Are You Ready?
So you’re a student…
sitting there in a maze of classes.
Wondering how and when you’ll use your stacks of notes and hours of studying. Trying to decide which courses to fit into your already busy schedule. Wishing for someone with some advice about it all. Searching for direction to serve God overseas or right here in Canada.
May we make some suggestions?
How does Wycliffe Bible Translators relate to you? Yes, YOU! There could be a place for you in Wycliffe. Check it out! We are looking for people who have the conviction that everyone ought to have GOD’S WORD in their own language. People who are willing to give their time, talents, skills and lives to do something about that conviction. People who are… just like you!
Do more than consider. Have you heard the story about the four birds in a tree? One decided to fly away. How many were left? Three? Wrong! Four. Why? He only decided to fly away, but hadn’t done anything about it yet. The decision is a start, but you’ve got to keep going.
Through our online community, cafe.wycliffe.ca, you can connect with other young adults who are passionate about missions. You can also interact with current mission workers. You’ll find ways to plug in and get the encouragement you need as you prepare for future involvement—now.
Don’t wait. There’s no reason to sit on the sidelines when YOU can get in on the action.
Step 1: Personal Development
You can get involved… starting right now if you haven’t already. Be where God wants you to be. Also, be who God wants you to be. It’s all about character, not just skills and talents. The following are suggestions to that end.
Cultivate Your Time With God
Immerse yourself in the Bible. Discover God’s heart for the nations. Develop a friendship with your Lord that will sustain you anywhere. Learn to talk with Him—there may come times when He will be the ONLY one who understands your heart. Cultivate the discipline that will make your personal time with the Lord a priority, regardless of schedule changes. Somehow we find time for meals, sleep and everything else we consider important—except time with God. Sad. We frequently leave out the spiritual nourishment that we need most in our lives. Feed on the Word, often and deeply.
Spread the Vision
Find others in your church or school with a growing passion for missions. Join or start a prayer group. Participate on your church’s missions committee and help to organize special events with a missions focus. Start saving your money to attend inspiring conferences like Urbana or MissionFest. Encourage others to attend with you. Go on a short-term mission trip. Participate in mission events at your church with other students.
Strengthen Your People Skills
Become friends with people of other religions and cultures—ask them about their lives, spend time with them, invite them to your home. Learn to work with people as part of a team and don’t run from uncomfortable situations. Study some psychology and find out from the pros what motivates people. What makes people tick? And what ticks them off? Working with others is the greatest challenge—and gives the greatest reward. Find yourself a mentor and enter into an accountability relationship. Look for someone who can give clear, wise, godly advice and counsel as you tackle the tough issues.
Simplify Your Lifestyle
Practise contentment. Budget your money wisely. Keep school debt to a minimum and avoid piling up credit card debt on things like clothes, cars and travel.
Read widely on a variety of subjects. Subscribe to a mission magazine like Word Alive. Keep an eye on what is happening in the world and in missions. Read missionary biographies to learn from men and women who have been where you want to go. The Café Wycliffe community will give you some recommendations and a chance to discuss what you’ve read.
Volunteer in a Mission
Volunteer to serve at a mission office, homeless shelter or other ministry in your city. There are many ways to get involved. Help out as an administrative assistant, computer specialist, or even a snow blower! Working side-by-side with missionaries in a local ministry could be an eye-opening experience.
Get to Know a Missionary
Get involved! Host missionaries in your home to get to know them better. Ask tons of questions. Exchange pictures. Visit their blogs, sign up for their newsletters. Listen to them and find out what passion drives them. Pray for their needs on a daily basis to be an active partner with them. You’ll be richer and wiser because of it. And what about your money? Consider giving up a CD or a new sweater to contribute to a missionary’s support. It’s an investment that blesses you as well as them.
Run for Your Life
Or snowboard, bike or swim for your life. Seriously, the life of a missionary is demanding. Stamina and physical fitness are important keys to living through it. And now is the time to start. Balance your food intake and get set to face any challenge that comes your way. You will never regret it! On the other hand, do everything in moderation and don’t let diet and/or fitness become a god to you.
Set High Standards for Yourself…
This one is huge in the context of our culture. We’re not looking for perfection, but the enemy is looking for a foothold. Commit yourself to moral purity. Devote your computer to God and stay far away from porn in all its forms. Establish biblical standards in respect to your dress, attitudes and relationships with others. Decide before you’re in a situation to honour God and apply these standards. Date only those who share your standards and vision. Choose your friends carefully, making sure to include those who share your interest in missions and can enlarge your worldview.
Get Rid of Cultural “Junk Food”
There are some really valuable things for us in our culture, but there are also things that are more like junk food. What entertainment is stunting or destroying your relationship to Christ? Aim for quality when watching TV and surfing the net. Set realistic time limits. Make sure that what you are watching is really worth your time. It’s amazing what things can be seen as okay by our culture and yet really draw us away from the Lord and the view of life He wants us to have. Also be careful about the kind of parties you go to, the things you do and what you spend your money on. Try to take the good stuff out of our culture and leave the junk alone.
Step 2: Education
If you’re in university or college, or headed there, you’re required to take certain classes, right? You have to select a major, and maybe a minor, and if you’re lucky you’ll have room for a few electives. So how do you pick your electives? The fact that Dr. Cinch’s class is only 1.5 hours per week, with no papers might not be the best criteria. Let us recommend some electives which may not be the easiest route, but they’re a better way to go. Wycliffe staff aren’t required to take all of the courses listed below. Many haven’t, but lots wish they had.
Know Your Heart
Many of the people helping to ensure that Bible translation happens aren’t linguists, and don’t even want to be. God has given each person unique talents and interests. The job of translating Scriptures requires a diversified team of support personnel working behind the scenes to accomplish the task. For example, teachers, computer programmers, managers, accountants, administrators and communication specialists are all part of the Bible translation team. Look at the examples of current needs on our website and see what God inspires you to work towards.
If you are interested in a specific area of the world, study its national or trade language, like Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, French or Russian. The practice and discipline will be good for you. There are two secrets to language learning: keep yourself motivated, and be willing to make lots of mistakes. Remember, language learning is ministry. If you want to do linguistics, translation or literacy, consider studying Greek and/or Hebrew if you have the opportunity. These will put you far ahead no matter what you do, and especially if you go into Bible translation.
For future linguists, taking a university course such as “Introduction to Linguistics” is a good start. Take phonetics right off the bat… and any other linguistics courses you can get into. Remember that there are several theories of linguistics. Whichever theory you learn, you can supplement it with the practical how-to-do-it stuff from Wycliffe later on. For information on studying at CanIL, Wycliffe’s training program in Canada, visit canil.ca.
Cultures are rich and fascinating! Remember that your way is not the only way—it is just one way. Learn to deeply appreciate other people groups and to relate Christ to a different culture without Western overtones. It’s worth the effort.
If any specific area of the world is on your heart, learn all you can about it. Check out the geography of that region along with its history and cultures. Find ways to interact with people from there and begin to appreciate new ways of thinking and doing things. Learn to cook the foods, sew the clothes, build the houses. Get into it!
Wycliffe Training Schools
In Canada we are fortunate to have two locations for linguistic training: Canada Institute of Linguistics in Langley, B.C., and Tyndale University College in Toronto, Ont. Both offer summer programs and BA degrees in Linguistics. CanIL also offers graduate programs.
Check out sil.org/training for a list of training possibilities in 17 countries.
Useful Stuff 101
You can never be sure of all that you might need to know. Every missionary should have some basic knowledge of photography and journalism for communication with the folks back home.
Step 3: Deeper Involvement
Don’t stop now. You’ve come a long way, but we’re not quite through. The personal development ideas and the scholastic ideas are things that you can work on right now. But there is more in your future.
Serve in Your Local Church
There’s no better place to grow spiritually and “practise” serving others than your local church. Most churches offer plenty of opportunities to serve through evangelistic outreach programs, ministries to children and youth, summer camps, etc. Plugging in to a local fellowship can lead to the formation of lifelong friendships and give you deeper awareness and understanding of the challenges people face in their everyday lives. “Serving the church” may sound noble, but it usually involves plain old hard work, commitment and perseverance—especially through the “dry times” when you don’t feel noticed or appreciated. It’s a great way to prepare for the challenges of missionary service, by learning to lean on God for the joy, strength and encouragement that only He can provide.
Begin a Missions Action Group
Find like-minded individuals on your campus or in your church who have a heart for missions and begin meeting together. Have missions-focused prayer meetings and Bible study. Check out the resources available. Make use of Wycliffe videos and books to inform and challenge people in churches, Sunday school classes and small group events. Attend different workshops and seminars offered by missions groups.
Support a Missionary
Get involved in a prayer/advocacy group for a missionary. Commit to begin financially supporting a missionary or ministry. You can do this individually or as a college or church student group. No money available? Why not support a missionary rather than the fast food industry?
Join the Café Wycliffe Community
There’s a huge gap between the number of people who feel God is calling them into missions and those that finally go. Life and the enemy have ways of taking people in other directions. Plug into a community of people who will encourage you to keep the vision and the action alive. Visit cafe.wycliffe.ca.