Graduate Updates

Update on a Graduate

Nathan Fritz Family

Nathan Fritz was born into a Christian family. At age six, his father, Rocky, became pastor of First Baptist Church in Amboy, IL. Even though he heard the Gospel over and over, it was not until age twelve that Nathan truly believed on Christ as his Saviour. Tina knew nothing about Jesus until age eight when her mother first took her to church. It took Tina several months to understand her need of salvation, but when she saw herself as a lost sinner, she trusted Christ.

Nathan became interested in various countries through his hobby as a philatelist. His church supported many missionaries, including the Mumfords in France. (They served there for fifty years!) Brother Mumford, Nathan’s pen pal, sent stamps from various places, among which was a place unknown to Nathan, Cape Verde. He had no idea where this country was, but he made it a point to find out. Nathan learned that Cape Verde is a group of fifteen islands located off the western point of Africa. He now wonders why the Portuguese explorer, Dinis Dias, called it “Verde” (green). Maybe it was green in 1445, but today, with only ten inches of annual rainfall, it is anything but green. Although it is located nearly four hundred miles from the African continent, the sandstorms from the Sahara Desert cause many problems for the people of Cape Verde. As Nathan’s interest in the country grew, so did his burden for the people. Their lives are dominated by African and Roman Catholic superstitions. Several of the islands have no gospel witness.

Cape Verde was a strategic station for Portugal’s African slave trade. Portuguese involvement in slavery continued into the 20th century, but world-wide slavery to sin continues until this very day. The Fritz family is working to end spiritual slavery in Cape Verde by extending the invitation of Jesus Christ. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). They proclaim, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Nathan and Tina grew up playmates and competitors in Bible quizzes. Tina became the church pianist, and they worked together in children’s ministries. Nevertheless, they did not become interested in each other until Nathan’s junior year at Crown College where he majored in missions. He graduated in 2006, and they were married a month later.

When they arrived at BBTI in 2016, Nathan and Tina had four beautiful children: Andrew, Lydia, Ruth, and Grace. Anna was born just before Christmas 2017, four months before they left for the field. Sent by their church in Amboy, IL, and aided by Baptist International Missions Inc. (BIMI), they are completing their first two-year term in Cape Verde. They are learning Portuguese, the official language, and then will learn the common Creole language. Nathan preached his first sermon in Portuguese after eight months. He teaches in a seminary and also in a chronological Bible study. Both he and Tina conduct individual Bible studies. God allowed Nathan to take part in distributing the New Testament to 13,000 school children, putting God’s Word in nearly every home on the islands of Fogo and Brave.

As the Fritzes neared the end of their Advanced Missionary Training at BBTI, they said, “We couldn’t imagine going to the field without the many things we have learned here.” Later they wrote, “We are hard at language study.  I cannot begin to tell you how much we have used all the knowledge you tucked in our toolbox” (July 2018). “We were just saying AGAIN last night how much BBTI prepared us for being overseas.  Thank you both SO much for your investment in our lives” (April 2020). Pray for the Fritz family and for the many more like them that are needed right now in Cape Verde!

Summer 2020

Nat Williams FamilyNathaniel ‘Nat’ Williams was born into a Christian family in 1978 and grew up near Rochester, New York. At age five, he prayed a prayer, asking God to take him to Heaven when he died. That was his hope for the next eight years. Finally, he realized that salvation was not in a prayer or in living right, but in the sacrifice of Christ on his behalf.

When Nat was a young child, his parents became serious about serving God. The family worked together in neighborhood children’s clubs and Vacation Bible Schools. All of this was on-the-job training for foreign missionary service. Nat taught English in Taiwan, took part in literature distribution at the Asian Games, and traveled for two years with the Institute In Basic Life Principles. He planned to serve in foreign missions, but in reality, he was a missionary already. He worked while he waited.

After graduation from BBTI in 2004, Nat moved to Allentown, PA, for further training in ministry and missions at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church (LVBC). He helped organize their Missions Research Center and worked with their ministry to international students. (Later, in 2013, LVBC would send him to the field.) Nat made a ministry trip to Chile and several trips to SE Asia during these years. This was all GMT (Good Missionary Training).

While working, Nat was also waiting for something else that a missionary needs. He met her at LVBC, and again in Thailand, where she assisted in ministry for fifteen months. Anne was born in Pennsylvania in 1983. Like Nat, she made an early, but empty, profession during VBS. Outwardly, she was mostly good, but she knew something was wrong inside. She attended the Christian school but was often in trouble for cheating and lying. On one occasion she was sentenced to a two-day suspension followed by a four-week Bible study with a lady from church. The Bible study didn’t change her, but it did show her that she was lost. At age fifteen, Anne finally truly trusted Christ and was born again.

Nat and Anne were married in July 2010, and little Paul arrived two years later. (Ellen followed in 2014, and Rachel in 2017.) God had already shown Nat that he should serve in Myanmar (formerly Burma). But Myanmar is closed to foreign missionaries. How could they reach the people there?

Thailand is not closed, and it is a very strategic place for literature distribution in restricted neighboring countries. So, in 2013, the Williamses moved there. (In 2014, Nat and his team received 2,000 boxes of Burmese Scripture to distribute in Myanmar! In 2018, 25,000 Burmese Bibles arrived!) Nat and Anne went to work, learning the Thai language. They didn’t say, “We are headed for Myanmar, why learn Thai?” They are also learning the Burmese language. They continue ministering in Thailand in church planting, Bible studies, literature development and distribution, and reaching people by teaching English.

The family makes frequent trips into Myanmar even though they cannot live there yet. It is a place of much Christian nominalism. Most people have no idea what real salvation is. Nevertheless, Nat has met and helped some faithful Baptist preachers. Besides the Burmese, the Williamses also want to reach the people of other languages and ethnic groups there; many of them are Bibleless and unreached.

Nat and Anne are team players. They may not minister to thousands, but they strategize and labor, teaching individuals who may very well reach the multitudes. They have learned that God leads by opening doors and sometimes by closing them. Their record shows that they are interested in people, not places. They are working in Thailand while waiting for an open door to Myanmar.

Spring 2020


The Jason Ottosen Family—serving faithfully in the mountains of Papua New Guinea since 2012Ten years ago, we featured the Ottosens in the Winter 2009 issue of Lift Up Your Eyes. Cherith Stevens spent ten months in Papua New Guinea, and then, rather unexpectedly, God gave her a husband worth waiting for. She became Mrs. Jason Ottosen, and the two were on their way to PNG to help reach the Kamea tribe in the mountains of Gulf Province. Today, there are six Ottosens ministering there in the village of Komako! The newest missionary is nine-month old Josiah. In March 2012, Jason and Cherith went to PNG with their first daughter, Grace Elisabeth, who joined their team in September 2011. Melody Joy followed in September 2013. Their third daughter, Hannah Faith, arrived the last day of September 2016 and soon began helping to win the hearts of the Kamea people. A lot can happen in ten years!

The Ottosens began adjusting to life in PNG and learning two languages (Melanesian Pidgin and Kamea) in the village of Kotidanga where other BBTI graduates serve. A young man from Komako, a village ten hours north, walked to Kotidanga several times to attend church services and to ask for a missionary for his village. (Ten hours for a Kamea man was a twelve-hour hike for Jason.) Many others have arrived in Kotidanga, begging for church-planting missionaries for their villages. The Ottosens have made Komako their home since 2013 and have established the Komako Baptist Church.

Missionary work in Komako is not all fun and games! A church member named Ems recently died, leaving a wife and five sons. Some members of his clan blamed another clan (also with family members in the church) of killing Ems by witchcraft. Many from the two clans continued to attend services, albeit with the wrong motive. But the Word of God began to work in their hearts. Paimba, Ems’ oldest brother who was leading the conflict, got saved, as did Suwanas, another of Ems’ clan who is the oldest and most respected witchdoctor. Here, as in other places, sickness and death are not seen as the result of natural causes. There is always a hidden spiritual reason. If death is believed to be caused by witchcraft someone must pay! Only the Gospel can break this vicious cycle of ignorance and revenge.

Why would a missionary family endure such isolation and primitive living conditions in a place with no roads or electricity? Why would they pay exorbitant rates to fly in and out of their village? Why would they hike ten hours to the nearest Baptist mission to use wi-fi? Once a church member, upon hearing a missionary lady tell of the living conditions on her mission field, said, “I would not live there for a million dollars!” The missionary responded, “I wouldn’t either; but I will live there for Jesus!”

In the midst of such debauchery, superstition, violence, disease, and enormous spiritual darkness, God is at work. Scripture is being translated. Souls are being saved. Lives are being changed. And the church of Jesus Christ is being built in places where Satan has reigned supreme for centuries. We have received exciting prayer reports from the Ottosens over the last ten years. (A book needs to be written about God’s blessings!) There is much more to do.

The Ottosens desire to see men trained, serving, leading, and spreading the Gospel throughout their mountainous area. Raford Bart is one such man. He is small in stature and the youngest of several brothers, but has been very faithful to church. His faith has been strong despite being tested through discouragement from his brothers and ridicule from his wife. Recently Raford raised his hand to follow the Lord’s leading anywhere. Pray for the Ottosens as they disciple and train men like Raford.

Winter 2019-20

Katie always serves with a smile.It is common for a young missionary to leave his parents and take his children to the foreign mission field. In doing so, he is taking the grandchildren away from their grandparents. Occasionally, a middle-aged missionary will leave his grown children at home and go to the mission field. It is rare, however, for a grandparent to leave both children and grandchildren and go to the mission field. Many grandmothers have watched their grandchildren leave, but Kathryn Walker did it in reverse. Her grandchildren watched her leave. No doubt, this widowed grandmother loves her grandchildren as much as any grandmother could, but she felt God leading her to Africa. She left her own grandchildren safe in the care of their parents and went to help African children come to Christ.

I’ll never forget the day we met Katie. She showed up at our school at the end of a chapel service. We had a guest speaker that day, and there was a lot of activity. I was able to give her only half of my attention. She said, “I am Katie Walker. I’m going to Kenya, Africa, and some people have told me I need to attend BBTI. What do I need to do?” I found her an application and said, “You just need to send us this.” With that she was gone. I would never reveal a lady’s age, but that was in the fall of 2008, and she was fifty-six at the time. I said to myself, “We will never see this lady again.” But we did! She sent her application and was sitting in the classroom in August 2009. She did well in the classes and graduated the following May.

Katie did not grow up in a Christian home, but her parents allowed a neighbor lady to take her and her sisters to church. She was saved at age twelve or thirteen at a church camp. She recounts, “I will never forget how I felt His love, and I knew that something in me was different!” Without the help of godly parents, her spiritual growth was slow. She laments, “I did not know about giving myself fully to Him. I thought being saved was all I needed. Oh, if only I had known and understood then how much more there is, my life would have been so different!” It was not until she was married and had three children that she was baptized and began attending church consistently. Not long after, her husband was killed in a car accident.
Katie did not have the opportunity to attend college. Actually, she did not quite finish high school. Nevertheless, she did well at BBTI and kept up with the younger missionary students. She claimed no great talents or teaching ability. Katie said, “If I can do it, anyone can do it!” She did have, however, confidence that God would help her learn, and she knew she could be a servant. With that, Katie left for Africa in February 2011 and served the Lord with the Luke Shelby family in Kisii, Kenya, for the next eight years. She discipled ladies, cooked for Bible school students, did office work and tract and scripture distribution—anything to lighten the load of her fellow missionaries. Katie retired and left Kenya in June of this year. Before leaving, she prayed for her replacement. That person is at this moment sitting in the BBTI classroom, preparing to serve the Kenyans. Kathryn Walker will probably not be listed with Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, or Lottie Moon as a famous missionary lady, but she has been a faithful witness and servant of Christ. She has also been a mother and grandmother to many precious African children; she will be greatly missed by them.

Fall 2019

The Hernandez family can be described as cheerful people. How appropriate for them to serve God in the Land of Smiles! Ahmet received Christ as his Savior at the age of seven. Unfortunately, as many young people do, he drifted away from the Lord, wasting precious years in the world. Rachael always believed in God. As a child, she would look at the clouds and imagine seeing Jesus coming—on a surfboard! (She lived in Pensacola, Florida, where surfing is a big sport.) It wasn’t until after she married Ahmet that she understood the Gospel and was saved.

Ahmet served in the United States Navy. While stationed in Guam, the family attended a church that was started and pastored by a missionary. Rachael remembers thinking, “I could never be a missionary!” (Strange, isn’t it, that men and women serve overseas in the military in difficult or dangerous places but going to the mission field scares them to death!) Today, Rachael feels very much at home raising her family in a foreign culture and speaking another language.

After leaving the Navy, Ahmet found work in a nuclear power plant near Zachary, Louisiana. The Hernandez family aslo found Grace Baptist Church, a very mission-minded church that was pastored by Tom Schreeder, a former missionary to Ukraine. (Today Brother Tom and his wife, Linda, are missionaries to Armenia.) It was there in Louisiana, with a wife, three children, and a good job, that God began dealing with Ahmet about missionary service. By 2008, the Lord had shown him that Thailand was the family’s place of service.

The Hernandezes began raising support and then continued deputation while attending BBTI. They graduated in May 2013. Knowing that they were facing a very difficult, tonal language, they took seriously the Advanced Missionary Training they were receiving in phonetics, linguistics, and language and culture learning. It was drilled into them, “Get the language first. Don’t get too busy in ministry and neglect your language and culture learning. Don’t rely on a translator. Language learning is your ministry!” God abundantly blessed their pre-field ministry as they worked hard and traveled many miles. They did not endure deputation; they enjoyed it! They departed for Thailand in December 2014.

The Hernandez family went right to work learning the language. Mistakes are inevitable; we call them bilingual bloopers. Rachael sent us one for our Summer 2016 issue. She wrote, “I have really come to appreciate the difference between ‘learning’ a language and ‘using’ a language. All this ‘using’ has produced an even higher amount of language funnies! I wanted to buy a notebook (sa-moot) but asked for a brain (sa-ong). I asked our new helper to wash the mattress (tee non) instead of saying sheets (paa bpoo tee non). She had no idea what I meant!” Shortly after their arrival in Thailand, the government enacted a new policy for obtaining a missionary work visa, and Ahmet had to pass the Grade 6 Thai Competency Test. He said, “I didn’t realize how fluent 6th graders are in a language until I started studying for this test!”

God gave this family opportunity to teach English at a university where they followed English classes with Bible studies. In slightly over a year, Rachael began teaching children’s Bible stories in Thai, and in a year and a half, they began the Hua Mak Baptist Church in Bangkok. Because it is an international area, they held both Thai and English services. Besides teaching English, Ahmet and Rachael have found innovative ways such as community night and basketball tournaments to reach their people. The entire family studied hard learning the language, and they work together in ministry. Grace Baptist Church did not send one missionary to Thailand, it sent five: Ahmet, Rachael, AJ (Ahmet Junior), Sarah, and little Rachael. They are giving the people of Thailand something to really smile about!

Summer 2019

Deputation took the Huckabees to churches in Hawaii, Alaska, Michigan, Florida, and points between. While on a ferry in Alaska, they encountered a storm with 105 MPH winds and 25 foot waves. In remote northwest Canada, as they left the Rocky Mountains with its dangerous curves and precipices, a tire popped off their truck. Someone mistakenly put a 16-inch tire on a 15-inch rim. Miraculously they had traveled 3,000 miles on that tire! In a snow storm in Arizona, an 18-wheeler ran them off the road into a snow bank where they stayed several hours. The devil will try to stop missionaries, but he hasn’t stopped the Huckabees!

James had religion but no relationship until trusting Christ at age twelve. Anna was born into a pastor’s home and heard the Gospel from birth. She was saved shortly before her fourth birthday. Of her ministry experience, she says, “I have done it all.” James, before entering the ministry, was a website designer, paramedic, firefighter, and outdoor survivalist. He describes his musical talent as “suitable for the torture and interrogation of POWs.” Anna’s musical ability is more suitable for Christian ministry! James tells missionaries on deputation, “…don’t say that you can’t afford BBTI or spare the time; YOU CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO!” Shortly after arrival on the field, James wrote, “The training at BBTI is, as expected, proving to be invaluable. I don’t see how you could make it on the field without proper training in phonetics and linguistics.”

James and Anna were married in June 2000. By September 2005, God had given them James III and John (twins), Ethan, Elizabeth, and Gaelin. Brennah was added in 2011. Arriving in Uganda, the Huckabees were greeted with heavy rain, mud everywhere, a broken water main that flooded their house, and a dispute about property boundaries. Then someone stole the poles for their new fence.

Today the Huckabees oversee thriving churches in Ngarama, Sangano, Isanja, and Kabazana, and desire to start churches in several other places. Much of their work is at the large Nakivale refugee area that is home to about 70,000 souls from Rwanda, Congo, Burundi, and Sudan. These camps are plagued by famine, extremely poor sanitation, disease, and hunger. The Huckabees make many personal sacrifices to meet both spiritual and physical needs, and James is not shy about asking for extra aid from US churches. He strives to help without causing dependency, a difficult balance where such poverty abounds.

Training leaders is a vital part of ministry. God gave James and Anna the vision to establish a public library for the churches. The Sangano church made bricks and provided poles, James and another missionary purchased cement and roofing metal, and people in the US donated the books along with $11,000 to ship them. Using Romans, I Corinthians, and Galatians, James tenaciously confronts the false doctrines of Catholicism, Pentecostalism, the cults, and old pagan beliefs that have syncretized with Christianity. He proclaims Bible truth concerning marriage. Traditionally, Ugandans have practiced bride price marriages, but many fathers today demand unreasonably high prices. The young people often run off and live together.

Vacation Bible School is very popular in Uganda, and they conduct “VBS marathons” in four places each day. They may begin with 250 children the first day and end the week with over 600! Children come from many religions, including Islam.

The Huckabees love and serve the Ugandans and the refugees and might honestly tell them what Paul said, “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were [are] willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were [are] dear unto us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

Winter 2018-19

Sandy’s parents, Missionaries Dale and Nelda West, served in
Guadalajara, Saltillo, and San Luis Potosí, Mexico, from 1958 to 1998.
For thirteen years they had an orphanage. The orphans were part of the family and serving the Lord was a family affair.  Definitely a people
person, Sandy thrived in this atmosphere of work and fun. She still
plays her accordion, sings, and cooks for a crowd! 

Melvin was saved when he was in third grade. Melvin is serious about serving his Lord. And Melvin is a man of action who knows both what he needs and how to go about getting it. He was a forty-eight year-old widower when he decided he needed a wife to help him serve God on the mission field—and the most efficient way to find her was the internet. Theirs was a most unusual meeting! They simultaneously discovered each other’s bios and essays on a Christian website, and Sandy (also forty-eight and widowed), after a lot of prodding from her father, prayerfully responded. God has forged a strong marriage, filled with humor and mutual respect.     

Melvin had previously done short terms of missionary helps service in various countries, but now he wanted to serve full time. He knew he needed help in language learning and Melvin-like, researched his
options. He chose BBTI as the school best suiting his needs and
enrolled in 2003. Sandy studied alongside, encouraging him as he
determinedly forged ahead.

The focus of the Morris’ ministry in Venezuela is preparing men and
women for the spread of the Gospel and establishment of new churches.
It is an especially important strategy in view of the country’s political instability. Sandy builds lives on a day-by-day basis as she teaches kid’s clubs, prepares materials and trains teachers, helps cook for the men’s retreats and family camps, and contributes to the music program. Melvin excels in many skills and has been able to build Bible school facilities, develop their campgrounds, and procure the equipment for and set up a printing ministry. He teaches alongside Pastor José in the church and Bible institute.

Pray for Melvin’s and Sandy’s ongoing health needs; they are far from their doctors. Pray for their protection; they have been robbed at gunpoint and their home has been repeatedly burglarized. The one-year renewable visas they recently received are an answer to over seven years of prayer, proving the door is still open. The Morris’ choose to stay in spite of the risks involved, saying, “The future of the  Venezuelan church is at stake; as long as  the government allows us to come and go we should be able to continue preaching, teaching, and training the nationals; if we have to leave at some point in the future, they will be better prepared to lead the churches and establish new ones.”

Fall 2007

by Brian Johnson

Brian & Lisa Johnson (1997 graduates) with Caden (8), Kaylee (5), and Chase (3), have served nine years in Lithuania

The Johnson family, like the men in Luke 5:18 who bore the sick of the palsy, have used great creativity in seeking to reach souls for Christ.

Sept. 2000 – Correspondence Course

Each week that passes, we find more responses in our mail box from people who want to enroll in our home Bible study courses. I believe that this will be an effective tool to reach people for Christ. We are placing an ad about these free courses in our largest circulating newspaper.

June 2001- Medical Outreach

We had a medical team here in Utena. The doctors saw a total of fifty-seven people who are now new contacts to follow up on. Several Lithuanian Christians witnessed to those waiting to see the doctors, and there were five professions of faith.

November 2002 – Music Festival

We hosted a “music festival” for the Independent Baptist Churches of Lithuania with seventeen church groups participating. We advertised in the local paper, we hung posters all over the city, we handed out invitations, and God blessed us with just over fifty visitors. We were able to preach a clear presentation of the Gospel and give each visitor a packet of literature.

May 2003 – Lithuanian World Music 

This is a seven-day festival filled with traditional musicians and singers. It is estimated that there will be an excess of 100,000 people attending. We designed a new high quality tract for this festival. It ties together the Lithuanian’s tradition with their need for the eternal Savior.

July 2003 – Baseball Clinics

I have recently found out that many young people in Lithuania have a desire to learn and play organized baseball. We recently held six baseball-training clinics, and they were a huge success! We were able to gather 135 kids and teach baseball basics as well as preach the Gospel.

June 2004 – Winning the Lost

A recently-saved young man is really excited about telling others about his Lord and Savior. He has led at least three other young people to the Lord and has had several visitors with him in church meetings. 

December 2005 – Canvassing

Since canvassing the city of Zarasai with literature in late August, we have had a new woman named Jolanta faithfully attending the services. She trusted Jesus as her Savior on November 6th and was baptized the following Sunday.

March 2006 – Giving to Missions

The members of Utena Baptist Church have been giving sacrificially to missions for just over four years. They currently support one Lithuanian missionary and also help finance the work in Zarasai. Last year they gave nearly $900 USD to missions, and this year they have made a commitment to give just over $1,500 USD. This is a large step of faith for these people; they are excited about mission work!

Summer 2007

Colin and Sandi Christensen are 1976 BBTI graduates.


Colin was nineteen years old when he met with his pastor in his study and realized he was trusting a false assurance instead of the Savior. Sandi, encouraged by an older sister, responded to the invitation at church when she was ten. Colin and Sandi have spent their lives taking the news of their Savior to other places.

        After Colin’s graduation from Midwestern Baptist College, the couple worked four years in Mexico with senior missionary Ralph McCoy. Returning for furlough, they recognized they needed specialized training in order to minister to tribal people and attended Baptist Bible Translators Institute.

        The Lord sent Colin, Sandi, and their four children to the Philippines where they contended with trials such as a serious auto accident, amoebas, cobras, and Marshall law under Pres. Marcos in 1981. When their home flooded, Sandi wrote of her discouragement, “I wanted to throw in the towel and head back to a normal life, but the Lord gave me the verse in Romans 8:18; and it really broke my heart, because I forgot it was worth the trouble.”

        And it was: they planted a church in Bayugan, teaching the people to work to buy land and build their building, and Colin put his BBTI training to work by translating the books of John and Romans into Cebuano. The church went on to establish several more churches, and the translation work was carried on  by Filipino pastors who completed the rest of the New Testament.

        The Christensens were in their forties when they arrived on their third field of service and began the study of Hungarian. It proved to be their toughest language yet; and Colin, a gifted linguist, wrote of it, “There are 14 written vowels and no allowance for ‘sluffing’ through on pronunciation. You must be right on the money or they won’t know what you’re talking about as you’ve probably said another word.”

        In Hungary, they’ve worked in two cities, pursuing church planting through many ministries: city-wide distribution of scripture, Friday night English/Bible study classes, revival and evangelistic campaigns, summer family camps, rest home services, and separate monthly meetings for men, women, teens, and children. In true BBTI spirit, the Christensens are always ready to help others. Colin drives an hour to teach in another missionary’s Bible college and has also filled in preaching when someone else needed a furlough.

         Fun-loving Sandi found it hard to adjust to the Hungarian people’s reserve.  Colin explains another obstacle, ecumenicalism. “Because most churches were persecuted under communism, they want to stick together in joint services, etc. Since 55% claim to be atheists, they feel that anyone who believes in God is a ‘Christian.’ Winning souls to Christ has been slow, but very rewarding as people see their need of becoming born again.” Is it worth the trouble? The Christensens say yes!

Spring 2007

Dan and Jennifer Olachea are sent out by the Central Baptist Church of Ocala, Florida. Dan grew up in the home of a Baptist pastor and made a profession of faith at an early age. In his teen years, when doubts about his salvation surfaced, he settled the matter by reaffirming his faith in Christ. Jennifer’s mother was saved as a result of door-to-door soul winning, and shortly after her salvation, she led six year old Jennifer to Christ. What a blessing to be saved as children and raised in godly homes!

Dan graduated from Clearwater Christian College, majoring in English, and Jennifer graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in communication disorders (speech therapy). Both are skilled musicians and excellent students.

The Lord directed the Olacheas to Uganda, East Africa, and they attended BBTI in the fall of 2001 where they received specialized training for the task God was leading them to do.  Their plan was to work with the two and one-half million Banyonkore people, who speak a Bantu related language called Runyankore. They especially wanted to give the Runyankore language a faithful translation of God’s word based on the Greek Textus Receptus. There is a translation in this language, but it is unacceptable to the Bible-believing Christians because it is based on a corrupt text. (Many Bible translations being done today are based on the same Greek text that underlies such English Bibles as the RSV, NASV, NIV, and the so-called “Bible” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most translators today also use an inferior method that results in a paraphrase rather than a formal Bible. Thank God for a few people like the Olacheas who believe that God’s people deserve better!)

The Olachea Family set a steady course toward Uganda, arriving there in January of 2005.  The official language of Uganda is English, and many people speak it fairly well. However, they also have over 40 other languages, and all people need God’s word in their native tongue. Dan has been working with men in a Bible institute, training them in Greek and Bible translation principles and preparing them to be Bible Translators. The men are excited about beginning this revision work. Pray for Dan this year as he guides these faithful preachers through the difficult task of moving God’s word from one language to another. There is a good possibility that they can work on the Runyankore Bible and two other revision projects at the same time!

Pray that God will continue to allow this wonderful family to meet their Bible translation goals as they serve God in many other capacities such as preaching, music, prison outreach, Bible institute teaching, deaf ministry, and door-to-door visitation. 

Steve and Margie Schnell with Stevie, Elecia, Ariana, Nathanael & Jadon Contact them now during their time of furlough at: schnell-family@hotmail.com.

We came to Cambodia in 1998 and are involved in Church planting, Bible teaching and translation. Our dream has been seeing indigenous churches established that could and would carry on the work of evangelizing. We planned to start in the provincial capital of Kampot. Beginning in the major urban centers seemed like the best plan. While we believed strongly in indigenous principles, to labor all these years and still see nothing significant in Kampot city left us tempted at times to try and buy land, buildings, or give financial aid. God never allowed us the freedom to go down that road, but rather God had us wait for Him to work in the hearts of the Khmer.

Responsiveness seemed to be in the countryside where we have seen a few small, fragile churches started. Aside from the areas we were working in, other small assemblies that were not the result of our labors would come and ask to study the Bible with us. They too were from rural villages, and they were like sheep without a shepherd. We invited them to study with us, taking care how we taught. We tried from the very beginning to instill love and wonder for the Word of God so that they could feed themselves. They would say, “You give food for the spirit instead of food for the flesh.” Since we did not give handouts or aid, some met with us only a few times. We did not forget that God’s Word never returns to Him void and that it accomplishes what He wills, but we wondered if there would be much fruit from the time spent teaching all these groups.

At first we did not see what God was doing. Little by little He was opening the eyes of a few small churches. Some were churches we saw planted and some were from the areas that only received teaching. When a Cambodian society of Christians tried to threaten, bribe and cajole all Khmer Churches into joining under their banner, these few dirt- poor village preachers opened their Bibles to show  why they would not and could not compromise.

These little churches are small and far from perfect, and it is still early to tell for sure, but it appears we have the beginnings of a few indigenous churches. They are taking what they have been taught and are teaching it to others. They are learning to trust God and to serve Him through personal sacrifice, without thought of compensation.

The way has not always been easy. Many times we felt like throwing in the towel, but the never-changing Word of God always pointed the way ahead. We don’t know if the churches mentioned in this report will be there a year from now. That is how fragile things are. This is a Buddhist country and is a territory still held firmly by the enemy. The thing we need most is prayer— fervent prayer of the righteous. Pray for these churches and for us, that we will all be strong in the Lord and learn to walk with Him by faith.

Fall 2006



In our missionary-minded churches, many children feel called to be missionaries. Some may be drawn by the adventure of missions, others may feel sorry for the poor, hungry children in other countries;  no doubt, some genuinely love God and want to do His will. As these children grow into adolescence, they should become more serious and mature in their dedication to Christ and His great commission; sadly this is rarely the case. Many allurements such as boyfriends and girlfriends, cars, jobs, education, etc. become more important than lost souls on the mission field. Often the call to missions is not nurtured by parents, peers, or pastors.

God gave Michele Bass a burden for missions at a young age; her godly parents and church encouraged it, and as she matured, the desire to be a missionary increased. Growing up, she had access to good missionary books, and the Bass home was always open to visiting missionaries.

Michele heard of Baptist Bible Translators Institute at age fifteen and knew she wanted to attend. In the Lord’s good timing, she did attend and graduated in 2003. Upon graduation, she spent a month in the Huastecan Mountains of Mexico putting into practice the language and culture-learning skills she had learned. She improved her Spanish and learned much of the sound system of the Náhuatl Indian language. Later that year, Michele made a trip to Thailand and Mongolia.

In the fall of 2004, Michele joined the BBTI staff and did an excellent job teaching Phonetics, Morphology/Syntax, and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). I am convinced that she believes in the work of BBTI as much as any of us and has done her utmost to convince new missionaries to avail themselves of this training opportunity. She is constantly thinking of new ways to promote the school or improve it to more effectively train God’s servants. Numerous times she has said to me, “Brother Rex, I have an idea!” I may jokingly say, “Oh no, what is it going to cost this time?” However, her ideas are always good, and we have implemented several of them. For instance, Michele took the initiative to conduct a class for MK’s to prepare them for their difficult transition to the foreign field. She thought of making a mosaic of the world in front of our new multipurpose building, and that has become a reality. The beautiful missionary posters that are now available at VictoryBaptistPress.com were her idea too! Thank God for people with new ideas!

Besides her training at BBTI, Michele is also a graduate of Faith Bible Institute and the intensive medical training EQUIP.

If it were up to us, we would keep Michele here at BBTI indefinitely, not only because she is so valuable to the work and has great ideas, but also for her sweet, godly spirit and her musical talent. However, her heart is on the mission field, and we would not discourage her from going. After all, that is our sole purpose, to train workers for the foreign field. God has burdened her for the South Pacific country of Vanuatu. She will teach women and children under the authority of veteran missionary Philippe Pinero and help in their health clinic. Pray for her. She will have to learn French and Bislama, and then perhaps other languages later. Michele is sent from Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln, Illinois, and her pastor is Dr. S.M. Davis. I know that once on the field God will give her more insight concerning ways to improve our missionary training program, and I will receive a letter or phone call saying, “Brother Rex, I have an idea!”

Summer 2006