by Rex Cobb, Director
Just Teach them English
When the need for Bible translation is presented, well-meaning Christians sometimes ask, “Why not just teach people English and give them an English Bible?” After all, we have a perfect copy of the scriptures. It works for us; shouldn’t it work for the rest of the world, too? But the teach-them-English method is inconsistent with Christ’s mandate. Jesus said to teach the Gospel and to teach them to observe all things. He did not tell [...]
Paying for the Plumbing
Someone once said, “The water is free, but someone has to pay for the plumbing.” The water of life is absolutely free, but the “pipeline” to deliver it to the entire world as Jesus has commanded is very expensive. Would Jesus leave us an unfunded mandate? No, God pays for what He orders—and He has ordered world evangelism! World evangelism is expensive! A missionary has the same expenses that we have here in the U.S.A. [...]
Barnabas and Saul were sent from the church at Antioch and took with them John Mark as their “minister.” They had not gone far when John decided, for whatever reason, to return to Jerusalem. The Bible does not give the reason for his premature departure; no doubt it was justified in his mind. Maybe John felt that he was not really needed. Perhaps he was homesick. He was probably unprepared for the fierce spiritual warfare [...]
Satan, as is his custom, was in a good place, disrupting a good plan, and causing strife between good people. Paul and Barnabas, two mature, experienced, Spirit-filled missionaries, had such a disagreement that they disbanded their very successful evangelistic team. The separation didn’t result from one of them falling into doctrinal error or immorality, nor was there disagreement about the mission. The issue seems trivial to us—it wasn’t to them. “And some days after Paul [...]
Getting by with English
A new missionary going to a Pacific island country told me that the missionaries there get by with English. I said, “Brother, God has not called us to get by but to communicate!” Missionaries, like anyone else, usually look for shortcuts. Let’s face it; we don’t like to do things the hard way. Learning a new language and culture is uncomfortable, frustrating, embarrassing, difficult, and it takes a lot of time. Since many people in [...]
The Price of a Bride
A missionary planting a church in a new culture is faced with decisions concerning which native practices can stay and which ones must go. The truth of the matter is, there are three cultures involved in missionary work: the culture of the missionary, the culture of the people, and the culture of God. May the Holy Spirit give the missionary discernment to know the difference! There will be practices on the field that the missionary [...]
Why America First?
God tells us clearly that He is no respecter of persons. But is He a respecter of countries? Does He love some countries more than others? Is the United States of America His favorite? No one can question that ours is a unique country, and we have seen the hand of God on it from its conception. We have been blessed; there is no doubt. There is only one country that God has blessed more [...]
Don’t Leave Home Without It!
A well-known credit card company advises us, “Don’t leave home without it!” Leaving home without something means we are going ill-prepared. A missionary, of all people, should never do this. That is because he carries a message that must be understood by a people who have never heard it before and who may never hear it from anyone else. He must not fail to deliver this message clearly. He must speak it, using sounds that [...]
Missionary, Don’t Go!
It is possible that a church that believes in the Great Commission could say to a prospective missionary, “Don’t go. Please stay and help us!”? We all say that the church’s number one priority is the evangelization of the heathen; and everyone would agree that churches should send well qualified men and woman to do just that. We say it, but do we believe it? Remember, our doctrine is what we do, not just what [...]
The Missionary Insider
The missionary arriving at his place of service looks like an outsider, talks and acts like an outsider, and he brings an outside message. Most of this needs to change. The missionary cannot change his foreign appearance, and he dare not alter the message; but he might find better methods of delivering that message, making it seem less foreign. People are more apt to receive a message from a friend than a foreigner,—from one of [...]
Making it Happen
Communication is a very complex human activity. Using our speech mechanism, we convert thought into a series of sounds, syllables, and words whose meaning we agree upon. Depending on our relationship, the words might change. If I am the CEO, and you are an employee, I may use very formal speech. If we are friends and co-workers, I will be much more informal. The sounds enter your auditory system and are processed in your brain. [...]
Technology or Toys?
I am a little overwhelmed with the rapid rate of technological advances. I admit I am a little old fashioned. The truth is I’m a technological caveman. Some call me T-Rex! It is a little disturbing when I say, “Turn in your Bible to…” and people whip out their Smart Phones. Are they ready to study the Text, or are they sending one? I must admit, however, that our modern technology is useful in reaching [...]
Among churches of our persuasion that are involved in missions, the term “deputation” is well understood. When we say, “He is a missionary on deputation,” we mean he is visiting churches, sharing his burden, and asking for prayer and financial support. But there is more to it that we might be missing. The command to preach Christ to every creature is given to every pastor, deacon, and church member—to you and me. But we cannot [...]
Who Should Apply?
Any book worthy of the title “Bible” in any language must be translated with utmost care so that its promoters can honestly tell the people, “These are God’s words in your language.” In previous issues, we dealt with two vital ingredients of a faithful translation. (1) The translators and the supporters must first settle the text issue. A pure Bible is never derived from a corrupt text. (2) Because we believe that the Bible was [...]
Dynamic Equivalence or Formal Equivalency?
A Bible translation project requires at least three vital ingredients: the text, the technique, and the translator. We dealt briefly with the issue of the text in our article, “The Bible of the Martyrs” (Fall 2012 issue). For the New Testament, it is our conviction that the traditional (received) text is superior to the critical text. A skilled translator using the best technique while using the wrong text will at best produce a well-translated, corrupt [...]
The Bible of the Martyrs
While hundreds of languages have not one syllable of Scripture, English speakers get a new Bible almost yearly. The names change, but the New Testament versions can be put into two groups based on their underlying Greek text. One group is derived from what we call the Received Text or Textus Receptus (TR), and the other from the Critical Text (CT). The TR represents the Greek text that was used and preserved by the early [...]
Commandments and Convictions
The work of Bible printing and distribution by local Baptist churches is proof that God’s churches can work together. For a long time, we got our Bibles from the Bible societies or secular printing companies. That all changed due to a great extent to Donald M. Fraser, founder of the Bearing Precious Seed ministry. Dr. Fraser was born August 18, 1926, in Toronto, Canada. His father, Bill Fraser, was a Scottish immigrant and an early [...]
Tell Me What it Means!
A missionary and his native helper were translating the New Testament. The verse they were working on was not clear to the missionary, but he hoped that his helper could somehow translate it anyway. He told the helper, “It might mean this. Or maybe it means that. Or it may mean this other.” Frustrated, the helper finally said, “Look, you just tell me what it means, and I’ll tell you how to say it in [...]
Three Long Years
Daniel and his friends who were taken captive and carried to Babylon probably thought they were going there as hostages, but we can see that they were really missionaries. Daniel was especially used to deliver a cross-cultural message for God. The king chose them because of their nobility, their intelligence, and their good looks. Daniel chapter one describes them, “Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning [...]
The Missionary and His Bible
Missionaries are often required to fill out questionnaires before they are given a meeting at a church. The pastor wants to know, and rightly so, what the missionary believes and practices. Some important questions, however, are seldom asked: Are you and your wife prepared spiritually and emotionally for the mission field? Are you prepared to face and win the battle of the culture shock that destroyed many before you? What specialized training have you had [...]
Love Thy Neighbor
Both the Old and New Testaments command us to love our neighbor. Jesus even tells us to love him as we love ourselves. The story of the Good Samaritan clearly teaches us that we do not choose our neighbors. The Lord defines “neighbor,” not as the person who lives near us, but as the person that needs our help. Dr. Don Fraser, founder of the Bearing Precious Seed ministry, taught us that loving our neighbor [...]
The Canary and the Fire Hydrant
The task of learning a new language has been compared to a canary trying to drink from a fire hydrant! The flood of strange sounds, together with a new culture, can be very overwhelming to the newly arrived missionary. Even familiar sounds are often placed in strange combinations that his mouth has never pronounced. Nevertheless, effective communication demands that he learn a new language, maybe more than one, and that he learn it well. Understanding [...]
To effectively communicate the Word of God, the missionary must speak and understand the language. Since the meaning of words is bound and hidden in the culture, the missionary should diligently study the culture just as he studies the language. It is a serious mistake to assume that another’s culture is the same as ours. It never is. Another error is thinking that all we need do is proclaim truth, and our truth will somehow [...]
Indigenous from Birth
As the young missionary outlined his plans to win souls and baptize and teach believers, he said, “When I turn the work over, it will become an indigenous church.” He has the right idea, but his use of the word become, and the mindset that goes with it, may prevent him from realizing his goal of seeing the church continue to grow and prosper without outside help. An indigenous church is one which thrives naturally [...]
The speaker at a pastors conference requested, “If you have a missionary from your own church who is either on deputation or is on the field, please stand.” Out of a congregation of one hundred fundamental Baptist pastors, only seven stood! And that was twenty years ago! Is something wrong when only one in fourteen of our churches produces a missionary for the foreign field? Someone said once, “We have time and money for what [...]