Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Loss of a Friend: A Tribute to Simon


by Stacey

A few years ago, as we were having our house built in our village, I noticed an older gentleman peeking at us through the tall grass that was behind his house. My immediate thought was, “What does he think of us?” and after spending the next few years getting to know this man, I am sure he was thinking the same thing: “What do they think of me?” Both of us did not know what to expect from the other, but I am sure that both of us did not expect friendship.

This man (Simon) was an unexpected blessing from the Lord. He lived in front of us and did not speak a word of English and only a few words of French. While I am sure he was fluent in Bakoum, he was a bit hard to understand because he was missing teeth. Simon was different than the rest of the people in our village. He was calm, stayed out of fights, and minded his own business. He was a breath of fresh air.

Every morning, when I would go on a jog, I spent a few minutes talking to him on my way home. He usually had a couple coals going and was roasting a potato-like-root for his breakfast. Sometimes he would be sharpening his machete in order to use it in the fields that day. Simon would head off to tend his fields in the bush and I would head off to start my studies for the day.

Then, in the evenings, when I would go out to talk to my neighbors, I would always sit and talk to Simon. He would often talk about how proud he was of the latrine he was digging. I noticed that after his project was complete, he had nailed up some wood around the latrine and padlocked the door shut. Dave and I would giggle to ourselves at night wondering who would break into someone’s latrine. He was so proud of this latrine that we had our kids come over to look at it and compliment him on his hard work. He smiled so proud. When we weren’t talking about his latrine, we would just sit and watch the dog chase the chickens and laugh.

Our relationship continued to grow with Simon. We would send one of our kids with some “American” food for him to try in the evenings and in return he would hike out to his field and bring us back delicious pineapples. One night, he got all dressed up and came over to our house to tell us stories in Bakoum. We had no idea what he was saying (no teeth), but we made some popcorn and I think he had a great time.

Simon was poor and alone. He lived by himself in a very dark house with a mud floor and never had family around. Often, as I would pass his house on my way to go jogging I would pray that the Lord would move him from a life of dirt and mud up to streets of gold. I don’t think he even knew what gold was.

Simon would come to our church, but I was never sure how much he understood because it was conducted almost exclusively in French. Dave and I lent him an audio recorder for him to listen to the French Bible and we would often pass him while he was listening to it. He claimed to believe in God, but I am not sure if he understood the Gospel. My language, unfortunately, was too limited to be able to share the Gospel with him.

Simon was older and a few weeks ago, he became ill. Instead of our village rallying around him in his suffering, they said that he was sick because he went into someone else’s field and was therefore cursed. They wanted to do some type of religious ritual to cleanse him of this transgression, but he did not want to. Our friend and pastor, Boris, was by his side and told us that Simon was trusting in the Lord. However, due to Simon's limited French, it is hard to say how much he really understood about Jesus. Even though we sent money for him to be cared for at a local clinic, we got word this morning that Simon had died.

I don’t know if Simon passed from death to life this morning or if he passed from death to eternal death. My prayer for him these last few weeks has been that the Lord would grant him understanding of the Gospel, even if it was only spoken to him in French. I would pray that the Lord would surround Simon, in his tiny, dark house with angels that would take him up to Heaven. I don’t know where Simon is now, but I trust the Lord in whatever decision he made regarding his soul.

What Now?
Dave and I have always said that our ministry of Bible translation is for the next generation. We have always known that the 60-70 year old people would likely not hear the Word of God in their language. Like my Dad has told me, the Word of God will come “in the fullness of time” to the Bakoum people. I know that is true and yet, I want the older generation to hear the Gospel too (as does my Dad). I am persuaded more and more that we need to teach the Bible as we go so that the grandpas and grandmas will have the opportunity to repent and believe before they die. May God give us grace, energy and the ability to teach and may he provide us with more co-workers who can teach men, women, and children the Word as it is being translated. And may there be no more Bakoum people who face God as judge without first being given the opportunity to hear the Gospel in their own language.

May God be their Refuge, Psalm 91
May God be the refuge and fortress of the Bakoum. May he deliver them from traps and deadly pestilence. May the Bakoum find refuge in God and may the faithfulness of God be a protector to them. May they no longer fear the terror of the night nor any threat that is present during the day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness. May no terrorists, no bandits, no riots come near them but may they only look at the judgment of the wicked.

May the Lord be the dwelling place of the Bakoum and may evil not be allowed to touch them. May the Lord command his angels concerning the Bakoum to guard them in all their ways. May they be handled with such gentleness that they don’t even let them strike their feet against rocks. May they tread on the lion and on the puff adders and may they trample every kind of serpent.

May they hold fast to Jesus in love and may Jesus deliver them. May they call out to Jesus and may he answer them. May he be with them in trouble and may he rescue and honor them. May they be given long life and be shown eternal salvation.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

3 Reasons I Am Thankful for Support Raising

by Dave

Forever and always people have avoided going into missions because they have to raise support. Just recently I saw a thread where men with PhDs in biblical studies were lamenting the lack of employment opportunities in American Bible schools and seminaries. Someone commented on the thread saying, "There are plenty of opportunities overseas." One of the few responses to this was (paraphrased), "Yeah, but then you will have to be raising support for your entire life!"

I understand the hesitancy to raise support. Stacey and I drove all around the country in 2011 speaking to churches, friends, and (at times) total strangers. We did a Talent Show, Bake Sale, Silent Auction, and at one point sat in front of a Lifeway Christian Bookstore for a day trying to raise money. That last one was the most awkward day of my life (and I was a quite awkward middle schooler, so that is saying a lot). Basically most people did their best not to make eye contact and we only raised $40 (take note future support-raisers, don't sit out in front of Lifeway, it doesn't work).

That said, our ministry is now fully supported (at last count) by five churches, and 112 individuals/families that give on a monthly basis (not to mention the various one-time gifts we receive). Our family has been exclusively living and ministering on the support of these churches and individuals since 2012. In that time we have lost the monthly support of three churches and a number of individuals and families. I have had more awkward conversations in that time. I still would not say that I like talking to people about money, but I am more comfortable with it. And over this Thanksgiving holiday I reflected on the fact that I have many things to be thankful for, and one of them is support raising.

So, here are three reasons that I am thankful for support raising:

1. It Blesses Us
This is probably the most obvious, but perhaps not in the way you are thinking. Sure, we receive a financial benefit from this situation. And we are so thankful for that. But we have found that we receive so much more. It turns out, when you are investing money into a ministry you think about the ministry more. I think this is the outworking of the principle: "where your treasure is, there your heart is there also" (Matthew 6:21). When you think about a ministry more, you tend to pray more. And we receive the benefits of not only financial support, but prayers. And even more than that, we receive the benefit of fellowship. I have heard of missionaries who have gone to the field and have essentially been forgotten. And while I know that can happen even when you have done support raising, that has not been my experience. I receive emails, comments on our blogs, care packages, and even letters often enough to know that we are not forgotten.

As a side point, we also receive through this the blessing of accountability. We are not lone rangers out doing whatever is right in our own eyes. We have a host of supporters that care not only about our ministry, but about our theology and methodology. We have sharpening conversations, we have people to turn to when we do not know what to do. We are well supported, held accountable, and so blessed.

2. It Blesses the Bakoum
This is probably also obvious, but good to think about. While the problems that the Bakoum have cannot only be resolved with resources, they cannot be resolved without resources. Let me explain what I mean by that. Many of the problems that the Bakoum have are deeply spiritual. When we had a young boy with a compound fracture in his leg, we were willing to give of our own resources to see the boy taken to a hospital for surgery. The people rejected this offer not because of a lack of resources, but because they trusted in the power of the village magic. The root of their problems is not merely a lack of resources. The real issue is that they need Jesus.

However, the vast majority of the Bakoum do not know him. And we know that everyone who calls upon Jesus will be saved. But they cannot call upon him if they do not believe. And they cannot believe unless they have heard. They cannot hear unless someone is preaching. And we cannot preach unless we are sent out and supported (Romans 10:13-15). Further, when Jesus told us to go to the nations, he said "teach them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 18:19). In order for this to happen, they don't just need preachers. They need the words of Christ in a language they can understand. Then, they need to learn how to read. They also need leaders that are trained in exegesis. None of these things are going to happen without resources. Your giving supports us, so that we can support them, so that they can know Jesus, so that they can find the solution to their deepest problems.

Your giving also serves as an example to the fledgling Bakoum church which needs to consider their own role in supporting ministry. I tell them about you, about your faithfulness to give every month and I encourage them to think about how they are using their resources to further God's kingdom in Cameroon and abroad


3. It Blesses You Most of All
Were you expecting this one? I have been convinced more and more throughout the years that when Christians support ministry it blesses them most of all. How can I say that? Well, the idea comes from something Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). Jesus did not just say that those who give are blessed, he says they are more blessed. Another verse to this point is Proverbs 11:25, "Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered."

There are many awesome examples of generosity that I find as further affirmation of these principles. One such example is the best selling Christian author Randy Alcorn. Alcorn gives away all of the royalties from his books and is able to support many different ministries. He wrote a blog entitled "Why I Love Not Receiving a Cent of the Royalties from My Books." In this blog he writes:
I don’t go to bed at night feeling I’ve “sacrificed” that money, wishing somehow I could get my hands on it. I go to bed feeling joy, because there’s nothing like giving. For me, it is like the joy of leading someone to Christ. 
I love the fact that our ministry is supported by churches and Christians all around the world. Though certainly not as much as Alcorn, I know the blessing of contributing to ministries that further the Kingdom of God. There is a joy that our supporters know which cannot be experienced apart from giving. And I am thrilled that we are able to provide them with an opportunity for greater joy.

So this holiday season, I am choosing to be thankful for support raising. I pray that this will be a helpful corrective for those who consider such a way of life unthinkable. It is hard, it is humbling, it is awkward. But at the end of the day, I believe many people are more blessed because of it. And the truth is, awkwardness is a small price to pay for such blessing.

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If you are looking for an opportunity to support missions, I would ask that you prayerfully consider supporting the ministry of Richie and Tabitha Rice. You can watch their video below, talking about their journey to Cameroon. They are currently raising support to be sent out from the US to work alongside us in Cameroon.

For many years, when people have asked us for our greatest need, we have responded that it is co-workers. The Rice family is one of the clearest answers to those prayers. They are members of our main sending church, faithful and diligent workers, and eager to be used in Cameroon. I commend the Rice family to you as those who would use your support to further God's Kingdom.



If you are interested in learning more, you can sign up for their newsletter: http://eepurl.com/jsgbD or check out their new blog: http://ricesincameroon.blogspot.com/.

Further, they are currently looking for financial partners. If you would like to support them in this way, go to https://us.worldteam.org/give. Under the column for "Worker" you can put their names: Richie and Tabitha Rice. Then, enter an amount and click 'Give'. You will then be prompted as to whether you would like to give monthly, or one-time.

And please pray for them. This is an exciting time, but it is also full of challenges. The Lord is faithful.

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." -Jesus

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Crucial Role of Single Women in Missions

By Stacey
Gladys Aylward, Single Missionary to China

Fifteen years ago, at The Master’s University in Southern California, the Lord used a return missionary to challenge me to devote my life to the mission field. I feel indebted to this man and indebted to this institution for putting people like him in front of me to expose me to a world of lostness that I knew nothing about.

Fifteen years later, someone from this same university asked Dave and I to stand in front of the student body and tell them about this same lostness that I had learned about while there. It was their Global Outreach Week and they brought us in to talk about Bible translation. After speaking 6 times and spending time with the student body, Dave and I were on a plane headed back to Dallas. When I asked him what he thought, he said that it was evident that the Lord had us at Master's…for the women.

Dave was right. A couple of men on the campus voiced interested in overseas ministry, but the response from the women was overwhelming. It was the women who asked to meet with me individually to talk about what concrete steps they could take to get to the field. In one conversation, a godly, single young lady asked me about how she, as a woman, could be used on the field. I tried to explain to her that the work of single women on the field was not an accessory to "real" mission work, but instead was vital to spreading the Gospel overseas. 


The crucial role of women
I am currently working towards a Masters degree in Bible translation and, out of the required textbooks for my current classes, half of them were written by women. The content of these texts is dealing with heavy exegetical translation issues, and it is the women who are making major contributions to the field through their writings. In the same way, I just finished an annotated bibliography this weekend where I read multiple theses about literacy work that has been done in Cameroon. Seven out of ten of these works were written by women. And what was striking was that woman after woman gave praise and glory to God for in their dedications. It is the same on the field. Women serve as Bible translators, exegetical consultants, linguistic consultants, doctors, nurses, children’s ministry workers, evangelists, teachers and literacy workers. They saturate the field in every domain.

The founder of Wycliffe Bible Translations, Cameron Townsend, advocated for women to be sent out as Bible translators. There was much controversy surrounding his decision to send out Loretta Anderson and Doris Cox to headhunting tribes of the Peruvian jungle. The chief of the Shapras tribe was known to have killed his predecessor in order to take his position as chief. And it was this very man who started helping these two ladies learn his language. After working with the women for a couple years, he became a believer and repented of his witchcraft and murder. Then, years later he confessed to Townsend,
“If you had sent men, we would have killed them on sight. Or if a couple, I’d have killed the man and taken the woman for myself. But what could a great chief do with two harmless girls who insisted on calling him brother?”* 
In some instances it is actually more advantageous to be a woman in kingdom work.

Be defined by what you can do, not by what you can’t
When we look in Scripture, we see many commands being given to both men and women alike, and only a few prohibitions given to women. As far as prohibitions, women are not to have authority over a man in the context of her marriage and in the context of her local church. And that is pretty much it.

On the other hand, women are called to go out into all the world and make disciples (Matt 28:18-20). They are called to abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58), to devote themselves to do good works and to not be unfruitful (Titus 3:14) to cry out with the Psalmist that all the nations worship the one true God (Psalm 67). There is much work for a woman to do.

To restrict a woman from carrying out Gospel work overseas or for a woman to restrict herself unnecessarily would be costly and even ‘stupid’(as Fredrick Franson, the founder of TEAM, so bluntly stated). He explains,
There are, so to speak, many people in the water about to drown. A few men are trying to save them, and that is considered well and good. But look, over there are few women have untied a boat also to be of help in the rescue, and immediately a few men cry out; standing there idly looking on and therefore having plenty of time to cry out: “No, no, women must not help, rather let the people drown.” What stupidity! 
Historically and still today, single women are refusing to let the people drown, but instead they are going out as sheep among wolves to dangerous places and sharing the Gospel.

But there is still so much more work to be done and more need to go out.

Let’s get it done ladies
Only 9.4% of the world’s languages have a complete Bible in their language and there are tribes and nations who are still untouched by the Gospel. There are women cutting their sick babies with razor blades due to lack of medical knowledge and allegiance to their, often dark, tribal traditions.

And in many of these cultures, women do not have a voice. In some, women are considered lesser than men and ignorant. And yet, God, in his wisdom may choose to save even more headhunting chiefs through the testimony of a few stumbling women missionaries who are trying to tell him about Jesus. In the eyes of the world, this is foolishness. But in the eyes of God, this is his plan to take what is low and despised in the world to shame the strong. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
Single women face unique challenges living overseas and yet, God has and will continue to use them to shame the strong and bring his kingdom to the ends of the earth. Let's not be shy ladies, let's get it done.

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* Quote taken from From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, p 378. 
** Quote taken from From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, p 341.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Unfortunate Consequences of Short-Sighted Bible Translation


by Dave

I just had the amazing opportunity to attend the 9th Biennial Bible Translation Conference put on by GIAL and SIL International. The theme this year was "Tradition and Innovation in Bible Translation." It was a fantastic time of remembering those who have gone before us, and thinking about what is to come. I heard lectures on Luther's translation principles, historical surveys of people groups in Africa that have now had the Scripture for a number of years, as well as several presentations about how technology is changing the Bible translation landscape.

The opening lecture was given by Dr. Margaret Muthwii (pictured second from the left), the Vice Chancellor of Pan Africa Christian University. She is remarkably experienced in the translation world having served as a Translation Consultant, Translation Coordinator, and a Global Translation Advisor. She was very well received having experience in translation and linguistics. There were two statements that she made in her presentation that both surprised and impacted me:

1) "Many people groups are asking for new translations."

According to Dr. Muthwii, the overarching methodology for Bible translation since the 1970's has been what is called "dynamic equivalence" or, more recently, "functional equivalence." In this theory, one is seeking to translate the meaning of phrases or whole sentences, rather than the individual words. This is contrasted to the view often called "formal equivalence" which is usually understood as providing a more "literal" translation.

I heard in numerous breakout sessions that national translators who were able to read English were given two English translations to look at: 1) a more "literal" translation like the ESV or NASB, and then 2) the Good News Translation (GNT). The more "literal" version was said to give them more insight into the forms from the original languages, but they were called upon to translate like the GNT.

Dr. Muthwii emphasized that some of the communities receiving these "functional equivalence" translations are now requesting more "formal equivalence" type Bibles. They are comparing their translations to English translations and believing that shortcuts have been taken. Specifically, she mentioned that these Christians were seeing passages where there is some ambiguity in the text in the English version, but the ambiguity had been removed for their mother-tongue translation.

This ambiguity might be, for example, a passage like Luke 11:42 where Jesus accuses the Pharisees of neglecting justice and "the love of God." In Greek (and in some English translations) this phrase "love of God" could refer to either: 1) God's love, or 2) the love that one (should) have for God. The GNT flattens this by saying that the Pharisees neglect "love for God." Translations like the ESV have specifically chosen to say "love of God" so as to allow the reader/teacher to determine the correct interpretation based on their study. The Christians that Dr. Muthwii was referring to wanted the liberty to study themselves, in their churches, which interpretation was best, rather than having those decisions made for them by the translation team.

2) "Pastors and community leaders need training too."

A second encouragement from Dr. Muthwii was to teach the pastors and the community leaders about Bible translation as well. She has found that such leaders have questions (often very insightful questions) about the translation process. Engaging them and training them is a key to promoting the use of the translations. And it is also key in ensuring better quality teaching when the translations are made available to these leaders. This would include training in: translation methods, hermeneutics, biblical interpretation, and even biblical languages.

The claim that the community must be involved in the project is one that I heard numerous times at this conference. And Dr. Muthwii made it clear that the most important aspect of community involvement (as well as national translator involvement) is training. The training that she referred to was not just for the purpose of translation, but so that the Bible can be rightly used and rightly taught.

I believe that Dr. Muthwii is seeing two symptoms of a major flaw in much of what is being done in the Bible translation world. Specifically, I believe that the responses of these communities reflect a short-sighted view of Bible translation.

The short-sighted view of Bible translation: Evangelism

In another session, regarding the issue of ambiguity, Ben Kuwitzky mentioned that the intended purpose of a translation affects the way that you translate. He indicated that when we translate for the purpose of evangelism, we often flatten the text, removing any potential ambiguities. However, he warned that often these translations become the Bible of the church. As such, they are now being used not only for evangelism, but also for discipleship.

It seems to me that many modern Bible translations have been done with the short-sighted goal of evangelism. The intended audience has been the unbeliever who knows nothing of the Bible, nor has anyone to teach them. In this we have produced what amounts to children’s Bibles which have served well to cater to the newly literate, unbelieving, non-Christian communities. In many of these places we have seen people come to faith, where there were no Christians before. These Bibles have served the spiritually immature, as they came to their first understanding of who God is.

But these spiritual infants have grown up (or are in the process of maturing right now). Some of these translations have now been around for longer than I have been alive. Children in these communities are growing up literate, going to college, and are able to compare the Bible in their mother-tongue with those translations in other languages. And this is leaving them wanting more, not unlike a Christian adult who only has a children’s Bible. So, how would we translate differently if we took a long view?

The long view of Bible translation: Discipleship

To explain the long view of Bible translation, I will discuss two goals that I hope to put into practice:

"Mature" Translations

I have only been working as a missionary for about five years, and I am not sure if I am allowed to coin new terms. However, I believe that the Bible translation community needs to be producing “mature translations.” That is, translations that are aimed not for evangelism, but for discipleship. As I have studied translation methodology I have found the term “literal” to be unhelpful. That is because it is hard to know what people mean. Even in Young’s Literal Translation, the word order is different than the Hebrew (which is often Verb first, then Subject, then Object). The ESV claims to be “essentially literal” and “as literal as possible.” But even the ESV uses the word “heart” in English when translating the Hebrew word meeh ‘belly' (see Psalm 40:8).

Instead of saying “literal” I say let’s strive for “mature.” Let’s strive to produce translations that are aimed at discipleship. When Jesus gave us our Great Commission he said,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).
He did not say, "Go, evangelize the nations" or even "Go, translate the Bible." Evangelism and Bible translation are vital, but they are not the end goal. The end goal is disciples. I think that if we strive for "mature" translations, there is still freedom for the translators to explore different theories of translation. But, the goal makes it clear that we are not seeking to "flatten" the Bible, or to make difficult passages easy. Instead, we are trying to produce natural translations aimed at the discipleship of Christians.

Now, you might be thinking, "But Dave, if we translate for Christians (and not for unbelievers) the people will not be able to just pick up the Bible and understand it." And that brings us to the second aspect of the long view of Bible translation:

Mature Churches

Practically speaking, when we look at how the disciples fleshed out the Great Commission, it was in planting and strengthening churches. The vast majority of the Bible was not written with individual readers in mind. It was written to be read, interpreted, and taught in community. This should be of no surprise to us, being that when Jesus gave us the Great Commission, he included the words: "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Teaching has always been a part of the Great Commission, and not just the teaching of the Gospel. We are to go out and make disciples, teaching them all that Christ commanded.

If our goal is not Bible translation, but strong churches, we will make different decisions. In fact, Wayne Dye (who has worked for over 30 years to encourage Scripture use) said in another lecture: "Sometimes teaching the Bible is more important than translating the Bible." We need Bible translators that are committed to the long haul. Translators that are willing to stop translation at times when there is a need for teaching. Translators that work hand-in-hand with local churches and teach pastors how to interpret the Scriptures. We need translators that are willing to ask the question: "What is best for the church?"

Philip Noss wrote, “perhaps because we have been oriented toward the task of translating, and of training people to translate, we have paid little attention to what follows translation" (Noss 2002: 331). This is the heart of short-sighted Bible translation. We need to be translating not just for the salvation of others, but for their discipleship. We need to be training up leaders that have access to God's Word in their mother-tongue and know how to properly study it and interpret it. Bible translation is not our goal, it is only one of the steps to get there.

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It would be good to remember that the God of the Bible ordained that there would be evangelists and teachers in his church. Translation of the Scriptures is not the only thing needed for adequate communication of the gospel: God has equally mandated the training and deployment of evangelists and pastor/teachers. Failure to account for this aspect of our task may unwittingly encourage a 'translation' that is to some degree a perceived replacement of human agents (Carson 1985: 213).
This quote and more are available in the presentation by Kyle Davis which was delivered at the BT Conference dealing with the reformers and their translation committees. The PowerPoint for his presentation can be accessed HERE.

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References:

Carson, D.A. "The limits of dynamic equivalence in Bible translation." ERT 9 (1985), 213.

Davis, Kyle. "Reformation Translating." http://bibletranslationfellowship.org/resources/

Noss, Philip A. “Translators’ Words and Theological Readings,” TBT 53, no. 3 (July 2002): 331.

*Image of Dr. Margaret Muthwii from: https://www.edgemagazine.co.ke/2017/04/27/how-pac-university-aims-to-bridge-skills-gap-between-academia-and-industry/




Monday, October 16, 2017

Safe at Home



by Brad Koenig (guest blogger)

I love baseball. One of the most exciting plays in the game is when a base runner tries to slide under the tag of the catcher at home plate and score a run for his team. If he succeeds, the umpire signals with his arms outstretched and the broadcaster announces, “He’s safe at home!”

Being a Christian in our home country is safe. There we attend church freely. We carry and read our Bibles without fear. We declare our faith openly. We have easy access to healthcare. Law enforcement officials are committed to our protection. We have many comforts and conveniences. We are safe at home.

When the Lord called me into missions, a veteran missionary challenged me and others in a chapel service to count the cost. Was I willing to risk my health, my safety, my comfort—and even my life—for the sake of spreading the gospel in a foreign country? In a time of private, solemn prayer, I told the Lord yes, I was willing to risk it all to obey him and follow him to the mission field.

It has not been easy. In fact, it has been very challenging for my wife and me, and for our children while they were growing up in Cameroon. We have had to deal with malaria and other health problems, living and homeschooling in a remote village, the hassles of bone-jarring roads, etc. We made the decision to return to the States for our children’s education. After our kids grew up and left the nest, we returned to the field last year. Since then our degree of risk has increased due to civil unrest in our region and the city where we live now. This has caused us to reevaluate our presence here. But our heavenly Father has reassured us to press on in the ministry that he has given us with the Esimbi people as they translate his Word into their own language. God is blessing our work in wonderful ways, which gives us extra encouragement. We have already come through many dangers, toils, and snares, and with John Newton we testify: it is God’s grace that has brought us safe thus far, and his grace will lead us to our heavenly home, where we will be fully safe forever.

Some people say that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. But I don’t believe that anymore. For sure the best place to be is in the center of God’s will. Jesus, who followed his Father’s will perfectly, was kept safe in a number of risky situations, but even he was susceptible to the dangers of this fallen world. The same is true of the apostle Paul and the other apostles. We follow the legacy of generations of saints who have presented themselves as a living sacrifice in worship unto the Lord (Romans 12:1).

Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are made for. We are safe at home, but that’s not what missionaries are called to.


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Brad and his wife, Kathy, spent 5 years working on the Esimbi Bible translation project in Cameroon, West Africa. They came back to Colorado for their children’s education. After 13 years they returned to Cameroon last year to see their project through. They serve in linguistic support for the Esimbi Bible translators. Their two children are now grown and living in Taiwan and Hawaii.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The New Testament is Finished and You Can Help!

by Dave


One day, the title of this blog will be about Kwakum. But for now, we are rejoicing with our co-workers that have spent the last 20 years working on the Oroko New Testament in Southwest Cameroon. Check out the letter below from our Field Director:

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World Team Cameroon is approaching a new milestone. Our first New Testament translation is about to be published! Rejoice with us that the 140,000+ Oroko people will soon have God’s Word in their language!

World Team Cameroon’s Oroko Team, Dan and Lisa Friesen and Mike and Becky Scott, have been working alongside the Oroko people since 1998 to translate God’s Word into their language. We are excited to announce that the New Testament plus the book of Genesis will be sent to the publishers before the end of this year!

Please pray with the Oroko Team as they complete the final stages in preparing for publication and as they raise funds needed for publication. Would you also consider giving towards the cost of publication to help bring God’s Word to the Oroko? If you would like to give, please see the instructions below.

And even if you cannot give, please do pray! Pray for the successful publication of the Oroko New Testament and that it will be received well. Pray that the Oroko will read it and understand the gospel. Pray that churches will begin to use the Scriptures to evangelize, disciple, and multiply.

Working Together to Reach the People of Cameroon for Christ,






Dan Friesen
World Team Cameroon Field Director
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If you would like to contribute to the publication of the Oroko New Testament (with Genesis), here is how you can:


If you wish to give online, you can do so at https://us.worldteam.org/give/projects

Or if you prefer to send a check, make it out to World Team and send it to the address below:

    World Team
    1431 Stuckert Road
    Warrington, PA 18976

Please include a note indicating that the gift is for Account #042030.

If you would like to know more about the WT Cameroon Oroko team, the expenses related to translation, and the project timeline, see the Friesen's most recent newsletter: https://goo.gl/VtH3mW


Monday, September 18, 2017

If We Fail, May We Fail While Daring Greatly




by Stacey

My father-in-law recently mailed us a book called From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions. As I have been reading this book, I have at times been inspired, encouraged and renewed in my missionary zeal. But, honestly, more often than not, I have been a little scandalized by the failures of those who have gone before me in missions. In a sense, I feel like this book is throwing mud on my heroes. Here are a couple of examples:

William Carey
William Carey, a famous missionary to India in the 1800s labored for 7 years before seeing anyone convert to Christ. Finally, a man named Krishna Pal believed and was being baptized by Carey in the Ganges river. But then the author interrupts this beautiful scene with the following....
…This sublime scene is only part of the picture. Carey’s wife, who had gone to India against her will, was now deemed 'wholly deranged,' and John Thomas, Carey’s partner who had delayed the mission due to his credit problems, had also gone mad. A missionary observer to this momentous occasion filled in the details that we would rather not include in our stories of missionary heroes: 'When Carey led Krishna and his own son Felix down into the water of baptism, the ravings of Thomas in the schoolhouse on the one side, and of Mrs. Carey on the other, mingled with the strains of the Bengali hymn of praise.' (122)
Yes, someone had come to Christ but it was at the expense of Carey’s wife and missionary partner going mad. In fact, his wife actually worked against him and his ministry as writes James Beck:
[Carey] attempted to argue for the moral superiority of Christianity and how Christ could liberate Hindus and Moslems from the tragedies of paganism…But how could he evangelize if his wife following him through the streets accusing him in the vilest language of adultery? (125)
And yet, despite his wife's loud accusations, the Lord used William Carey greatly in his work in India in the areas of evangelism, the translation of the Bible, education, and fighting against widow burning and infanticide. How can these two realities be reconciled?

William Shepard
Later in the same century, in 1890, William Shepard, a black American, volunteered to go to the Congo as a missionary through the Southern Presbyterians. He was loved by the Africans and even won the hearing of African kings. When colonial rubber plunderers moved into his region, he witnessed how cruelly the Africans were being treated as “the dead and the dying were everywhere” (166). In response to these atrocities, he wrote up reports of his findings that “shattered the complacency of Americans and Europeans” (166). He got the world's attention as the headlines read:
AMERICAN NEGRO HERO OF CONGO AND FIRST TO INFORM WORLD OF CONGO ABUSES, the Boston Herald wrote, 'Dr Sheppard has not only stood before kings, but he has also stood against them. In pursuit of his mission of serving his race in its native land, this son of a slave…has dared to withstand all the power of Leopold.' (167)
This man is clearly a hero. He was an American that was a friend of Africans who exposed a great evil against them. But then I read a quiet closing paragraph about his life:
For all his fame and celebrity, Sheppard’s life was not without controversy and scandal…He was forced to step down as a missionary and return to American because of adulterous affairs with African women, one resulting in the birth of a son. (167)
Sheppard was a married man who was unfaithful to his wife while on the mission field. He may have had some great successes but woven within these successes was great, great failure.

George Grenfell
Another missionary to Africa was George Grenfell who was a British citizen that had been inspired by the writings of a missionary to Africa, David Livingstone. He went overseas and then was later visited by a young Presbyterian missionary, Sam Lapsley who wrote of Grenfell:
Grenfell hated the natives, and they hated him. They have even threatened him with murder…Was this what it meant to be a missionary? Hiding in your fancy house, terrified that the people you’d pledged to help might shoot you in the head? (164)
He hated the nationals?! He went all the way overseas…to hate them? I am sure that Grenfell did not go to Africa with the intention of hating the nationals, but he was just in over his head. And yet, despite major tension between he and the nationals,
Grenfell continued on in his missionary work, supervising the Baptist missions in the Congo for twenty years – with surprising success in later years. In 1902 he wrote: 'You will be glad to know that here at Bolobo, shorthanded as we are, we are not without evidence of progress and blessing. People are more willing to hear, and give heed to the message they have so long slighted. In fact, many are professing to have given their hearts to the Lord Jesus, and there are sings of good times coming.' Growth did continue, and soon there was a need for a larger chapel. He told of how twenty years before he had been driven off by spears, but now he was greeted with the singing of 'All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.' (164-165)
The Lord used a man who was said to have a loveless ministry, at least at a point in time, to bring his Kingdom into this people group so that these people will be singing praises to Jesus forever.

How should we respond?
There is no question that the history of the church at home, and abroad, is a tangled web of perseverance, moral failure, sacrifice, love, and even hate. No local church will intentionally send out someone who is racist or sexually immoral or characterized by hatred. Yet with the stress and pressures of overseas living, sometimes these things creep into the lives of missionaries. I think in light of this, we should respond in three ways:

Awe
We should respond in awe because it is Jesus who builds his church and the failures of missionaries, the injustices of colonialism and even the very gates of Hell will not be able to keep her down. Jesus is the one who is growing the church through the seeds of the Gospel that are sown through the mouths of stumbling missionaries. And, in God’s mysterious wisdom, he has chosen to weave into his plan for the redemption of humanity much sin and much failure, knowing that it is not just for the “national” that Christ died but also for the missionary. Much praise belongs to Jesus for growing his church against such odds.

Humility
I think we can be quick to throw stones at the failures of other missionaries, but what I think we should really be doing is praying to the Lord for his mercy to keep us from falling into the same sins. We should be praying that the Lord would be showing us our blind spots and filling us with wisdom every day. In the words of David,
“Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.” Psalm 69:6
Fail while daring greatly
William Carey said, "I'm not afraid of failure; I am afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter." Even in light of missionary careers that have been filled with serious blemishes, what they have left behind in dark nations is light. People are in Heaven worshipping Jesus, churches were planted, and injustices fought because they kept charging ahead with the Gospel, failures in all. Had they remained in their home countries worried about their potential failures, Bibles would never have been translated and widows would still be throwing themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres. The correct response to missionary failure should not be inactivity, but instead should be a resolve to jump in the arena and fight with them. In the apt words of Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Monday, September 11, 2017

3 Things "They" Told Me About Adoption

by Dave

As we were thinking through the possibility of adoption, we sought counsel from many people. During this time, I was at an adoption conference where the presenters said:
"The two main reasons that people do not adopt are: 1) the cost of adoption, and 2) they are afraid that they could not love an adopted child like they would a biological child." 
This same presenter told us that the first one is not a problem. As it turns out, there are A LOT of financial resources for those adopting. Our adoptions ended up costing around $70,000 in total, and every dime was provided by the Lord. If you are considering adoption and are worried about the finances, let me know, I would love to help you find grants/aid/etc.

But of course, this leaves a big second: "Can I love an adopted child enough?" This was only one of the fears that arose as we were thinking about adoption. In talking with others, concerns were raised. People rightfully called us to count the cost, not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually. I am hoping in this post to address some of these concerns, and letting you know ahead of time, I think it was all worth it. So here they are:

1. They told me I could never love an adopted child like I would love a biological child.

This is an issue that is very difficult. And it seems that among many of our friends, there is a particular tie between parents and their biological child that is different than the tie with their adopted child. To be honest, this is an issue that I cannot speak to, being that we do not have any biological children. However, I would say that I cannot imagine loving any child more than I love Kaden, Makyra, Elias and Zoey.

We had a crisis when we were in Cameroon. Zoey had hurt herself, was bleeding, and we were 13 hours away from a hospital that could help her. It was a crazy time, and is somewhat of a blur. But I remember one moment, where Zoey was laying on the cement floor of our house bleeding. I had already spent an hour trying to stop the flow of blood and was just not making progress. I went to pick her up to hold her and as I did I saw the blood pooling around her. Now, in Cameroon I have seen a lot of hurt and sick kids. I have seen children near death, and looked upon the graves of many children. And for them, I felt pity. I felt love. But it was nothing like what I felt there with Zoey. She was not just some hurt kid. She was my daughter, and I loved her as a father. You can tell me that my love for her would have been stronger in that moment, had she born my DNA, but I will have to agree to disagree.

But it is not always easy. We have talked on this blog before about the fact that all of our children are difficult to love at times, and one more than the others. But the truth is that love is a choice. And the world will always be full of people that are harder to love than others. And what did Jesus say?
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:32).
God has actually commanded that we love those who are not easy to love (enemies!). He has commanded that we love even when it does not benefit us. And when we do, Jesus said that we are like God. How? Loving the unlovely reflects God's love for us. He did not choose to adopt us (Christians) because we were easy to love. The Bible instead characterizes us as ungrateful and evil. Yet he chose to love us, and not only love us, adopt us.

My children have done nothing to earn my love, in fact, they sin against me every day. But I have found that I am able to love much because I have been forgiven much.

2. They told me I would regret not seeing myself in my children.

The idea with this one is that when you have a child that is 50% mom and 50% dad genetically, you can see it. You can see it in their hair, or eyes, or facial expressions. In retrospect, I think this one has actually been a little bit funny. Why? Because I do see myself in my children. No, my children do not look anything like me. But in (sometimes really silly ways) they are just like Stacey and me. I will look over some times and see Elias crossing his legs, or trying to put a pen behind his ear like I do. One time, I walked in on Kaden who was in a state of sheer panic. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, "I can't find my list!" If you know anything about Stacey, you know that, in that moment, he was Stacey.

The children have all adopted a passionate love of animals from Stacey. When we are in Cameroon, Makyra is rarely seen without a kitten in her hands. She dresses them up in doll clothes. The kids love to play in the rain, something utterly foreign to Bakoum (and Dave) culture. Where does that come from? Yep, Stacey. Splashing in puddles and getting all dirty and whatnot. And when I see these things I delight. Not because Stacey or I have passed on any X or Y chromosomes, but because it is so evident that they are our children.

But even if it were not so evident, should that change anything? Stacey was talking to a family that had adopted older children. She asked how it was going. The mother responded that if they had adopted for themselves, they would have been very disappointed. The transition had been difficult, behavior issues complex, and the truth is that it is hard for an older child to adopt parents. But, she said, they adopted for the children, not for themselves. And in that, it has been worth it.

There are people who do have children solely for their own personal joy. And the result is that we have tons of broken marriages. There are so many ways in which children are a joy. The Bible even says that they are a blessing (Psalm 127:3). But just like all blessings, we err if we try to live for the gift and not the Giver.

If you are having or adopting children for the purpose of fulfillment or happiness, you will be disappointed. The times of happiness exist, but they do not outweigh the pain when your teenager tells you they hate you. They don't outweigh the heartbreak of seeing them look you in the eyes and boldly lie. Parenting is more sacrifice than it is happy times. But, if you have/adopt children for the Lord, you find that you can have joy even in those hard times.

3. They told me it would be hard for black children to be raised by white parents.

I grew up with a family where the husband was black and the mom was white. And I talked to them from time to time and heard that sometimes people were mean to them because of this. Being in Cameroon, our kids are seen as different. They are called "the whites" by the neighborhood kids. And they are still young, and to be honest, I am not sure how this will affect them as they grow older.

However, I want to consider just for a second what we adopted them out of. All of our kids were in an orphanage when we adopted them. When we went to pick up Kaden and Makyra the orphanage consisted of a three-room house with around 30 infants. 30 infants! And there were only a few women who worked there taking care of all of these babies. This orphanage relied on donations from the West, as well as the salary of an Ethiopian Christian family just to operate. The workers genuinely loved the children and cared for them as best as they could, but it was hard. When we adopted Elias and Zoey, the orphanage had moved to a larger building, but also had more children. Zoey had scabies so bad that she constantly rubbed her little feet together because they itched. In fact, when we were in the US and had killed all of the little bugs, she would still rub her feet together because she had developed a habit.

Both Makyra and Kaden were near death because of abandonment when just after birth. Most of our children were developmentally behind because of the restrictions of orphanage life. And further, had they remained in the orphanage, studies show that 60% of girls that age out of orphanages world-wide end up in prostitution. 70% of boys that age out end up as hardened criminals.

So, is it harder for our kids than it is for kids whose skin matches that of their parents? Yes, I am sure that it is. But is this life harder than a life as an orphan? There is no question, the answer is: No!

We had a particularly hard day with Elias, not long ago. Sometimes we just get to our wit's end. We have tried everything we can think of to encourage him to do what is right. On this day, Stacey was working with him and finding it difficult to discipline in love. And after an entire day of this, Elias came up to her and said, "Thank you Mommy for adopting me. I know you love me." These times happen rarely, but they sure are a blessing. We do love them, more than I ever would have imagined. And I am thankful that we did not let the fears stop us. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

America through the Eyes of our Children



by Stacey

One of the main questions we get from our friends and family now that we are in the States is, “How are the kids adjusting?” so we thought we’d take a minute to type up a fairly detailed response.

In a word, they are doing great. I suppose it’s kind of hard not to be doing great coming from a poorer nation to a nation of toys and shiny things. In the words of Dave, “Moving our children to America is kind of like moving them inside of Toys-R-Us.” It’s pretty hard for them to not be excited about everything.

Here are a couple examples:

The Airplane Ride. On the airplane over here, the main flight across the ocean was having technical difficulties so there were no DVDs available, but that didn’t stop our kids of 12+ hours of non-stop excitement. One of our sons got on the airplane and looked at the in-flight magazines in front of him and shouts out across the aisle, “Mom, it’s duty-free!!” (Does he even know what that means?). Not only were the free blankets and the “duty-free” magazines out-of-this world exciting, but so was the food. The kids devoured everything that was given them, and I mean everything (which includes eating those little packets of butter…plain). Just tonight one of our daughters told me that she “couldn’t wait” to go back to Cameroon so she could fly on the plane again.

Fast Food. In Cameroon, food is anything but fast. You walk to the market, you look at the beans to see if there are any holes in them, you haul them home and soak them, and then you let them cook for hours the next day. Living over there takes about 3 times as long as it does over here. So…one time we went through a drive-through and our kids saw us order our food and then voila, it just appeared. I heard them talking about how it was possible to get our food so fast, and they theorized that restaurants store it up by the windows so that can give it away quickly.

Not politically correct enough.
In Cameroon, saying that someone is “black” or “white” is about as inoffensive as saying that someone is “blond” or “brunette” over here. And so, even though we have talked to our children about how it is not super polite to point out someone’s race here in America, they simply think like someone born in Africa (because they were….).

One day, our children were taking a placement test in the hallway of a high school to see what grade they would be put in. An African American teacher walked by and our children stopped him and asked him if he was African American. He responded, “Yes I am.” They then proceeded to say that they were born in Ethiopia and now they are living in America and that is why they could be called “African-American.” They then asked him where he was born. When he responded that he was born in Washington DC, they questioned him, “How can you call yourself an African-American if you weren’t born in Africa?” This teacher later found me and told me about the conversation and was (thankfully) so excited that they had such inquisitive minds. I thanked him for being such a gracious man.

No category for introverted people. The most striking thing about our children here in this culture is how wildly extroverted they are. I think it’s because there is no language barrier for them to converse with others that they do nothing but converse, converse, converse. They seem to see life as a village where everyone who is out is available for social interaction.

What this means is that we have regular conversations about how they cannot stop our neighbor’s cars in order to talk to them, but instead they need for them to wait to get out of their cars to greet them. One of our sons and the mailman are on a first-name basis and when I walk around, our neighbors say things like, “Oh, I heard your mother-in-law’s coming to town?” I have seen our sons walk into a public bathroom and come out having a conversation with a complete stranger and then wrap it up with, “OK, see you later”. Cute, but also can be a little overwhelming for the general population.

There are many, many, many other stories that could be told.

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I am beyond pleased that our children are so happy here and yet I feel as if they have so quickly forgotten the less-privileged that we have left behind. I suppose it is a gift that children can be 100% where they are and yet if that does not change with age, there will be people groups that will be left forgotten. My prayer for them is that they will both praise the Lord who has given us all things to enjoy while also remembering the poor, praying for those in prison as if they were in prison with them, and choosing to forgo comforts so that others can know the comforts of the Gospel.

Monday, August 28, 2017

[Video] Missions: The Rewards are Greater than the Sacrifices

Just before we left Cameroon for our first home assignment we sat down with the World Team missionaries and asked them some real life questions. We asked them:
  • What is missions?
  • What is the hardest part?
  • So, is it even worth it?
  • What are your dreams for Cameroon?
  • What do you need to see these dreams realized?
All of us have experienced difficulties and sacrifices. But I hope you will be encouraged to see that there is no question in our minds: the rewards are greater than the sacrifices.

And I invite you to be challenged as well. The greatest need that most of us see in our ministries is the need for more workers. Will you join us?