Mission Networking

Posted on October 17, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

We are in Northwest Arkansas this week spending a couple of days at Petit Jean State Park where we spent our honeymoon almost 46 years ago. This is between leading a spiritual warfare seminar over the weekend at Clarksville and speaking at the annual Associational Meeting on Tuesday. More about that later. Meanwhile Bobbye celebrated her 67th birthday–amazingly youthful, beautiful, vibrant and elegant as ever–while I traveled to Texas for mission networking. We donʼt have a pattern of being together for significant family days, but always make up for it!

The primary occasion was to speak at the biennial conference of Wycliffeʼs Seed Company staff meeting in Galveston. It was a privilege to be the speaker throughout the week for their 300 workers who came together from all over the world at a beautiful resort on Galveston Bay. Earlier in the week I spent a day in Houston in consultation with Stuart Sheehan, the director of World Hope Bible Institute. WHBI is providing theological education curriculum for hundreds of pastors and lay leaders in third world countries who donʼt have access to such training. They are in the process of evaluating the course material for cross-cultural effectiveness and enlisting stateside pastors for teaching.

It has been a blessing to partner over the years with other agencies and organizations committed to fulfilling the Great Commission. It is amazing how each one seems to have a unique vision and calling to a specialized niche in our overall mission task. In much the same way as God gives gifts to individual believers that the church might be complete, He gives a diversity of tasks to different groups for the sake of His mission to the nations. When we bring our particular gift and focus and lay them on the altar, God puts them together in a synergy for His glory and the extension of His kingdom.

It was a joy to connect with a good friend who pioneered IMB work in Central Asia and launched innovative strategies in Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. He is now assisting Greater Europe Mission to move from their traditional strategies to reach the growing Muslim population migrating into Western European Cities. Another visit was with the director of “Faith Comes by Hearing,” an organization that is distributing dramatized oral recordings of Scripture in scores of languages around the world. They are seeing amazing harvest among illiterate people groups and have been a valuable partner in IMBʼs orality strategies.

It was a blessing to be with good friends, Roy and Rita Peterson, president of The Seed Company and to hear the innovative testimonies of how translation of Scripture is being accelerated. Roy had been president of Wycliffe USA and left that position to lead this affiliated spin-off. Traditional translation of the Bible usually takes 20-30 years, but with more than 4,000 languages still without Scripture ways had to be found to accelerate the process of getting the Word of God to those without it.

Instead of sending out Bible translators, The Seed Company seeks to train bi-lingual native speakers to do oral translations of Scripture which are then written and tested. They focus on the Gospel of Luke, which is the basis of the script for the JESUS Film produced by Campus Crusade, as well as basic stories used by multiple organizations in a strategy of Chronological Bible Storying. When these materials are in hand, local teams can expand and move toward translating the New Testament and other books of the Bible, but the partnership enables Campus Crusade to accelerate producing the JESUS Film in more languages.

Instead of just focusing on one language at a time, Seed Company personnel are working with speakers from several affinity languages simultaneously. The group reported initiating 110 new languages already in 2011 and basic materials were already completed in 57 of these languages!

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