From One Language Project to Another

What I know for certain is that I will not end up on my deathbed regretting how I spent my time. I want my children to witness a life that is full of purposeful action, balanced with purposeful inaction. They’ll know that I am far more afraid of apathetic idleness than I am of failure. They’ll see that loving a hurting world requires courage, that courage comes from faith, and that faith comes from knowledge of the truth. The truth is that the battle is already won! This world is abounding with people who fear the future, the different and the unknown. Fear has no place in the heart of a real believer. So in my final words to you, our dearest and most faithful partners in the Gospel, I urge you to throw away your fear of this world. If you want your life to have consequence, then put to death your angst and alarm, and audaciously live out your faith with reckless abandon.

These were my final words from our last newsletter about our work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Refugee Language Project is the outcome of overcoming fear and living out my faith with reckless abandon. First, a bit of background for those of you who are justing meeting our family…

History: Wycliffe Bible Translators

Crystal and I were missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators from 2007–2016. For most of that time, we served the Ma Manda language group in the country of Papua New Guinea. After initiating contact with this remote group of 2000 people, we studied their language, established friendships, analyzed their sound system and grammar, developed their alphabet, and formed a committee to oversee future translation work. I also served as a linguistics consultant, helping other translators work through linguistic issues in their quest to produce accurate translations of the Bible. To this end, I even managed to get M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in linguistics. In spite of all of this experience, something changed two years ago.

What many don’t see is the fire burning underneath the surface, a fire that cares much less about dogma and degree than about serving my fellow man. I am passionate about this.

As I have told many of you, I found myself defaulting to my natural analytical gifting at the expense of pursuing my personal vision for ministry. That vision? To serve a lost and hurting world through genuine relationship. People often see me as task-focused, methodical, and introverted. What many don’t see is the fire burning underneath the surface, a fire that cares much less about dogma and degree than about serving my fellow man. I am passionate about this. You’ll come to know that about me. After my dad’s death in 2015, I began to think about how my actions were misaligned with my personal goals.

Years ago, when we snapped a picture of my daughter looking out over Saut Village (see the picture above), I pondered our future there. I would often look at the mountain peaks across the ravine and imagine them as footsteps. What was the next step? What was my calling? Was I headed in the right direction? Now, looking back, I see things differently. I see that not every calling is permanent. I see that God’s will for the lives of believers is a playground to enjoy, rather than a tightrope from which to fall. I see immense freedom.

I see that not every calling is permanent. I see that God’s will for the lives of believers is a playground to enjoy, rather than a tightrope from which to fall. I see immense freedom.

Future: Refugee Language Project (RLP)

These past months, I have refined my focus and revised my vision. I searched far and wide for a way to use my experience and expertise to serve a hurting world in a practical way. Eventually I was able to overcome my fears and jump into a new language project. That project is called the Refugee Language Project. It’s still a work in progress, but now is the time to begin.

Eventually I was able to overcome my fears and jump into a new language project. That project is called the Refugee Language Project. It’s still a work in progress, but now is the time to begin.

The Refugee Language Project will focus on removing the language barriers that are preventing refugees from participating in community and engaging in our society. The long-term vision is to give these refugees a voice, and to foster compassionate and sustainable community in our region. This will be accomplished by (1) training ESL teachers, (2) coordinating local ESL initiatives, (3) mentoring refugee leaders, and by (4) creating events that allow relationships to develop between refugees and local residents. One type of event that I am particularly excited about is Table Talk. We’ll host free weekly dinners where refugees can show up and practice their English with volunteers.

Right now though, we are asking a lot more questions than we are answering: What are the biggest needs? Which needs are the most urgent? What are we equipped to do? Where are the majority of Somalis living? What about the Congolese? How can we raise the money we need to tackle such a big vision?

If you are excited about our growing vision, would you consider giving?

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