Passing the Baton

"One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts" (Psalm 145:4). A concept that has recently been promoted in the business world is "cross-generational mentorship." The simplest definition is "pairing a person from one generation with a person from a different generation for the goal of mutual learning and growth" (Insala). This functions well in the workforce and in Christian discipleship. The older generation imparts wisdom to the younger while the younger generation imparts zeal to the older. Each learns from the other. Like most things, this concept has strengths and weaknesses. The business world promotes mixed-age employees cross-pollinating with different ideas, skills, and thoughts. As an example, it is obvious how much the older generation can learn from the younger generation in the fields of networking, computers, and information technology (IT).

However, cross-generational mentorship is different from "traditional mentorship." Traditional mentorship is an application of biblical mentoring and discipleship. One generation of believers passes the legacy of faith to the next generation by declaring the mighty works of God. If the older generation does not pass the baton to the next, we are in danger of duplicating the situation described in Judges 2:10, "And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel." The older generation has been charged by the Lord to impart knowledge of God’s awesome works to the next generation. Biblical mentorship is not optional.

Bible translation is a ministry that transcends generations. This work of God is monumental and must continue until every language group has a reliable copy of the Scriptures that they understand in their mother tongue. It is not an optional missions strategy, but an essential part of the Great Commission. If the baton of Bible translation is not carefully passed down, this aspect of God’s work will be unknown to future generations.

William Barrick, author of Understanding Bible Translation: Bringing God’s Word into New Contexts, states, "Long after the Bible translator or translation team has completed their work. Long after the missionaries have returned home. Decades after the translators have entered the presence of their Savior. Generations after the first publication of a Bible translation in a new language, the Bible continues on to produce spiritual fruit. Its words convert, instruct, encourage, strengthen, guide, and comfort generations of believers yet unborn. No other book possesses such power and potential." That power changes lives. This is why the words from missionary-linguist and founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, William Cameron Townsend, are so apropos: "The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue." It crosses all generations.

Ministry internships are designed to pass the baton of ministry to the next generation.

Internships are 2 Timothy 2:2 in real-life application. At Bibles International, an internship is a tremendous opportunity to impact lives through global missions in general and Bible translation specifically. Working with an experienced mentor allows the mighty acts of God to be passed down. Interns interested in the biblical languages, writing, communications, education, literacy, linguistics, computer science, IT, theology, and modern languages can all benefit. This summer, BI has hosted one of its largest groups of interns ever. Nine interns have gained training and experience in the Bible translation and linguistics world. Four went to Chad, three to Mexico, and two stayed in Grand Rapids to work online with the Haitian Creole. Please pray that our interns will catch the vision of this critical ministry and return as the next generation of missionaries.