be trained for nine months as those who will be sent out by the church that sends them to us. After they finish the training here, we encourage them to be sent out by their home church or an independent Baptist mission. We try to help our students get to the field in whatever way they may seek our help.