‘It’s always a joy to write a thank you letter,’ says John Billett. ‘In the course of my pastoral ministry, sometimes I’ve had to write some challenging letters, but these are lovely letters!’
A retired minister, John has been volunteering with Wycliffe Bible Translators for over 15 years. He’s part of the team that helps churches in the UK and Ireland to connect with Bible translation projects around the world.
‘It’s been a blessing and a joy to be a volunteer.’ John says. ‘I’ve always felt everybody works well together and everybody’s important to everybody else.
‘It’s been a blessing too because it’s meant that my years after my pastoral ministry have had a lot of point and purpose to them.’
‘I see God at work in the office’
‘One of my favourite parts of the job is working with a super bunch of people,’ John says. ‘I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people from different church backgrounds, different stories of how they came to the Lord, different ways they’re walking with him, different challenges.
‘One of the benefits to being with Wycliffe is that you’re meeting with fellow Christians and you can encourage one another.
‘I see God at work in the office. We’re all growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. When people share in prayer times or in conversation, I’m encouraged and blessed and hopefully others are too.
‘At the moment we’re going through our list of churches, taking two a week, and praying for them.’
‘At the moment we’re going through our list of churches, taking two a week, and praying for them. After that I’ll email, thanking them for their support and letting them know we’ve been praying for them. There have been some lovely responses.’
‘It’s a joy to share good news.’
Despite being retired, John still visits lots of churches to preach and, often, to share news from the world of Bible translation: ‘I shared at a church recently about the Bagwere people who had a workshop on the book of Proverbs.
‘On the second day of the workshop, two young men gave their lives to Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re on about! To see people come to Christ. Not just to produce a book, but the effect of that book. By the help of the Holy Spirit, when people hear God’s word, lives are transformed. It’s always a joy to share good news.’
‘People’s lives are being transformed’
Things have changed a lot since he started working with Wycliffe, John says: ‘Looking at the progress since I started at Wycliffe – there have been so many changes, so much greater impact, so many more translations!
‘My job was to help to keep churches on board. Answering questions, sending thank you letters, budget letters – all sorts of ways.
‘We’ve got more churches on board now, and I’ve seen progress among the churches that we relate to. Churches that maybe just wanted a speaker to start with have committed to a project, given and even visited.
‘I get a bit more tired now!’
‘There have been times when it’s been tough,’ John says, ‘times when I’ve wondered, “Am I right here?” But God is good.
‘There are personal challenges too, like memory – if I could deal with just one project it would be a lot easier!’
‘It’s no secret how old I am!’ John laughs. ‘I don’t know how long I’ll continue. As long as I feel the Lord wants me here. As long as I can do something useful. Because I’m not as sharp as I once was. I take a lot longer to learn new things. I can more easily make mistakes. I get a bit more tired!
‘So I’m in the Lord’s hands. That’s true for us all. And God is at work even in difficult times.’
‘I want to see the word getting out’
‘People need the word of God. That’s the heart of the matter,’ says John. ‘God in his grace sent his Son to save sinners; Jesus came. That’s the good news!
‘It’s a bit like those lepers outside the city of Samaria, when the enemy was encamped and the city was starving. [2 Kings 7]
‘They said to themselves, “Why don’t we go to the Arameans and ask them for some food? They can only kill us. We’re starving anyway.”
‘When they got there the camp was deserted. And so they found all this lovely food!
‘And while they were eating, one of them said to the others, “This is wrong! Here we are feasting when others are starving, and we’re keeping the good news to ourselves!”
‘We’ve got the best news this world has ever known! What else can transform a life? What else can bring forgiveness of sins? What else can bring help in the struggles that we all face? God’s word, which points us to Christ.
‘So I’m involved in Wycliffe because I want to see the word getting out. I can play a little part in that. I’m glad to do so because it matters more than anything else.’
Pray for John
- ‘I would value prayer more than anything that I might walk closely with the Lord,’ says John. ‘It’s the biggest challenge of my life.’
- ‘I’ve got a lovely wife and children, and six super grandchildren. We want to see the grandchildren coming to know the Lord.’
- ‘Getting a bit older does bring its challenges. I’m involved in a number of other things still, and need wisdom in when to stop, when to carry on.’