2015 Year-End Letter from the President
I am so thankful for you! Your generosity provides God’s Word to those who want it more than anything else in life—transforming and deepening their daily walk with Jesus, like only the Word of God can.
One of the hardest parts of being President of Pioneer Bible Translators is hearing stories like the following, especially because I hear similar stories over and over. I can’t tolerate the thought of the 180 million people who don’t have one verse of the Bible in their heart language. But the following story—and those 180 million people—are also why I am so thankful for partners like you, who are willing to share and even sacrifice to provide God’s Word for those who are spiritually hungry.
Mr. Igwe’s One Desire—A True Story
Terror and chaos consumed the North African village as the news spread that the soldiers were almost upon them. Mothers hurriedly picked up babies as older children clutched the hands of their younger siblings. In a whirlwind of activity, each North African family was forced to make snap decisions that would have life changing consequences as they fled from the looming disaster. The civil war—which had already taken 2 million lives and displaced many times that number—had now come to them.
Mr. Igwe scanned his mud hut quickly choosing what to take. He grabbed the tattered, brown briefcase that held his most treasured possessions. Then he joined the hurried exodus, aware that the soldiers were almost on their heels. It would take several days to walk to the camp on the other side of the border.
Months later at the refugee camp, Mr. Igwe met missionaries from Pioneer Bible Translators. When he understood who they were, he couldn’t wait to show them his treasures. The old briefcase held a weathered alphabet book, a Bible translation training certificate he’d earned, and a few Bible stories he had translated. Mr. Igwe shared his life-long dream with the missionaries—the Bible translated into the heart language of his people. The missionaries recognized God’s call for translation through this man’s passion for his people.
Not long afterwards Mr. Igwe passed away in the refugee camp. At his death, the only parts of the Bible translated into his language were the few Bible stories he had completed.
Our Father’s Heart
What a tragedy! We live in a day when many in our country have turned away from the Word of God. Imagine the pain God must feel in His heart. I wonder how many in the Kingdom would treasure Scripture as much as Mr. Igwe. Meanwhile, many people just like him are waiting for their first taste of the Word in their language. Jesus paid the ultimate price for Mr. Igwe’s people to know Him deeply, intimately, passionately. Our Father’s plan is that:
“…the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” —Isaiah 11:9b
Again, I want to emphasize how much I appreciate the critical role you play in bringing our Father’s vision to reality. It’s a big vision—one that plays a crucial role in Jesus’ prophecy about the end of the age. The good news is that one of the greatest milestones in completing this grand vision is on the horizon. By God’s grace, we believe the generation of missionaries we are currently sending will see its completion—every heart language that needs it having at least a New Testament. If being a part of this grand vision aligns with your Kingdom goals, please keep reading!
Why Is God Growing Pioneer Bible Translators So Dramatically?
I believe God is growing Pioneer Bible Translators at such a phenomenal rate because He is so passionate to fulfill his prophecy that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. God is bringing His vision to pass. We are seeing God’s blessings exceed our imagination, and God is using you to help make it happen.
It is always appealing to invest money in mutual funds or stocks that are performing well. Today I write to invite you to invest your end of the year giving into a cutting-edge mission that is fulfilling God’s vision. But first, let me tell you of the incredible ways God is growing this mission. Keep in mind that our goal is to have started 300 translation projects by 2030 and complete them by 2050. That’s a big deal, but our ultimate goal is bigger: networks of churches using Scripture to grow, mature and multiply among all 300 of these languages.
Today, Pioneer Bible Translators is translating God’s Word:
into 65 languages
in 15 countries
for 31 million speakers
We currently have over 400 teammates serving God through this ministry, with an additional 91 recruits actively preparing to serve. This last summer we had 26 interns experience missionary life in six distant locations. Moreover, we hosted our largest week-long Discovery recruiting event—almost one-third larger than ever before—and it was the third Discovery event this year! Most of this recent growth God has accomplished with just two full-time recruiters. But recently God has grown the number of full-time recruiters to 10. Having seen such amazing growth with just two recruiters, can you imagine what God will do with 10?
God is also providing recruits from Brazil and Korea, in addition to opening doors in entirely new language frontiers among the deaf. We are also officially registered with the governments of the Philippines, Indonesia, Canada, and Ukraine to create legal entities through which to recruit more missionaries.
There’s more. In the last six years 331,000 verses were drafted—the equivalent of 42 New Testaments. That means we are accelerating so fast we drafted more verses in the last six years than the previous 32 years. In just this last year, we experienced the largest number of completed translations ever in our history: 12 New Testaments plus an entire Bible!
On November 7 we broke ground to start the construction of the second building on our campus, the 5,000-square-foot Vision Building and John Relyea Prayer Tower. By God’s grace all funds were provided in advance, and we will finish the building debt free. Praise God!
Talk about God answering our prayers! This is an amazing time to serve the Kingdom of God. But what matters isn’t how far we’ve come; it is where we must go. And when I say “we” I’m picturing the missionaries on the field, their national partners who work with them there, and you—the whole team.
Impact For The Future
In order to complete 300 translations by 2050, and do our part to see that everybody, everywhere has at least a New Testament in their language, we need to double the size of Pioneer Bible Translators by 2018 with at least 740 teammates, and then double again by 2024. If it seems like a lot, let me just say we’ve committed to Jesus to give it our all. He has given us incredible momentum. We must use it and scale our infrastructure to recruit, train, send and support the missionaries God calls to give their lives to fulfilling His vision. This isn’t easy. As an organization, we provide many services to each missionary. Growing the organization requires scaling our capacity to provide these necessary services. God has already multiplied the size of our recruitment team—now we must scale the team that will support these new team members.
Our biggest need right now is growing our internal infrastructure and capacity to recruit, train, and support missionaries so that we can continue to build the momentum to complete all 300 translations by 2050. Millions of Bibleless people need God’s Word!
Your gifts to Pioneer Bible Translators will be used to accomplish great things for the Kingdom. One donor recently put it this way:
“This is as pure Great Commission as it gets!”
Pioneer Bible Translators is healthy, growing, blessed by God, and has set its sights on completing the biggest milestone ever in the history of the Great Commission.
Regarding our accountability and transparency, the Chairman of Charity Navigator, an independent American nonprofit corporation that evaluates charities, wrote:
“Only 5% of the charities we rate have received at least five consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Pioneer Bible Translators outperforms most other charities in America. This ‘exceptional’ designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Pioneer Bible Translators from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.” —John P. Dugan
What You Can Do, Together With Mr. Igwe’s Son
Mr. Igwe—the man who died in the refugee camp—wasn’t able to see even the beginning of his dream come true, but his desire to see the Bible translated into his heart language did not die. His son, Joseph Igwe, has taken his father’s dream as his own. He is now working with Pioneer Bible Translators to translate the Word of God into his language. He is using what he has—his life and his time—to complete this portion of the Great Commission.
I am writing you today hoping that you, like Joseph Igwe, will use what you have to fulfill our Father’s vision and to complete the Great Commission. I hope that you catch a bit of the excitement we’re feeling as we move towards the goal God has set before His people, you and me, the church. Everything is coming together. The next critical step is for Pioneer Bible Translators to raise the funds necessary to scale our capacity and internal infrastructure. To accomplish this monumental task, we eventually will need to raise the equivalent of $60,000 a month; but for this next year, our goal is to raise $20,000 a month. It is a big goal, but we are talking about fulfilling the biggest milestone in completing the Great Commission. It is worth it!
Please consider two things:
- First—would you give generously, as God has provided, so that the visions of many more Mr. Igwes can become a reality for them, their children and grandchildren? A special gift before the end of this year would help reach this goal.
- Second—I know this is a huge thing to ask, but would you consider starting to give monthly sometime in 2016? Why?—Because monthly gifts are essential to our being able to make plans and set budgets. If it sounds inconvenient, we have several options to automate the process. If you are concerned God will provide, may I be even bolder and suggest accepting the challenge God gives you in Malachi 3:10? Please know I understand I am asking you to take a step of faith—and if God doesn’t provide we’ll understand. Ongoing monthly giving would be a huge help to keep the momentum going!
That all may hear,
P.S. — Thank you again for all you are doing, taking the time to read Mr. Igwe’s story, considering Pioneer Bible Translators in your end of the year giving, and maybe even stepping out in faith to give monthly. We are so thankful for partners like you!
Greg has served as President of Pioneer Bible Translators since 2007. He, his wife Rebecca, and their three children served in West Africa for more than twelve years, completing the Bible in the Yalunka language. He has a degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M, and a Masters and a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He also has linguistic training from the University of North Dakota and the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics.