In the Spring 2018 issue of Words for Life we interviewed Richard (whose surname we’re not using for security reasons) about his work encouraging engagement with the Bible in West Africa.
Here Richard tells us about how he became involved with Wycliffe:
‘I first became involved with Wycliffe as a short termer in 1992 through the equivalent of what is now called GradTeam. I had studied maths and computer science at university. I didn’t speak another language and I hadn’t been thinking at all about going overseas. But Ivan and Margaret Lowe from Wycliffe came to the university to talk about it - so that is how it started. I was particularly moved by the opportunity to use some of the gifts that God had given me to be able to help people get the Bible in their language.
‘So after university I spent a few months studying linguistics with Wycliffe and then travelled to Kenya for a year to work alongside some of the translation teams there. I knew at the end of that time that I would be coming back to work for the Lord in Africa one day – and most likely to be coming back to work in Bible translation. Back in London, I got a job in the computer industry working for a financial software company, all the time knowing that it should be a short-term thing and that after a few years I would be going to Bible college.
‘During my time at All Nations Christian College, I had the chance to do a placement with Wycliffe in East Africa. I was praying during that time that God would confirm the call to work in the linguistics part of the work of Bible translation. What was a big surprise to me was that after that placement I wasn’t at all sure if that was the right thing. I had expected the answer would obviously be “yes”. But something had changed in my life. I had become involved more in my church in leading Bible studies and in teaching the Bible to children. Someone told me that if I wanted to be involved in helping people learn from the Bible then maybe working with Wycliffe was not for me.
‘But something in my heart also said that I really want to be involved in helping people to get the Bible in their language. So I wrote to Wycliffe about my concerns and in the end was put in touch with Margaret Hill [who will be interviewed in the Summer 2018 Words for Life] who was the Scripture engagement coordinator for Africa. And Margaret was just the person I needed to talk to. She said: “Who told you that if you are in Wycliffe you won’t be able to help people in using the Bible? Because that is exactly what we need people to be doing!”
‘So the Lord brought Margaret into my life just at the right point. She really encouraged me through saying that “we are concerned that we have these translations that have been produced all over the world and it doesn’t mean automatically that they are going to be used. So we need people to encourage the use of the Scriptures.”
‘So that led me to work in encouraging people to use the translated Scriptures in West Africa, where I have now been for the last fourteen years.’