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Pontic Greeks, Turkey

Photo Source Anna Diamantopoulou/Flickr Licensed/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Pontic Greeks quite possibly heard the Apostle Paul during his missionary journeys. This people group considers themselves descendants of the Argonauts, who set sail looking for gold and silver. Because of their desire to seek treasure in other lands, this group of Greeks eventually settled in Northeastern Turkey with the majority settling around the Black Sea.

During World War I, when the country underwent an ethnic cleansing, almost 250,000 Pontics were able to flee back to Greece. However, when they arrived, those that lived there could not understand their language. It had evolved into words and sounds that could not be understood because of the influence of the nations that had surrounded them before their dispersal. Today, this dialect of the Greek language is considered endangered as their descendants become more assimilated in the regions in which they live. Yet the Pontics want to keep their language and traditions alive. They try to pass down their traditional poems, songs, dress, and dances to their children. However, their brightly colored traditional dress cannot cover their spiritual darkness.

Though many profess to be Christians, they have no true knowledge of the Gospel. Some practice Greek Orthodox traditions, and others have converted to Islam. Because there is no Scripture in their language, a people who may have once been exposed to the truth are now living in spiritual darkness.

Chris and Bonnie Matthews

As a boy, Chris rode church buses to various Protestant and Baptist churches. When he was in his early teens, his family joined a church which taught baptismal regeneration. They baptized him based on an earlier profession of faith, but he had no assurance of salvation. In 1993, at the age of fifteen, he attended a church camp and fell under deep conviction. He pleaded with the counselors for guidance, but they assured him he was okay. That evening, a speaker recited the sinner’s prayer which reminded Chris of the true Gospel he had learned previously. He asked Christ to be his Saviour. Later, he was scripturally baptized and called to preach at Ray Avenue Baptist Church in Salina, Kansas. He attended Bible college for one year and was trained for six years by Dr. Plato Shepherd at Smoky Valley Baptist Church in Lindsborg, Kansas. Chris served as an associate pastor for three years, and in 2005, he became the pastor, serving until 2018. He also became a firefighter and an Emergency Medical Technician. He taught both EMS and CPR.

Bonnie was raised in the home of a godly pastor. She made a profession of faith at age four, but like many children, she later had doubts. It was not until she was a pastor’s wife that she received full assurance of her salvation. She graduated from Calvary University in Kansas City with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She was a pastor’s wife for fifteen years. She has taught music, written and led ladies’ Bible studies, led youth ensembles, spoken at ladies’ conferences, written historical novels, and taught piano. Bonnie has training and field experience in Teaching English as a Second Language.

The Matthewses could have easily continued serving the Lord in Kansas, but God began to burden their hearts for a very restricted country in Southeast Asia. Upon hearing this, people began telling them that they needed to attend BBTI. Shortly after arriving in 2019, they fell in love with our school and could see how it would benefit them on the mission field. Even while they were students, Chris envisioned returning to BBTI one day to help train missionaries.

In less than a year after graduation, the Matthews family arrived on their field. God gave them a very fruitful ministry in evangelism and leadership training. They were having the time of their lives! They loved the place and especially the people, and the people loved them. They often saw God protect them and provide miraculously. One such time was during the strict COVID lockdown when they needed to return to the US for the impending death of Bonnie’s dad. They were not allowed to leave their neighborhood, but they had to obtain their passports from another part of the large city. Couriers could not get through the military/police checkpoints, but Chris rode his motor scooter unhindered through every checkpoint without even being stopped!

Chris and Bonnie were not looking for an easier place of service or greener pastures, but God was impressing their hearts that they needed to labor at BBTI. Rex Cobb had previously told Chris that BBTI would soon need a younger director. After much fasting, praying, and seeking counsel, they contacted Brother Cobb, other staff members, and our sponsoring pastor, Steve Summers. No snap decision was made, but all involved, including the school trustees, believed that Chris was right for the job. He will officially become the director at graduation on May 18th. He plans to make trips back to his field to train church leaders and help oversee a Bible translation project. Chris’ leadership experience and Bonnie’s many skills will help move this ministry forward in the days to come.

Spring 2024

A Christian could not invest his life in any occupation more valuable than translating the eternal, living words of God into a language in which it has never existed. The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without a Bible. With modern technology, Bible translation should be easier and faster than at any time in history. Not long ago, a Bible translator typed and retyped the New Testament twenty-five times before it was ready to print. Despite digital technology, it is still a very difficult work. It requires proper spiritual, physical, mental, intellectual, and linguistic preparation. Praise God that some see the need for Bible translation and are expressing a desire to engage in this worthy work, and we do not want to discourage them. However, they must “count the cost” and be aware of the long-term commitment required and the endurance needed to overcome many obstacles. While each language and place have their special challenges, you can be sure that the work of Bible translation is not easy anywhere.

The prospective translator must understand the futility of beginning without the proper training in linguistics and translation principles. Bible translation must be done right! To spend fifteen years producing a New Testament, only to discover that the people cannot understand it or do not accept it is tragic, but it has happened. Good, well-intentioned people with sound doctrine do not necessarily produce good Bible translations.

A BBTI graduate, who we will call Fred Jones, works with an unreached people group in a dangerous and restricted part of the world. He compares his efforts to translate the Bible for this ethnic group to pushing a rope uphill. Not all places will seem as impossible as Brother Fred’s. His is probably a worst-case scenario, but there is an enemy with many wiles who wants to stop all Bible translation. Fred attempted to reach part of this group who lives in a country controlled by godless atheists. The leaders hate Christianity, and they sometimes hate the ethnic people who will not give up their cultural and linguistic identity. After a time, Fred was forced to move to a neighboring country and work with another part of the same group. However, the situation there is not much better. First, he must have a reason to justify being in the country, and “missionary” is not one of the options. He must operate some type of business or offer a skill that would benefit the country. The government of the second country is controlled by a religion that opposes Christianity, and those in power also hate the ethnic group that Fred loves. After a few years, the government began to practice genocide against Fred’s people. Men from his neighborhood disappeared; some were reported killed and others imprisoned. When Fred and two other foreign workers bought food for the wives and children of the missing men, they were accused of aiding terrorists. Two of them were jailed, but Fred escaped before being arrested. Nevertheless, he is determined to return and with God’s help push the rope further up the hill. Yes, there is political and religious opposition, but Fred is proving that it can be overcome.

The Bible translator must expect to push the rope up a steep linguistic hill. Unless the major language is English, he must first learn the trade language and then the heart language of the people group. The first language is difficult, but the second one is often much more complex, without a language school to attend. Since the second language Fred needed to learn had never been written, he had to learn it without books and teachers, develop an alphabet, and write the words in the correct morphological and syntactical order. Thankfully, Fred and his wife learned these skills at BBTI.

It is always difficult to move God’s Word from one language to another. It can be painstakingly slow. The missionary translator should never attempt the task of Bible translation without the help of native speakers, but it is challenging to find them. There may be no Christians among the group, and even if there are, they may be afraid to help. Sometimes, helpers will only work secretly.

The Bible translator must go and live where people do not have a Bible, and usually that means living in inhospitable places. Places where translation work is needed can be unpleasant, difficult, and sometimes dangerous. Primitive living conditions require enormous amounts of time and energy to accomplish simple daily tasks. (No hot showers or electric range!)

Consider Fred’s wife. She must be as tough as he is. She raises her children and homeschools them under the same conditions. She, too, must learn both the trade language and the heart language of the people group. She must learn to understand and love a people that are sometimes hard to love. At BBTI, Fred’s wife received the same pre-field training as Fred. This enables her to learn and cope with the culture and analyze and learn the language. She can communicate and teach women that may be culturally off limits to Fred. They make a good team.

Bible translation usually proceeds slowly. Often it is put on the back burner because of all the other work that the missionary must do. He needs to evangelize those around him and teach them the Word of God, even though it does not yet exist in the language. He must work at his business to retain his visa and good standing with the government. Some supporters may question why he is not winning the multitudes and establishing churches reported by other missionaries in other places. He must report to them and explain why he is not producing the same results.

As we pray for laborers for God’s harvest field, let us also pray that many of these will labor in the work of Bible translation. Pray that our homes and churches will produce soldiers of the Jones’ caliber equipped for God to send. Pray for laborers who can patiently endure the spiritual, mental, and physical hardness required to accomplish the task and push the rope up a steep hill!

Although we had been in Laos just a short time, I thought I was making progress in learning the language. So, when our six-month old daughter needed a vaccination, I felt confident to take her to the clinic. I tried to tell the nurses that she needed a sakjaa, meaning “shot of medicine.” But I accidentally said she needed a supjaa, meaning “cigarette.” She is a little too young to start smoking! — KR

Vernon Miller with two of his first students.

W. Vernon Miller was born deaf to hearing parents in December 1932. He did not learn sign language until the age of eighteen when he enrolled at Gallaudet University, a school for the Deaf in Washington DC.


One Sunday, Vernon heard a strong missionary challenge. He struggled all night about surrendering his life. The next morning, he appeared at his pastor’s door, with a packed suitcase! His pastor marveled at Vernon’s commitment but wondered what kind of missionary a deaf man could be.


In 1968, Vernon arrived in Peru as a missionary serving with Baptist International Missions, Inc. Then, as today in many foreign countries, the Deaf were isolated, ignored, and uneducated. They lived and died with little or no hope of hearing the Gospel. The Deaf were usually hidden away by their families because of a Catholic belief that any physical defect was a judgment from God. It took several years for Vernon to find deaf people whom he could serve. Finally, he located a few deaf children. They knew no sign language, nor could they read or write in any language. Therefore, Vernon began a small school for deaf children in the village of Chosica. The children were first taught sign language. Later, primary school subjects were introduced. Woodworking and other manual trades were added. Amador, a Peruvian national, was sent from his local church to assist Vernon. When Vernon married Velma Carlsberg, a deaf widow, she discipled ladies and became a mother figure to the children.


After a radio announcement of a school dedicated to the education of the Deaf, many families brought their deaf children. The locale in use was too small, so the work was moved to a slum area of Lima called El Salvador, where a nice piece of reasonably priced land was obtained.
Vernon named the flourishing work Efata, meaning “be opened” from the account of Jesus healing a deaf man. In time, a church was started. The school expanded, and a home for deaf children was established. Eventually, higher training was offered to prepare deaf young people as pastors and pastor’s wives to go from and to the deaf community. From this foundation, deaf couples have gone throughout Peru, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries to establish deaf churches.


Vernon and Velma retired in 2000. Vernon passed into the presence of his Savior six years later. The work today thrives under the leadership of Missionary Joe Kotvas.

Vernon Miller is recognized as the person who brought sign language to the Deaf of Peru, bringing them not only out of the shadows of society but also into the light of the Gospel.

Winter 2023-24

Part of the application process for enrollment in our Advanced Missionary Training program is a recommendation from the pastor of the applicant. Doug and Lisa Nispel applied for enrollment at BBTI in 2014. One question we ask the pastor is, “What is the applicant’s greatest strength?” For Doug, he answered “faithful” and for Lisa “compassionate.” We found the pastor’s description of them fully accurate. As students, they were a constant joy to us, along with their two daughters, Abigail and Elizabeth. They worked diligently both in the classroom and during our afternoon Work Detail.


Doug was a bus kid. His parents sent him to Red Lion Bible Church and his grandmother paid for him to attend the Christian school until the sixth grade. He heard the Gospel many times and was saved at the age of eleven. Doug lived for God for a time but became tired of feeling like an oddball and not having any friends. He decided to go his own way. As is always the case, this led to some poor choices. Even as a preteen, he began using the marijuana and alcohol that he had access to at home. However, God did not give up on Doug. When he was nearing the age of twenty, his father was gloriously saved. The booze and drugs left the home, and his father began serving the Lord. (Today he has a truck stop ministry). This had a convicting influence on Doug, and at the age of twenty-one, he surrendered every area of his life to God.


Lisa was raised by good, religious parents in a Methodist church. Then came the day when the pastor distributed to all a copy of the Good News for Modern Man and announced that it would replace their Bible. Her father had enough discernment to leave the church, and the family began attending Red Lion Bible Church. Lisa was led to Christ by a faithful Sunday School teacher who used the Wordless Book to teach the Gospel. Lisa’s father and mother began a bus route. Together, they serve faithfully in that ministry until this day.


The Nispel family arrived at BBTI in 2015 with the desire to serve the Lord in Romania. They continued raising support as students and graduated in 2016. In March 2017, less than a year after graduation, they arrived in Timisoara, Romania, and began learning the new language and culture.


A big part of the Nispel’s ministry is training believers in evangelism. They serve primarily in five or six Baptist churches, helping with outreaches and training the believers to use different methods of evangelism and tract distribution in outdoor and public settings. People are receptive and willing to listen but slow to trust Christ. Doug and Lisa look for outreach opportunities such as carnivals or festivals. They incorporate the use of Christian films in their open-air meetings. In the summer, they assist several different Baptist churches in vacation Bible school outreaches in places where there are thus far no churches.

When the Iron Curtain was torn down in the early 90s, Gospel seeds were sown in Romania and other Eastern European countries. It produced a great harvest for people who were hungry for prosperity and freedom. Thank God, that many missionaries went. Sadly, many stayed only a short time. There is, no doubt, a great need for new, church-planting missionaries in Europe, but there is also a great need for missionaries such as the Nispels who will take up the unfinished task of training believers to reach others.


Compassion took the Nispels to Romania, and faithfulness keeps them there!

Winter 2023-24

The Wasa are the largest ethnic group in the Western Region of Ghana with a population close to 300,000. The Western Region is tropical with an annual rainfall of sixty inches and is known for its production of cocoa, rubber, and palm oil. Other industries include fishing, animal husbandry, lumbering, and gold mining.


The Wasa face many challenges. The areas where gold is mined are damaged by erosion that causes flooding and ruins the land for farming. Also, many Wasa living in poverty mine gold illegally. These small, unregulated operations use chemicals and heavy metals that contaminate drinking water.
A second challenge is the Wasa language. Some of the older Wasa fear its demise. In an effort to modernize, children are punished for speaking their language in school. “English is a global language. Practice it now!!!” is written on at least one schoolroom wall.


Another challenge is the great spiritual need of the Wasa. Although their primary religion is listed as Christianity, its form is Non-Evangelical Protestantism which focuses more on social issues than a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Only Biblical teaching can correct this erroneous teaching, but there is no Bible in Wasa. A translation has reportedly begun. Will you pray for the Wasa and for those that are translating God’s Word for them?

Spring 2023-24

Our call to the mission field started when a ministry in Romania, supported by our church since the early 1970s, asked if anyone wanted to help on a construction project. I did not have any vacation time, a passport, or even a way to financially go. I told the Lord that if he would provide the way, I would go. He did provide! While in Romania, I passed out tracts and churches invited me to preach. After that trip, I knew the Lord would eventually have me go into missions but did not know where or when. I knew I needed to wait on the Lord to show me where he wanted me to be and when I was to go, so I remained active in our home church by serving in the bus ministry, jail ministry, nursing home and anywhere that I could help.


I met Lisa in 2001. On our second date, I told her that I believed the Lord would have us on the mission field, and that if she were not willing to go, we should not continue our relationship. Being close to her family, she did not automatically say yes, but did say she would pray about it. That night, sitting in her car before going into her third shift work, she looked up at the sky and thought of all Jesus had done for her. At that moment, she knew. If missions was what the Lord had for her, He would help her through it. Lisa let me know she was willing to go, and we married a year later.


I had been going to Romania on mission trips every two to three years since the year 2000. In 2007, while on one of those trips, I realized that I was ready to stay. The desire in my heart to be in Romania was honestly more than the desire to be in America. I became sure of the call to go.
I tried to schedule meetings and look for a mission board, but every door I tried was shut. I waited on the Lord, asking Him to open the door and make it obvious when it was time to start the deputation process. In 2012, the Lord answered that prayer in specific ways, showing us it was time for me to quit my job and go on deputation. We started full-time deputation with little support, but God answered prayer and provided a place for us to stay. I knew God would take care of my family.


In 2014, the Lord led us to BBTI to prepare for the mission field. It was hard to wait on the Lord to open doors in his timing instead of mine, but God’s timing is best. He used our lack of support to prompt me to contact churches in other states and keep me in America long enough for missionary training. At the right time, he gave us the support we needed, and we went to Romania.

Winter 2023-24

We cannot overestimate the value of a missionary. Humanly speaking, he is the only one standing between a group of people and Hell! If a missionary leaves the field prematurely, he is often discouraged and feels that he has failed the Lord and those people who believed in him. He, his church, and his mission agency should be asking some questions: What went wrong? What could have prevented it? And what should we do now? A missionary that we know well worked with his wife and children in a very remote mountain village, accessed only by plane or helicopter. Alone, they faced a very frightening experience and were in imminent physical danger. Almost miraculously, they were rescued by helicopter. They returned to the States very traumatized. Their pastor—the one who should care most—spoke with them for less than one minute and then apparently wrote them off as quitters. Talk about adding insult to injury! What they needed was a thorough debriefing with caring, competent counselors.


Gospel Furthering Fellowship (GFF), under the direction of BBTI graduate Rodney Myers, specializes in proper preparation for the mission field. This includes a strong recommendation that the missionary acquire Advanced Missionary Training at BBTI. They also offer help and debriefing, not only for their own members, but for any Baptist missionary. Consider the words of GFF Missionary Care Director Chris Luppino in his article, The Crisis that Few are Talking About:


The closing challenge of Jesus to His disciples in Mark 16:15 is clear, compelling, and challenging. They were to take the Gospel to every living person in every corner of the world. It is Jesus’ commission to the Christians of every generation during the church age. He highlighted one of the challenges to fulfilling His command in Matthew 9:37 where He said, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.”


In comparison to the need, the number of laborers (missionaries) is small. In the face of the challenging task of cross-cultural evangelism and church planting, many of the laborers are weak. The inherent weaknesses are amplified by the fact that missionaries are often sent woefully under-prepared. The director of our mission was challenging a pastor with some of the difficulties the missionary that his church was sending was likely to encounter and with the need for him and his wife to be properly prepared. In response to a list of the challenges that the missionary could reasonably be expected to face the pastor replied, “He will just have to learn as he goes along.” [Fortunately, that missionary couple did attend BBTI and are now successfully learning a tribal language that people told them is impossible to learn!]

Once laborers are sent, they are often neglected. If they “crash and burn” or just quietly go away (leave the field), the ridicule, blame, and scorn is usually targeted at the missionary. They are labeled as quitters, not being “tough” enough, not being made of the right stuff, or being a John Mark. We have no words to describe the sending church, sending pastor, or sending agency that let them down. If we are going to take the Gospel to each living person in every corner of the world, we must do better…much better!
The crisis that few are talking about is missionary attrition. A 2017 survey of 745 former missionaries cited a lack of missionary care as the number one cause of missionary attrition.


Gospel Furthering Fellowship is an Independent Baptist mission service ministry. We do not send missionaries or start churches. GFF serves churches that send missionaries to start churches. We come alongside churches and missionaries by using our experience and expertise to encourage and promote long-term missionary service among unreached people groups. Churches have a biblical mandate to intentionally, not accidentally, produce career missionaries. We are honored to serve them as they seek to do so.

We at home cannot possibly understand what a new missionary faces. He is concerned about the children’s welfare and education. Culture stress is often overwhelming. The pressure he feels from his supporters to produce results may derive from his own mind, but it is there, nonetheless. The missionary is tempted to take shortcuts and minister before learning the language. When language learning suffers, he eventually realizes his inability to effectively communicate. Why didn’t someone warn me that this language and the hearts of these people would be so hard? This dear man of God and his wife may question their spirituality. Surely, if we were right with God, we would love these people!
Missionaries may feel reluctant to share with anyone, including their pastor, what they are going through. After all, they told him and a bunch of others what they were going to do. They never entertained a thought of failure. The pastor needs to exercise his gift of discernment, read between the lines, investigate, and be sure that his missionary family is indeed doing well. Even if he does not suspect a problem, a personal visit might be a great encouragement to his missionary family.
It is the work of the church to get missionaries to the field. It is also the work of the church to keep them there. If they return early, it is the duty of the church to love and welcome them as the heroes they are. The church should attempt to restore and resend them. Compassionate care, not criticism, is needed.

Winter 2023-24

Ten thousand Pame live in San Luis Potosi, a state of central Mexico. They call themselves Xiúi meaning “indigenous.” The Pame cultivate maize, beans, squash, and chili which constitute their main diet. However, the soil is poor and rocky and many Pame are migrant workers.

Pame traditional religious beliefs in spirits, witches, and gods have mixed with Catholicism brought by the Spaniards. Pame call the Sun and the Catholic God by the same name. Likewise, they call the Moon and the Virgin Mary by the same name.

They need the truth found in God’s Word. But is it worth the time and toil of translating the Bible for a relatively small people group? Someone thinks so! And that is the rest of the story.

In 1980, BBTI graduate Rex Cobb began working in Bible translation among the Zapotecs in Oaxaca, Mexico. The people of his remote Zapotec village were suspicious of Americans, and it became increasingly difficult to minister among them. Bro. Cobb began to pray for Mexican nationals to assume the work of reaching their own indigenous people. In 1987, Rex learned of a Bible institute in the mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico, which was beginning to train students to do just that. God had answered his prayer!

He moved to northern Mexico and for four years taught the skills he had learned at BBTI. The first class had thirty-five students. Bro. Rex later moved on to church planting, and as the years passed, he wondered if he had made the right decision to leave the work with the Zapotecs and invest his time in training Mexican missionaries. Recently the Lord confirmed that yes, it was the correct decision.

Last March, at a mission conference in Gainesville, Texas, Rex met Dr. Neftalí Santos MD, a Mexican missionary to the Pame people of the state of San Luis Potosi. Neftalí taught the Pame people to read and is directing them as they translate the Bible into Pame. Neftalí studied linguistics and Bible translation at the Instituto Bíblico Maranatha in the city of San Luis Potosí. His teacher? Jorge Rocha, one of the students in Rex’s first class at the Bible Institute in Chihuahua! What a joy to learn how God has used Dr. Jorge Rocha to challenge and train dozens of men in the work of missions. Wondrous are God’s doings in our eyes!

God has a plan to reach every tribe and nation with the Gospel. He thinks it is worth the time and toil to translate the Bible for a relatively small people group. Neftalí thinks it is worth it and so do we! We are grateful He lets us get involved and has even let us see some far-reaching effects of BBTI’s ministry.

Fall 2023

Linguistics

There were many notable events in 1973. The infamous Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade made legal the murder of sixty-six million babies over the next forty-nine years. The Watergate scandal was a top story for most of the year, and President Nixon assured us that he was not a crook. Vice president Spiro Agnew resigned over a tax evasion issue, and Gerald Ford was confirmed by the House of Representatives to replace him. The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. The American Baseball League adopted the designated hitter position, and Secretariat won the Triple Crown. After the loss of over 58,000 men and one woman, we pulled out of Vietnam and gave South Vietnam to the
communists. Also, that year Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia.

It was not announced on national news or even on local news, but in September of 1973 the Baptist Bible Translators Institute (BBTI) began in a Sunday school classroom of Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Before that time, no Baptist school existed to train missionaries in linguistics, language and culture learning, and Bible translation principles. The vision for BBTI grew out of the frustration of a Baptist missionary trying to minister in Spanish to a group of Indian people whose understanding of Spanish was extremely limited. George Anderson thought maybe he had missed the class at his Bible college that dealt with language learning. He inquired and found that no such class was given at his college or at any Baptist school in America, Canada, or England. In light of Christ’s command to teach all nations, George thought this was very strange. He learned that there are still thousands of unwritten languages with not a word of the Bible and where language schools do not exist. George correctly reasoned that if these people were to ever hear the Gospel or read God’s Word, they needed missionaries with specialized training to reach them. There are two kinds of men: One says, “This is not right. Someone ought to do something about it.” And the other kind says, “This is not right. I am going to do something about it.” George learned that training in linguistic and cross-culture communication was available at the non-denominational organization New Tribes Mission. The New Tribes leaders graciously agreed to accept George and his wife Sharon and train them with the understanding that the Andersons would use it to begin a similar school for Baptist missionaries. George asked his supporting churches to be patient with them for two years while they acquired this valuable training.

BBTI began with the Andersons and three other families: the Duffees, the Huddlestons, and the Cobbs. Realizing that a Sunday School classroom is not an appropriate place to train missionaries, we began praying and searching for a larger rural property. We had no money, but with the help of Paul Henderson, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Bowie, Texas, we were given one hundred seventeen acres of land with three houses five miles from Bowie. The move was made on April 1, 1974, and by then a fifth family, the Christensens, had joined the group.

Missionaries need to learn building skills, and repairs to our old houses provided plenty of on-the-job experience. The many hard and unpleasant tasks such as digging a ditch were classified as GMT (Good Missionary Training), and we did them as to the Lord, knowing that we were building something that would last. Today there is housing for four staff families and a dozen other families or single students. A multipurpose building was constructed in 2004 and an addition to it is currently in progress.

Advancements have been made in the field of linguistic and cultural anthropology, and BBTI has tried to keep pace. The courses of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Chronological Bible Teaching, Greek, and Jungle Camp have been added but much is still the same. Certainly, the goal of training missionaries has not changed. BBTI has had three directors: George Anderson, Charles Turner, and Rex Cobb.

The tuition-free specialized training is given in one nine-month school year.Enrollment has never been large; it has averaged thirteen students per class. Our best representatives have been our graduates and students that visit churches on deputation. We accept students from like-minded churches with their pastor’s approval. Since 2006, we have promoted the work of missions and our Advanced Missionary Training weekly on fifty-five radio stations and in this quarterly publication. Our graduates have worked in Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Bahamas, China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Nepal, Russia, Israel, Tajikistan, Korea, Japan, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Papua Indonesia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Jordan, Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Cameroon, Malawi, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Hungry, Romania, Republic of Georgia, Armenia, Croatia, Greece, Greenland, and to the Chippewas Indians in the United States. Others are preparing to go to Iceland, Burkina Faso, and to some countries mentioned above. Graduates are using the skills they learned at BBTI in cross-cultural evangelism, Indigenous church planting, Bible translation, and literacy.

Thank God for half a century of blessings. We glance back, but we gaze forward. The task is still before us, even greater than it was fifty years ago because the population has doubled. By the grace of God and with the prayers and support of God’s people, we plan to continue to prepare missionaries for their challenging task of language learning, cultural adaptation, and communication of the Gospel. If we were on the right path a half century ago, and we believe we were, then we plan to stay on that same path. Technology is helpful in some ways, but it will never replace flesh and blood missionaries going where people have no knowledge of Christ and staying until there is a thriving church with a well-translated Bible and a desire to take the Gospel to the regions beyond them. That is the plan for the next fifty years or until Jesus returns!

Since I could not get animal crackers for our Noah’s Ark lesson, I decided to be creative and make cutout cookies. At the store, I found what I thought was flour. The packaging read Heljedino Brašno, and I knew the word for flour was brašno so I grabbed the package and headed to the checkout. I learned the hard way that heljedino is the Croatian word for buckwheat. Let me just tell you, buckwheat sugar cookies do NOT taste good! —Sarah, Croatia

Stephen Metcalf 1927-2014

On June 7, 2014, Stephen A. Metcalf, a faithful church planter and evangelist to Japan, passed away. He ministered in Japan for forty years with his wife Evelyn and their five children. However, Stephen did not always want to be a missionary to Japan.

Stephen was born on October 23, 1927, to George and Bessie Metcalf. The Metcalfs were missionary translators in Taku (now Dao-Gu), a mountainous Lisu village one weeks walk from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. At a young age, Stephen learned to fluently speak English, Mandarin, and Lisu. In 1934, when he was seven years old, his parents took Stephen to join his sister Ruth at a boarding school in Yantai. Except for Christmas visits, Stephen grew up in Yantai and rarely saw his parents.

By 1937, World War II was imminent. The Japanese invasion of China did not affect Stephen until 1942 when he and his schoolmates were imprisoned. Sickness continually plagued the filthy, cramped attic where the nineteen young men were initially quartered. Hepatitis A and a raging fever nearly killed Stephen, but God miraculously spared his life. As he lay weak and alone, his conscience convicted him of his sins. Overwhelmed, Stephen confessed His sins and believed that Jesus Christ died and rose again for him. In the following months, Stephen’s faith grew through missionary biographies that fellow inmates lent him. By the time Stephen was moved to the Weixian internment camp, God had taught him perseverance, faithfulness, and thankfulness. However, Stephen struggled to learn forgiveness.

Who could blame Stephen for despising the Japanese? His circumstances appeared to justify his attitude. Over two-thousand men, women, and children were confined within the sixty-acre internment camp. Sanitation was deplorable; water was inadequate; food was rationed; and medical supplies were scarce. Self-preservation was the daily mode of life. Individuals who retained ethical and religious convictions were either admired or scorned. Yet one such man’s godly character influenced others in Weixian.

Eric Liddell, famous Scottish Olympic gold medalist and missionary, chose Christlikeness over self-centeredness. Of all the prisoners, he easily could have demanded his rights and misused his influence. At the pinnacle of his athletic career, he left Scotland to be a missionary teacher in China. Instead of evacuating the country with his family in 1941, Liddell remained. He firmly believed that only faithful obedience honors God, despite any personal cost. Even in Weixian, Liddell continued obeying God as he served his fellow prisoners.

In 1945, just months before World War II ended, Stephen heard the words that impacted the rest of his life. During a Bible study on Matthew 5:43-48, Liddell taught: “When you hate, you are self-centered. When you pray, you are God-centered. Praying changes your attitude. It is hard to hate those you pray for.” Listening, Stephen was deeply convicted. He realized Liddell’s personal obedience to the Truth had changed his attitude toward the Japanese guards. God used Liddell’s testimony to break Stephen’s unforgiving heart. Together, the men began praying for their captors.

Days later, Liddell approached Stephen with a pair of patched running shoes. Stephen’s own shoes were completely worn, useless protection against the winter temperatures. Unconscious of his friend’s personal sacrifice, Stephen gratefully accepted them. Only weeks later did Stephen realize that he was walking in Liddell’s shoes.

One month later, tears stung and blurred Stephen’s eyes as he gazed down at his shoes. He tried to steady himself under the weight of his friend’s coffin. Though a brain tumor silenced Liddell’s earthly voice, his words echoed in Stephen’s memory. As he reflected on Liddell’s life, Stephen’s grief suddenly turned to resolution. At that moment, before God, he vowed to go to Japan as a missionary after the war.

Liddell’s obedience influenced Stephen’s obedience. Years later, in 1952, Stephen recalled Liddell’s words again as he began his life-time ministry in Japan. He no longer wore Liddell’s physical shoes, yet he daily walked in Liddell’s spiritual shoes. Both men’s obedience resulted in countless Japanese salvations!

When we obediently live the Truth, others will believe the Truth. Obedience reveals Absolute Truth which powerfully transforms lives for eternity. Through His own obedience, Christ fulfilled the law and the prophets, demonstrating that the Word of God is Truth. His obedience to the Father’s will changed men’s eternal destinies (John 5:30, 6:38)! Christ set the example for us (Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:8; 1 Pet. 2:21). His obedience cost Him everything. Likewise, obedience will cost us everything. Nevertheless, Christ’s obedience commands and compels our own obedience. We have a choice. We know the Truth. Yet Truth without obedience will never save a lost and dying world.

Christ wore the shoes of obedience, and He commanded us to follow Him. Obedience is a personal choice in response to a personal command. Though initially individual, our choice is eternally influential. Will we obey the Truth? Will we walk in Christ’s shoes? Will others walk in our shoes?

Spring/Summer 2023

Marco Paulichen Family
Missionaries to Uruguay

Marco Paulichen was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1978, and his wife Patricia was born in Ontario a few months earlier. But two could not have come from more distinct backgrounds.

Marco’s mother was from Argentina, and his father was from Uruguay. Marco’s first language was Spanish. His parents were devout Christians and raised Marco in church where he heard the Gospel often. At age five, his Sunday school teacher led him to Christ.

Patricia’s mother was an unsaved, single mother who left Patricia soon after her birth. Though she eventually returned, Patricia grew up in broken homes feeling unwanted and unloved. By age twenty, she was using drugs daily and attending drinking parties each weekend. By the grace of God, Patricia was given a gospel tract by a street preacher. It showed her that she was lost and on the way to hell, but she did not know how to respond. She asked her friends about the way of salvation, but none of them could help her. She tried self-reformation, attempting to please God. This only led to deep depression and thoughts of suicide.

Patricia was in an office building for a job interview when she literally bumped into the young electrician working there. She gladly accepted his invitation to attend his church: later he led her to Christ on their first date. Her life changed drastically; she was a new person. Eleven months later, she married that young man! They have been serving the Lord together for twenty-four years.

Marco and Patricia felt led of God to go take the Gospel to Uruguay. Along with their teenage children Josh and Josephine, they attended BBTI from August 2017 until May 2018. Josh and Josephine studied BBTI classes in the morning and worked on their homeschool assignments in the afternoon. They all excelled. Marco, a master electrician, made many needed electrical improvements at BBTI.

In October 2018, the family arrived on the field prepared to learn the language and culture of Uruguay. Because of Marco’s paternal roots in the country, he and his children are allowed dual citizenship of both Canada and Uruguay. Patricia has been granted residency. They do not struggle to obtain visas like many other missionaries; they are allowed to travel in other countries of South America without restrictions. The children are also entitled to educational benefits. While in Canada, Josh and Josephine studied music at the Royal Conservatory, and in Uruguay they were admitted into a classical music conservatory. This has resulted in many good contacts for the family’s church planting ministry in the interior city of Salto.

Having never lived in Uruguay, Marco has had to learn the country’s unique Spanish. He was able, however, to soon begin the Iglesia Bautista Fundamental in their home. The church began in the living room, kitchen, and under the carport. God blessed and the church grew. They currently meet in a rented building but are looking for a building in a better location. Marco preaches on the radio five days a week and sets up a literature table in two open-air markets where he witnesses for Christ. Thank God that the Paulichen family is faithfully giving the Gospel to the lost in their city. However, many more missionaries are needed for the places where the people wait for someone to bring them the Good News. Pray for laborers for Uruguay and the surrounding countries. Remember that the Gospel is not Good News if it gets there too late!

Standing before you is a famed Drum Tower, a remarkable architectural achievement held together with groove joints instead of nails. As you admire the abundance of carvings and paintings on the multi-storied structure, music plays and a traditional song and dance begin. You are at a festival in one of the few Dong villages open to tourism.

Early mission work among the Dong began in 1910-1930 but was halted by communism when it was introduced in 1949. However, the Gospel never took a firm hold. Today only 1% of the Dong people claim Christianity. The 2020 census numbered the Dong at 3,495,993. Roughly half of them is Northern Dong and the other half is Southern Dong. While the customs and beliefs of the two groups are similar, their languages are different. The Northern Dong have no Bible.
The Dong practice Chinese folk religion. They worship their ancestors and believe in spirits and ghosts. Dong shamans use drums during rituals to appease any offended spirits.

The Dong have lived in a subtropical area of south-central China for generations. They cultivate rice, wheat, maize, sweet potatoes, cotton, and soybeans. Some raise pigs and hens. Under communism, the Dong’s standard of living has increased through the building of a solid rural infrastructure and improved education and health care. However, the Dong do not know how they can have eternal life through Jesus.

Spring/Summer 2023

Bible translation is an awesome task. Nevertheless, it can and must be done in the right way with the right method. Bible translators do not translate by inspiration. If they did, the task would be quite simple since there would be no need for checking or revising. The translator must struggle diligently to find the best possible way to say, in the target language , what God has said in the source language. He must pray for God’s help. It would be easy for us to decide translation is too much responsibility and risk. Are you not glad though, that when he gave us our first English Bible from the Greek received text, William Tyndale did not decide the risk and responsibility were too great? Speaking of risk; Tyndale was martyred by the Roman Catholic Church for his work!

The Bible does not easily fit into the target language. Though Greek did not perfectly fit into English, we can confidently say that we have God’s Word in our language. The goal of translation is to maintain the integrity of the original while making the target translation understandable and readable to the people. If the translation does not sound right, people may carry it to church, but they will probably not read it. We want the people to say, “This is our Bible” not, “This is the missionary’s Bible.”

Some passages are a challenge to put into the target language. However, after finding what does not work, you look for what does. Your native translators are your best asset because they know their language and culture. Perhaps a fellow team member may find or know the answer, or you may consult someone back home.
Challenges may arise if the grammar of the source language differs from the grammar of the target language. Many languages have two words for we. You must choose. One of the words includes the person being addressed; the other word does not. (This is third person plural inclusive and exclusive.) For example, the disciples woke Jesus in the storm and said, “… Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Does the word we include or exclude Jesus? Did they think they would perish but Jesus would survive? Or did they think Jesus would sink with them? Since neither English nor Greek have this grammatical feature, those texts cannot help you make a decision.

Another grammatical challenge is the pronoun their. When the four men let their paralyzed friend down through the roof, Jesus saw their faith. At least one Tibetan language has five words for their. One word is a general reference to six or more people, but the other words depend on whether there are two, three, four, or five people involved. So, did Jesus see the faith of four or five men?

Some languages, such as Melanesian Pidgin of Papua New Guinea, have only active, not passive voice. They cannot say, “John was hit by the ball” (passive), but rather “The ball hit John” (active). This language requires that passive voice phrases change to active voice. While we cannot change the grammar of the target language to match the grammar of the source text, our Bible translation must conform to the grammar requirements of the receptor language. This is not bad translation; it is reality.

Another language challenge is the use of verbs and verb phrases rather than abstract nouns such as faith, love, repentance, salvation, etc. In the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus said, “… This day is salvation come to this house…” This little phrase is full of challenges. For example, the Coatlán Zapotec of Oaxaca, Mexico, does not have the word salvation. They have the verb save, but how does a house get saved? House is used to represent the family. This phrase also presents a collocational clash. (Languages differ in what words naturally fit together.) How does salvation come? Abstract nouns and figurative language are often challenging, but translation must be done. Team members can brainstorm, and someone may determine an acceptable way. You can also consider how other translators have rendered the verse. However, you must be careful. Not all translators have the same convictions or methods of translation that you have.
Translators also face challenges in languages and cultures that do not contain words or concepts such as circumcision, baptism, fasting, or housetops. If people live in houses with thatched roofs and bamboo walls, shouting from the housetop may be totally ridiculous. No one would stand on the roof. We cannot say to announce it over the loudspeaker because doing so is an anachronism, introducing something into the Bible that did not exist in Bible times. Some may suggest a cultural substitute like announcing it in the town square or in the men’s house. But that is not what Jesus said; He said house. A footnote might be used to explain the type of house with a flat roof found in Israel or a picture of such a house with a caption below it. What do we do with words like snow, camel, and lamb where these are not known? The solution might be to borrow or transliterate the word from the country’s trade language. If there is misunderstanding with these words, the checking process will reveal it, and we can look for a better way.

These are just a few of many challenges that make translation interesting. While we must maintain a healthy fear of the awesome responsibility of translating, we must not let fear stop us from getting involved. We must not say, “Let the experts do it.” Look at the junk “Bibles” the “experts” have given us in English! Bible translation requires serious-minded, hard-working, Bible-believing, careful, diligent, godly men and women who will accept the challenge. Translation is not for everyone. However, we need many hundreds more missionaries who love God, love the lost, and love the Bible to complete the task!

Before we learned the importance of pronouncing Thai with the proper tones, we would get into a taxi and tell the driver where we wanted to go. The drivers always did a double take and looked at us strangely. We later learned that instead of saying that our destination was Muang Ake, we were saying “knock on your head.” —Vicki

Bro. Ed Waddell
hewj1261@gmail.com

In January 1990, during a Sunday morning service at First Baptist Church of Mayport in Mayport, Florida, God saved me, a twenty-eight-year-old Navy electrician, under the preaching of a guest preacher. At that time I was stationed at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, Florida, serving aboard the USS Saratogo CV-60.

In 1987, aboard the submarine USS Mendell Rivers, my right hand and arm were injured in a machine accident. I served for seven more years, receiving an honorable discharge and a partial disability after twelve years of service. God’s timing and ways are ALWAYS perfect (Romans 8:28; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:9). Doing my best to trust and obey according to Proverbs 3:5-6; 16:3; Philippians 3:13-14; & 2 Peter 1:10, I have served God in my local church in whatever ministry capacity He has given me.

This was never more important than in August 2021 when God answered my prayer for strength to end the grieving process after my wife died from cancer in March 2021. God used a missionary family who visited our church to turn my attention toward the mission field and show me that I should be personally involved in missions.

God pointed me directly to the Advanced Missionary Training that I am now completing here at Baptist Bible Translators Institute. I knew about BBTI from their radio program on the Fundamental Broadcasting Network and from seeing Rex Cobb’s articles in the devotional booklet, Baptist Bread. So, I moved from Charleston, South Carolina, to Bowie, Texas, to begin preparing for the ministry the Lord was leading me to. On September 21, 2022, at East Side Baptist Church in Bowie, I met a native Navajo missionary, Aaron Nelson. God showed me how I could also serve as a missionary to the Navajo Nation. I saw the great need for indigenous Bible-based churches that have an accurate, textually pure copy of God’s Word in their native language.

Please pray for me as I move forward in the direction God has given me and begin serving in this capacity (as well as in any others that are necessary).

From the Navy to the Navajo: God is good!

Winter 2022-23

Lilias Trotter 1853-1928

“Satan knows well the power of concentration.” Do we? Do we dare to focus on Christ with such genuine intensity that His glory is our only motive and consideration for every choice we make?

In October 1876, John Ruskin, a famous English painter and severe art critic, consented to evaluate a young woman’s artwork. Astonished by her exceptional portrayal of artistic elements and principles, Ruskin immediately offered to train the artist. As time progressed, he declared that she was a rare talent destined to become one of the century’s greatest English artists.

The young artist, Isabella Lilias Trotter, was born on July 14, 1853, to an affluent family in London. Her godly parents intentionally instilled spiritual truths in her life which blossomed following her salvation. Lilias’s love for art was matched only by her passion for ministry. When faced with a choice between the fortune and fame of an artistic career and a simple life of service, Lilias chose to relinquish her rights to her talent and follow Christ. In 1879, she journaled: “Are our hands off the very blossom of our lives? Are all things—even the treasures He sanctified—held loosely, ready to be parted with without a struggle when He asks for them? It is a loss to keep what God says to give.”

After she surrendered her life and talents to Christ, He opened His way before her. At a mission conference in 1887, Lilias clearly knew that God wanted her to go to Algeria, North Africa. The following year, she moved to Algeria where she ministered to Arabs until her death in 1928. Although she worked closely with North African Mission, the ministry never accepted her as a missionary because her heart was weak. However, Christ was Lilias’ focus; nothing could dissuade her obedience. For the next thirty-nine years, she faithfully ministered to Algerian women and children through Bible studies, prayer meetings, and literacy classes. Her artistic and literary talents enabled her to write and translate many tracts, parables, Christian literature, and Scripture portions into both classical and colloquial Arabic. During her later ministry, Lilias and her team pioneered work among the Arab Sufi mystics in the Southlands of Algeria. When her weak heart left her bedridden, she continued writing. The famous hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” was inspired by Lilias’ booklet Focussed, in which she wrote: “Dare to lay bare your whole life and being before Him, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His glory.”

Lives are legacies, yet only Christ-focused lives leave legacies of faithfulness. Focused lives fearlessly follow Christ without hesitation at the cost to oneself, family, friends, or ministries. “Christ—Christ—Christ—filling all the horizon. Everything in us: everything to us: everything through us. ‘To live is Christ.’—Amen.”

Is our focus changing our lives? Do we dare?

Quotations from A Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness

Winter 2022-23

Cindy Stacy
Missionary to Zambia

Cindy Stacy is not another Mary Slessor. She does not trudge alone through the African jungles facing the danger of lions, cannibal tribes, and pythons. (She does need to avoid contact with black and green mambas and other venomous snakes). Much of what she does as a missionary in Zambia is what she did for many years in New Mexico.

On March 24, 1964, Cindy was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Eight years later, she was born again at Temple Baptist Church. After graduation from the Temple Baptist Christian School, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University.

Cindy joyfully served the Lord in her highly active church, Gospel Light Baptist, in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. She taught in the Christian school for twenty-three years. Why did she not stay where she was comfortable and safe? She was drawn to Zambia because she saw a much greater need there. Of the 13,800,000 people in this Southern African country, half are under the age of fifteen. Cindy saw wide-open doors and opportunities. A church-planting missionary family needed her experience and expertise. Though most of Cindy’s peers are willing to serve the Lord in the United States, few of them want to go overseas. However, Cindy was willing to serve outside her comfort zone. Instead of asking, “Why should I go?” she asked, “Why should I stay?”

Mission work requires preparation. Once Cindy’s church commissioned her as their missionary, she began presenting her plans to other churches. Knowing full well what children need, she began asking God’s people for school supplies to take with her to Zambia. They responded generously to the need. Cindy also began saving for passage and setup expenses. A single missionary may require a smaller amount of monthly support, but plane tickets, visas, housing, furniture, and vehicles are expensive. Cindy worked diligently. Seeing the benefits of BBTI’s Advanced Missionary Training, she arrived for training in August 2014, graduated in May 2015, and left for Zambia in January 2017.

English is not the first language of Zambian young people, but they need to learn it. Cindy teaches grammar, reading, and ESL classes to the youth. She has Thursday and Friday evening Bible classes for neighbor children and conducts a successful Children’s Bible Hour on Saturdays. Cindy enjoys teaching her Sunday school class of seventy-eight children as well as discipling ladies.

Missionary work is not simply teaching people but training people how to teach other people. Through the Solid Rock Bible Institute, Cindy is training two young ladies to be future teachers. Though they are not allowed to have their own class in the church before they graduate, they have begun a neighborhood Bible class on their own. One lady asked Cindy to teach her four children to read. Instead of teaching the children, Cindy trained the mother to teach her own children. The team wants the young people to have Bibles, but they do not simply give them out. The children must earn their Bible through the Faithfulness Campaign which requires church attendance and Scripture memorization.

While church and school duties keep Cindy very busy, she still finds time for her cat, dog, and vegetable and flower gardens. Zambia, like many places, has its share of difficulties, and Cindy must share those difficulties with the people she loves. Often there is no daytime electricity, and water is very scarce. Prices have increased by seventy-five percent, and, of course Zambia was plagued by Covid-19. Nevertheless, Cindy is very content and does not want to be anywhere else! She extends this invitation: “If you’d like to come work in Zambia, you can teach the two-to-seven-year-old children. I will give you thirty children, chairs, a room, the curriculum, a helper, and all the hugs you’ll need for the rest of your life.”

Winter 2022-23

 

 

A Christian could not invest his life in any occupation more valuable than translating the eternal, living words of God into a language in which it has never existed. The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without a Bible. With modern technology, Bible translation should be easier and faster than at any time in history. Not long ago, a Bible translator typed and retyped the New Testament twenty-five times before it was ready to print. Despite digital technology, it is still a very difficult work. It requires proper spiritual, physical, mental, intellectual, and linguistic preparation. Praise God that some see the need for Bible translation and are expressing a desire to engage in this worthy work, and we do not want to discourage them. However, they must “count the cost” and be aware of the long-term commitment required and the endurance needed to overcome many obstacles. While each language and place have their special challenges, you can be sure that the work of Bible translation is not easy anywhere.

The prospective translator must understand the futility of beginning without the proper training in linguistics and translation principles. Bible translation must be done right! To spend fifteen years producing a New Testament, only to discover that the people cannot understand it or do not accept it is tragic, but it has happened. Good, well-intentioned people with sound doctrine do not necessarily produce good Bible translations.

A BBTI graduate, who we will call Fred Jones, works with an unreached people group in a dangerous and restricted part of the world. He compares his efforts to translate the Bible for this ethnic group to pushing a rope uphill. Not all places will seem as impossible as Brother Fred’s. His is probably a worst-case scenario, but there is an enemy with many wiles who wants to stop all Bible translation. Fred attempted to reach part of this group who lives in a country controlled by godless atheists. The leaders hate Christianity, and they sometimes hate the ethnic people who will not give up their cultural and linguistic identity. After a time, Fred was forced to move to a neighboring country and work with another part of the same group. However, the situation there is not much better. First, he must have a reason to justify being in the country, and “missionary” is not one of the options. He must operate some type of business or offer a skill that would benefit the country. The government of the second country is controlled by a religion that opposes Christianity, and those in power also hate the ethnic group that Fred loves. After a few years, the government began to practice genocide against Fred’s people. Men from his neighborhood disappeared; some were reported killed and others imprisoned. When Fred and two other foreign workers bought food for the wives and children of the missing men, they were accused of aiding terrorists. Two of them were jailed, but Fred escaped before being arrested. Nevertheless, he is determined to return and with God’s help push the rope further up the hill. Yes, there is political and religious opposition, but Fred is proving that it can be overcome.

The Bible translator must expect to push the rope up a steep linguistic hill. Unless the major language is English, he must first learn the trade language and then the heart language of the people group. The first language is difficult, but the second one is often much more complex, without a language school to attend. Since the second language Fred needed to learn had never been written, he had to learn it without books and teachers, develop an alphabet, and write the words in the correct morphological and syntactical order. Thankfully, Fred and his wife learned these skills at BBTI.

It is always difficult to move God’s Word from one language to another. It can be painstakingly slow. The missionary translator should never attempt the task of Bible translation without the help of native speakers, but it is challenging to find them. There may be no Christians among the group, and even if there are, they may be afraid to help. Sometimes, helpers will only work secretly.

The Bible translator must go and live where people do not have a Bible, and usually that means living in inhospitable places. Places where translation work is needed can be unpleasant, difficult, and sometimes dangerous. Primitive living conditions require enormous amounts of time and energy to accomplish simple daily tasks. (No hot showers or electric range!)

Consider Fred’s wife. She must be as tough as he is. She raises her children and homeschools them under the same conditions. She, too, must learn both the trade language and the heart language of the people group. She must learn to understand and love a people that are sometimes hard to love. At BBTI, Fred’s wife received the same pre-field training as Fred. This enables her to learn and cope with the culture and analyze and learn the language. She can communicate and teach women that may be culturally off limits to Fred. They make a good team.

Bible translation usually proceeds slowly. Often it is put on the back burner because of all the other work that the missionary must do. He needs to evangelize those around him and teach them the Word of God, even though it does not yet exist in the language. He must work at his business to retain his visa and good standing with the government. Some supporters may question why he is not winning the multitudes and establishing churches reported by other missionaries in other places. He must report to them and explain why he is not producing the same results.

As we pray for laborers for God’s harvest field, let us also pray that many of these will labor in the work of Bible translation. Pray that our homes and churches will produce soldiers of the Jones’ caliber equipped for God to send. Pray for laborers who can patiently endure the spiritual, mental, and physical hardness required to accomplish the task and push the rope up a steep hill!

Pushing a Rope Uphill

A Christian could not invest his life in any occupation more valuable than translating the eternal, living words of God into a language in which it has never existed. The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without a Bible. With modern technology, Bible translation should be easier and faster than at any time in history. Not long ago, a Bible translator typed and retyped the New Testament twenty-five times before it was ready to print. Despite digital technology, it is still a very difficult work. It requires proper spiritual, physical, mental, intellectual, and linguistic preparation. Praise God that some see the need for Bible translation and are expressing a desire to engage in this worthy work, and we do not want to discourage them. However, they must “count the cost” and be aware of the long-term commitment required and the endurance needed to overcome many obstacles. While each language and place have their special challenges, you can be sure that the work of Bible translation is not easy anywhere.

The prospective translator must understand the futility of beginning without the proper training in linguistics and translation principles. Bible translation must be done right! To spend fifteen years producing a New Testament, only to discover that the people cannot understand it or do not accept it is tragic, but it has happened. Good, well-intentioned people with sound doctrine do not necessarily produce good Bible translations.

A BBTI graduate, who we will call Fred Jones, works with an unreached people group in a dangerous and restricted part of the world. He compares his efforts to translate the Bible for this ethnic group to pushing a rope uphill. Not all places will seem as impossible as Brother Fred’s. His is probably a worst-case scenario, but there is an enemy with many wiles who wants to stop all Bible translation. Fred attempted to reach part of this group who lives in a country controlled by godless atheists. The leaders hate Christianity, and they sometimes hate the ethnic people who will not give up their cultural and linguistic identity. After a time, Fred was forced to move to a neighboring country and work with another part of the same group. However, the situation there is not much better. First, he must have a reason to justify being in the country, and “missionary” is not one of the options. He must operate some type of business or offer a skill that would benefit the country. The government of the second country is controlled by a religion that opposes Christianity, and those in power also hate the ethnic group that Fred loves. After a few years, the government began to practice genocide against Fred’s people. Men from his neighborhood disappeared; some were reported killed and others imprisoned. When Fred and two other foreign workers bought food for the wives and children of the missing men, they were accused of aiding terrorists. Two of them were jailed, but Fred escaped before being arrested. Nevertheless, he is determined to return and with God’s help push the rope further up the hill. Yes, there is political and religious opposition, but Fred is proving that it can be overcome.

The Bible translator must expect to push the rope up a steep linguistic hill. Unless the major language is English, he must first learn the trade language and then the heart language of the people group. The first language is difficult, but the second one is often much more complex, without a language school to attend. Since the second language Fred needed to learn had never been written, he had to learn it without books and teachers, develop an alphabet, and write the words in the correct morphological and syntactical order. Thankfully, Fred and his wife learned these skills at BBTI.

It is always difficult to move God’s Word from one language to another. It can be painstakingly slow. The missionary translator should never attempt the task of Bible translation without the help of native speakers, but it is challenging to find them. There may be no Christians among the group, and even if there are, they may be afraid to help. Sometimes, helpers will only work secretly.

The Bible translator must go and live where people do not have a Bible, and usually that means living in inhospitable places. Places where translation work is needed can be unpleasant, difficult, and sometimes dangerous. Primitive living conditions require enormous amounts of time and energy to accomplish simple daily tasks. (No hot showers or electric range!)

Consider Fred’s wife. She must be as tough as he is. She raises her children and homeschools them under the same conditions. She, too, must learn both the trade language and the heart language of the people group. She must learn to understand and love a people that are sometimes hard to love. At BBTI, Fred’s wife received the same pre-field training as Fred. This enables her to learn and cope with the culture and analyze and learn the language. She can communicate and teach women that may be culturally off limits to Fred. They make a good team.

Bible translation usually proceeds slowly. Often it is put on the back burner because of all the other work that the missionary must do. He needs to evangelize those around him and teach them the Word of God, even though it does not yet exist in the language. He must work at his business to retain his visa and good standing with the government. Some supporters may question why he is not winning the multitudes and establishing churches reported by other missionaries in other places. He must report to them and explain why he is not producing the same results.

As we pray for laborers for God’s harvest field, let us also pray that many of these will labor in the work of Bible translation. Pray that our homes and churches will produce soldiers of the Jones’ caliber equipped for God to send. Pray for laborers who can patiently endure the spiritual, mental, and physical hardness required to accomplish the task and push the rope up a steep hill!

Compassionate Care

We cannot overestimate the value of a missionary. Humanly speaking, he is the only one standing between a group of people and Hell! If a missionary leaves the field prematurely, he is often discouraged and feels that he has failed the Lord and those people who believed in him. He, his church, and his mission agency should be asking some questions: What went wrong? What could have prevented it? And what should we do now? A missionary that we know well worked with his wife and children in a very remote mountain village, accessed only by plane or helicopter. Alone, they faced a very frightening experience and were in imminent physical danger. Almost miraculously, they were rescued by helicopter. They returned to the States very traumatized. Their pastor—the one who should care most—spoke with them for less than one minute and then apparently wrote them off as quitters. Talk about adding insult to injury! What they needed was a thorough debriefing with caring, competent counselors.


Gospel Furthering Fellowship (GFF), under the direction of BBTI graduate Rodney Myers, specializes in proper preparation for the mission field. This includes a strong recommendation that the missionary acquire Advanced Missionary Training at BBTI. They also offer help and debriefing, not only for their own members, but for any Baptist missionary. Consider the words of GFF Missionary Care Director Chris Luppino in his article, The Crisis that Few are Talking About:


The closing challenge of Jesus to His disciples in Mark 16:15 is clear, compelling, and challenging. They were to take the Gospel to every living person in every corner of the world. It is Jesus’ commission to the Christians of every generation during the church age. He highlighted one of the challenges to fulfilling His command in Matthew 9:37 where He said, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.”


In comparison to the need, the number of laborers (missionaries) is small. In the face of the challenging task of cross-cultural evangelism and church planting, many of the laborers are weak. The inherent weaknesses are amplified by the fact that missionaries are often sent woefully under-prepared. The director of our mission was challenging a pastor with some of the difficulties the missionary that his church was sending was likely to encounter and with the need for him and his wife to be properly prepared. In response to a list of the challenges that the missionary could reasonably be expected to face the pastor replied, “He will just have to learn as he goes along.” [Fortunately, that missionary couple did attend BBTI and are now successfully learning a tribal language that people told them is impossible to learn!]

Once laborers are sent, they are often neglected. If they “crash and burn” or just quietly go away (leave the field), the ridicule, blame, and scorn is usually targeted at the missionary. They are labeled as quitters, not being “tough” enough, not being made of the right stuff, or being a John Mark. We have no words to describe the sending church, sending pastor, or sending agency that let them down. If we are going to take the Gospel to each living person in every corner of the world, we must do better…much better!
The crisis that few are talking about is missionary attrition. A 2017 survey of 745 former missionaries cited a lack of missionary care as the number one cause of missionary attrition.


Gospel Furthering Fellowship is an Independent Baptist mission service ministry. We do not send missionaries or start churches. GFF serves churches that send missionaries to start churches. We come alongside churches and missionaries by using our experience and expertise to encourage and promote long-term missionary service among unreached people groups. Churches have a biblical mandate to intentionally, not accidentally, produce career missionaries. We are honored to serve them as they seek to do so.

We at home cannot possibly understand what a new missionary faces. He is concerned about the children’s welfare and education. Culture stress is often overwhelming. The pressure he feels from his supporters to produce results may derive from his own mind, but it is there, nonetheless. The missionary is tempted to take shortcuts and minister before learning the language. When language learning suffers, he eventually realizes his inability to effectively communicate. Why didn’t someone warn me that this language and the hearts of these people would be so hard? This dear man of God and his wife may question their spirituality. Surely, if we were right with God, we would love these people!
Missionaries may feel reluctant to share with anyone, including their pastor, what they are going through. After all, they told him and a bunch of others what they were going to do. They never entertained a thought of failure. The pastor needs to exercise his gift of discernment, read between the lines, investigate, and be sure that his missionary family is indeed doing well. Even if he does not suspect a problem, a personal visit might be a great encouragement to his missionary family.
It is the work of the church to get missionaries to the field. It is also the work of the church to keep them there. If they return early, it is the duty of the church to love and welcome them as the heroes they are. The church should attempt to restore and resend them. Compassionate care, not criticism, is needed.

Winter 2023-24

Golden Anniversary

There were many notable events in 1973. The infamous Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade made legal the murder of sixty-six million babies over the next forty-nine years. The Watergate scandal was a top story for most of the year, and President Nixon assured us that he was not a crook. Vice president Spiro Agnew resigned over a tax evasion issue, and Gerald Ford was confirmed by the House of Representatives to replace him. The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. The American Baseball League adopted the designated hitter position, and Secretariat won the Triple Crown. After the loss of over 58,000 men and one woman, we pulled out of Vietnam and gave South Vietnam to the
communists. Also, that year Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia.

It was not announced on national news or even on local news, but in September of 1973 the Baptist Bible Translators Institute (BBTI) began in a Sunday school classroom of Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Before that time, no Baptist school existed to train missionaries in linguistics, language and culture learning, and Bible translation principles. The vision for BBTI grew out of the frustration of a Baptist missionary trying to minister in Spanish to a group of Indian people whose understanding of Spanish was extremely limited. George Anderson thought maybe he had missed the class at his Bible college that dealt with language learning. He inquired and found that no such class was given at his college or at any Baptist school in America, Canada, or England. In light of Christ’s command to teach all nations, George thought this was very strange. He learned that there are still thousands of unwritten languages with not a word of the Bible and where language schools do not exist. George correctly reasoned that if these people were to ever hear the Gospel or read God’s Word, they needed missionaries with specialized training to reach them. There are two kinds of men: One says, “This is not right. Someone ought to do something about it.” And the other kind says, “This is not right. I am going to do something about it.” George learned that training in linguistic and cross-culture communication was available at the non-denominational organization New Tribes Mission. The New Tribes leaders graciously agreed to accept George and his wife Sharon and train them with the understanding that the Andersons would use it to begin a similar school for Baptist missionaries. George asked his supporting churches to be patient with them for two years while they acquired this valuable training.

BBTI began with the Andersons and three other families: the Duffees, the Huddlestons, and the Cobbs. Realizing that a Sunday School classroom is not an appropriate place to train missionaries, we began praying and searching for a larger rural property. We had no money, but with the help of Paul Henderson, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Bowie, Texas, we were given one hundred seventeen acres of land with three houses five miles from Bowie. The move was made on April 1, 1974, and by then a fifth family, the Christensens, had joined the group.

Missionaries need to learn building skills, and repairs to our old houses provided plenty of on-the-job experience. The many hard and unpleasant tasks such as digging a ditch were classified as GMT (Good Missionary Training), and we did them as to the Lord, knowing that we were building something that would last. Today there is housing for four staff families and a dozen other families or single students. A multipurpose building was constructed in 2004 and an addition to it is currently in progress.

Advancements have been made in the field of linguistic and cultural anthropology, and BBTI has tried to keep pace. The courses of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Chronological Bible Teaching, Greek, and Jungle Camp have been added but much is still the same. Certainly, the goal of training missionaries has not changed. BBTI has had three directors: George Anderson, Charles Turner, and Rex Cobb.

The tuition-free specialized training is given in one nine-month school year.Enrollment has never been large; it has averaged thirteen students per class. Our best representatives have been our graduates and students that visit churches on deputation. We accept students from like-minded churches with their pastor’s approval. Since 2006, we have promoted the work of missions and our Advanced Missionary Training weekly on fifty-five radio stations and in this quarterly publication. Our graduates have worked in Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Bahamas, China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Nepal, Russia, Israel, Tajikistan, Korea, Japan, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Papua Indonesia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Jordan, Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Cameroon, Malawi, Cape Verde, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Hungry, Romania, Republic of Georgia, Armenia, Croatia, Greece, Greenland, and to the Chippewas Indians in the United States. Others are preparing to go to Iceland, Burkina Faso, and to some countries mentioned above. Graduates are using the skills they learned at BBTI in cross-cultural evangelism, Indigenous church planting, Bible translation, and literacy.

Thank God for half a century of blessings. We glance back, but we gaze forward. The task is still before us, even greater than it was fifty years ago because the population has doubled. By the grace of God and with the prayers and support of God’s people, we plan to continue to prepare missionaries for their challenging task of language learning, cultural adaptation, and communication of the Gospel. If we were on the right path a half century ago, and we believe we were, then we plan to stay on that same path. Technology is helpful in some ways, but it will never replace flesh and blood missionaries going where people have no knowledge of Christ and staying until there is a thriving church with a well-translated Bible and a desire to take the Gospel to the regions beyond them. That is the plan for the next fifty years or until Jesus returns!

Taking on the Challenge

Bible translation is an awesome task. Nevertheless, it can and must be done in the right way with the right method. Bible translators do not translate by inspiration. If they did, the task would be quite simple since there would be no need for checking or revising. The translator must struggle diligently to find the best possible way to say, in the target language , what God has said in the source language. He must pray for God’s help. It would be easy for us to decide translation is too much responsibility and risk. Are you not glad though, that when he gave us our first English Bible from the Greek received text, William Tyndale did not decide the risk and responsibility were too great? Speaking of risk; Tyndale was martyred by the Roman Catholic Church for his work!

The Bible does not easily fit into the target language. Though Greek did not perfectly fit into English, we can confidently say that we have God’s Word in our language. The goal of translation is to maintain the integrity of the original while making the target translation understandable and readable to the people. If the translation does not sound right, people may carry it to church, but they will probably not read it. We want the people to say, “This is our Bible” not, “This is the missionary’s Bible.”

Some passages are a challenge to put into the target language. However, after finding what does not work, you look for what does. Your native translators are your best asset because they know their language and culture. Perhaps a fellow team member may find or know the answer, or you may consult someone back home.
Challenges may arise if the grammar of the source language differs from the grammar of the target language. Many languages have two words for we. You must choose. One of the words includes the person being addressed; the other word does not. (This is third person plural inclusive and exclusive.) For example, the disciples woke Jesus in the storm and said, “… Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Does the word we include or exclude Jesus? Did they think they would perish but Jesus would survive? Or did they think Jesus would sink with them? Since neither English nor Greek have this grammatical feature, those texts cannot help you make a decision.

Another grammatical challenge is the pronoun their. When the four men let their paralyzed friend down through the roof, Jesus saw their faith. At least one Tibetan language has five words for their. One word is a general reference to six or more people, but the other words depend on whether there are two, three, four, or five people involved. So, did Jesus see the faith of four or five men?

Some languages, such as Melanesian Pidgin of Papua New Guinea, have only active, not passive voice. They cannot say, “John was hit by the ball” (passive), but rather “The ball hit John” (active). This language requires that passive voice phrases change to active voice. While we cannot change the grammar of the target language to match the grammar of the source text, our Bible translation must conform to the grammar requirements of the receptor language. This is not bad translation; it is reality.

Another language challenge is the use of verbs and verb phrases rather than abstract nouns such as faith, love, repentance, salvation, etc. In the story of Zacchaeus, Jesus said, “… This day is salvation come to this house…” This little phrase is full of challenges. For example, the Coatlán Zapotec of Oaxaca, Mexico, does not have the word salvation. They have the verb save, but how does a house get saved? House is used to represent the family. This phrase also presents a collocational clash. (Languages differ in what words naturally fit together.) How does salvation come? Abstract nouns and figurative language are often challenging, but translation must be done. Team members can brainstorm, and someone may determine an acceptable way. You can also consider how other translators have rendered the verse. However, you must be careful. Not all translators have the same convictions or methods of translation that you have.
Translators also face challenges in languages and cultures that do not contain words or concepts such as circumcision, baptism, fasting, or housetops. If people live in houses with thatched roofs and bamboo walls, shouting from the housetop may be totally ridiculous. No one would stand on the roof. We cannot say to announce it over the loudspeaker because doing so is an anachronism, introducing something into the Bible that did not exist in Bible times. Some may suggest a cultural substitute like announcing it in the town square or in the men’s house. But that is not what Jesus said; He said house. A footnote might be used to explain the type of house with a flat roof found in Israel or a picture of such a house with a caption below it. What do we do with words like snow, camel, and lamb where these are not known? The solution might be to borrow or transliterate the word from the country’s trade language. If there is misunderstanding with these words, the checking process will reveal it, and we can look for a better way.

These are just a few of many challenges that make translation interesting. While we must maintain a healthy fear of the awesome responsibility of translating, we must not let fear stop us from getting involved. We must not say, “Let the experts do it.” Look at the junk “Bibles” the “experts” have given us in English! Bible translation requires serious-minded, hard-working, Bible-believing, careful, diligent, godly men and women who will accept the challenge. Translation is not for everyone. However, we need many hundreds more missionaries who love God, love the lost, and love the Bible to complete the task!

Staying the Course

With eight billion souls in our world, and three hundred eight-five thousand being born every day, the words of Jesus still ring true, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.” We need thousands of new missionaries; and we need the present ones to stay the course! No one announces their intention to go to the mission field without a desire for a long, fruitful ministry. Yet, it seems that missionaries who spend decades on the field have become less common. Why? Recently, a missions-minded pastor asked me to share my thoughts on selecting missionaries to support who will stay the course. This article, which I pray will be a help to both missionaries and pastors, is the result.

While we encourage all to consider missionary service, presenting yourself to the churches as a missionary is like matrimony—it should not be entered into lightly. Some missionaries have asked churches to invest in them only to fail to reach the field or to depart prematurely. William D. Taylor with the World Evangelical Fellowship Missions Commission claims that 71% of early missionary departures are preventable. God’s people want to invest in new missionaries, but they deserve some measure of assurance that the missionary will stay the course and do what he promises.

Missionaries are expensive but well worth the cost if they accomplish their goals. We understand that sometimes it becomes impossible for a missionary to reach the field or remain there. He may face political unrest or visa problems. But if this happens, it may be God’s direction to a different field, not His leadership back home. Sickness is a common reason for leaving the field. Missionary friend, if this happened—we should say when this happens—consider getting medical help there or in a neighboring country. If you must return stateside for treatment, determine to return to your field as soon as possible. Give up your support and stay home only as a last resort.

Sometimes missionaries leave their field due to unresolved conflicts with other missionaries or nationals. If these painful incidents occur, seek counsel from your pastor and others. Separate yourself from that location, if necessary, but not from your mission field. (See Acts 15:36-41.) God put you there; don’t let a man send you home!

Failure to learn the language well and become comfortable in the culture is often an underlying factor in early departures. Inability to communicate is very frustrating. Determine to spend at least your first two years in nothing but language and culture learning. Our pre-field linguistic training will help you learn quickly and accurately and help you to recognize and deal with the language and culture shock you will inevitably face. Your ability to adapt is vital to success in communication. It is difficult to remain in an uncomfortable place when you struggle to communicate.

If you are a supporting pastor, we suggest you not simply rely on a questionnaire or brief phone conversation before adding a missionary for monthly support. A personal call to the missionary’s sending pastor might reveal some valuable information. Does the pastor have any reservations about sending him? Is the sending church completely behind him, and how much money are they investing in him? Is the pastor willing to visit his missionary couple on the field to ensure that they are adapting well and learning the language?

Next, ask questions about the missionaries’ family life and active ministry. Are they humble, hospitable, and ministry-minded? Have they served faithfully in the church? Have they taught Sunday School or Junior Church, cleaned toilets, worked in the bus ministry, the jail, or in the nursing home? How well does the pastor really know the man, his wife, and his children? Does he only see them on Sundays and Wednesdays? What is the home really like? Is the couple training their children? Is the wife completely dedicated to a life on the foreign field? Are they willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the ministry?

Discover the character of the missionary. Is the pastor quite sure his missionary is not viewing pornography? Is he (or his wife) addicted to his cell phone or social media? Can he stick with a task? Can he put down his electronic toys and get his hands dirty? Is he an extra-mile Christian or does he do only what is expected? How does the missionary react to adversity? Can he respond Biblically to interpersonal conflicts? Is he faithful and consistent in giving of his finances? Language learning and missionary work require that he endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Finally, discover all you can about the missionaries’ preparation. Do they know their Bible? Have they been to Bible college, or do they have a good explanation why it was not necessary? Do they plan to get specialized linguistic and cross-cultural training before going to the field? Do not accept the response, “We don’t have time.” They take time for financial preparation. Nine months of Advanced Missionary Training will prepare them to communicate clearly in a new language. Have they researched their country and know its history, heroes, culture, and government? What have they learned about the Bible they will be using? Do they care about its accuracy and purity? Do they know or care about the status of people groups in the country? Are they reached, unreached, or Bibleless? Is the missionary willing to find answers to these questions?

Before taking a missionary on, it is wise to have a face-to-face meeting. If you have concerns related to any of the topics above, share them. Be kind and gentle and do not expect perfection. Remember that God holds us all to the same standard. Give the missionary godly suggestions in the areas where he may be lacking and schedule a future interview; give him six or eight months to implement your suggestions. Be willing to qualify and slow to disqualify this precious missionary family! Above all, pray for discernment. God knows who will stay the course!

Winter 2022-23

The Recruitment Center

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Seventy-five percent of our military age men are unfit for service. Some military branches are lowering standards and increasing financial incentives to recruit personnel. Sadly, recruitment for overseas missionary service is very low as well. The apostle Paul declares that salvation is available to everyone everywhere. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Then he launches into a series of rhetorical questions intended to motivate us to deliver the good news to the world. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” They cannot. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” They cannot. “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” They cannot. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” Send preachers! God must send them, of course, but the church must recruit and prepare them for Him to send. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). Prayer is not a suggestion but a command. However, we seldom hear a public prayer for more laborers. We have not because we ask not! But why do we ask not? We ask for what we want. Apparently, we really do not want missionaries; or, we want them to come from other churches, not ours. The Antiochian church was a missionary recruitment center. The believers prayed for missionaries and produced them. According to Acts 13:14, God sent them; “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed….” As co-laborers with God, we are failing to produce laborers for Him to send.

A few missionaries are coming from a few churches. Why so few? Why not ours? Childbearing is normally not a problem for a young couple, but when it is, they may seek medical help. We must admit our missionary infertility and consult the Great Physician.

Failure to produce foreign missionaries is so widespread that it seems almost normal.We would all agree that missionaries should come from our churches—where else would they come from? Yet most churches do not produce missionaries. This missionary barrenness may be common, but we must not accept it as normal.The purpose of the church is missions, and missions cannot be accomplished without missionaries. So, our missionary scarcity is a grave problem that must be addressed. A first step toward fixing the problem is to increase missionary emphasis in our church services. Look at the amount of time given to missions in the church services. What does it say about our missionary priority? We wonder why God is not calling enough missionaries to reach every kindred, tongue, people, and nation. Missionaries do not magically appear! They are developed in the home and the church where there is a strong missionary emphasis.

While we thank God for what churches do for missions, we must do more. There are many ways local churches can be actively involved in missions. We could give missions more priority by reading prayer letters from the pulpit and praying for the requests. A church could purchase good missionary books and strongly suggest that people read them. Someone could read short, interesting portions from these books to whet the congregation’s appetite. Occasionally, we could show missionary videos or short presentations downloaded from the missionaries’ websites. Someone could research and give a brief report on the spiritual condition of a certain country. Before the service, why not project pictures of missionaries that you support? Get to know them. Hosting missionaries is expensive; they need meals, money, and often a motel. But they help keep our minds on missions. They convey a burden for their field and make a plea for help. A church could also display the current faith promise goal and giving along with a list of missionaries that could be supported if the mission giving increased. Missions must be emphasized all year long, not just during the annual missions conference. Sing missionary songs occasionally; preach missionary sermons. If reaching the world is your church’s priority, keep missions before the congregation. If it is not, repent! Encourage communication with missionary wives and children. Use different creative ideas to promote missions in the church services. Do not just say world evangelism is important; show that it is! Let us prepare our young people for missionary service and let them go! For too long we have cautioned them to stay unless they are absolutely sure that God wants them to go. It is time to challenge them to go unless they are absolutely sure God wants them to stay!

Pastors must call people to the altar of total surrender (Romans 12:1-2.) We preach, “Give God your heart.” But God says, “Give me your body.” He demands that the body be holy, and not conformed to the world. Look at the worldliness of our people. They often wear the immodest clothes of the world. They deface and stain their bodies like the heathen. Worldly music and sinful images enter their eyes and ears, and worldly speech comes out of their mouths. Most Christians probably do not even try to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” They are neither transformed, nor renewed, and are anything but missionary material. Perhaps one young person out of one hundred has an inclination toward fulltime missions. One percent is pathetic! We need a radical change in thinking about missions! Let the world provide its cab drivers, plumbers, lawyers, and programmers. Let the church produce missionaries!

Change is needed because what we are doing is not working. There remain thousands of unreached people groups and Bibleless languages. At the rate we are producing missionaries, billions will never hear the Gospel. When we compare what we are doing with what we are not doing, we must conclude that something is terribly wrong. God, give us a revival in missions. Make our churches recruitment stations that produce laborers for You to send!

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Natural Language Learning

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Billions of people in the world are bilingual and even multilingual. It is not unusual for people in India or Africa to speak four or five languages. Why should it be so difficult for missionaries to learn a new language or two? Perhaps we are going at language learning in the wrong way. The normal procedure for our missionaries is Bible college, deputation, and then a language school on their chosen field. There is a vitally important step that is usually overlooked: pre-field linguistic training such as has been available for Baptist missionaries at BBTI for nearly fifty years. Some have greatly benefited from it, however, the vast majority have either not known of its existence or chosen not to take advantage of it.

The language school method of language learning presupposes that a school is available for the language the missionary needs to learn. Language schools teach trade languages such as French, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. There are 7,151 languages in the world, and it would be safe to say that 6,000 or more of them have no language schools. Yet there are billions of lost souls that speak these languages: souls for whom Jesus died, souls that He desires to save, and souls that deserve to hear the message in their heart languages. Some of these languages have only a few hundred speakers while others have several million. With few exceptions, our Independent Baptist missionaries are not attempting to reach people whose languages have no schools because of the seemingly impossible language barrier. Many of these languages are still unwritten which of course means they have no portion of God’s Word. An estimated eighty-five percent of our missionaries go to only fifteen countries and then only to the major trade languages. Most of these countries have several other language groups. For instance, in the African country of Côte d’Ivoire, there are 77 languages besides the official French. Would you not agree that all people deserve to hear the Gospel in the language they understand best, just as we did?

A language school where one is available is a good idea but not when the missionary first arrives on the field. We suggest that he begins vigorously learning the language from the people and progress to a point of fluency in a more natural way. Schools are not the natural way to learn languages. We did not learn our first language in one! The method of language learning that we suggest may sound radical to Americans, but it works, and it is usually better and faster. This plan will require extreme dedication and diligence on the part of the missionary. If he is too undisciplined or unwilling to take on this responsibility and become a learner, leaving behind the mentality of a student, then he should simply go the language school route and live with its results and limitations.

We are not suggesting that the missionary simply go out with the people and “pick up the language” the best he can. No, we are suggesting a plan that involves a tried and proven method. The missionary can go to the field with this method and begin using it upon arrival. But he must learn the method here first. Before you ask, the answer is no; he cannot learn it on the internet. And it will take time. (Missionaries spend the necessary time to prepare theologically in Bible college and financially on deputation. Why should they not spend the necessary time to prepare linguistically?)

This natural language learning method is part of the overall nine-month Advanced Missionary Training (AMT) program of BBTI which provides many language and culture learning tools that are not available in Bible colleges. The first skill we teach is phonetics. I have said it a thousand times; one more time will not hurt: No missionary should attempt to learn a new language without first studying phonetics! (At BBTI both husband and wife take the same classes.) Students spend at least one hundred fifty literal classroom hours learning to recognize and reproduce any sound they may encounter (there are about eight hundred of them). Because he learns to produce the new sounds exactly as the native speaker, he can speak a new language with little or no foreign accent. An accent does not disappear with time; from the beginning, he must keep from superimposing his English habits on the new language by forming new habits that will last for life.

The missionary student uses his newly acquired phonetic skill for a following course, Situational Language Learning. This includes using a language helper (I did not say a language teacher) who speaks a foreign language well. (In recent years, we have used Sina-Sina from Papua New Guinea, Japanese, Korean, Khmer from Cambodia, and Spanish.) The student learns how to elicit the language from the helper in a step-by-step process, beginning with simple object-like words and slowly increasing the length of the utterances. In a short time, he is fluent in all the sounds of that language. In a few weeks, he, along with a partner, will progress to eliciting and learning dialogues natural to the native culture such as buying food in the market. If his target language has no language school, he can continue using this method for as long as needed. If a language school is available, he can enter it after a few months and advance rapidly in grammar and more vocabulary. He begins at the top of the class because he is not struggling with pronunciation. He will sound like a native. Speaking and acting like a native should make him much less of an outsider. He will be comfortable with the people and hopefully they will be more willing to listen to his message. They may even tell him, “You eat our food, you spend time with us, you talk like us. Hey, you are one of us!”

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The Foot of the Cross

The ground is level at the foot of the cross, meaning that all are welcomed and received equally when they come to God through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus made a full and final atonement for the sins of Adam and all his descendants. Not only does God desire that all would arrive at the cross (1 Timothy 2:4), He commands it (Acts 17:30). The ground is indeed level at the foot of the cross, but the road leading there is not. For some there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the way.

To the place I heard the Gospel for the first time, I drove one mile on a paved road. I passed no checkpoints, and no armed guards asked where I was going. I walked into the building in broad daylight. It was not an underground church service. I feared no retaliation from a religious system. No family member opposed my going or persecuted me afterward. I heard the message in my language without it going through an interpreter. If I did not know better, I might think God loves me more than most people in the world. For me, the road to the cross was smooth and easy. I wish it were for everyone.

Most in the world know nothing about the cross or that there is even a road to it. No one gets to the cross without the message of the Gospel, and it simply has not been declared where they live. Contrary to God’s will, these poor souls live and die without the Gospel.

Another huge obstacle is social control, commonly called peer pressure. A society keeps its people in line with the threat of punishments. Punishment might be mild like gossip or ostracism or as serious as death. We have heard of a father killing his child that converted to Christianity. It is much easier to get to the cross from North Carolina than from North Korea! The fear of exile from a family or group is terrifying. A Muslim in Indonesia told a BBTI graduate, “I am an Indonesian, a Sunda Muslim. If I trust Christ, I am no longer a Sunda. If I am not a Sunda, I am nothing. I have no home, no family, no house, no relationship. I know I am a sinner, and I do not want to be punished for my sins. I know Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, but I would rather risk suffering eternally in the lake of fire than to lose my social identity in this life.” (Missionaries in these difficult places are not going to see quick results; we need to be patient with them.)

To illustrate this difficult struggle against social control, consider the following from BBTI graduate Emanuel, who along with his wife, Courtney, works with Afghan refugees in Greece:

“Iman is not like the normal Hazara Afghans that are the majority here. In fact, there is a lot of fighting between Iman’s Panjshir group and them. Iman says they all convert easily because they don’t take their religion seriously. They will change again later from Jesus to something else when the situation affords. Iman on the other hand owns his faith. He has a very strong national pride that relates to his religion…But then here comes the dichotomy. For all this die-hard insistence, in the same conversation he will confess that he is tired of religion and wishes there were a way to connect with God directly without going through books, prophets, and go-betweens.

Over the weeks, we have had many conversations about the identity of Jesus. We showed him many scriptures, each of them shedding more light, but still, he would insist that he cannot accept that Jesus is God. We learned not to press the point. Instead, we befriended him, along with many others. We built trust, and he started coming and reading the Bible. When his younger brother was missing for days, we prayed with him. We let him talk about his life, his brothers who are fighting the Taliban, his mother whom he loves more than any other person, the three cows they have, the customs and values they live by, the climate of his mountain home, why he left it, the challenges along the way, and how he misses his family. For every hour we have spent teaching, we have spent as much listening. Slowly he was drawn in.

Now, he enjoys the Bible more and interacts with it better than most Christians I know. I can give him a passage, and he will read it and then preach it to me. He would make a great preacher. He loves Jesus… Still, he could not accept Christ’s identity. Until recently that is.
The other day we had a God-ordained hour with him, showing repeatedly that Jesus was in fact worshipped by men and angels, that he not only permitted it, but God commanded it, and that one day every tongue, including Iman’s, will confess that Jesus is Lord. At the end, he confessed that he believes it is true, but he has a family, which I suspicioned, for all his claims of independence, was the real reason he could not accept Jesus as the Son of God. If Jesus is right, his family, his nation, his heritage, has been mistaken for hundreds of years. That is an incredibly hard pill to swallow for one who is not bitter and hurt by his native culture, but proud of it…For such a person to become a follower of Jesus, what must he lose? Father, mother, brother, and sister, yes, Islam. He must find a new reference point, with new values, new beliefs, a new community, a new Lord and Master, a new Book, a new road, a new everything. Nothing old can stay the same. All that is dear to him must be eclipsed by One who beckons to him with nail scars in his hands and feet.”

It was easy for me to accept Jesus. I did not lose my family, my job, or my country. Not so for many. What will it take to get people like the Sunda Muslim or Iman down the road to the cross? Someone must obtain specialized training for the task. He must give up all he knows and loves and go to where they live, he must patiently learn new tongues and cultures, and he must not look for shortcuts or quick results. He must be willing to walk a difficult, dangerous road with the seeking sinner until they reach the level ground at the foot of the cross.

Spring 2022

The Pu-nyai and the Pu-noi

Understanding of a people’s culture is vital. If the missionary does not know the culture, he is likely to deliver a confused message. The following article by a BBTI graduate, whose identity we must conceal, demonstrates this fact. Understanding of a people’s culture is vital. If the missionary does not know the culture, he is likely to deliver a confused message.

In the process of language learning, we have heard several folktales and children’s stories and have learned much about the people’s cultural mindset and worldview. We have seen at least three common themes.

Firstly, people are collectivists, NOT individualists. In America, we have been rooted in humanism to the point that “I define me.” In other words, I get to decide what I think is right and wrong. In general, westerners want to stand out of the crowd, be their own person, and have their own opinions. It does not work that way here. A person’s goal in a collectivist society is to progress the community; all are equal, and everyone is happy. Nobody has more than anyone else, we are all one big family, and what is mine is yours. This could explain why communism, to a certain point, makes sense here culturally. It is when the people discover that the dictators are above everyone else, have more, and are bossing people around that things begin to change. Which brings us to the next point…

Authority (without reason) is almost always resisted and rebelled against. If others (the pu-nyai) are over you, they are expected to show respect and understanding to you and everyone else (the pu-noi) under them. This means that if you give a rule, you should also explain why that rule is being enforced. Giving a reason shows you care about others and are helping to further everyone so that all live in unity. Otherwise, you are just a jerk full of pride scolding the underlings.

Last of all, deception is considered heroic. A typical hero in a folktale is an underling (pu-noi) who deceives the dictator/jerk (pu-nyai) in order to shame him, make him “lose face” in the community, and bring down his pride. We have seen this pattern over and over in these stories. A clever trick played on someone, usually in a humorous way, shows not only how the trickster does not like the jerk, but that he thinks the jerk is something he should not be. It is a way to “get the upper hand” so to speak. Here is an example of a story involving these things:

“Please don’t put me in the bucket!” called a soft voice.
“Oi! The fish can talk!” the lady said with a startle.
“Please don’t put me in the bucket!” the little fish begged again.
“But if I don’t catch you, I will not have anything to eat!”
the lady replied.
“But I am so young and very small,” implored the fish. “You will not have enough to eat. Why don’t you put me back in the water and wait until I am fully grown? Then you can catch me again, and you will have more to eat for that meal.”
After some thought, the lady conceded. She gently placed the little fish back into the river.
The little fish, happy to be free again, swam and splashed as far away from the net as he could, determined to
never return to that spot in the river.

Here we observe the pu-nyai, the lady who will catch and eat the fish (which only benefits her and leaves no mercy for the fish). The pu-noi, the little fish, resists and outsmarts her, even lying to her that he will be there again for her to catch once he is grown up. His trickery saves the day, he swims free (a small victory for all fish everywhere), and the woman is assumed to go hungry that day.

How does this affect the missionary? Take, for instance, the story of Adam and Eve. At first, if you hear the story through our people’s ears, God could
be considered a bad pu-nyai, giving rules without reason; the hero of the story would be the serpent, Satan. In deceiving Eve (by mixing truth with lies), he really deceived God and foiled His plans. And now all the earth and humankind are as corrupt (thus on the same level) as Satan. Imagine trying to convey the Gospel when Satan is seen as the hero!

However, if we show that God is a good pu-nyai, giving reasons for his rules (“In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”), thus trying to look out for and protect the pu-noi under Him, we see that deceiving Him is the worst blasphemy ever! Now, the deceiver is harming the one that protects the community, making himself the pu-nyai who is getting something only for himself and hurting everyone else. It shifts the situation entirely.

Now consider Christ Jesus. He was and is THE Pu-Nyai: Creator God, holy, sovereign, all-powerful, eternal, worthy of all praise. He stooped down and became a humble Pu-Noi. He had no more than anyone else around Him; He roamed homeless, often only finding solace on the Mount of Olives. He helped make the lives and souls better for those around Him. He had compassion on His fellow men. He did not come as Pu-Nyai, even though He is worthy to make the rules. He came as one of us, so He could be accepted by us.

As missionaries, we MUST be learners before we can be teachers, or we will find ourselves having to correct grave errors in our teaching. We cannot just spread the Gospel without giving due attention to culture. The way we pre- sent things may or may not make sense to the hearers. We must be pu-noi, just humans among fellow humans, serving our Heavenly Father, the Pu-Nyai of pu-nyai, the holiest and worthiest of all.

Here Am I; Send My Sister

This title comes from an article by Paul Fleming. It makes us laugh but should make us cry. In practice, a lot of men are saying, “Send my sister.” Fleming goes on to write:

We men! We are the stronger sex; it has always been so! We send our gifts to mission fields, to which the women go. While up the steepest jungle paths, a woman bravely treads, We men, who are the stronger sex, do pray beside our beds. When women leave to go abroad, the heathen souls to reach, We men, who are the stronger sex, do stay at home to preach. While women, in some far-off shack, do brave the flies and heat, We men, who are the stronger sex, in cool and comfort eat. Fatigued and weary, needing rest, the women battle on. We men, who are the stronger sex, do write to cheer them on! O valiant men! Come let us sleep and rest our weary heads. We shall not be the stronger sex if we neglect our beds!

We do not deny the important role that women play in God’s work. Women from Galilee followed and ministered to Jesus and his disciples. Paul named several faithful women who served in the early churches. Over the centuries, thousands of women, both single and married, have left their homes to work in heathen lands. Some, no doubt, preached a little more than we think they should have, but probably because no man was there to proclaim the Gospel. Whether on the foreign field or at home in our churches, women are often the spiritual leaders because men have abdicated the position. Many times, women have a heart for God and a compassion for others that is lacking in men. This naturally attracts them to the mission field.

Women oftentimes have a desire to serve the Lord full-time just like men. At home, their full-time opportunities may be limited to church secretary or Christian school teacher, but on the foreign field, they can serve as missionaries. Missionary women understand what they should and should not do. They should work under the leadership of a male missionary or national pastor. They should teach ladies and children but not men. They may teach men to read and write or to speak English but may not teach Bible doctrine. They should not attempt to work in dangerous places where they risk being violated. Of course, single men have limitations on the foreign field as well. A well-prepared Aquila and Priscilla team is perfect.

Over the last twenty-one years at BBTI, the single female students have outnumbered the single male students by two to one. Some single graduates get involved in short-term missionary work, but as a rule, if they remain unmarried, they will not be career missionaries, especially the single men. Unmarried ladies are much more likely to go to the field as full-time missionaries than single men.

The great need is for men, single or married, who will go to the foreign field and stay. Thank God for the ladies who have this desire, but where are the men? Why are they avoiding missionary service? Could it be that they are not being confronted and challenged? Spurgeon said, “Not all men should be missionaries, but all men should struggle with it.” Pastor, make the men struggle with it. When they say, “I’m not called,” pressure them to tell you how they came to that conclusion. How much did they pray about it and study God’s Word on the subject? How did God reveal to them that they are called to stay? Do not let them off the hook so easily. Most of our churches are not producing missionaries; we should find out why! We support missionaries, but are we producing them?

Military experts tell us that seventy-five percent of our military age men are unfit for service: 25% lack a high school education, 30% are too ignorant to pass the entrance exam, 10% are disqualified due to criminal convictions, 27% are obese, and 32% of the age group have other disqualifying health problems. And since we have an all-volunteer military, a man can simply not volunteer. The same is true in God’s army. God may impress a man that he should go to the mission field, but that man has a will and can refuse; men do it all the time!
Disqualifying factors for missionaries are different, but they are numerous: LifeWay Research reports that 66% of young people drop out of church after high school. Others are addicted to pornography, video games, social media, texting, pleasure, money, and tattoo ink. Most want to simply be comfortable and live the good life. For those who are even somewhat interested in missions, there are many pitfalls and detours that lead anywhere but to the mission field. We as a church must protect potential missionaries from the wiles of Satan. We must nurture and encourage them by keeping the mission challenge before them.

Nothing short of real revival is going to produce male missionaries. We must fall in love with our Lord Jesus Christ and get interested in what is on his heart. He said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). He said to preach the Gospel to every creature; yet billions have never heard a clear Gospel message. He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). His commandment to go and teach all nations is ignored; there are still thousands of unreached nations (people groups). He said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). We are unfriendly toward Jesus because we are not evangelizing the world as He commanded.

Yes, we need a real revival, one that would result in men saying, “Here am I, send me” instead of saying, “Here’s my sister, Lord, send her.”