What difference does it make?

In the sidebar of Liddles.net, you can see two progress bars. The first shows how much of our monthly support need is being met, and the second shows how much of our startup costs have been donated so far. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen God at work in the increase of both of those figures. We’re full of praise, wonder, and thanks!

It’s exciting to see those numbers climb as they have, especially the monthly support indicator. When that reaches 100%, we’ll get permission from Wycliffe to leave for Germany. The amount that remains is about $600 per month. With the help of 10-15 average financial partners, we could reach our goal and be on our way to Germany in August. That’s not a lot of people!

When people give to our ministry, sometimes they express a perception that their gifts won’t contribute much to the total. But I say that every gift makes a difference, just as we say that “every vote counts”. Our ministry to Wycliffe receives a broad range of donations, and the smallest one is just as important to the total as the largest one. That’s why I emphasized the word “average” — some people give more, some people give less. And that’s the way the Kingdom has operated for thousands of years.

What’s truly important is the giver’s participation in the Kingdom of God, in this case by helping to spread the Good News in the languages of the world. Here’s a story that Bob Creson, president of Wycliffe USA, recently shared about how technology has no small impact on this effort:

Jacob, senior mother tongue translator for the Mwaghavul project in Nigeria, just emailed his consultant another draft of the Old Testament passage he’s working on. Later today or tomorrow he’ll check back and probably find a response in his inbox. The rapid feedback will allow him to improve his translation and quickly move on to the next passage.

Sooner rather than later the Mwaghavul people will have the Old Testament in the language that best speaks to them, and evolving technology will have contributed greatly— not just to the speed, but also to the quality of the translation. Jacob’s laptop and email program have been important tools for several years, but suddenly his ability to communicate with Wycliffe’s Seed Company consultant, Bob Carter, has greatly improved!

Gone are the days when he would pack up his laptop, climb on his motorbike, ride nine hot, dusty miles to his brother’s house, sit out back on a stone bench he built for the purpose, and hope that the cell tower in his line of sight would give him enough signal to send and receive email. At best he could email Bob once a week. He’d get Bob’s response the next week after another nine-mile ride (one-way), and if all went well he’d send his response the following week.

But now he can sit in the Mwaghavul project translation office and send email to Bob without ever leaving his desk.


As several partners work together to provide cutting edge technology in a user friendly way, they are building the capacity of our mother tongue translator colleagues and accelerating the work in a way that speaks clearly to the urgency of finishing the Bible translation task. I praise God for that!

In our own lives, email and an Internet connection may seem like a small thing. However, in Jacob’s life, and in the wider arena of Bible translation, both clearly play an important role. A person’s gift to our ministry may seem a small and inadequate thing to them, but their commitment to faithful giving has a large impact on our lives and our ability to keep people like Jacob working efficiently and effectively.

If you’ve considered giving to our ministry, now is the perfect time to put the faith that drives those thoughts into action. No matter what you do, please pray for the Spirit of our God to stir the hearts of other people to give as well (as in Exodus 35:21-22), whether they give a lot or give a little. Pray for that target departure date of August 8th to be met. The prayers of our Christian brothers and sisters hold our lives and ministry together. Every prayer, and every gift, counts!

To get started as a partner in our ministry, please click here to go to our Invitation to Partnership.

Relying on the weak things

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

These verses came to my mind on Sunday morning when a fellow in our class asked, “There were plenty of large, influential cities around during Jesus’ day. Why did God choose such an insignificant place and time for Christ’s ministry and death?” Now go back and read those verses again. The answer to the question is clear: Our God works that way to prove he’s the one doing the work – not us.

When our God called me to work with Wycliffe, it was the least likely path I would have imagined for myself – missionaries were always other people. Like the apostle Paul, my Lord had to bring me pretty low to make me see the error of my ways and the superiority of his ways. The very best things in my life and ministry now come when I die to my self and let the Lord do the work.

One of the weakest aspects of being missionaries is our reliance on other people for our income. Most folks have to persuade just one person or company to hire them, while we need to partner with many people in order to form a viable ministry. By the standards of this world, that’s not a very reliable way to work. But we serve a God who looks at that situation and says, “Sweet! Now I have something I can work with!”

Then there’s the fact that most missionaries’ partnerships come through their relationships with others. When it comes to relationships, I am certainly weak. There are many times when I would rather “die” than “die to my self” to make a new relationship or tend to an existing one – even in marriage!

Yet when I play to my strengths, thinking myself clever, my efforts can fall flat. Here’s a case in point. I recently offered my skills and time to nine local congregations – free computer help! Sounds good, right? Well, I received a dismal response. In the meantime, I have a full classroom on Sunday mornings as I teach what? Dr. Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. More relationship stuff! Seriously, God?

Please pause for a moment while God refers me back to the verses up at the top.

OK, I got the point.

This week, we who follow Jesus will remember a long list of weaknesses. He didn’t resist arrest. He didn’t put up a defense at his trial. He didn’t complain about the abuse heaped on him. He didn’t call on his followers to rescue him from being fastened to a wooden cross and hoisted up to die. You don’t get any weaker than in death.

Our God used Jesus’ death – that weak, foolish thing – to set the stage for the most powerful thing ever witnessed. And if we’ll just die, too – die to self – then he can do more powerful things through the new life he gives to us. He can send the most unlikely people as missionaries. He can enable the most unlikely people to send those missionaries during one of the most difficult economies ever. Why, he can even enable me to have a relationship with you who send us! Now that’s amazing!

Happy Easter!


Want to prove that God’s power “works best in weakness”? Join our ministry by clicking here.

There’s a river of life

The major moves and days of packing are behind us – for now – and my chief job is to work on the financial support that we still need. Did you know that support-raising involves study? It does, and for many reasons.

I’m reading a book called Funding the Family Business: a Handbook for Raising Personal Support, by Myles Wilson. The section I’m in right now connects the missionary’s supporters of today to those in Paul’s time – especially the ones he wrote to in his letter to the church in Philippi. Paul had a lot of praise for them. They had given above and beyond his expectations and his needs, and Paul recognized in his letter that they were giving out of a deep spiritual need to do so. Wilson writes, “… supporting someone isn’t about money. It is about the supporter playing their part in God’s eternal plan for his Kingdom, and this participation brings credit with it in God’s books.” (p. 53)

At the phrase “credit in God’s books”, I pondered the possibility that any one of our own supporters has probably given more to our ministry than the whole church of Philippi ever gave to Paul. I play a small part in God’s Kingdom, but our supporters’ giving is not measured according to what I do – after all, Paul was in prison and not out preaching when he heaped so much praise on that church. Honestly, I am looking forward to The Day when I get to witness all of our supporters in this world receiving their reward for having given.

Wilson’s drawing that connection between past and present also struck me as it reminded me of a broader link made by Eugene Peterson in his book, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, which a supporting church had given us. In it, Peterson paints a picture of a river that represents the passage of time and Scripture among God’s people – one with its source in the very Beginning and which courses through the days of Abraham, Moses, the kings, the exiles, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the disciples, Paul, and so on until it reaches the crowd of peoples in front of the Throne. And that includes those of us who now believe. Jesus is on that river – literally – and he has walked the length and width of it.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, feel the strength and certainty of that river’s swift current and know that you will certainly arrive at its destination. When you give to God’s Kingdom, know that you are deepening your connection to that river and to everyone else who has traveled it – including the Philippian church. Paul wrote, “… the gifts you sent … are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:18-19, NIV) Amen, Paul … may it be so!

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