A natural fit

As a volunteer with Wycliffe Canada, Miguel Montes serves in a role that some might call tailor-made. When he’s not working at his main job as a field service engineer for a scientific company in Kelowna, B.C., he devotes a couple of days a week to his role as a field partner liaison (FPL), serving both Wycliffe Canada and a Bible translation partner agency in Peru known as AIDIA.

Miguel’s volunteer role with Wycliffe is a natural fit: he grew up in Peru, he loves serving God and he is thrilled to play a part in the Bible translation movement. From his home in Kelowna, he monitors ministry updates and financial reports generated by AIDIA (pronounced idea) to help ensure clear communication between the field and the Wycliffe Canada office. 

And from time to time, Miguel travels to Peru to see the project up close and strengthen relationships with AIDIA leaders and staff. 

“The main reason for my role is to help bridge cultural differences—differences that go beyond  paperwork and contracts,” says Miguel.

Life-changing encounter

As a child, Miguel lived in the city of Arequipa, Peru, with his parents and two siblings in a large housing complex that included room for his grandparents and other family members. Growing up, he believed in God but his views were influenced by a cult that denied the Trinity and asserted that Jesus was created by God. For Miguel, those false teachings and others eventually raised some disturbing questions and fears that God was neither trustworthy, nor good.  

However, after moving to Calgary in 2016, his questions about God were finally laid to rest when he began attending a local church. Through many  conversations with people there and much prayer, God met him in a powerful way.

“When the power of the Holy Spirit came into my life,” Miguel said recently in a Zoom call, “it made me realize there is more to being a Christian than just being a good person. 

“It’s being chosen for something greater.”

A servant’s heart

As Miguel grew in his understanding of God and what it means to follow Jesus, he looked for ways to serve the Lord with his talents and skills. While living in Calgary, he volunteered with Immigrant Services and the city food bank. There were many opportunities to meet people from various backgrounds, something he very much enjoyed. 

Then Miguel had a conversation with Wycliffe Canada’s past president, Roy Eyre, whom he had met at church. Roy introduced Miguel to AIDIA, a Wycliffe partner in South Peru that advances Bible translation and literacy in the region. The conversation led Miguel to apply as a volunteer with Wycliffe Canada—and to a divinely orchestrated ministry role as a “bridge builder” between the AIDIA team, Wycliffe staff in Canada and Canadian donors who support AIDIA’s work.

Last year, Miguel visited language projects in Peru’s Apurímac region and was deeply impressed by the progress of AIDIA’s work there. In addition to Bible translation, its workers give sacrificially to serve isolated communities through literacy classes, pastoral training and more.

“I see God’s hand in all of this. I couldn’t have received a better volunteer position than this.
This is exactly what I’m good at.”

– Miguel montes

“They have great infrastructure within their departments and the staff go out to the field often. There is also a great Christian school. It isn’t stagnant, it is always busy. 

“AIDIA is like a mother ship, with multiple ministry partners, like Wycliffe, using [AIDIA’s] facilities to work efficiently in supporting communities.”

No easy journeys

Miguel says travelling in Peru can be challenging, but he sees it as just part of the job. For example, Abancay, the capital of Apurímac Region, is nestled in a deep valley between high mountains, therefore it doesn’t have an airport. The nearest one is in Cusco, which is a four-hour drive away.

Trucks navigate gravel roads in Apurimac province, Peru. Photo by Ruth Richert.

Getting to AIDIA’s newest translation initiative, Pastaza, will also be challenging. The Wycliffe Canada focus project, which aims to translate the full Bible for the Southern and Northern Pastaza Quechua people, is located in a hard-to-reach jungle region in the Amazon rainforest of northeastern Peru. It can only be accessed by boat or small float planes.

If all goes well, Miguel hopes to make his first visit to Pastaza soon, to encourage the local translation team, review their progress and help address any barriers to the work. Miguel and Pastor Luis, AIDIA’s director, are exploring the possibility of renting or buying a boat to help translators and other staff traverse the rivers in the Pastaza region. 

In the meantime, Miguel is working with AIDIA to facilitate the printing of the whole Bible in Eastern Apurímac Quechua. His efforts are building yet another bridge, between AIDIA and the Brazilian Bible Society, to ensure that the Bible will be printed as soon as possible.

In future, Miguel hopes to get training so he can more effectively share the work of AIDIA and Wycliffe Canada with churches in British Columbia. “It is in my heart, and I hope it’s something that will happen in the near future.”

The port at San Lorenzo, Loreto province, where the Pastaza translation teams are based. Photo by Ruth Richert.

Through his work at  Wycliffe, Montes sees God’s kingdom in action and couldn’t have asked for a better situation. 

“I see God’s hand in all of this. I couldn’t have received a better volunteer position than this. This is exactly what I’m good at. I hope we will have more opportunities to serve the Lord and provide Bibles for people who need them, and I know it changes lives. 

“It’s God’s Word.” 

Story by Josiah Navratil and Doug Lockhart

What’s your fit? Contact us today to explore a volunteer role or internship with Wycliffe Canada