I’ve enjoyed sharing a passion for well made Bibles with you, so thank you for partnering in that. You’ll have noticed that in each Bible review, I invite you to consider the need for Bible translation in our world. Because my family and I are moving around the world to address that need directly in the near future, I think it’s a good time to address our work. And it’s also a good time to invite you to partner in another way (but more on that in the conclusion).
God has put me and my family through a period of suffering, waiting, and redirection, and as a result he has left us with a clear sense of priorities for our ministry (it’s a long story I cannot get into here). Here’s what we came away with as the two motivating factors for our work:
- Unreached People Groups
- Bible Translation
Let me explain in more detail…
1. Unreached People Groups
Matthew 24:14 has left us unable to shake the call to the “Unreached People Groups” (UPGs) of the world:
And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all people groups will hear it; and then the end will come.
If Jesus says the end will come only after we bring the gospel to each people group, then that ought to be our priority as a church, and our priority as cross cultural workers.
There are roughly 16,000 ethnolinguistic people groups on planet earth, and 7,000 of those are considered UPGs. That is an imperfect statistical way of saying that there are probably too few true believers to take the gospel to the rest, or the church is yet too immature to really spread, so “outside help” is needed. Another way of defining a UPG is any group that is under 2% Christian (and that is how researchers arrived at the 7,000 number).
3 billion people are numbered in UPGs, and that includes the largely Buddhist peoples we’ll be serving. Buddhists believe that pain and suffering come from desire, so they make it their goal to eliminate all desire and escape the cycle of birth-suffering-death-reincarnation…and they aim to escape into nirvana or oblivion. But I believe C. S. Lewis was right in the Weight of Glory:
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (p. 26)
Buddhists need a real solution to their desire-dilemma. Rather than the futile quest of eliminating desire, they need to find their desire-trajectories fulfilled in Christ.
We are so excited to be working among the least-reached. Did you know that only 3% of Christian missionaries, equipped with only 1% of missions funding, are going to the 29% of the world with the least access to the gospel?! Watch this incredibly helpful video to better grasp this gross imbalance (and hopefully be stirred to action, as we were):
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/127875015″>State of the World / The Task Remaining</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/gfmvideos”>Global Frontier Missions</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
2. Bible Translation
I have skills in language and extensive training in biblical exegesis—I love pouring over Hebrew and Greek texts and grasping at the nuances. So I asked myself, “How can my training and temperament advance the Great Commission?” Bible translation is an obvious answer!
92% of living languages are still waiting for a completed Bible!
Of 7,000 languages in our world today, only 550 have complete Bibles—so 92% of living languages are still waiting for a completed Bible! 1,800 language groups don’t even have a single verse of the Bible translated yet! Can you imagine not having access to the Bible as a Christian?… or being forced to either cope with a difficult or inaccurate translation or rely on a second-language to read it? How would somebody share the gospel without having Scripture in the language of your peoples’ childhood and daily life?
Maybe you’re asking, “Why send our people overseas to translate the Bible? Isn’t that a simple job of word-substitution, something a computer or untrained person can do?” This video gives a small, simplified taste of a few of the complexities that necessitate sending trained people to do this job:
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/46427344″>Translating for Understanding</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/wycliffeusa”>Wycliffe USA</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
It’s certainly a long journey ahead, and not an easy one. But we are driven by the vision of John in Revelation 7:9:
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”
Someday, all 7,000 of the language groups on earth will be well represented before the throne of Jesus in the New Heavens and New Earth.
As members of a faith-based organization, we raise our salary. We aim to leave for Asia in July, and we still have $1,700 per month to raise. This is where you can really help us, if God stirs you to do so. Here are the remaining partnerships we’re praying for in order to reach our goal:
- 1 at $300 per month
- 2 at $200/month
- 3 at $100/month
- 4 at $75/month
- 5 at $50/month
- 6 at $25/month
We also majorly need one-time gifts toward our $30,000+ of initial outgoing expenses (plane tickets, vehicle, appliances, furniture, deposits for rent, language school, preschool for our kids, visas, passports, etc).
This is the first and last time I plan to use the blog in this way: Would you prayerfully consider being a financial partner, and thus joining us in “facilitating Bible translations in the heart languages of Southeast Asia to the praise of Jesus Christ”?
Paul helps us understand partnerships in missions. In Romans 10:13, he says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” That is a promise, guaranteed by the heart of God. But he goes on in 10:14-15:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
So the sender is just as essential as the preacher, as there is an unbroken chain from the sender to the salvation of those who call on the name of the Lord! In 10:17, Paul concludes: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” This brings us back around to Bible translation: The “Word about Christ” in a person’s mother-tongue is an essential tool through which they can know Jesus and call upon his saving name.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably love goatskin Bibles as much as I do. But why do we value such fine bindings? Isn’t it the precious contents of this Book– the God it reveals– that cause us to value it so much that we would purchase a premium copy? So let me ask again: Would you consider being a part of our sending team through a financial partnership, getting this precious revelation into the hands of the ethnolinguistic “have nots” of our world? By doing so, you will extend our reach together.
If you want to partner (or receive our update e-mails), please supply us with your e-mail address by dropping us a line at…
updates AT jeffandirene DOT com
Thanks for reading!
Jeff & Family