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Did you know, Wycliffe has over 300 members in active service overseas or in the UK? Wycliffe’s members work through local partners around the world, serving with local colleagues and colleagues from other Wycliffe organisations in multinational and multicultural teams. We’re diverse in our backgrounds and situations – single people and families, graduates and early retirees – and our aim is to reflect the diversity of the body of Christ.
What does it mean to join Wycliffe?
All of Wycliffe’s assigned workforce are members. They are sent by their home churches to Wycliffe’s partner organisations working in more than 70 countries around the world. Members desire to see all peoples being able to engage with the Bible in the languages they understand best, and work in agreement with the vision and values of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Do I have to be a Christian to work with Wycliffe?
All Wycliffe members and volunteers are in full agreement with our statement of faith. This statement is a deliberately broad, evangelical confession of Christian belief. Having this shared understanding drives what we do and keeps us focused on why we exist: the conviction that when people take the Bible’s message to heart, they are brought to saving faith in Jesus and are equipped for discipleship. In addition to the statement of faith, all our workers also give full and hearty assent to ethos and values statements, which help us live a life of prayerful holiness and love shared in service to others, which is glorifying to God and upholds our integrity as an organisation.
The biblical foundation of membership
A member can be characterised as a missionary – someone who is sent by a church to another place to do some specific work. An early example of this would be in Acts 13:2 where the Holy Spirit led the church in Antioch to send out Barnabas and Saul. Members of Wycliffe are sent by their home church. This is the church that pastorally supports you, and provides prayer and some of your financial support. Alongside your home church should be a growing network of supporters who want to join in praying for and financially supporting your ministry.
Who’s my employer?
Members of Wycliffe are self-employed, depending on God to provide through churches and friends, and are assigned to partner organisations of Wycliffe. Being self-employed provides members a good degree of flexibility in the unusual patterns of life that go with working overseas for often long periods.
How long does a member need to serve for?
Membership is best suited when you want to work with Wycliffe for more than two years. If you’re thinking of a shorter period, we have other options for you to consider, such as our SkillServe and GradTeams programmes as well as Vision Trips.
Membership does not have to be for a lifetime, and we know that God might have other directions in which he wants to take you.
Do I need a calling?
The Bible tells us that Jesus calls all people to himself (John 12:32), and asks us to pray that he will send out workers into the harvest field – the world. Speak with your church leadership, and Christians who know you well. Ask them whether they could imagine you working overseas as a member, or whether there are other steps of training or ministry you should consider beforehand. God wants us to become more like Christ, and working in Bible translation is not a higher calling than that.
How can I find out more if I’m unsure about applying?
Wycliffe’s Church Relations team runs a number of events each year, from evening sessions, to weekends, through to in-depth two-week Experience camps and Vision Trips. It’s advisable to have gone on at least one shorter event, so that we know that you’ve seen and heard about what we do. Our in-depth events give a deeper insight into potential avenues of service, personal discipleship and opportunities to pray with others and for the Bible translation work taking place around the world.
What does the application process look like?
The application process starts when your church confirms that they are supportive of you applying for membership. So it begins with Wycliffe contacting your church and receiving a formal commendation. We’ll collect references about you from employers, your church and those you’ve served alongside. We’ll also ask you to write about what you believe. Bringing together your thoughts may take you several weeks if you’re studying or working at the same time.
Once Wycliffe receives your papers, we will arrange interviews. Alongside your interviews, you will also meet some key staff who can help you think about what developing support could look like, and about support of you as a family, if applicable.
Lastly, we’ll ask you to take an assessment with a clinical psychologist. This helps us know how best to support you, and also gives us advice on what sort of contexts you might want to serve.
What training might I need?
Wycliffe works in partnership with the School of Language and Scripture, based at Moorlands College, to provide training for new members. Work overseas – whether in accounting or administration, literacy or linguistics – requires a foundation of cross-cultural awareness and tools to help with language learning. These are essential for developing meaningful friendships and resilience when overseas. Some people will need to learn a specific set of skills to take on their desired role. The School of Language and Scripture offers a range of courses from Foundation, PGCert, and Diploma to MA. Our core training programmes begin in September.
Further foundation skills in areas such as Linguistics and Bible Translation, Scripture Engagement, Literacy and Community Development, and Project Management, can be added subsequently, taking your initial training further into a Diploma or MA qualification.
How do I grow a base of support?
In Wycliffe we like to think of support using the analogy of a three-legged stool, representing the member, the church and Wycliffe. We need all three legs to stand strong. Wycliffe engages with your home church right at the beginning of the application process, again after interviews, and regularly over the course of your membership.
For anyone considering membership, it’s important to speak with your church leadership about what you’re considering. They may well have supported others into mission work and so they may have questions for you to consider. They’ll also be able to pray for you, and – should you be accepted – they’ll already have the assurance that what you’re seeking to do is kingdom work and therefore will be willing to support you.
Knowing you need to develop a broad base of prayer and financial support can feel like a daunting mountain to climb, but it is a great joy and privilege to see God provide for our needs through others. Wycliffe will provide you with assistance, advice and support to help you reach out and grow in confidence.
Will I need to undertake further theological study?
Going to Bible college is not essential. However, if you are interested in working in the area of exegesis – making sure that translations are explaining and interpreting Scripture correctly – you would need to undertake theological studies at some point.
If you desire to work in a more remote or challenging location, spending time at Bible college may grow and strengthen your personal theology and relationship with Jesus in ways that will help you to thrive overseas.