Welcome to MissioPhil, my website and blog as a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Keep reading to learn more about my new adventure in mission!
Let me start by explaining the title of this post. You see, while I am new to Wycliffe, I’m not new to missions. My wife, Paula, and I spent 18 years as missionaries in Africa. But in May 2016, due to circumstances beyond our control, we found ourselves back in Bethany, Oklahoma, asking God, “What are we supposed to do now?” It looked like our adventure of missionary service was over!
The years since then have been some of the most challenging of our lives. By God’s grace, not long after our return to the States, my wife, Paula, found a job at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma, where we make our home. Even though it sometimes drives her crazy, she loves her work and cherishes the impact for Christ she can have on teachers and students at SNU.
For me, the transition hasn’t gone so smoothly. In the last six years, I’ve done all kinds of things. I pastored an inner-city mission for a year, but it eventually closed due to a lack of finances. I taught a year of high school Spanish, but high school sophomores and I just aren’t in sync! I became an instructor at Southern Nazarene University and Dallas International University and still teach part-time for both schools. Finally, I found a part-time job with INTEGRIS Health as an on-call hospital chaplain. I still serve there, and I’m grateful for the experience. But chaplaincy isn’t the best fit for me. I knew God was still at work in my life, but I couldn’t figure out where He was leading. I prayed repeatedly, “Please, Father, show me what I’m supposed to do!”
I have a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies. I love other cultures, and I love Christian missions. Even though we are no longer missionaries to Africa, my heart told me that God was still calling me to missions. Since I couldn’t work overseas, I thought maybe I could train future missionaries at a college here in the States. So during 2021, I applied to teach missions at ten Christian universities across the country. But none of them hired me. By late 2021, I was completely discouraged. I was beginning to think my serving in missions again was just wishful thinking, and I’d end up working in jobs where I didn’t fit for the rest of my life! But even though I couldn’t see it, God was still at work in my life. In His timing, a door was about to open. Here’s how God made it happen.
Our younger son and his wife serve in central Asia with a Christian NGO (non-governmental organization) that specializes in translation, linguistics, literacy, and preservation of indigenous languages around the world. In December 2021, they had to go to Germany for a training conference. Paula and I were invited to go to Germany for a week to babysit our granddaughters. How cool is that! During that week, we ate our meals with the conference participants, and I was graciously included in some of the sessions. As I met and talked to missionaries from several countries, I realized I hadn’t felt such a sense of belonging since we left Africa. Several of them counseled me, prayed with me, and encouraged me. Others gave me names of contacts in their organization. By the end of that week, I was sure God was opening a door for me to serve Him in a new way. Now it was up to me to take the step of faith and walk through the door.
So in January 2022, I applied to join the same Christian NGO my younger son and his wife serve with. To my surprise, they said they were interested in me! By April, I had been interviewed, vetted, and hired to serve as an anthropology consultant (more about that in a future blog post). I would work remotely from my home in Oklahoma, just ten hours per week to start. My first assignment was to do the layout of a bi-monthly anthropology newsletter the organization produces. I also began going through a training program for new consultants.
I could hardly believe it! After five years of wondering whether I would ever serve in a cross-cultural ministry again, God had me serving with a Christian NGO that served people by preserving and promoting indigenous languages in eighty-four countries around the world! And what is more, my supervisor informed me that I could start working full-time as soon as I could raise my own financial support.
“Wait … what?” That’s right, the members of this organization work full-time while also raising funds for their own salaries and expenses. Most often, they do this by becoming members of a missionary sending agency which then loans them back to the NGO. So, I needed to find a missionary sending agency that would let me join them specifically so that I could go work full-time for someone else. I had no idea where to start looking for an agency like that. But God always has a plan for those He calls. As I mentioned above, the NGO I was serving with does translation—frequently Bible translation. While several missionary agencies do Bible translation, the largest and most well-known is Wycliffe Bible Translators. Since its founding in 1942, Wycliffe teams have translated the New Testament into more than 1,000 languages. I talked with several members of Wycliffe I knew personally, and they all encouraged me to apply.
So, in May, I applied to become a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Joining Wycliffe is a fairly involved process, with background checks, interviews, and questionnaires. But things went smoothly, and on September 1, 2022, I became an official member of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA. It took a while to sink in: “I’m finally serving in cross-cultural missions again. Praise the Lord!”
Now you know why I called this blog post, “The adventure begins … again!” So, what’s next in this new-old adventure? Right now, my task is to seek out and gather a group of Christian individuals and local churches that God is calling to partner with me and Wycliffe Bible Translators in this ministry. I am searching for two groups of people.
The first group is prayer partners. These are people who feel God is leading them to commit to praying for Wycliffe Bible Translators and for me as we continue the task of translating God’s Word. There are nearly 1700 languages in the world that still need a Bible translation. By praying for Wycliffe and for me, you can play a vital role in making God’s Word available to millions of people in the languages they understand best. And as my prayer partners commit to praying for me, I commit to praying for them and keeping them informed about what God is doing in my life and through Wycliffe. Would you be willing to become a prayer partner with me and Wycliffe Bible Translators?
The second group I am searching for is financial partners. These are people and local churches that will enable me to serve in this ministry by making regular contributions toward my salary and other ministry expenses. As for all Wycliffe members, my salary will be funded 100 percent by the people and churches God calls to partner with me in the ministry of Bible translation. In return for your contributions to Wycliffe for my ministry, I commit myself to serve faithfully and observe the highest standards of accountability. I also offer you my sincere friendship and my daily prayers for you. Would you be willing to pray about becoming a financial partner with me and Wycliffe Bible Translators?
Join me in this new-old adventure by checking every couple of weeks for new posts. And please pray about becoming a financial or prayer partner with me in this ministry. God bless and keep you!
For more information about my work with Wycliffe Bible Translators, to sign up for my monthly email newsletter, or to be notified when new blog posts come out, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to make a financial gift to Wycliffe for my ministry, you can visit my personal missionary page at Wycliffe.org.
Copyright © 2023 by Philip H. Troutman. All rights reserved.