Thinking Out Loud

March 9, 2015

Megavoice: One of Missions Best Kept Secrets

I really wrestled with what to post today. After becoming violently ill on Saturday night, I had some catching up to do this morning, and kept shelving today’s article later and later into the morning. Often I’ll go through articles in the same month, previous years and look for ideas or items to reprint.

When I found this article on Megavoice in my March, 2011 archives, the thing that amazed me was that I haven’t re-posted it since. Megavoice is one of a number of new Christian organizations that are leveraging technology for the spread of the Gospel. Sadly, much of the philanthropy that takes place among Christians involves what I would call old-order Christian charities. The same is true for the missions budget of most local churches; most Missions Committee members simply renew the budget of the previous year.

I think this is so vital, so exciting. This is an organization you should want to come alongside of and be spreading the word about…

I’m a bit of a Bible bigot.

My prejudices have nothing to do with a particular translation. No, we don’t more of those people running around. My bias has to do with the form the finished Bible takes.

I asked someone recently what they think the Bible translation process involves. They gave me the answer I expected, the answer I would have given until just days ago:

  • Missionary translators learn the local language
  • The language is put it written form
  • The native people are taught how to read their own language
  • The New Testament (usually beginning with John’s gospel) is translated into that written language
  • Printed copies of the completed books are given out

Great concept. Sometimes, that’s how it’s done. But overall this view has one problem: It doesn’t match the experience of many people working to bring the story of Jesus to remote tribes.

The problem is with the words: “Read,” “books,” “printed,” “written.”

Many of the world’s peoples are not readers. It’s not that they are illiterate in the sense that a young man living on the streets of Detroit is not able to read in the middle of a culture full of literates. It’s not that they are illiterate in the sense of a woman in Atlanta whose makeshift home is insulated with newspapers containing words she cannot understand.

Rather, it’s because, half a world away, theirs is a culture of orality. No, I’d never heard the word before, either. Simply put, they are oral learners.

We’re talking about people who would benefit much more from an audio Bible than one bound in bonded leather with gold edged pages. Think about it: Once translators had acquired the language verbally, they could immediately produce a verbal (spoken) translation of the Bible, and then disseminate it using some kind of playback device.

But how to do that in an age where cassettes break and CD players skip or wear out?

Enter mp3 technology. The time is right. The time is now.

And that’s the theory behind MegaVoice. The term describes

For me, learning about MegaVoice has been a paradigm-shattering experience that has changed everything I’ve believed about how the translation process and the evangelization process works. I live in a world of text, a world of print media, and the possibility of such a widespread population of oral communicators simply never occurred to me.

If you’re one of the blessed people who is always looking for a project worthy of financial support, consider directly supporting this ministry. Whether in print copies or audio copies, the Word of God is still powerful, and doesn’t just “bounce off the walls,” but will accomplish great things in peoples’ lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

A small sampling of the many languages on file in the MegaVoice library

Advertisements

January 15, 2015

Missions Models: Paying the Staff

Ministry Salaries Deputation SupportWe continue where we left off on Monday and Tuesday with more of our missions theme. Today we want to look at how the actual mission workers — as well as people working for Christian parachurch organizations — get paid.

Salary – Several lifetimes ago I was hired by the publishing division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). I was the warehouse manager for the Canadian operation, and to the best of my knowledge this was the only time in my life I was ever covered by a dental plan, though being young and carefree I never used it. They were probably the best organization I ever worked for full-time. I was also hired for three years by our local Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, and again, it was a fixed dollar amount, though I was basically subcontracted to them which meant not technically on their payroll. I also worked briefly for the Canadian Bible Society and again, the job included a guranteed pay rate, as did all the jobs in their head office.

Raising Support – Several times in my life I’ve been offered an opportunity to work with the too-often repeated phrase, “but you need to raise your own support.”  Sigh! Do they want me, my gifts and abilities, or simply to exploit my network? Some of these Christian organizations actually don’t have a cap on the number of people they will hire; if you have the support raised, you’re welcome to come on board. (The organization takes 10 to 20% off the top for ‘administration.’)

Base Salary + Donations – This one is a combination of the two above, and the place I’ve seen it practiced most often is with students working at Christian summer camps. They are promised a very conservative rate of pay which includes meals and housing, but can then do fundraising over and above that in order to increase their bi-weekly pay. Sometimes the donors remain on the camp’s mailing list long after the kids have left and the last canoe has been stored away, which can be a bit of a windfall for the camp long-term.

Deputation – This is a word used largely in the Evangelical community to describe the relationship missionaries have with the local churches that support them. It usually means that when they are home on “furlough” instead of having a season of sabbath rest, they spend their weekends driving around to visit those churches, hand out prayer cards, set up a table in the lobby with artifacts and possibly even preach the Sunday morning sermon. This guarantees that they will be kept on the missions budget for the following year. 

Bi-Vocational – We usually hear this term used in conjunction with pastoral ministry, as it’s a growing model. But anyone serving part-time in ministry and part-time with a ‘secular’ job qualifies. There are really two meanings to bi-vocational; sometimes it means two part-time jobs, but other times it may mean the ministry job doesn’t really pay at all. Despite this, the ministry job may actually have demands that leave the individual ‘on call’ 24/7. There’s a saying that, “When they have you part-time, they have you full-time.” You’re expected to be available at all hours.

You Pay Us – In many cases, the person working for the organization actually pays for the privilege of doing so. In the case of an organization like YWAM, its entry program, known as Discipleship Training School is really an educational opportunity, not anything resembling actual employment. Participants can do fundraising to cover the costs, or if they’re coming out of the business world, or a students who took a year off to raise funds to take any of YWAM’s schools, they might just show up on day one with their checkbook and pay it that way. However, in other organizations (i.e. not YWAM) the line between education and training and the need for people to actually work on the organization’s behalf is rather blurred. If you’re paying to sweep floors or do dishes, and that is the majority of your responsibility, then you have the worst of both worlds: It’s not a job, and you’re not learning anything.

Are there some I’ve missed? Probably. One faith ministry I worked for frequently gathered the staff together and announced that the payroll would be late that week. I was a single guy, but there were people working for them that were the sole earners in their family, with dependent children. That’s why I’m sure this story is incomplete; there are all manner of variations out there because, after all, “It’s the Lord’s work.”

January 12, 2015

Working On A Building (Or Several)

I’m a working on a building
I’m a working on a building
Hallelujah
I’m a working on a building
For my Lord, for my Lord

~Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys
(click here to listen!)

eMi logo

Starting today my oldest son begins a new chapter of his life. He’s doing a 16-week internship with a Christian organization that nobody we’ve spoken to has ever heard of, but once you get the concept, you would be more concerned if nobody had thought of it.

Here’s their purpose statement from the landing page of their website:

Engineering Ministries International (eMi) is a non-profit Christian development organization made up of architects, engineers and design professionals who donate their skills to help children and families around the world step out of poverty and into a world of hope.

Poverty is a key element of the projects they choose. As much as you’d like to get all your engineering and architectural drawings done cheap for the new gym and fellowship hall at Church of the Affluent Suburbs, I don’t think they’re going to be able to help you. But they do have a host of mission organizations they’ve served since 1982 working on over 1,000 relief and development projects in 90+ countries; with many of the relationships developed alongside ministries such as Food for the Hungry, Mission Aviation Fellowship, and Samaritan’s Purse.

So, in the case of the project my son will be involved in, they’re going to be designing a building for an orphanage in Haiti that currently houses ten kids and will expand to 50, with a goal of future growth to 75 beds, plus a chapel, plus a school that will be profitable. All on land they already own.  eMi works with organizations in partnerships like that.

This isn’t a paid internship for him. He’s actually paying them, about the equivalent of another full year of school, for a time frame involving a single semester. But they’re picking up travel and living expenses for his week in Colorado Springs (where their world headquarters are) the time working in the Calgary office (one of five satellite offices) and a trip to Haiti to see the project site and meet the key players there. Their finished drawings will be given to a local construction company that will build the facility to their specifications.  (Check out the scope of this project they consulted on in 2009.)

How did we hear about all this? We ran into eMi at an annual event in Toronto called MissionFest, which I’ve written about elsewhere, a sort of trade show for mission organizations. Since I know a lot of people, I pitched a number of options to him, but he set the bar really high in terms of the type of Christian organization he wanted to work with, and eMi met his criteria. His degree is in Electrical Engineering, but they’re going to teach him some of the Structural Engineering principles and the whole thing will count toward his professional designation.

I should also add that to the best of my knowledge, eMi is always looking for Structural Engineers and Civil Engineers, especially on the short field trips. If that’s you and your schedule allows you some travel time; or you’ve taken an early retirement, you might want to get to know these people. Same applies to architects and surveyors.

I once heard it said that Youth with a Mission was the Evangelical world’s best kept secret. I’d like to nominate eMi as a runner up. When you think about the concept, this thing gives new definition to meeting a need.

As I get to know this organization better, I expect to be writing about them again. For my Canadian readers there’s eMiCanada based in Alberta, and for my UK readers eMiUK is based in Oxford.

And if you’re the praying type, remember our son Chris.

 

 

May 26, 2013

Soulwinning in Africa

Filed under: Humor, missions — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:39 am

Great quotation from Stuff Fundies Like, though you might want to click through for the photograph, which really makes this sing:

“People are so much more open to the gospel in East Botswana than they are here in the USA.”

Somehow the willingness of people to take tracts (that they can’t read), listen politely to a Romans Road presentation (that they don’t understand), and allow themselves to be coerced into saying The Prayer(TM) (that they can’t possibly grasp) translates into the idea that the rest of the world is still open to the Gospel while cold-hearted and money-minded Americans just aren’t that interested anymore. This, of course, means that money is much better spent on planting Independent Fundamental Baptist churches in Guinea-Bissau than caring for the homeless people who keep making a mess of the street in front of our church.

If you believe that the most effective evangelism is done in foreign lands by people who have little formal training, don’t understand the culture, and barely speak the language…you might be a fundamentalist.

March 21, 2011

When Bible Translation Has Nothing To Do With Books

I’m a bit of a Bible bigot.

My prejudices have nothing to do with a particular translation.  No, we don’t more of those people running around.  My bias has to do with the form the finished Bible takes.

I asked someone recently what they think the Bible translation process involves.  They gave me the answer I expected, the answer I would have given until just days ago:

  • Missionary translators learn the local language
  • The language is put it written form
  • The native people are taught how to read their own language
  • The New Testament (usually beginning with John’s gospel) is translated into that written language
  • Printed copies of the completed books are given out

Great concept.  Sometimes, that’s how it’s done.  But overall this view has one problem:  It doesn’t match the experience of many people working to bring the story of Jesus to remote tribes.

The problem is with the words: “Read,” “books,” “printed,” “written.”

Many of the world’s peoples are not readers.  It’s not that they are illiterate in the sense that a young man living on the streets of Detroit is not able to read in the middle of a culture full of literates.  It’s not that they are illiterate in the sense of a woman in Atlanta whose makeshift home is insulated with newspapers containing words she cannot understand.

Rather, it’s because, half a world away, theirs is a culture of orality.  No, I’d never heard the word before, either.  Simply put, they are oral learners.

We’re talking about people who would benefit much more from an audio Bible than one bound in bonded leather with gold edged pages.   Think about it: Once translators had acquired the language verbally, they could immediately produce a verbal (spoken) translation of the Bible, and then disseminate it using some kind of playback device.

But how to do that in an age where cassettes break and CD players skip or wear out?

Enter mp3 technology.  The time is right.  The time is now.

And that’s the theory behind MegaVoice.  The term describes

For me, learning about MegaVoice has been a paradigm-shattering experience that has changed everything I’ve believed about how the translation process and the evangelization process works.  I live in a world of text, a world of print media, and the possibility of such a widespread population of oral communicators simply never occurred to me.

So that said, I’m going to come back to MegaVoice again here at some point in the future.  But if you’re one of the needle-in-a-haystack people reading this who is truly challenged by the possibilities this raises, I want to link you a .pdf file of a book, Making Disciples of Oral Learners, originally written as a paper published for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization in Thailand in the fall of 2004, and published in 2005.

When you link to the book, start reading at page 3 and pay particular attention to the part from page 3 to page 30.

And if you’re one of the blessed people who is always looking for a project worthy of financial support, consider directly supporting this ministry.  Whether in print copies or audio copies, the Word of God is still powerful, and doesn’t just “bounce off the walls,” but will accomplish great things in peoples’ lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

A small sampling of the many languages on file in the MegaVoice library

February 2, 2010

Meet Kevin Sanders aka Kuya Kevin

On one of the blog aggregators (or portals) this blog is on there is a popular blog called “Basta Love Life: Love and Relationships” authored by Kuya Kevin.   An American, Kevin Sanders is a missionary to youth in Manila, The Philippines.


“There’s a story here;” I said to myself several months ago, “And sometime soon I’ve got to find out what it is.”   Kevin was good enough to play along as I asked him a number of questions…

How does a guy from Alabama end up spending the last eight years in The Philippines?

I felt God was calling me into ministry back in my teen years.  I was very involved in student ministry throughout high school and college.  I remember several missions conferences back in my college days — these made a real impression on me.  These “student years” gave me a passion for two things: missions and college ministry.

I decided to pursue college ministry after I finished seminary.   To make a long story short, it was a process of sending out resumes and seeing where God opened doors.  I eventually applied to become a missionary here.  It’s been the best of both worlds–missions and college ministry.  I was originally planning to be here for one year.  God obviously had other plans.

What does a typical week look like for you?

The most important thing I do is campus evangelism and discipleship.  I approach students, share the gospel, do Bible study with those who respond positively, and train student leaders to do the same.  I usually spend 3-4 days a week doing this.

The rest of my time is divided among different ministry activities: 1. Speaking engagements at schools and churches. 2. Recording our radio show. 3. Writing, which includes blogging, responding to email, and books (if I happen to be working on a book project).

It’s kind of a juggling act and I’m always praying for discernment in the best use of time.  Speaking engagements are a big deal this month because of Valentine’s Day, so I’m willing to spend more time than usual doing seminars.  It’s all about making the best use of the time God gives us.  I haven’t mastered this by any means, so I always pray for grace and wisdom.

What would you say are the cultural distinctives among youth there versus in the States?  What things did you have to adjust to?

Filipinos are naturally fun-loving and gregarious people.  I feel in love with them almost instantly.  Cultural adjustments haven’t been terribly difficult for me.

I’d say one significant difference is the group mentality.  Filipinos tend to be more comfortable acting in groups (a group of friends is called a barkada here, and almost everyone belongs to such a group).   I rarely approach just one individual–there’s usually at least four or five of them hanging out together.

For many youth workers, the issues of sexuality and dating are part of a larger ministry portfolio, but you’ve chosen to specialize in this area ; do you find there’s a great need for this among the kids you work with?

I never really planned to get involved with purity advocacy when I first arrived here.  It’s something that just happened through a series of events–events I believe God orchestrated.

It started around 2003.  A Filipino version of True Love Waits was produced and we decided to try doing seminars on campuses.  The response was so overwhelming that I knew God wanted me to pursue it further.  There’s definitely a need here.  Filipino youth tend to be more conservative than their Western counterparts, but they are struggling with this x-rated world we live in.

The podcast is English.   Do most of the kids you work with speak English?  What is the main language in Manila?   What does Kuya (as in Kuya Kevin) and Basta (as in Basta Love Life) mean?

Filipinos are excellent English speakers–they can usually understand it without any problem.  Having said that, Tagalog is their first language here in Manila.  Some students are not completely comfortable speaking English, so I learned to speak and understand Tagalog.

“Kuya” means older brother.    “Basta” doesn’t translate very smoothly into English.  But the simplest way to translate “Basta Love Life” would be “Just Love Life.”

You sometimes lapse into Tagalog in the middle of the podcast.   Obviously, you’re very much at home there now.   Do you get back to the U.S. at all?

The summer break here is in April/May.  Usually I come home for a few weeks during those months.  It’s an opportunity to visit my family, speak at churches, and do some bass fishing.

Your blog must get American as well as local readers… I see it also connects you to a youth group you work with…  Is it hard speaking to two different cultures at the same time or are the issues the same everywhere?

I’d say the issues are essentially the same.  Here’s an interesting thing about the show:  I’m an American who has spent the past seven and a half years here.  My co-host (Erwin) is a Filipino who grew up here but spent several years living in the States.  This helps us see issues from more than one cultural angle.

I’ve considered publishing and American “version” of Basta LoveLife, my first book.  But I’ll need to go back and Americanize it–make a few minor modifications.

What’s the core of what you want to say to young people about sex and purity?

I often summarize God’s instructions for singles in two commandments: be pure and be wise.  “Be pure” means avoiding sexual intimacy outside of marriage.  “Be wise” means using biblical wisdom in matters of the heart.  I think at least 90% of problems are avoided if singles will just follow these two principles.

Thanks, Kevin.

If you’re reading this and you’re interested in knowing more, first of all visit the Kuya Kevin website, check out the weekly podcast and then remember Kevin Sanders in your prayers.

If you’re looking for a mission project that is worthy of your financial support, donations can be sent to Kevin Sanders Ministries, First Baptist Church Pinson, 4036 Spring Streeet, Pinson, AL 35126.   For those of you in the U.S., tax receipts are available.

Kevin also wanted me to add that he has a strength and fitness blog; check out Strong and Fit.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.