"I will not leave Burma until the cross is planted here forever." These words of determination from Adoniram Judson, American linguist and pioneer missionary to Burma (now Myanmar), reveal a confident faith in God's eternal plan of redemption. Upon arriving in Rangoon (now Yangon) in 1813, Judson proceeded to plant a church, establish schools, train preachers, write a Burmese dictionary, and most notably, complete a translation of the Bible in Burmese. His labors were stained with his own blood as he endured repeated torture and imprisonment by the Burmese. His brutal sufferings drew him closer to the Lord, and he later testified, "There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success it is because someone will succeed after you." Despite being alone, Judson possessed a team mindset. Throughout his ministry, he was committed to combining his translation and literacy work with church planting.
Characterized by suffering, tears, sweat, bloodshed, and anguish, God's work in Asia provides a sobering reminder that the blood shed by our Savior on the cross would become a model for those who follow Him. Just as the crucifixion preceded resurrection power, the death of the believers has always preceded life. On my first trip to Southeast Asia in 2013, I saw firsthand the evidences of Christ's fingerprints upon the people of that land. The Myanmar that Judson embraced still presents a vibrant testimony of God's grace today, but millions remain in darkness, untouched by the work of God's Spirit.
Upon my initial visit to Myanmar, I became fascinated by how the believers obeyed the Great Commission. Judson saw the need for three very critical things: church planting, theological education, and Bible translation, so he actively engaged in all three. Historically, this triad of ministries has strengthened the church of Jesus Christ. The church must reproduce itself, but how can that occur without trained leaders (theological education) and the translated Scriptures? Ministries started by men like Dr. Timothy Mang in Myanmar clearly reflect this methodology. How can church planting be accomplished without trained leaders? How can leaders be fully trained without the Word of God? How can the Word of God equip the saints to do the work of the ministry without the community and discipleship found in the church? We need all three working together. Until the church has fully obeyed the instructions in Matthew 28:18-20, the work of missions is not complete. Therefore, the ongoing work of Bible translation remains critical in Southeast Asia.
Since all three components depend heavily upon one another, would you pray that the efforts of Bible translation at Bibles International would work in a unified cooperation with church planting and theological education? I hear the voice of BI’s founder, Paul Versluis, ringing in my ears when he said, "If one would look for the most challenging task that you could do in partnership with God, it would be found in the provision of Scriptures for those who do not have it, for it gives light and dispels the spiritual darkness of this world. It is, has been, and must be priority as far as ministry is concerned. The provision of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever, is a ministry which is the basis of all other ministries, for all depend upon the Word of God. It is the seed which brings forth eternal life." This is our passion. The time is urgent. Would you partner with us as we obey our Savior?