The President’s Blog
My friend Mamadu had problems. Not first world problems. It wasn’t his twitter account or programming his TV, I mean problems. He had epilepsy that the local witch doctors treated until he got so demon possessed he became a raving, uncontrollable menace. In his own words he couldn’t see human skin without trying to bite you. He said that the sorcerers of the village had closed his throat and for 12 days no water or food would pass. Everyone around him was just waiting for him to quit screaming and die.
Trying to change the world requires an act of courage. I’m not talking about changing the whole world—just the aspiration to make a contribution, to remove the shadow of suffering from the life of at least one person or to give light from God to someone who feels lost in darkness. The people on the Pioneer Bible Translators team have an extraordinary vision that we and our partners would one day see transformed lives in every language community on earth.
No one can see the wind, but we all feel the gusts pushing us along when it is at our back. The Wind of God blows irresistibly toward the moment when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Jesus promised that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us—power to be His witnesses even to the ends of the earth. At Pioneer Bible Translators, we are being swept along by His Wind.
I wish you could have seen the look on his face when he started reading the words in his own language–intrigued. He picked up a booklet and flipped through a few pages. He carefully glanced around to make sure no one was looking. He slowly sidled away until he had just enough of a head start to make sure no one could catch him. Then he took off.
When I lived in West Africa, we would feed our family homemade pizza while famished village children stared through the screen door, watching every bite. The kids next door would catch and roast mice; my children would fuss about eating their vegetables.As I wept before God in prayer, searching for a Christian response to the needs around me, He made it clear that I could not just keep consuming a buffet of His riches. So we planted thousands of fruit trees that will feed hungry children for generations. Doing something that could truly solve the problem felt right.
Watch the message I recently delivered at Compass Christian Church.
After years of prayer, planning and preparation, Pioneer Bible Translators was privileged to officially break ground for its first permanent building. The day was full of praise and glory to God and fittingly celebrated the milestone we have achieved: owning 22 acres of land and having raised the funds necessary to erect offices in support of Bible translation and discipling the Bibleless peoples world-wide.
For twelve and a half years I translated the Bible into a West African language. The New Testament has now been translated and printed. We will finish the Old Testament soon. For twelve years I checked the meaning of rough drafts in this wonderful African language. There are 31,104 verses in the Bible, and we labored over every single one of them. I left Lamentation and Song of Solomon for last. Translating Song of Solomon I kept saying, “We can’t put that in the Bible!” I could not wait to finish the task I had been working on for 12 years. I kept thinking, “When we finish this, we are going to throw a party.” But when I finished checking the last of those 31,104 verses, when that last verse was completed, I felt an overwhelming sense of grief. Tears welled up in my eyes. I said, “Aren’t there any other verses of the Bible I can check? Is that all there is? Isn’t there any more of that? Because that was good!
They looked a little tense as we discussed the last minute logistics of the trip in my office. We shared a little nervous laughter and a final prayer dedicating the voyage to the Lord. Then all three got on an airplane, flew into a war-torn country in Northeast Africa, purchased motorcycles and rode across the rough African trails into regions where most people follow another world religion that we won’t mention here for security reasons. That’s what the “Pioneer” means when we say “Pioneer Bible Translators.
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.
Check out Greg's book, Extreme Prayer: The Impossible Prayers God Promises to Answer.