From the Navy to the Navajo

Bro. Ed Waddell

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



Al Jazeera – Flickr
Creative Commons

The Kingdom of Bahrain is an archipelago nation located in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Most Bahraini live on the main island. The town people usually live in apartments or houses made of cement and lime brick. The villagers live in thatched huts. The arid climate allows some dairy and vegetable farming, but most of their food is imported.

Bahrain has diversified its petroleum and commerce-based economy to include manufacturing, tourism, and international banking. This prosperous nation has a rich Middle Eastern heritage. Its people enjoy a relatively high living standard as well as free education and medical care.

Over 763,000 Bahraini Arabs are living in deep spiritual darkness. Islam is the state religion, and most Bahraini are either Shi’ite or Sunni Muslims. The Sunni monarchy rules over the Shia majority. Resulting dissension between these two Islamic sects led to the removal of political and civil rights. Due to western influence, the Bahraini are less strict than mainland Arabs. However, Islam is their culture. While they are more open to many western ideas, Christian beliefs are deemed pagan.

Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, but the people primarily speak Bahrani Arabic. Linguists have developed a Bahrani Arabic alphabet, yet there is no Bible in this language. Will you pray for the Bahraini?

Winter 2022-23

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

To get acquainted with people in Siberia, you invite them to your home for tea. As outer clothing is considered dirty and hot to wear inside, a host greets visitors by saying, “Come in. Take off your clothes (meaning hat, coat, gloves, and boots). Have some tea.”

A Russian English-speaking teacher/translator was hired to receive American visitors and she hospitably invited them to her home for tea. However, something got lost in her translation from Russian to English when she told them, “Come in. Get undressed. Have some tea.”

Brother Johnny Leslie, missionary to Croatia, was preaching about John the Baptist having his head cut off. He should have said odrezati but instead said narezati. Both words mean “cut,” but the congregation roared with laughter because narezati is only used when talking about slicing something like salami!


Charles V. Turner in 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall 2022


Isaac McCoy 1784 -1846

Isaac McCoy was born in Fayette, Pennsylvania, in June 1784. He was the son of a Baptist preacher who, as incredible as it sounds, did not believe in evangelizing. Isaac and his father argued over this, but Isaac was not afraid to stand for the truth. He became a missionary to the Native Americans. Before moving west to the wilderness of Indiana and Illinois, Isaac pastored a church for seven or eight years. His first missionary assignment paid him $500 per year, and he worked with the Weas, Miamis, and Kickapoos in Indiana. He later worked with the Pottawatomie tribe in Michigan.

McCoy used education as a tool to evangelize children. In 1820, he moved to Fort Wayne and opened a school with ten English pupils, six French pupils, eight Indian pupils, and one African pupil. By the end of the year, he had thirty-two Indians living in his own home as members of his family! A year later, he reported that he had forty-two pupils. In 1822, he began a temperance society and made his first trip to Washington D.C. to plead for fair treatment for the Native Americans. Our government was shamefully famous for making and breaking treaties with the Indians They stole their land, relocated them, and viewed them as something less than human. However, Isaac McCoy did not see the Indians this way. He loved a people that others despised.

For many years, McCoy served under federal appointment as a commissioner, surveyor, or teacher among the Native Americans. On a trip to Washington [believed to have been in 1829] to report on his exploration, he visited the Mission Board in Boston. He found them making pleas for missionaries to Burma (Myanmar), Africa, and other countries, but not to the Native Americans. Not everyone shared McCoy’s burden to reach them. Some believed that the Indians would soon die out; therefore, they believed there was no need to evangelize them.

In 1828, McCoy preached the first Baptist sermon ever heard in Chicago. In 1832, he was present in the organization of the first Baptist church in the Oklahoma Territory. He was instrumental in the founding of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri, where he lived until 1842. At that time, McCoy moved to Louisville, Kentucky and established the Indian Mission Association. On a return trip from Jeffersonville, Indiana, he was exposed to severe weather which resulted in a serious illness that caused his death on June 21, 1846. His dying words were, “Tell the brethren to never let the Indian mission decline.” It was said of him, “The American Indian never had a better friend than Isaac McCoy.”

Fall 2022

Madison, a graduate of Pensacola Christian College, currently studies at BBTI.

By Madison Lehman

Why do missionaries go? Why do they stay? Why do believers risk their lives? Why do martyrs die? We have all heard that the need for lost souls to hear the Gospel is great; and the need is great! In fact, the need is numbing. However, the answer to these questions is not the need. Those who embrace the need struggle to maintain their zeal, while those who suppress the need struggle to minimize their indifference. So, the questions remain.

I heard a man answer these questions on Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Radio. He said, “They do not go because the need is great. It is. But they go because God is worthy.” When I heard that, God pierced my heart! I serve the same God. Isn’t God worthy of my complete surrender and obedience?

I have heard about the need my whole life. Growing up overseas, reading VOM and Open Doors magazines, collecting missionary books, and hearing missionary testimonies continually kept the need fresh in my mind. I told God that I would go. Then, I told Him that I could not go. God gave me a taste of missionary life, and I shrank back. But last fall, He began convicting me of my need to yield to Him. God showed me that He is worthy of my obedience—at any cost to myself. He broke me and called me with Acts 26:16-18. By God’s grace, He will not let me be “disobedient to the Heavenly call” (v. 19). God has specifically called me to minister to Arab Muslims. I do not know many things, but I do not have to know to obey. I must obey.

The need alone is insufficient motivation for any missionary or ministry. God alone is The Motivation. I am not going because the need is great. I am going because God is worthy. God promises to save souls (Isaiah 45:3), but God doesn’t promise that I will get to see Him save souls. I may minister my whole life and never see one soul saved. Or I may die. If I live, I shall live unto the Lord; if I die, I shall die unto Lord; whether I live therefore, or die, I am the Lord’s (Romans 14:8). God alone is worthy of my life.

“This year, will you follow Christ, or will you ask Christ to follow you?” (Dr. David Jeremiah). Your answer to God’s call will change your life. My answer is changing my life.

Fall 2022

There are forty-four subgroups of the Jula, a sub-Saharan people, one of which is the Odienne Jula. The majority of the 183,000 Odienne Jula live in the northwest town of Odienne, Côte d’Ivoire which is an historic trading center. Odienne lies within the savanna region of Côte d’Ivoire where the soil is fertile. People make their living as merchants, craftsmen, and farmers. Rice is grown in the region and cashews have recently become an important cash crop (2019 Indiana University Press).

The Odienne Jula are resistant to the Gospel because they are both religious and clannish. They are 95% Muslim but also adhere to much of their ethnic religion. Ethnic religions consist of rituals, charms, and involvement in spirit worship which are entrenched in the people due to strong cultural and generational ties. The Odienne Jula are organized by clans, the lineage of which is traced through the men. Rather than viewing themselves as individuals, they find their identity in their clan. They guard against anything that might divide or weaken their kinship ties.

This unreached people group speak Wojenaka, a language also spoken by 18,000 Wassulu people, also of Côte d’Ivoire. It is reported that a Bible translation has begun; however, there are no scriptures in Wojenaka. Translators need prayer to overcome obstacles and wisdom to produce a faithful translation.

Fall 2022

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!

Cassie, James, Emily, Melana & Lilyanna Dean love life in Siberia

By James Dean

At age thirteen, under conviction of sin, I repented and placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that His blood alone was able to save me. A few years passed and I began to grow spiritually. During the summer before my freshman year of high school, the Lord started to deal with me about going into the ministry. I did not respond to the call at first, because I felt unable, not possessing great oratory abilities. God showed me that is just the point; we are unable, but God is able. The ministry is such that we must rest in the power of God and not our own natural abilities. The Holy Spirit continued to deal with me. I yielded and upon completing high school, went to Bible college.

While attending Midwestern Baptist College, a chapel speaker came and presented the need for missionaries in the arctic regions. He spoke of the many distinct groups of people within the circumpolar region. One of the people groups mentioned was living in northern Siberia, Russia. During his presentation, the Lord broke my heart for the arctic people. I did not want to mistake God’s will, but clarity came as I prayed for direction. The Lord wanted me in the arctic, particularly Siberia. Unbeknown to me, during that same chapel service, the Lord dealt with my future wife about missions in the far north. Upon completion of Bible college, we married, and I returned to the Ohio Valley to work in my home church as my pastor’s assistant before beginning deputation.

During our final stages of deputation, we attended the Baptist Bible Translators Institute (BBTI) where my wife and I spent nine months studying linguistics, culture, and missions. We are so thankful for the training we received. At the time of this writing, we have been on the field for over thirteen years. We have studied language and collaborated with veteran missionaries in both children and village ministries. We are currently beginning in a fledgling work in a northern village with the goal of planting an indigenous church.

Summer 2022


There was no headstone for Charlotte Rowe until her name was uncovered among the missionaries appointed by American Baptist International Ministries during research as it prepared for its 200th anniversary.

Charlotte White Rowe was the first woman missionary to be officially appointed from the United States by any denomination or agency. Charlotte was born in 1782. Her early life was marked by sadness. She was orphaned at age twelve and widowed at twenty-two. She moved to Massachusetts where she was saved and joined First Baptist Church of Merrimac.

In 1813 Charlotte moved to Philadelphia and joined the Sanson Street Baptist Church. There she met and joined Charles and Phoebe Hough who were going to Burma to help Adoniram Judson with printing work. She applied to the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions in the summer of 1814. After much discussion, the majority consented to her approval but then said they did not have the funding to send her. She pledged her own small estate to the work and left for India. The next year, the mission society’s new ruling forbade the appointment of single women missionaries.

After four months at sea, Charlotte and the Houghs landed in Calcutta and traveled to Serampore. It took two months for them to arrange shipping for the printing press and supplies to Burma. During that time, she met missionary Joshua Rowe, a widower with three small boys. They were married and Charlotte stayed in India with her new family while the Howes went on to Burma.

Charlotte’s first task was to learn the local language, Hindi. She was a remarkable linguist and learned so quickly that she soon began establishing schools. It wasn’t hard to get native teachers for the boys. To get teachers for the girls she had to hold classes and train the women first. Her resources were limited so she began writing schoolbooks in Hindi.

After only seven years of marriage, with six children and a busy and thriving ministry, Joshua Rowe died. Charlotte was only financially able to continue for an additional three years. She traveled to London in hope of being appointed by the British Mission society, only to find that they, too, had established a ruling against single women missionaries. She then worked to raise passage back to the United States where she ran a boarding school with the help of her twin daughters until the girls died, one in 1851 and the other in 1852. Charlotte died in 1863 at the age of eighty-two and was buried beside her twin daughters in an unmarked grave.

“I am but a mere instrument in God’s hand . . .” —Charlotte Rowe

Summer 2022

Joe and Lindsay Risinger are 2019 BBTI graduates. Their children are Joseph (6), Abbie (4), and Titus (1).

It was August of 2019 when we began living in a village in northern Uganda where we could not understand a single word of our neighbors’ heart language. The language they spoke during their growing up years is the same language they use to ponder deep thoughts, and it was nothing but meaningless noise to our foreign ears. This local, tribal language called Lugbara was one that we were warned would not be an option for a foreigner to grasp. No language school exists [although Lugbara is spoken by 1.7 million people]. Because it is tonal, the most subtle change in one’s tone profoundly alters the expressed meaning.
God called us to these people, therefore we felt it prudent to take whatever steps necessary to understand their culture and communicate in their heart language. For months we would go out every single day, notebook in hand, and use the language acquisition tools we were given at BBTI. Under the shade of a mango or avocado tree while our three-year-old and one-year-old played on a papyrus mat with the African children, we carefully transcribed words and phrases to commit to memory afterwards.

What was their reaction? Absolute fascination! They could not fathom why this family would come from America to learn their language and do life with them. They were overwhelmingly humbled by our desire and anxiously supported our effort. The most frequent question was “Why? Why are you here? Why are you learning our language?” I explained, “Our plan is first, to learn the language, and second, to help people understand the truth of God’s Word.”

There is a mosque in our village which half of our local community attends. The Imam (leader) of the mosque is a man named Agobi. The only language he speaks is Lugbara. I met Agobi during our early months on the field but had very little ability to communicate with him. The Lord gave me a burning desire to share the Gospel with him. Our surface relationship was maintained for some time until two years later when he invited me to his home for tea. My heart was full as I was able to sit in his home and share, in Lugbara, the simple, powerful truths of who Jesus truly is. We pray he will one day turn to Christ.

The preaching of the cross and the hope we have in Christ is well worth any amount of language learning effort if it causes a single lost man to become more tender to such a message. By striving to speak the language of these people, a powerful statement of sincerity resonates in their hearts and minds. Every Lugbara person we encounter is met with an immediate connection and highly effective bridge to the Gospel because of the ability to speak their heart language. I cannot think of a better way to invest our time during these first few years on the field than learning this language.

Summer 2022

Among the mountains and valleys of the Shan state of Myanmar live the Golden Palaung. Over 200,000 Golden Palaung speak the Shwe dialect of Palaung, which comes from the Mon-Khmer language family.

The Palaung are able to grow a number of crops in their area and they trade for additional foods with their pickled tea (also called laphet). This exclusive novelty is made by fermenting tea leaves over a long period of time and then preparing them to be eaten as a salad.

In addition to their special pickled tea, their traditional houses are quite distinct, and very impressive. They are raised off the ground and can house as many as six families. Some houses are nearly one hundred feet long! In spite of all this room, there is little if any division for each family in the house. Consequently, it is not surprising that single family dwellings are now becoming the norm.

Most Golden Palaung practice Theravada Buddhism. In addition, they continue to practice their traditional animistic religion. A distinction in their animistic belief is that of “nat worship.” Nats are the spirits of inanimate objects. If the people experience hardship, they believe it is because the nats need to be appeased by offering items such as betel or tobacco. Offerings are also given by a shaman at ceremonies during marriages, births, and deaths.

Summer 2022

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!”

Jessi Pontius

Growing up in a Christian home, it was easy for me to realize as a child that I needed to trust Christ with my eternity. Trusting Christ with my life, on the other hand, was not so easy.

God first dealt with me about surrendering my life to Him when I was eleven or twelve years old. I had been reading my Bible (a habit I was still trying to start) when I came across Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” I had never heard God speak to me from His Word in such a way, and I really did not understand what the verse meant. I knew it was very important, but I did not see how. I had a slight feeling that this was God calling me to the mission field, but I denied it and moved on.

As I grew older, I realized what God was saying through that verse. Still, I denied it, convincing myself that God had not called me to the mission field.

Around the age of sixteen, I decided I was going to go into the Lord’s service—as a paleontologist. I wanted to show through fossils that God was Creator. Although a very nice plan, it was not God’s plan for my life. God brought this squarely to my mind through the passing of a loved one a year or so later. I had never felt the reality of death quite so strongly until that time. It made me wonder about the eternity of those who have never heard the Gospel. God showed me through that trial that although Creation ministry is good, His plan for my life was to be a missionary. I was finally ready to say what I had read a number of years before: “Here am I, send me!”

God first led me to Massillon Baptist College and has now placed me at Baptist Bible Translators Institute to prepare me for the mission field. Ever since I surrendered my life fully to God, He has only strengthened the desire in my heart to share His love with those who have not yet heard. Where God will finally lead me, I do not know, but I am so excited to see His plan unfold. All I can say is, “Here am I! Please send me!”

Spring 2022

Elisabeth on her last birthday

Tom and Barbara Needham were farmers, and they went to Cameroon, Africa, to teach the people better farming methods. There a missionary led them to Christ. They returned to Iowa, sold the farm, went back to Cameroon as missionaries in 1991. Their daughter Elizabeth, the fifth of seven children was two years old at the time. There she grew up and served the Lord with her family. She learned Pidgin English and Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani Muslim people, as well as sign language. Elizabeth was homeschooled and was saved at age six. At age twelve at summer camp, she was memorizing the words to the hymn their group was about to sing. “All to Jesus I surrender. All to him I freely give.” She realized that it was not true of her, but she immediately surrendered all! Suddenly she had a burden to reach the lost.

Cameroon is divided into two parts; one speaks English and the other French. The Needhams worked in the smaller English-speaking section until forced to move to the French side because of violence that arose in 2018. Elizabeth is currently learning both French and French Sign Language.

Elizabeth graduated from the Baptist College of Ministry in 2012 and then returned to Africa. She and three of her sisters attended BBTI from 2019 to 2020. She was an excellent student and a blessing to all each day. Elizabeth’s childhood friends named her Sangle which means “joy,” and to this day, she wears a perpetual smile. She returned as a missionary to Cameroon in January 2021.

Through her church, Elizabeth ministers to women and children, but God is especially blessing her outreach to the deaf. Here are a few testimonies:

“One deaf man who trusted in Christ last week said, ‘I want my wife and all my deaf friends to hear this same preaching.’ He invited us back the next Saturday to preach to all the deaf that he could gather but was disappointed that none of them came. We taught him how to share the Gospel with others and arranged to meet him again next Friday to meet his wife and other deaf friends. Another deaf man who was a Jehovah’s Witness also trusted in Christ two weeks ago after Synthia and I had witnessed to him multiple times. He came to church with two friends and really enjoyed it. He is still holding to his connection to the JWs, trying to decide which one he will follow. Another deaf woman told me, ‘I have gone to church many times, but I have never heard before what you have told me today about Jesus.’ She was so surprised and amazed to hear that Jesus died to take away her sins. Today I stopped by to give her a Bible. She was so happy! Charnelle, another deaf woman I have reached out to came to church last Sunday. She told me afterward, ‘I do not understand anything in the church that I have been attending. I just sit and stare at the pastor until he is done. But here you interpreted for me, and I could understand. I want to come back next week.’ Charnelle’s deaf husband came to me with one of the tracts I had given her. He told me he is a believer and said, ‘This paper is so true…I want to gather all my deaf friends in my house on Saturday and explain to them all what I read in this paper, and I am going to invite them all to church on Sunday.’ One very tall deaf man with large hands stood in front of the rice shop where he loads and unloads 50 kg bags of rice. He meekly listened to the Gospel and asked questions. Then he prayed a sweet, simple prayer, ‘Jesus forgive me. I believe in you.’”

We praise the Lord that He allowed us to have a small part in a great work in Africa. But what if Elizabeth had not surrendered all? Most missionary kids do not return to the mission field. Thank God Elizabeth did!

Spring 2022

John Geddie
1815 – 1872

“The love of Christ banished the terrors of the law.” Those were the words of John Geddie concerning his salvation at age nineteen in 1834. He tirelessly preached this same message of Christ’s love as a missionary in the New Hebrides islands for twenty-four years.

John was an avid reader; his favorite subject being stories of mission efforts and the desperate need of the Gospel in unevangelized areas. After completing secondary school at Pictou Academy in Nova Scotia, he studied theology. Small and slightly built, he was often referred to as “little Johnnie.” While at seminary, his health became so poor that he was told to give up his studies. He promised the Lord that if his health were restored, he would go as a missionary to a heathen land. On March 13, 1838, he was ordained and began pastoring a church on Prince Edward Island.

During his time as pastor, he promoted foreign missions which was a new idea to the colonial churches. Up to this point, they had sought financial aid for their own work, but had not considered sending out missionaries. It took several years and many pleas, but a mission society was finally formed. John and his wife were the first missionary volunteers. Their destination was Aneiteum, an island in the New Hebrides where people practiced cannibalism.

The Geddies arrived in New Hebrides in 1848 and soon felt the reality of their situation. They were on an island, surrounded by people from whom they had much to fear and whose language and customs they did not know. Geddie wrote, “We have His promise, at whose command we have come hither, ‘Lo, I am with you alway.’”

Their first task was to learn the unwritten Aneiteumese language. Then they began to print materials and teach the people to read. After three years and much labor, John had won a total of ten people to the Lord. Several times, while walking the trails, spears and clubs were thrown at him. He once faced an angry crowd of men who threatened to kill him for interfering as they strangled a young widow to death that she might “join her husband in the afterlife.” He unwittingly violated some cultural taboos and made the chieftain angry. But eventually the message of Christ’s love penetrated the hearts of the people and hundreds turned to the Lord.

As people were saved and their lives changed, John began to teach them and send them out to other islands with the message of the Gospel. People came from all over the region to see what had happened in Aneiteum. One group even brought a pig in the hopes they might use it to purchase a teacher to take back to their village. When John Geddie died on December 14, l872, a tablet was placed behind the pulpit of the church in Anelcauhat which reads: In memory of John Geddie, D.D. When he landed in 1848, there were no Christians here, and when he left in 1872, there were no heathen.”

Spring 2022

by Reese Parfitt

In Situational Language Learning, we practice a careful, orderly method that can be used to obtain language from any speaker of any foreign language. The idea is to be able to take control of our learning so we won’t need to rely on an officially-trained teacher or a language school as we venture into learning a foreign language. Our class time involves a short time of instruction about the concepts and method, but the bulk of our time is spent practicing that method by using an actual language.

We have two language informants who are fluent speakers of French and Mandarin Chinese. I am in the Chinese group. We start by asking for object-like words, and write them down in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). We methodically progress into longer utterances which we can handle better and better as we learn the sounds.

The class goal is to learn the method, not the particular language that we are practicing on. I am seeing just how helpful it is to record the speech with the exacting precision of the IPA. While a Chinese person could write down an approximation and know how to pronounce it just fine, I must listen very closely to all the subtleties of the language and record it all as accurately as possible.

Have you ever heard an Asian speak English in a manner that was very difficult to decipher? They obviously learned words and letters from our language, but they combine them with the speech patterns from their first language. In order to sound Chinese and not American, I have to reckon with the fact that their sound system is very different from that of my English. I read what I’ve written down back to the language helper to see if I got it right, or if it needs some adjustment.

I can take this learning method anywhere in the world and learn a language from any native speaker. The speaker does not have to be educated, and the only materials I need are paper and pencil. Oh yes, and a sharp set of ears, and a willing mind. With that, I am empowered to learn to my heart’s content!

Language Learning

by Reese Parfitt

In Situational Language Learning, we practice a careful, orderly method that can be used to obtain language from any speaker of any foreign language. The idea is to be able to take control of our learning so we won’t need to rely on an officially-trained teacher or a language school as we venture into learning a foreign language. Our class time involves a short time of instruction about the concepts and method, but the bulk of our time is spent practicing that method by using an actual language.

We have two language informants who are fluent speakers of French and Mandarin Chinese. I am in the Chinese group. We start by asking for object-like words, and write them down in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). We methodically progress into longer utterances which we can handle better and better as we learn the sounds.

The class goal is to learn the method, not the particular language that we are practicing on. I am seeing just how helpful it is to record the speech with the exacting precision of the IPA. While a Chinese person could write down an approximation and know how to pronounce it just fine, I must listen very closely to all the subtleties of the language and record it all as accurately as possible.

Have you ever heard an Asian speak English in a manner that was very difficult to decipher? They obviously learned words and letters from our language, but they combine them with the speech patterns from their first language. In order to sound Chinese and not American, I have to reckon with the fact that their sound system is very different from that of my English. I read what I’ve written down back to the language helper to see if I got it right, or if it needs some adjustment.

I can take this learning method anywhere in the world and learn a language from any native speaker. The speaker does not have to be educated, and the only materials I need are paper and pencil. Oh yes, and a sharp set of ears, and a willing mind. With that, I am empowered to learn to my heart’s content!

Articulatory Phonetics

The first class I faced as a student at BBTI was Articulatory Phonetics, a study of how sounds relating to language are produced by the human mouth. The amount of knowledge and enjoyment students get from this class depends on the students’ level of participation. Phonetics is a hands-on, or rather lips-on, course. As well as learning the theory behind how sounds are made, students are required to learn how to record and reproduce all the sounds that they hear. Like any skill, phonetics takes practice, so much class time is spent doing oral drills (which to the uninitiated sounds like an international market).

So what, you ask, is the point? Why should a missionary learn phonetics? The answer is that English, or any language for that matter, is limited in the sounds it utilizes. When a missionary goes to a non-English speaking country, he will often come across sounds in that language which he has never made before. The English speaker’s tendency is to replace new and difficult sounds with English sounding equivalents. The result is a missionary who speaks with a horrendous accent and constantly mispronounces even basic words. With an understanding of phonetics, however, he is able to learn to speak the language like a native regardless of how “difficult” the sounds may be to make. This kind of fluency is important if the gospel message is to be fully understood by the hearers.

If, like me, you plan to go to a non-English speaking nation, you should consider taking a phonetics course first. It’s extremely practical, it’s fun, and what other course gives you credits for successfully purring like an outboard motor?

Cara is a native of the island of New Zealand who was saved as a result of an American missionary. She is currently a student at BBTI, preparing to serve the Lord in Ukraine.