An IT Guy, His Family, and Bible Translation.
I often get questions like, “Who is Jaco Devisser?” or “Why do you link to an IT guy’s blog off of yours?” Well for starters, Jaco is my brother in law. For another reason, I believe that the work he is doing with Wycliffe is pleasing to God. The following article is by Jaco, about what he, and his family, will be doing with Wycliffe Bible Translators.
It’s Sunday morning and you are sitting in church waiting for the service to start. Soon the pastor walks in, welcomes everyone, and reads a few verses from Scripture. He’s speaking in Dutch. You pick out a few words but have a difficult time understanding what’s being said.
You wish you knew Dutch. How much would you understand of the sermon? Would a Dutch Bible be a book you’d read often?
For some of you reading this, Dutch is your mother-tongue. It’s the language you grew up speaking, reading, and thinking. And although you can now speak and understand English, you may still struggle to convey thoughts, ideas, or feelings that you would easily be able to share in Dutch.
…but then the pastor switches to speaking English. Suddenly you understand every word. You open your Bible to the chapter he is expounding. You listen intently and follow along. You start to see how you can apply this passage to your life. It’s challenging. It’s convicting. God’s Word comes alive.
For millions of people around the world, this is a struggle they are all too familiar with. But it’s changing. Wycliffe Bible Translators and other organizations are working to make God’s Word available to people in the language they understand best.
What does this have to do with an IT guy and his family?
So you’re going to be Bible translators? That is one of the questions people ask us when they hear about our plans to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators Canada. When our reply is “Not really…” a questioning look crosses their face. Let me explain.
I plan to use my Information Technology (IT) background to support the linguists and Bible translators who rely on stable Internet connections, laptop computers, and special software to do their jobs. They are experts in languages and the translation process. When their computer equipment fails or they need assistance using new software, they need someone who understands the “techie stuff”.
So what’s the big deal you may ask?
Did you know there are over 7,000 living languages spoken in the world today? And of these, only 518 have a complete Bible in their language? Watch the following clip which highlights the work that still needs to be done.
Technology accelerating the pace of translation
As I started to connect with IT professionals serving with various missions organizations, it became clear that technology is playing a vital role in Bible translation. Just as the airplane continues to be a critical piece of technology in remote parts of the world, computers and the Internet are allowing people to communicate with each other from any place on Earth. Thousands of linguists, translators, and support personnel now rely on innovative technology solutions on a daily basis.
In 1999 Wycliffe and its partners adopted the Vision 2025 Resolution with the goal to have a Bible translation project started by the year 2025 for all the remaining people groups that still need one.
The graph below provides a visual of some important points in Bible translation history. There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s possible that in our generation we can see Vision 2025 become a reality. This is exciting!
So how is technology being used to assist with Bible translation? Watch this 7-minute clip to learn how national translators are using solar-powered satellite Internet connections and custom-built software to take ownership of translation projects in their community.
Video: Leveraging technology –
Over the past few years we’ve had the opportunity to speak with veteran missionaries who only dreamed of having these types of tools available to them forty years ago. Email, Skype, social media, blogs, and other platforms allow family and friends to instantly connect with those serving overseas. It’s also allowing people across continents to collaborate on multiple projects at the same time.
How will we be involved?
Later this month our family plans to head to Waxhaw, North Carolina and spend a few months at the JAARS Center to receive training and determine an overseas assignment for 2014. JAARS was founded by Cameron Townsend (also the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators) to provide day-to-day support to translators through aviation and radio services. JAARS now also provides information technology support, land and maritime transportation services, as well as media services to Wycliffe and its partner organizations.
Check out the following 3-minute clip for a glimpse into what JAARS is about:
As you probably noticed there is a need for people with all kinds of skills. Mechanics, construction workers, administrative personnel, pilots, engineers, and operations managers are but a few of the “behind-the-scenes” support personnel needed to make the work of Bible translation possible.
What will I be doing?
I will have the opportunity to spend time with an international team of IT professionals and get a better understanding of the work they are involved with prior to taking on an overseas assignment. In the following video, Steve Moitozo, the Director of Global Technology & Information Services, explains what they do and how I will be involved.
There’s a lot to learn and although we are unsure at this time where the Lord will have us serve in the long-term, we trust that He will continue to guide us in the months ahead.
Our two oldest boys, Lucas and Nathan, are looking forward to attending a distance education schooling program that Andrea will facilitate during our time at JAARS. They will miss their friends at John Calvin School, however they are looking forward to keeping them updated on their adventures (we’re thankful for the technology that makes this possible).
Why be involved?
In this last video, George Cowan, president emeritus of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, passionately explains why Bible translation is crucial for every remaining language group that still needs it.
So… are you wondering how you can be involved?
First of all you can pray for the translation work that is in progress and also that more people will get involved to fill the many needs. Pray for all those serving around the world, including the many national translators who are taking ownership of projects in their communities.
Secondly you can encourage those who are serving, whether with Wycliffe, Mission Aid Brazil, MAF, and other organizations by sending an email, leaving a comment on a blog, and asking questions about their work. I especially think of those in our circles including:
- Nathan & Kim Boersema with Christian Reformed World Missions in Nicaragua
- Nico & Lia Kattenberg with Free Reformed Missions International in Guatemala
- Jason & Wil Krul with Mission Aviation Fellowship Canada in Haiti
- Karl Vanderlinde with Mission Aviation Fellowship Canada in Indonesia
Third, you can contribute financially to the work. Each individual/family unit relies on a team of churches and individuals to partner with them through annual, monthly, or one-time gifts to support the work they are involved with.
For more information about our work visit our blog at www.devisserfamily.com. We are grateful for the many people who have encouraged us, are praying for us, and have given financially to support our work with Wycliffe Canada. We are still looking for additional partners to support us financially, so would you prayerfully consider whether this is something you could be a part of? Click here to find out how.
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Above all, let us thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings he has given us and for the opportunities we have to be a part of his Kingdom work in making His Name known to the nations.
“ And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:14 (NKJV)