The purpose of BBTI is to fill a need that exists in the preparation of Baptist missionaries for the foreign field. There are many good Bible colleges and institutes that can aid the churches in teaching and preparing people for the ministry in general. However, we see the missionary as a specialist in need of specialized training and linguistic skills that he cannot get in a traditional Baptist college or institute. Our goal is to prepare the missionary to plant strong, indigenous Baptist churches in any part of the world, whether in the jungle or the city. He learns linguistic principles and skills that apply to any language, written or unwritten. It is expected that the BBTI graduate will learn the new language more quickly and accurately than the missionary without this specialized preparation. He is taught to study and learn the culture of a people and, as much as possible, to become bi-cultural. He studies principles of Bible translation, enabling him to translate the Scriptures where needed—and that need exists for thousands of languages. Many missionaries return home prematurely because of difficulties, dangers, and obstacles faced on the field. Our goal is to prepare the missionary to overcome such obstacles.
Specialized Missionary Training
Baptist Bible Translators Institute exists for several reasons. First, there is an unfilled gap in world evangelism. More than 3,000 languages with 380 million people still await the Word of God in their language. BBTI exists to help meet this need. This need exists because missionaries are usually trained to be pastors in the USA but are not trained to deal with crossing language and cultural barriers in remote parts of the world. So those parts of the world that are similar to the USA have been the places to which missionaries have most often gone. This leaves the geographically difficult areas of the world neglected. The people who live there speak a strange language, and their customs are harshly different from anything with which we are familiar.
The principles of linguistics, ethnology, and cross cultural communication that are taught at BBTI are universal to all missionary situations. Missionaries are prepared to meet whatever challenge they will face, whether in the city or the jungle. In either place, missionaries must learn languages and adjust to cultures that are very different from their own.
BBTI exists to train missionaries to be effective, cross-cultural communicators. It is one thing to speak to people who share your language and culture. It is a different matter to speak to people who have a different language and culture. BBTI trains missionaries to become preachers and teachers of the Gospel of Christ in cross-cultural situations. Because the principles of Bible translation are taught at BBTI, some students will become Bible translators. These Bible translation principles can save each missionary from having to learn all over again the same lessons learned already by other Bible translators. His progress as a Bible translator can be sped up and his work made more efficient. He will also be more effective in communicating the message of the Bible in another language.
Training for Teamwork
BBTI also exists to help missionaries learn to work together as a team. First, the missionary is encouraged to be a vital part of his home church team. From this as a basis, he is encouraged to learn how to work with other missionaries as well.
Church planting requires the gifts and skills of many individuals. There is a need for those who will preach and teach in the local language. There is a need for those who will translate Scripture. There is a need for those who will teach illiterate people to read so they can read the translated Scriptures. There is a need for those who will maintain a supply line to the missionaries by an airplane, truck, or boat. Those who will help to educate their children are also needed, as well as those who are will help them with building construction, printing materials, medical supplies, and many other matters that become necessary for the establishing of New Testament Baptist churches. The training program at BBTI puts missionaries in situations where they learn to work together. Each afternoon is used for Work Detail. During this time students work together to do many kinds of work. Work Detail is one of the most valuable training experiences at BBTI because it involves people learning to work cooperatively with other people. A very valuable lesson indeed!
Missionaries Training Missionaries
BBTI also exists because there is a need for missionaries to train missionaries. This agrees with the Biblical principle of each “after his kind.” After people have been trained in their home church, and have proven themselves faithful there, they are ready to be trained by other missionaries.
Although spiritual needs will not be ignored, their training will involve the more practical and technical aspects of missionary work. BBTI can help train missionaries in the technical aspects of phonetics, phonemics, morphology, syntax, language learning principles, cross-cultural communication principles, Bible translation principles, and ethnology.
Along with these subjects, the daily work detail teaches many lessons of a practical nature, such as electrical repair, plumbing, building construction—anything that has to be done at the time. BBTI can also help prepare missionaries for the responsibility of educating their children on the mission field. All of these situations are designed to be very similar to those conditions found on mission fields all over the world.