“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
—1 Sam 14:6
Dear Partners in Bible Translation,
I remember sleeping exposed on the ground in lion country. I can still taste the adrenalin from the day I killed a 5 foot long spitting cobra on my porch with a huge wooden spoon. Living in Africa was always good for a terrifying jolt to the system – the occasional near head-on collision with a market truck or a nasty case of malaria. Ah, the good ol’ days. The other day I signed a contract on behalf of Pioneer Bible Translators to give us the right to purchase 22 acres for $195,000 ($8900 per acre) beginning a process that will cost more than $890,000 so that Pioneer Bible Translators can have their first permanent facility in the US. I felt that familiar rush of danger in service to the Kingdom as I put my name on the document and my integrity on the line. Reading over the boilerplate legalese one last time, I found myself reciting, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” because the Lord commands our every step and he walks with us. God has graciously allowed us to end the year having raised $477,527.44 for the building project, about half of the money needed to purchase and develop the land and build our first 4,800 square foot office building. For the first half of 2007, our team dared to pray only that God would give us a new $250,000 modular building to put on our currently leased land. By the end of 2007, God has shown us 22 acres and given us half the money needed to buy and build. In this my first year as president of PBT, God has been gently coaxing and nudging us to dream bigger.
Bridging the Gap
In PBT – churches, donors, field missionaries, forwarding agents, prayer partners, volunteers, and our North American International Service Center team – we all bridge the gap between the church and the Bibleless peoples, translating the Word into the language of unreached hearts to grow thriving New Testament churches. Pioneer Bible Translators does whatever it takes to help the Bibleless peoples both get Scripture translated into their language and learn to use it to transform lives. We use Bible translation and literacy as strategies for church growth and church planting. Together, we all form a team focused on this basic idea – that those without the Bible would get it and use it. The Lord has commanded that we make disciples of all nations, that we be his witnesses even to the ends of the earth! But how can a person in a small town in Illinois or a young family in Oregon be a witness to Northern Eurasia, to remote islands in the Pacific, or even to the lost of Africa? God has made PBT a bridge between wherever the church thrives and the Bibleless, unreached peoples of the earth. Just as Jesus commanded, together we are connecting God’s Word with Bibleless lives around the world!
Prayer is the Strategy for Expanding our Impact
At the beginning of 2007 we asked our prayer supporters and missionaries to begin praying regularly for some long-term prayer requests that would lead to accomplishing our vision. God has placed a vision for the future on our hearts that PBT would not only finish well the projects we have already begun, but that our body would grow to begin projects to meet all the translation needs identified in our current fields and start four new fields by 2012.
Praise God with us for mightily answering many of these prayers over the last year! I already mentioned how God transformed and provided for our building project. We have also been praying that God would add 200 of the right missionaries to our number by 2012. This year God increased the number of adults on our PBT team by 21, bringing the total to 206 adults (and 111 children) – a growth rate of over 11 percent. If our growth rate gradually increases from 11 to 14 percent, by 2012 we will meet our goal of having 385 adults on our team. Join us in praying this year that God would call 33 of the right new missionaries to join in the work.
We have been praying that God would expand our impact. This year PBT began working along with our partners on 8 new translation projects in Africa and India, moving us from translating the Bible for 9 million people in 35 languages to translating for at least 9.5 million people in 43 languages, a 23 percent increase in the number of translation projects this year alone. When we began praying that God would lead us to four new fields by 2012, I didn’t think God would start two of these fields in the first year of prayer! God has led us to begin projects in both India and a nation in Northeast Africa.
For those of you who prayed that God would help us complete the projects we have started, I am pleased to report that this year we published and are distributing with our partners the New Testament for a West African people group, potentially opening the gospel to 3 million people living outside the current reach of the Church. Also in West Africa, we and our partners translated and dubbed the Jesus Film in Yalunka, creating an audio version as well that has been playing on the radio for an audience of over 80,000 people currently beyond the reach of the Church. In Tanzania, we and our partners worked to publish the book of Mark simultaneously in 6 languages, as well as the translation and dubbing of the Jesus Film in another language there. We also, along with our partners, completed the translation and publication of 5 Bible Study booklets in Swahili as well as a children’s Bible in Swahili. In Papua New Guinea we printed and dedicated the book of Jonah in the Sob language.
New Logo and Website
The name “Pioneer Bible Translators” suits our team – we strive to show God’s love to people currently beyond the reach of other Bible agencies and missionaries. We strive to center our ministry on those unreached areas not yet the focus of other mission efforts. We go where others have not yet been able to go or sometimes where nobody wants to go. As a result, every place we choose brings its own unique challenge and requires that an innovative approach be “pioneered.” The name calls to mind the creativity needed to break new ground for the Kingdom of God in difficult areas; that ingenuity makes us “Pioneer Bible Translators.” This year we developed a new logo to emphasize our name and capture our distinctive focus by showing a Bible with a turning page. We are pursuing that turning page, getting Scripture materials used by people who currently don’t have access to God’s Word. That turning page means transformed lives. On this team we are each giving our lives to some part of that vision – and we thank God for making you part of this team!
Pray with us in 2008
Pray with us for God to move powerfully to work salvation for the Bibleless peoples of the earth. Bear in mind that “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” 1 Sam 14:6 Keep this list of prayer requests handy for your quiet times:
- That God would inspire great progress in the 43 translations we have started
- For the remaining $450,000 needed to develop land and build in Dallas in 2008
- For the remaining $35,000 needed for the Papua New Guinea building extension in 2008
- For the funds needed for an office in the Ukraine in 2008
- For funds for translation / training centers in Southeast Tanzania and Papua New Guinea
- For God to bring us 33 new people a year to have 385 adults in PBT by 2012
- For God to call 200 PBT advocates in churches nationwide by 2012
- That God would lead us to two more new fields by 2012
- That God would expand PBT International to send missionaries from other countries
- For perfect unity of purpose and heart in our team
- That God would help us begin a prayer vigil for world evangelization and Bible Translation
- That God would help us start projects to meet the identified needs in our fields so that PBT could become a team that translates Scripture for 33 million people in 69 languages by 2014.
We want people to get the Bible. We see people in need and want to change their world. We just need places from which to change it, the right people, and the right resources. Please pray for God to build PBT into the exact tool that he wants to get His Word into the lives of Bibleless peoples. I believe now more than ever that God will provide. The Jesus who commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations still commands us in the church to go, to teach, to baptize. Pray for us to have God’s wisdom now more than ever so that we can together preach this gospel of the Kingdom in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and “then the end will come.” (Matthew 24.14) We thank you for the sacrificial way in which you have served on this team whether in praying, sending, or going. We are continually humbled by the way you each give of yourselves to show Christ’s love.
Serving the Bibleless,