Bibles International (BI) is the Bible Society of Baptist Mid-Missions (BMM), an independent Baptist mission agency whose mission is to strategically advance the building of Christ’s church, with His passion and for His glory, in vital partnership with Baptist churches worldwide. This relationship between BMM and BI is a natural, a protecting, and a strengthening bond for Bibles International, whose vital role is to provide God’s Word for people who currently have no reliable Scripture in their language.
It is most natural for Bibles International to be part of Baptist Mid-Missions. What is now a Bible Society called Bibles International had its inception in the initial team of six Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries who courageously penetrated the interior of French Equatorial Africa (now CAR) in the early 1920's. These were pioneer servants envisioning the fullness of ministry – souls to be saved, disciples to be made, churches to be organized, and leaders to be trained. They pleaded with the Lord for His help with language. To learn it. To speak it. To write it. And ever before them was the awareness that for genuinely fruitful ministry to happen, the people would need to have Scripture in their own language – God’s Word, accurate, and their own! Thus, translation work became part of their regular ministry. Former Baptist Mid-Missions President, Dr. Vernon L. Rosenau, himself a grandchild of two of these original BMM missionaries, recalled of his early years: "I remember as a child sitting on the steps and looking in the door at the language committee room and listening to these missionaries month upon month, year upon year." It took 35 years to complete this project—a monumental achievement.
But not just in the Central African Republic. In Ghana, India, Venezuela, Brazil – and the list continues – BMM missionaries recognized the integral connection between an accurate translation of God's Word in the people’s heart language and the development of vibrant, strong, growing churches. They purposefully invested intensive effort into translation ministry. Seeing the valuable opportunity of a Bible Society that would empower gifted linguists to produce accurate versions of Scripture, Baptist Mid-Missions leaders launched Bibles International in 1981. Bible translation is part of BMM's church-planting DNA. It is most fitting and natural that Bibles International serves as part of Baptist Mid-Missions.
It is protective for Bibles International to be part of Baptist Mid-Missions. Bible translation is part of God's preservation of His Word. Imperative for producing trustworthy versions of Scripture is doctrinal integrity. A strong process requires translators who encompass both linguistic excellence and sound doctrinal training. The relationship between Bibles International and Baptist Mid-Missions emboldens this combination. As team members of the Bible Society of BMM, Bibles International personnel are BMM missionaries who undergo the application and careful interviewing process customary for all BMM personnel. This includes providing a clear testimony of salvation, mature Christian character, and a convincing call to vocational ministry. They must also evidence excellent, appropriate linguistic training as needed. And every potential candidate must express their doctrinal beliefs in written form as well as defend the same orally before a committee of BMM's governors and administrators. Baptist Mid-Missions is unequivocal in regard to doctrine. When churches or individuals consider Bibles International team members for support, they can have confidence in their qualification, preparation, and sound doctrine. And they can be assured that in staying the course of linguistic excellence and doctrinal purity, accurate versions of God’s Word will be continually produced.
It is strengthening for Bibles International to be part of Baptist Mid-Missions. Scripture translation is more than an academic exercise resulting in a written document. It provides the living body of truth from the living God. A translator is benefitted by the continual contemplation of all that God does through His Word. Serving as part of a bigger team – a mission family – fosters such awareness. Within a ministry dedicated to strategically advancing the building of Christ's church, the BI team is a part, not the whole. This provides exposure to and interaction with those serving in other ministries such as church planting, theological training, and campus ministry. It also helps reinforce the obvious reality that Scripture is essential in all ministry. A young, hopeless addict needs Scripture's message of salvation. So does the intelligent collegiate who is manifesting rebellion through atheistic proclamations. The new believer learning to walk with their Savior needs Scripture. Leaders whom God would train to use as pastors and deacons need Scripture. Every aspect of ministry, every phase of ministry, every opportunity for ministry needs Scripture. Indeed, all people need Scripture!
Likewise, BI's example of tireless dedication to their task reciprocates encouragement to the other ministry teams of Baptist Mid-Missions. Their focus on people groups and languages for which there is, as yet, no reliable translation of God's Word, is a continual reminder of all the unfinished works before us as Jesus Christ builds His church. Belonging to the BMM family of ministry teams affords BI a strengthening and mutually beneficial fellowship that stokes passionate service for God’s glory.
Baptist Mid-Missions delights to have a Bible Society within its family of ministry teams – a valued treasure called Bibles International. -D.F.