When I joined Wycliffe in 2008, I was required to go to a training seminar, which included a class on “partnership development”. I’ll admit, I rolled my eyes a little. I wondered if were we really asking for “partners” or just money? The class opened my eyes. I truly saw that what we are asking for is partnership. Through my transition to Pioneer Bible Translators, the idea of partnership has remained paramount in the way we think and talk about our financial and prayer partners.
The dictionary definition of a partner is “a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.” Those who pray and give are taking an active role in the mission of “Transformed Lives Through God’s Word in Every Language.” They are taking risks with us as we attempt big things for God, and they reap the rewards of spreading Christ’s name through the nations.
Those who go would not be able to do so without the help of those who stay. An example is the military’s “tooth-to-tail” ratio. This term refers to the number of combat soldiers (the “teeth”) to the number of support workers (the “tail”). Currently in the US, the tooth-to-tail ratio is about 17%. That means for every 17 soldiers, there are about 83 support personnel! These people do things like administration, recruiting, accounting, IT, and many other jobs.
Likewise, in missions, those who are called to go are like the “teeth”. But they also need a “tail” to keep them on the field – administrators, recruiters, accounting, IT, AND those who pray and give. All of these people are necessary to the final goal of Bible translation.
As I studied, I saw that Paul also considered those who gave to his ministry to be partners. In the book of Philippians, Paul commends the Philippians for their gifts to his ministry. He also considers them to be his partners in his evangelistic work, saying, “In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…” (Philippians 1:4-5, emphasis mine).
Now that I have been working in Bible translation for a few years and I am charged with the task of reaching 100% of my support goals, I love the idea of partnership even more. Each person I talk to has the potential to be part of this amazing mission to bring God’s word around the world. Those of you who read my newsletter, pray, and give are already part of this mission, and I am proud to call you my partners!