Do you know anyone working in the field of international Bible translation? While financial support is always good there are other ways to support Bible translation. Here are 5 *free* ways that you can support Bible translators (like us). Read to the end for some homework!
1. Keep Them Up to Date on Spiritual Resources
Most languages that do not have the Bible are found in extremely rural parts of the world. This means that the missionaries that you love and wish to support are cut off from the stream of spiritual resources that you are immersed in. Many of them are working with unreached people groups that have few if any believers. Further, even when there are believers, worship and Bible study in a language other than your heart language is difficult to connect with (hence the need for Bible translators). Email them! Let them know of a good book you have read and what made it good. What have you learned in Sunday school? Are there new worship albums out that really move you to a better understanding of God? Then when they do go to the city, or home on furlough they can download those books on Kindle, or buy those worship albums on iTunes. Remember, when you go to church and talk about those great books/sermons/songs with your friends, missionaries often do not have that. Write those things down and send them to the field workers too. Help them stay up to date!
2. Marriage/Parenting Advice
You know when you have struggles with your kids and you are upset with them and with yourself for being upset with them? Yeah, missionaries too. But they cannot go out to coffee and read a book on parenting with you. They do not get to go to those great marriage conferences. When you come across that advice or book or whatever that helps you be a better mom/dad/parent, let them know. Email them, ask them the questions about their marriage and parenting that you ask your friends over coffee. They need to confess our sins and struggles to other believers too so that they can be prayed for. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Consistent Prayer
I know that prayer is something you always see on these kind of lists, but I mean it. Missionaries really need your prayers. By reading the stories of missionaries and talking to those on the field, I am persuaded that Satan has a special place in his heart for them. Satan does not want us going to the nations to proclaim the name of God and I have a feeling he does not like it when people get to read for the first time about his destruction. This calls for prayer, but not just as-I-read-this-post-prayer. Missionaries need your consistent prayers. Set a notification in your phone, write them in your prayer journals, get their names printed in the bulletin at church, put their pictures up on bulletin boards, read their newsletters, and pray for them often.
4. Your Specialties
What do you do for a living, or hobby? What are you really good at? Construction, graphic design, agriculture, cooking, computer networking, software, dentistry, medicine, exegesis, hair styling, homeschooling? Missionaries have to do all of those things, and probably mess them up more often than they would like to admit. Give them pointers on how to write a more effective blog post (no really). Offer advice on how to get their girls’ hair done in a pinch. Research the climate of the region they are living in and help them think through what they could plant in their garden. What vitamins are deficient in the food where they are going and what vitamin supplements should they take? Good at fixing cars? Maybe you could Skype with a missionary and give them a crash course in the inter-workings of vehicle maintenance. Maybe there is an aspiring youth in your church who wants to be a missionary. Take him aside and teach him how to work on cars, how to make bread from scratch, and so on. Missionaries wear LOTS of hats so if you have a hat, share it with a missionary friend. Study passages of Scripture that they are translating and make note of the commentaries you thought were the most helpful. Invest time in researching the culture of their country and think of good sermon illustrations that might appeal to their people. Bible translators are one very specific part of the Body of Christ and they need all of the other parts to help too.
5. Translation Research
Most of the above items could be applied to any type of missionary. This last one is pretty specific and actually mainly on here because I have recently realized a lack in my own education. And that is why this point comes with some homework. Whether you are a Greek scholar, a pastor, a farmer or a stay-at-home-mom, you have the ability to do research. The world of translation theory is vast and there are books and articles that are written at many different levels. Being that you are probably living in America you have greater access to these resources than most (if not all) of your missionary friends. You can find many of these resources online, or in a seminary library close to you. So, study. Ask your pastor or a teacher you know what they would recommend. And then email your findings to your friends on the field. Recommend articles, summarize arguments, point them in the right direction. Ask if there are particular passages that are giving your translator friends trouble and look up commentaries on the subject. You can even let your friends know if there are particular passages in English translations that you feel are translated very well, or very poorly.
For the sake of practice, would you consider joining me in study this week? I am going to be reading starting today an article by Wayne Grudem called “Are Only Some of the Words of Scripture Breathed out by God?” (Dr. Jim Hamilton linked the full article on his blog HERE). Would you consider reading it with me? Would you write comments on this blog or send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts? I would love to write a blog next Sunday with not only my feedback, but with yours too!
We are so thankful to have the support of so many brothers and sisters. Your financial support, prayers, and emails are invaluable. Keep up the good work friends and lets continue on this task of bringing the glory of God to the nations together!
*Disclaimer* It is really hard when you are on the field to get back to people’s emails in a timely fashion as missionaries are EXTREMELY busy people. Please be patient with us when you do send us information/questions. We love you and want your input in our lives, and please believe that even when it takes a while (i.e. months) to return your email.