"This was the greatest highlight of my personal ministry." These words were stated by Les Heinze, former pastor of Red Rocks Baptist Church, after 47 years of pastoral ministry. He was referring to the Adopt-a-Language (AAL) program of Bibles International (BI). Les and a church deacon attended the dedication of the Akha New Testament in Thailand. The church had adopted that project, but they were convinced that they could not possibly raise the needed $90,000. However, God used the AAL program to increase their faith. He provided the entire amount, and they celebrated God’s goodness. Witnessing the breathtaking joy of the Akha people was overwhelming for Pastor Heinze.
The AAL program is a ministry of partnership for individuals and churches to underwrite an entire translation project or a portion of one. Churches often express a desire to help with the translation process, so the AAL program was created for that purpose. Adopting a project allows a church to have a direct relationship with a people group by channeling funds into providing translated Scripture for them. Several pastors who led their churches to adopt a language project shared with me some of the rich blessings their churches received.
First, AAL can cultivate a passion for God’s Word corporately. It is moving to hear testimonies of those who receive the Bible in their language after years of waiting, praying, and laboring. Some national translators have endured political upheavals, religious persecution, agricultural disasters, and civil wars, but quitting has never been an option. They tenaciously labor so their people will possess a Bible. Still, they struggle because they lack the financial resources to sustain such a venture. Their passion for God's Word is infectious. Listening to those who hunger for God's Word, or watching their tears when they finally receive their translated Bible, can only cause a local church to desire that same passion. Do the cares of this world cause you to take your Bible for granted? Adoption can cultivate a passion for God’s Word within your local church.
Second, AAL can motivate the church body toward a giving mindset. Members of West Cannon Baptist Church in Michigan celebrated their 100th anniversary highlighting the faithfulness of God. Pastor Doug Crawford said, "It was a time for us as a church to give a gift back to God." He emphasized the mindset of giving. They adopted the Songhay New Testament in Mali by giving $500 for each chapter in the New Testament. As each chapter was supplied, they inserted a tile into a beautiful mosaic as a reminder of God’s grace. That same year, First Baptist Church of Rochester emphasized the importance of Scripture. Pastor Mark Cizauskas stated, "God’s Word needs to be available to everybody. We cannot do everything, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something." They also adopted the Songhay. Marc Herron, pastor of First Baptist Church in Caro, Michigan, led his church to adopt a project in Myanmar. He said, "The AAL project helped our church look beyond ourselves and our ease of access to the Bible in our own language. By supporting Bible translations, we are giving an immeasurable gift that will affect untold numbers of peoples until the coming of Christ. This is an eternal investment." A giving mindset can transform a church. AAL can motivate to that end.
Third, AAL can strengthen and unify the local church via God’s Word. The early church "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42) and “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). The Word of God grew mightily and prevailed. What will strengthen the faith of a local church or deeply unify its members, apart from the Word of God? Pastor David Totman of Faith Baptist Church in Florida led his church to adopt the Dendi Bible in Benin. "It was a unifying season for our church. Six weeks before taking our offerings, we began to bathe our giving in prayer to see what God would do." The combined effort of the church accomplished much. God answered every prayer, and the church was strengthened in its faith. Dan Brabson, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Pennsylvania, said, "Adopting the revision of the Matu Chin New Testament provided a unifying opportunity to give and also served as a beneficial reminder of the value of God’s Word." Beth Eden Baptist Church in Colorado adopted a project in Asia. "It was compelling for us as a church to visit our people in Asia. It was an opportunity for our church to pass on the riches that we enjoy at our fingertips every day. We were deeply moved!"
Fourth, AAL can provide a venue to maximize fellowship between churches. "We can do more together!" Former pastor and chairman of a fellowship of churches in Colorado, Steve Anderson, emphatically stated this after asking the question, "What can we do together that will be of eternal value?" Their fellowship of churches wanted to do more by fostering a sense of unity and cooperation. They adopted the Day Bible in Chad. They pulled their resources together and helped the project cross the finish line. Other churches have worked together to make a larger impact. "Team" Adopt-a-Language (TAAL) allows churches to partner with one another to adopt a project so that they meet their financial goals together. This common ministry strengthens and unifies church fellowships.
Finally, AAL can reveal the character of God through answered prayer. What a blessing when an entire church enjoys the fruit of their investment. One church was blessed when a child gave 62 cents. They saw the power of God displayed through answered prayer. Some of these church members visited the people they had adopted and came back changed. They witnessed God’s love, grace, and incredible power as He answered their prayers and accomplished abundantly more than they thought was possible.
Our God is the living God who continues to answer prayer today. Will you join these churches and adopt a Bible translation project for a people group that is still waiting? If you are interested in knowing more, contact us and allow us to guide you through the process.