United States (MNN) — The Gospel brings light to this darkened world. Andy Keener has seen that truth over and over again during his years serving with Wycliffe USA.
Today, Keener serves as the Senior Director of Global Partnerships. But he’s served in a variety of areas. When Keener was just 16-years-old, he went on a mission trip to Papua New Guinea. The team spent some time with a translator from Wycliffe.
Keener says, “While I was there, God impressed on my heart that He wanted me to be involved in Bible translation.”
And so that’s what he did. After Keener graduated, he and his wife began serving at Wycliffe USA. Since then, they’ve served in a variety of areas in several different ways — from the Teribe people in Panama, to supporting the translation of the Bible into deaf languages.
Keener is currently working in global partnerships, saying, “Wycliffe USA has a renewed focus in recent years on supporting local churches and local ministries in helping them meet the needs of translated Scripture in the areas of their ministry focus.”
By partnering with local churches, Wycliffe is able to assist them in the ministries that are most needed and most effective.
We asked Keener why he’s so passionate about Bible translation. He says, “I’ve seen the impact of God’s Word when it’s in someone’s heart language. When God’s Word is in a foreign tongue, it can come across as a foreign religion — someone else’s beliefs, someone else’s God. When God is able to speak in the heart language of someone, it moves them from an intellectual knowledge about who God is to the ability to have a relationship with Him.”
This relationship, Keener knows, is life-changing.
Years back on one translation project, he and his team worked with a group of local translators. Only one of them was a Christian, the others were unbelievers.
“Tito was one of those, […] a young man, very sharp, very good with his language, good with the translation process. But very uninterested in a relationship with God or understanding much about Scripture.”
In fact, Tito was living quite irresponsibly. As a father of seven, he often came home empty handed to his hungry family. The money he’d earned at his most recent job had already been wasted. Keener says Tito’s family suffered for his poor decisions. But, his work with Wycliffe exposed him to the Gospel.
“He dug into it. At the beginning, it was a job, and pretty soon it became a passion, and ultimately it changed his life,” Keener says.
It wasn’t only this man’s life that was changed, but potentially his community, too.
“God changed his heart, he changed his family, and today his daughter is finishing her college degree after completing Bible school for three years, she’s gone on to University. And it’s great to see her not only be able to become educated, but also have a passion to share God’s Word with her community. To me there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing God work in people’s lives through His Word.”
Challenges of faith
Keener says one of the biggest challenges he’s faced in his work with Wycliffe is to see all of the things that need to be done, to see all of the variables, and to know you can’t control everything. It’s truly an opportunity for faith to grow. Team members must trust in the Lord.
“That is a real challenge because sometimes you can go months and years without seeing the results of what you’re investing in people’s lives. And, ultimately, it’s not our work that creates those results, it’s the hand of God, it’s the Holy Spirit working in people’s lives. Waiting on the Lord can sometimes be a challenge.”
But when you do, he says, you see God work, and it produces joy.
This upfront experience is something Wycliffe invites you to. Whether you have skills in medicine, electrical, computer tech, finance, project management, administration, etc., you could be a valuable team member at Wycliffe USA. Click here to see all of the opportunities.
If you are passionate about this work but do not feel called to it, there’s still something very important that you can do. Pray.
“For us, one of the key prayer requests is that God will raise up people who are ready to go out and serve Him as part of the Kingdom, as part of the Body of Christ and join others, come alongside others, and serve with them.”
On a personal level, Keener asks for prayers as he travels a lot. Would you pray for perseverance and for God to bless him and his family? For more information on supporting the Keener family, click here.