USA (MNN) — Wycliffe Associates will be dramatically increasing the number of trained volunteers available to support worldwide Bible translation efforts. The cornerstone of this effort is the completion of the construction of Phase I of the Volunteer Mobilization Center (VMC) in Orlando, Florida–a 16,000-square-foot facility that will be used to support and coordinate thousands of volunteers.
Wycliffe Associates is the volunteer arm of Bible translation around the world. They've been working on the project for the last two years.
President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates Bruce Smith says, "Just a week ago we received our certificate of occupancy, so we've all moved in. We're still unpacking boxes, but we're already hard at work trying to increase the number of volunteers who are serving around the world."
The new center will provide ten times the space currently available and enable Wycliffe Associates to multiply the number of volunteers serving translation partners.
The new Volunteer Mobilization Center will provide much-needed space for volunteer management, recruitment, travel planning, funding support, specialized training, and overseas logistical support. In addition, the VMC will support the Prayer Ministry, KidZone Children's Ministry, Construction Ministry, and administration.
Smith says, "This last year we had 1,400 volunteers serving in 35 different countries, and that has been the largest number of volunteers we've ever had. But in recent years, our rate of growth has slowed a little bit. Our goal is to have 5,000 volunteers a year serving by the year 2010."
As the Baby Boom generation continues to retire, Smith says the supply of volunteers is endless.
Those volunteers will be desperately needed in the years ahead. "One of the major factors that all of missions is facing, especially Bible translation, is that in the next few years — basically between now and the year 2015 — a large portion of the workforce will be retiring. And so as we're involving more volunteers, the workforce for missions and Bible translation is really changing in its complexion."
According to Smith, this project is a great example of what can be done through volunteers. "Volunteers have been involved in this, from the design process all the way to the completion, doing the actual construction work. I would guess that 80 to 85 percent of this building work has been done by volunteers."
The Wycliffe Associates Volunteer Mobilization Center is vital to meeting the goal of Vision 2025, which is to start a Bible translation is each language still needing one by the year 2025. The VMC will increase service contributions of volunteers at strategic sites around the globe.
"Every day is a celebration of the work God is letting us do," says Wycliffe Associates President/CEO Bruce Smith. "We need to press on, finishing this task so that so that all people everywhere will have the opportunity to read and hear about God's love in the language of their heart."
Wycliffe Associates are sending volunteers to build and renovate facilities, construct roads and airstrips, teach Vacation Bible School, help with language development and office work, oversee projects, use computer skills, and much more. For more information, visit www.wycliffeassociates.org or call 1-800-THE WORD (1-800-843-9673).