‘I was really thrilled that my sister Elizabeth wanted to leave a legacy for Bible translation,’ says Jean Peters, who spent 36 years serving in finance in Papua New Guinea.

‘At 60 years of age, and after 34 years of supporting me. Liz was finally able to come and visit me in Papua New Guinea in 2002, and she never stopped talking about it,’ Jean laughs.

‘I think she was most impressed by the people – the change of the gospel in them. She spent over a week with Helen Martin right up the Sepik River. Helen was a literacy worker, so she had gone to the village and taken my sister for a visit. So she got a sense of living in Papua New Guinea and all that’s involved in the work.’

Elizabeth knew how valuable giving the Scriptures was

‘I know that she knew how valuable giving the Scriptures was because of her support of me. She became a supporter of Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1967 when she took on the task of distributing my newsletters. Liz was a secretary and her manager kindly let her use the office typewriter and printer.

‘When I returned for my first furlough, Liz had married Ted who had a printing business; I then had first-class printed newsletters! Liz very kindly drove me and my equipment to many meetings, all while caring for her young baby, running a home and doing the business accounts.

‘From mid-1980, Liz gave time to helping our aging Mum, which meant that I was not called home to care for my Mother, which many single women are expected to do.’

Elizabeth (left) and Jean together at Christmas in 2018

Elizabeth supported Bible translation in a multitude of ways during her lifetime, and she found a way for that support to continue beyond her lifetime too.

‘Sadly Liz was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in February 2019, and the Lord took her home in December 2019. As Liz was 8 years younger than I, I lost my next of kin and helper. Her legacy to me is her children. Her eldest daughter and husband want me to live near them and so with their share of Liz’s legacy they have bought a house for me to rent.

She found a way to support Bible translation beyond her lifetime too

‘When she knew her time for leaving us was near, she told me that she wanted to leave a legacy to Wycliffe as she saw the need to support the work of Bible translation. I’m so glad she did it because through my family, the work is able to progress.

‘The thrilling thing is, I’ve been in contact with the director of the branch in Papua New Guinea. They’ve got a lot of oral Bible translation happening up the Sepik River, so her money is going to that.’

Elizabeth’s legacy will mean a great deal to people in this region, some of whom have been longing to begin Bible translation for many years. In early 2017, participants of an oral Bible storytelling workshop in the Sepik area demonstrated the fervency of their desire for the Scriptures.

In a muddy river, two people sit on a log, holding baggage tied to it. About eleven others swim nearby, some holding onto the log as they swim.
People brave the swollen Nuku River to attend an oral Bible storytelling workshop – so that they can share the word of God with their people in their own language

The workshop was scheduled in Wewak, capital of the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. Deb Smucker, a Bible storytelling trainer in the Sepik, shared: ‘Some of the Nuku area language groups in the Sandaun province have been waiting for years for someone to help get God’s word into their language. Due to significant rains in the area, swollen rivers and muddy roads made the trip to Wewak a challenge for many of the participants.’

Jumping into a river was a small thing compared to telling these life-changing stories

But jumping into a river and clinging to a log was a small thing for them compared to the opportunity to begin telling these life-changing stories.

Through the dedication of men and women like them, and the generous support of people like Elizabeth, many more people will soon be able to hear of Jesus in their own languages.

Bryony Lines

Header photo: Jean (left, aged 37) and Elizabeth (right, aged 29). Taken on Jean’s first visit back to the UK from Papua New Guinea in 1972.

If you are interested in learning more about leaving a legacy to Wycliffe, click below for more information and to request a free, no-obligation legacy pack.


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