Our Dear Partners,
This Translation Brief is all about all of YOU. God is at work bringing His message of hope and love to First Nations language communities across Canada. He was pleased to bring YOU into our lives as part of our team, as we join the Lord in this work in Bible Translation!
You will have noticed that most of our other Translation Brief reports have to do with our own vision to provide better access to God’s Word for Naskapi, Innu, Cree, and Oji-Cree speakers, and the activities that God has been pleased to invite us to share in, along side these indigenous Christians. Scroll back to any previous post, and you will read about our travels and our activities to help bring vernacular, local language scriptures to these communities.
But in this post, we want to talk about YOU and how encouraged we are having traveled and connected with so many of YOU who have prayed for us, given sacrificially over the years, and who have stood beside us in this work since the beginning. Any good that was done–bringing God’s hope and healing through His Word in the lives and communities of First Nations people over the years–was accomplished by His grace through YOU and your faithful partnership.
And we are grateful to you who have communicated this to us in so many encouraging and generous ways during our November 2016 Partnership Tour.
We have been on the road for most of the month of November, traveling to supporting churches and making home visits, sharing how YOU continue to play a vital role in bringing God’s Word to the First Nations.
Simcoe, Ontario–October 30
We have been welcomed into fellowship at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Simcoe Ontario since we moved to this area last year. We have been encouraged by their vision to be fully devoted to Christ-centered lives, following His love, life and service. The Sunday before starting out on our trip we shared at Immanuel church about how God is at work through us in Bible Translation for First Nations in the north. We are encouraged to see their eagerness to participate in this work with us, and we already benefit from the prayers of Al & Betty, Mark & Elly, Brian & Jane, Pastor Jeff and many, many others.
Sutton, Vermont–November 6
Ever since the winter of 1987, even before we moved to the Naskapi community in Kawawachikamach, the congregation of Sutton Freewill Baptist Church has shared in our Bible Translation ministry. It was a joy to be back with Ruth, Lynn & Don, Laurel & Reg, Ron, Pastor Mark & Patrice, and to meet some new friends as well.
Norwich, Connecticut–November 7, 8, 10
The Norwich Alliance Church has been our “home” church and we were privileged during this trip to make some home-visits, since we were not able to be there on a Sunday. Also, several of our Norwich Alliance friends have moved on to serve in ministry or to fellowship in other churches near and far–so our partners are found all over. Still, while in Norwich it was a joy to meet with the Men’s Wednesday Morning prayer group: Mike, Rennie, Larry, Dave and Pastor Chuck. We also enjoyed sharing lunch with Shirley, dinner with Olive and her family: Ron & Anita, Mandy, and our new friend Nancy.
Derry, New Hampshire–November 9
Central Congregational Church in Derry has played a significant role in our work since our first connection with them through their Pastor Steve & Jan Misarski, back in the mid 1990s, and the Callan Home Fellowship group. They have not only faithfully prayed for us and supported the work financially, they also sent at team to Schefferville to help us rebuild our house there in 1996, joined by others from Norwich Alliance. This personal level of assistance truly connected them with our work in the Naskapi community. On Wednesday, November 9, Central Church missions committee hosted a pot-luck dinner gathering where we were able to report with joy all the things that God is accomplishing through their partnership. It was wonderful to renew our friendship with Janet & Rahoul, Sue, Felicia & Ed, Josh, Jim and Pastor John.
Waterford, Connecticut–November 10
First Baptist Church of Waterford was one of the first churches to share in the financial support of the salary of our first paid translator, Silas, back in 1996. It has been a joy to us and an encouragement to the Naskapi translators to know about this important and generous investment, which continues to bear fruit. This church’s missions committee also hosted a delicious pot-luck supper on Thursday November 10, after which we reported what God is accomplishing in First Nations churches and languages thanks to their partnership with us. A large group of nearly fifty old friends and new celebrated with us, including Bob & Terry, Dave & Naomi, Bill and Pastor Dave, among many others.
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania–November 13
All Saints’ Church in Wynnewood is a beautiful, traditional-style Episcopal (Anglican) church where our dear friend Eddy Rix is the rector and priest-in-charge. While still in seminary, Eddy came to serve as an intern at the Naskapi parish in Kawawachikamach, where we first became acquainted and God gave him a heart for First Nations ministry and the Naskapi people. He helped connect All Saints’ parish with our ministry in Bible Translation and we have been privileged to share our work with them over the past several years. After a beautiful service of worship (following the Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal, wonderful pipe organ and choir) we shared a report of all that God is doing through their support at Adult Forum. It was wonderful to once again enjoy the warm hospitality of Eddy & Sierra and their family at the rectory, and to fellowship with Dr. & Mrs. Robert Marvin, Mary & Kevin, Ed and Katie, and so many other old and new friends.
La Plata, Maryland–November 14
Not all of our visits were large groups. Some were very small and quiet, but very significant none the less. We enjoyed warm hospitality from Amy Bray, a dear friend and prayer-partner that we knew from our time in Norwich.
Clayton, North Carolina–November 15
Charlie & Pat Guarneri–more friends from Norwich Alliance Church who now live close to their extended family in North Carolina–welcomed us into their home and shared meals with us, inviting others in their family to come hear what God is doing to bring His word to First Nations languages in the north. Charlie & Pat were part of the high-school youth group that Norma Jean and I attended when we were each led to serve the Lord in Bible Translation work, before we were married (Charlie chaperoned our first “date” in 1975!)
Hilton Head, South Carolina–November 17
Fred & Kathy Berkheimer–are also dear friends from Norwich Alliance, and who have faithfully prayed, generously supported and encouraged us in our work for more than 30 years. We rendezvoused with them at their vacation spot on Hilton Head and spend the entire day in conversation and fellowship over meals and walks on the beach, reflecting on God’s faithfulness and the joy we have in the journey of serving Him together. It was a precious and refreshing time, and we are very grateful.
Clearwater, Florida–November 20
When Norma Jean was single and living in Florida (forty years ago) she attended First Christian Church in Clearwater, Florida. We were welcomed into their adult Sunday School and worship time on Sunday, November 20, where we were given the opportunity to share the good things that God is doing as He brings His Word into the languages of First Nations communities in the North.
Chatsworth, Georgia–November 22
What a joy to spend American Thanksgiving with our dear friends Jerry & Sarah Barton at their home in Chatsworth Georgia. Norma Jean and I were both mentored and discipled by them when we were in our teens (!!) and twenties, when they were the leaders of the Norwich Alliance Church youth group. Their godly example and influence on our lives helped to shape us and lead us into serving the Lord in full-time Bible translation ministry. God used them, as He continues to use all of YOU, to accomplish His mission in the world. We were also privileged to share with Danny, the pastor of their church, and their children Joe and Carla, and their granddaughter and great-grandchildren!
Westerville, Ohio–November 26
Wycliffe Associates is an organization of lay persons that serves Bible Translation activities in many ways. One way that it does this is to help Wycliffe members who are traveling with hospitality services, meals and lodging in their homes through the Wycliffe Associates Hospitality Roster. Thus we were able to meet Collin & Virginia in Westerville, Ohio on our way back home to Canada, where they provided us with meals, fellowship and a night in their guest room. We are grateful that in many ways exactly like this, God uses the gifts and resources that he has given to each of YOU to help bring His message of hope into the Heart Languages of people groups all around the world. Thank you for being part of God’s work.
Family–all along the way
In Connecticut, we also blessed to have some time with some of Norma Jean’s brothers and their wives: Tim & Joanne, Terry & Wanno, and to catch up with each others’ lives.
We also saw our daughter Elizabeth with her husband Eric, and Bill’s mom Martha.
In Baltimore we stopped to see our son Ben and his wife Tamika, and our grandchildren Nya and Arion.
In Florida we stayed with Norma Jean’s sister Chris and her husband George, and were able to see some of their children and grandchildren as well.
We also realize that there are many of YOU who receive this report who we were unable to see along the way, either because of time or distance. We want you to know that YOU are also an encouragement to us, and that your partnership is vital to the work that God is doing through our lives.
We are so grateful for all of your prayers, and for God’s provision and safety through the four weeks of travel and over 4000 highway miles.
Serving with YOU,
Bill and Norma Jean