Bible translation is hindered by lack of educators for missionaries’ children.

By October 4, 2006

International (MNN) — One of the most critical needs in Bible translation is short-staffed and in desperate need of volunteers.

The need: education for missionary kids.

Bruce Smith with Wycliffe Associates says, “I think one of the things that many people don’t realize is that children’s education is among the most critical resources that enables missionary families to stay on the mission field. And if you can’t meet children’s educational needs then families have to reconsider their options and in many cases, come back home.”

One of Wycliffe Associates’ top priorities right now is filling 250 open teaching positions. Smith says that number may seem overwhelming, but “When you stop and realize that there are somewhere around 4 thousand families from the United States that are a part of Bible translation around the world, and many of these school situations also support other mission organizations, this number is not that extraordinary, but it really is a vital need that needs to be filled in order to keep mission work and Bible translation specifically moving forward.”

With Bible translation happening in about 70 different countries, the opportunities for support services like teaching span the globe. And with 250 teaching positions needing filled, the range of specializations covers many areas and subjects, and a variety of teaching positions and levels of expertise are valued. The specific role and criteria of what’s needed varies from place to place.

“We’re willing to take people with very little experience and plug them into a situation where they can be a support resource to the teachers who may be overworked in their own areas of administration or other aspects of their job, and really knit the team together in a way that makes the most sense for that particular location,” says Smith.

It’s a way to accelerate Bible translation, says Smith, and a chance to be used by God, “This is a great opportunity for people who have teaching experience and background and interest to learn more about what’s going on in missions, to make a direct contribution, to minister to the families, to be a blessing in the lives of the kids and the parents, but also to really make a strategic contribution to helping Bible translation move forward.”

Smith highlights three areas where the most urgent needs are: Manila, Philippines; Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea; and Cameroon, Africa. All of these locations have schools already in existence, but due to size of translation work or increased translation efforts, the needs are more pronounced than other places. But Smith also says, “There are dozens of other locations that also need teachers. We’d love to talk with people who have a sense that they’d like to give it a try, and have a chance to see what is going on in missions and how God could use them personally.”

Wycliffe Associates recruits teachers year round, which means that both immediate and future opportunities exist. They’re looking for people who are willing to commit to giving anything more than a couple of weeks. Because of the urgency of the situation, Smith says they’re talking to people who are available for any length of time.

If you have any interest at all, Smith says that the time is now to contact them, because “The best thing we can do is to talk to individuals about their background and God’s preparation in their life, in terms of how they’ve got experience in the teaching arena, and try to find the right opportunity to match up with them around the world.”

For more information on how you might be able to answer this need, visit the Wycliffe Associates website and go to the ‘service opportunities’ page.

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