“Scotty, I need more power!”

This phrase has been familiar to many for decades now. In my work, I don’t need quite that much power, but power runs through everything that I manage. Over the past several months, several of the challenges facing me center on power. Or the lack of it.

When a device needs consistent, reliable power, it often gets connected to an uninterruptible power supply, or UPS. Servers and core network equipment like routers and switches fall in this category. Last year, the UPS connected to our main servers developed a fault and quit. Its failure didn’t do any lasting harm, but it was not a happy situation. This year, I acquired and installed the replacement.

The new UPS servicing the main server room.

As life would have it, at just about the time I had this UPS running, the one connected to our backup server and the internet connections also failed. It, too, needed to be replaced. After each failure, I was thankful that we have very few power outages here in this part of Germany and that I didn’t have to worry too much about not having immediate replacements. The second unit’s delivery was delayed a few weeks by the global supply chain problems.

Around the Wycliffe and Karimu campus, one can see the discus-shaped Wi-Fi access points that I installed for staff and guests. As I mentioned in the linked post, the devices get both data and power from the switches to which they’re connected. Our desk phones work the same way. Well, most of them do. Some of them are connected to a switch that I haven’t been able to replace and which can’t provide power.

The green cables connect to a power adapter for the nearby Wi-Fi device.

The phones wind up having two cables—one for data, and one for power. The Wi-Fi device needs an adapter between it and the switch that adds power to the line. The situation leads to inefficiencies in power and management. Inefficiency … gross.

In something of a reversal, several Wi-Fi access points have lost their ability to detect that power is being provided to them by the switch. The chip doing that job has failed, I suppose, but the rest of the device still works. As a result, I’ve needed to add adapters to their lines and “force feed” them.

Again, this is an inefficient situation, but at least I can work around the deficiencies. I ordered replacement equipment back in January, but it took months for much of it to arrive. The very last devices in the order should come this week. Once again, the shortage is to blame.

The last mention for power takes us outside. With increasing frequency, we have guests coming to the conference center with electric cars. To our mutual benefit, we have installed a charging station in the parking lot.

Fill ‘er up!

As with almost everything these days, the station needs an internet connection in order to communicate with whatever system is managing access and billing. That’s why I’m involved. You know, I never thought that I might work at a filling station one day. 😉 Have I mentioned the global supply chain problems? Yes, they affect this project, too: the charging station in the photo is an interim model delivering juice until the model we ordered is back in stock.

These situations made me think of Jesus’ words in John 15:1-8. Among those are these:

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5, NLT

Without clean, constant power from the UPS, the servers turn off. Without the right switch or adapter, the Wi-Fi drops out. Without a charging station, the electric car will just sit in the parking lot.

Jesus is the source of power for the one who believes—and who stays connected. His power is pure, his power is eternal, and his power is always provided in the right manner and measure. He has no supply problems. You simply cannot go wrong by connecting to him.

Our service to Wycliffe is powered in part by people whom God has empowered to give and to pray. Are you one of those people? Katherine and I are grateful to you for being a part of our power grid! I’ll sign off now with an excerpt of the blessing given in Hebrews 13:20-21:

May he produce in you,
    through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.

Hebrews 13:21, NLT

My, how time flies

Next month will mark 25 years since I first became a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators. I was accepted, warts and all, towards the end of the month-long Quest orientation course held at Tahquitz Pines Conference Center in Idyllwild, California. Much has changed since then, and for your sake I will not attempt a list here.

Wycliffe USA was founded almost 80 years ago, to give a little perspective to the timeframe. About 20 years ago, the organization moved its headquarters from California to Florida. The orientation courses moved with it to the new facility in Orlando. It presently has a membership of more than 5,000 people.

Wycliffe Germany was founded close to 60 years ago. It has a membership of about 150 people. Its main offices in Holzhausen were established a few years after its founding, and all of the orientation and initial training programs happen on our center on the hill above the village.

As acknowledgments of the milestone reached in my ministry with Wycliffe, the thoughtful folks on each side of the Atlantic sent me a little something:

As you can see—once you get past one language barrier or the other—they are similar expressions of remembrance and gratitude. Neither group let this one person get lost or forgotten among the crowd of years and faces. Think of it: I serve alongside thousands of people in this effort to transform lives with the message of love and hope from the One who created the universe and everything in it. And Bible translation is just one facet of the work before us. We still need more folks from a wide range of skills and vocations to see our mission through from beginning to end. Wouldn’t you like to be recognized for that in 2045?

What I find more striking after 25 years is this thought: there are churches and individuals who have been praying for and supporting me during this entire time. That is a significant spiritual and financial investment, one that represents a great deal of confidence in me, in Wycliffe, and in the God we serve. I do not take that faithfulness lightly, and I do not know how to adequately express my gratitude. The Lord my God would do a far better job of it, and so I write: may the Lord our God look with favor on your persistence, devotion, and sacrifice; may he reward you in this life and the next for the trust and faith you have placed in my ministry to him.

As for me, I hope that my heart’s true response after this quarter century is as Jesus described in Luke 17:10: “I am an unworthy servant who has simply done my duty.”

Now I’m going to write as a parent. After nearly 20 years, Katherine and I underwent the agony-joy of seeing our firstborn leave home to begin life on his own. Our son, Jonathan, flew from Frankfurt to Boston at the end of July to begin his adventure and career with the U.S. Marine Corps. After spending two weeks in quarantine in Atlanta, Georgia, he proceeded to MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina, where he is now in the middle of boot camp. If all goes well, he will graduate on 13 November and travel from there to the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger in North Carolina.

Wasn’t his first big trip overseas just yesterday? I’m not sure whether he has more or less hair at the moment, but I am sure that his clothes are better organized.

Parting from my boy was heartbreaking, simply because I so enjoy his presence with us. At the same time, I know that he needs to advance in maturity and responsibility. I trust that the God he and I honor and serve will guide and provide for Jonathan as surely as he has done the same for me. Katherine and I don’t know when we will see him again, given the circumstances of the pandemic and the nature of his vocation. When that day comes, though, you will be hard-pressed to find two happier people on this planet! (Oh, I suppose his brother will be happy, too.)

Thank you for being a part of the 25 years that I’ve spent with Wycliffe. There’s more to come, it seems, so please don’t cease in your support for me, my family, and Wycliffe’s vision for Bible translation. It’s never too late to start, either! If you want to make a beginning, please click the “Join Us” link on the site. Herzlichen Dank!

The disassembled assembly

Last month, Wycliffe Germany held its annual Mitgliederversammlung (a.k.a. MV), or “member conference”, which is open to the members who find themselves in Germany at the time. The word Versammlung also means “assembly”. Under the present circumstances, most people around the world are stretching their minds to assimilate the ways in which “assembling” now occurs. This year’s MV was no exception; it was the first time in which the members assembled virtually.

Just as “one does not simply walk into Mordor”, one does not simply hold a video conference with dozens of people. A small group of us began planning and testing the technical aspects of the conference a few weeks in advance. We chose to use the Zoom platform—a little ditty that may be familiar to you now. Roles for the meeting were assigned, and we defined the process for approving motions.

My role was to manage the Zoom meeting itself. To prepare, I conducted meetings with myself and my various devices, practicing every step and function. I even objected to some of my own motions. The week before the MV, I hosted practice sessions for members who were unfamiliar with Zoom or who simply wanted to be certain that their device would work well.

On the day of the MV, we started the meeting early to allow time for everyone to join and work out any bugs. The only people in the conference room were the meeting crew, the leadership team, and the members of the executive and advisory boards. Everyone else took part from other conference rooms, apartments on the center, and private homes throughout Germany. For taking the roll and recording votes, I had help from my own lovely assistant, from whom I did not need to keep my distance:

Katherine and I often worked frantically to stay on top of things during the MV.
Photo courtesy of Kai Günther, my boss, who seems to think he can take pictures of his underlings whenever he wants. 😉

The other folks who crewed with us are also lovely people, I might add. In fact, Wycliffe Germany’s full assembly of members, staff, boards, and supporters is an altogether lovely group. We’re especially impressed by the way in which they conduct themselves during these gatherings.

In all, I think we had 106 people attend the conference. As each person or couple connected, the existing participants took note of the newcomers, greeted them, and began chatting. A Zoom full of laughter, smiles, and happy voices was a clear sign that the challenges of the pandemic would not bring this group down.

Most of you reading this didn’t take part in that meeting—or did you? When you pray for us, when you support our ministry financially—you take part in everything that we do. You help us to help them to do what they do—and what they do enables the Gospel and the Kingdom of God to spread and to deepen. Thank you! There’s no virus on earth, now or ever, that’s going to prevent that. May the Lord our God keep you and yours healthy!