Until we heard a missionary couple (now friends) from our home church in 2008 share about “Support Roles”, we didn’t know we could use our cumulative job skills and experience to support Bible Translation (or even ‘just missions’, for that matter).
We’re now stateside (based in Oregon) after a near decade living overseas in Papua New Guinea [PNG] (January 2012 – June 2021). Cathy is now working remotely full-time for Wycliffe USA (WUSA) as a Course Design Manager with the Learning & Development team. Todd is working full-time at our home/sending church, Good Shepherd Community Church, as the Connect Ministry Director.
Previously we lived and served in PNG (that country north of Australia, and east of Indonesia) where Todd served as the Store Manager for the first 5 of those years and then as the Senior Manager for our Centre Services (which oversaw the Auto Shop, Clinic, Guest House, Print Shop, Post Office, Teen Centre, Shipping and Store departments) in Ukarumpa (ooh-kuh-rum-puh), a missionary community of about 600 people involved in Bible Translation (both citizens as well as expatriate non-citizens). Cathy was involved in teaching in an Educational Learning Specialist capacity, helping students successfully traverse obstacles in their learning process. She also taught in a traditional classroom setting as needs arose (which was often!).
Though we’re no longer physically there, the multicultural community of Ukarumpa consists of nearly twenty different nationalities all geared together for the purpose of supporting and furthering Bible Translation in PNG, the most ethno-linguistically diverse country in the world (nearly 12% of the world’s total languages reside in this country which is only the geographical size of California)!
Though based stateside, what Cathy does for WUSA remotely still necessitates a team of partners to join us to enable and allow us to continue this critical work. We continually need prayer and financial partners to do what we do – not matter where we do it. We are so thankful for those who are–and have–partnered with us in eradicating bible poverty. YOU make it happen and, please know, YOU ARE valued!
It is possible we can see in our lifetime every language in the world with the bible translated into their mother tongue! Whoa! Every tribe, tongue, & nation…encompassing over 7,300 languages around the globe–wow!
Matthew 24:14 says:
“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations (people) will hear it; and then the end will come.“
Let’s get the job done. Let’s eradicate bible poverty–together. #theNEEDremains
[facts as of September 1, 2022 via the Wycliffe Global Alliance]
*Currently there are 1,680 spoken languages worldwide that still do not yet have even one verse of Scripture in their mother tongue…
*This affects 128.8 million people around the globe today…
*There is known active translation and/or linguistic development happening in 2,846 languages across 157 countries impacting 1.11 billion people.
*No Scripture yet, but work is in progress: preparatory work or initial translation work is active in 964 languages with 74.2 million users.
*No Scripture (and) no likely need: 1,155 languages, with 10.3 million users (about one-tenth of 1 percent), are considered not to need Bible translation. In most cases, the people use another language which already has at least some Scripture. Sometimes, their first language is disappearing from use altogether. The reality is often more complex.
- Scripture can be shared in well over 2,000 languages thanks in large part to the following organizations:
***YouVersion (offered in 2,850 versions in over 1,900 languages and with over half a 5.5 billion app opens and 1,300 audio versions in 815 languages available as of December 2022)
***Faith Comes By Hearing has completed audio scriptures in 1,759 languages spoken by over 80% of the worlds population and has also adapted 1,200+ Gospel films (as of 2022).
*See this video from spoken-poet artist David Bowden on the Pent Up Cost of words and The Word in one’s first (heart) language in an interactive and very well done short five-minute video [July 2013] and this one, too, on the history of Bible Translation [updated 2020].
*As of 2013:
>There are more translation programs in progress than there are translation needs.
>More people who have access to Scripture than in any previous generation.
>Every generation before us saw the numbers increasing as more and more languages were discovered, and more translation needs were verified. Now that trend has been reversed.
*The finish line is in sight, and the last translator for the last Bible translation program is alive somewhere in the world today!
[Stats as of January 2023]
*PNG is home to 839 living languages–which figures out to over 12% of the world’s languages–with 64% of the country’s 9.1 million citizens being literate (from http://www.ethnologue.com/country/PG)!
*Work is currently being engaged in over 160 language communities.
*There still remains nearly 220 languages that need ‘engagement’, a project started (lacking funding and personnel at this point). See this video to learn more!
*Over 310 languages are currently endangered (a language that is currently shifting to another language).
*Over 220 New Testament’s have been dedicated (over 250 total in all of PNG when combining work from other translation-based partners/organizations).
*Over 420 total Media Projects completed (Media projects are Scripture, Jesus film, Luke film, AIDS, songs, Bible studies, etc.).
See the most recent Wycliffe Global Alliance Pictograph pdf. This infographic pdf displays a myriad of Bible translation stats worldwide (as of September 2022).
Cost-of-Living worldwide Infographic (last updated Feb. 2021) from London-based Movehub:
As you can see, Papua New Guinea (the gray-light spot above Australia) doesn’t register due to lack of information. In past editions of this graph, however, PNG has always registered in the highest end of the cost-of-living spectrum. This despite the fact that our neighbors to the west, Indonesia, are on the lowest. This is largely due to PNG importing nearly everything and its “out-of-the-way” air travel/destination location. Indonesia, on the other hand, is within the flight path from larger locales like Sydney, AUS and Auckland, NZ and is rather “in-the-middle” of many desirable/well-traveled destinations (e.g. Thailand, Hong Kong, Bali, Singapore, Philippines, etc.).
- Wait, what exactly did you do in Papua New Guinea (PNG) again?
As part of SIL-PNG (Wycliffe in PNG) we were part of a support community for the work of Bible translation in PNG. We were part of a faith-based organization staffed by volunteer workers from nineteen countries. These volunteers, of which we were a part, are supported and sponsored by churches and individuals in their home countries who are also committed to seeing God’s Word in every language and every life.
SIL-PNG provides training in linguistic analysis, translation skills and literacy development as well as formal and “on the job” training in various skills and disciplines. SIL-PNG also provides logistical support in order to further the work of Bible translation and language development throughout Papua New Guinea.
Check out this four-minute video I (Todd) produced in partnership with Trostle Films and posted online in November 2018 called “Your Love Will Surely Come Find Us“. Viewed over 65,000 times on various social media platforms, this video seeks to display the beauty of the land and people as well as showcase the work and need that remains within Bible translation in PNG (as does this February 2022 collaborative official music video with gospel reggae musicianaries, Christafari, and their song “More Than You Know“, that advocates for the work and need of Bible translation and which saw a combined 80,000 impressions/views across its various platforms in its first year of online access).
As a Store Manager from 2012 – 2017, Todd helped to oversee and ensure that all expat and Papua New Guinean Staff that lived, worked and engaged within the Bible translation center (Ukarumpa, Eastern Highlands Province) had the resources and personal supplies they needed to do what God had called them to. As a Senior Manager, Todd oversaw seven different departmental areas (encompassing nearly 100 total multi-national staff workers) that include the aforementioned Store, the Auto Shop, the Clinic, the Guest House and more. As an educator, Cathy helped students reach their full potential by learning and growing in the classroom and, in turn, the world they live in by her involvement in the Learning Assistance aspect of education. See us at work in our ‘Bridges’ video here .
- What does it mean when you say you need “pledged monthly partners” or “monthly pledged partnership”, etc.?
The bare bones of most overseas missionaries is that they need donated financial support (i.e. money from ‘partners’, etc.) to allow them to go and do what they do (oft referred to as a ‘faith mission’). Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs), and to a lesser degree even some Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), don’t exist and function out of a profit-based model whereby they can afford to pay personnel for the work being done; as such, they completely require the generosity of those who are called to give as God directs them to; in short, that our ministry be “self-funded”, “self-supported”. This is our situation.
We have a set amount of funds we need monthly (as dictated by our sending organization). In base terms and for sample purposes only, if we needed $100 to live & operate in PNG on a monthly basis (we need more than that in reality, by-the-way), being at 84% would mean we have partners who have committed to giving $84 on a monthly basis (some give annually or quarterly and when that is the case we simply divide the amount in order to know where it lands on a per-month basis).
The goal is to be at 100% in order to be fully sustainable (and to be released by our sending organization to our allocated entity, PNG). We function on these similar amounts and needs during our periodic Seconded Return Period, too (aka ‘furlough’).
Obviously, without prayer none of this could happen. To that end it should “go without saying”, but we feel it is important to acknowledge it at every opportunity. Smile.
- Do you recommend a good resource to keep up on happenings within the world of Bible Translation in PNG?
Yes! Please visit The PNG Experience to keep up with encouraging stories, videos and prayer needs in PNG.