As COVID-19 spread across the globe like a tidal wave, the BI consultants began to wonder how severely their travel to workshops would be affected. So much of our ministry depends upon face-to-face meetings with translators or literacy workers. How could the work continue if we couldn’t travel? God showed us the path He wanted us to take.
For some of us, workshops that were underway in Chad, Eurasia, and Myanmar had to end abruptly so we could get home to safety. One family had to cut short a visit to England on the way back to the US for furlough. They and another consultant have had to reschedule furlough meetings, while two families on deputation cancelled their meetings with the hopes of rescheduling later. Three consultants decided they could weather the storm better by relocating to the US, while other field-based consultants chose to shelter in place. One national consultant was separated from his family and couldn’t reunite because of the lockdown in his country. Another national consultant was in Israel studying and could only pray for his family back home. Thankfully, though, God led each of us to safe places, and we are staying healthy (at least to the point of writing this article).
Because of the lockdowns, consultants and national workers could no longer meet for workshops. Regarding workshops planned for March-July, a total of 17 workshops have been cancelled. Six other workshops were cancelled but rescheduled, including a necessary translator training session for the Asho Chin and Uppu Chin in Myanmar. In Chad, however, two workshops were conducted, because lockdown did not start there until early May. For some of our projects, the technology is such that workshops could continue via video conferencing or teleconferencing. Such is the case for eight of our projects. For all of our projects, though, national workers kept plodding away at the work even if they couldn't meet with us or even with each other. Three OT Storybooks and one trial edition were prepared for publication, and others are getting very close to being ready. One NT on the brink of submission has been delayed, but another NT and a Bible revision continue to march toward completion.
But what do consultants do during lockdown? Well, besides working with national workers to prepare the aforementioned texts for submission, we are spending more time on the development of tools. We've had more time to do significant revision to the Style Guide, OT Translator Training Manual, OT Poetry Translator Training Manual, and the Read-and-Review Committee Training Manual. Plus, we have made significant progress in developing our Translation Models in English and French (a translation filled with translator helps). In addition, having more workshops on the Internet has opened up the opportunity for other consultants to connect, including our consultants-in-training who need such workshop experience. These activities and many others that are occupying us will reap significant dividends in the long term.
God knows what's best for BI's consultants to be doing this year, and in His wisdom, He providentially redirected us to different tasks. His ways are perfect; it's only for us to align ourselves to His plan and trust Him for the results.