Sacrficial Service

21 Nov 2023

What was it like to go through the process of becoming Pioneers member?

I first heard about Pioneers in 1998 when I was studying at the Bible College of Victoria (now MST), preparing to be a Bible translator. Even though I was expecting to serve with another organisation, Russell Briggs, a Pioneers mobiliser, was continually encouraging me on my mission journey. He said he didn’t mind which agency I went with, he just wanted to see me where God wanted me to be. I so appreciated his support and personal interest through my years of study when I was trying to work out where God wanted me to serve and with which organisation! When I finally made my decision, I realised that Pioneers was the one I could marry! I still remember my interview. I went out to lunch at with Tim Meyers, Simon Longden and Rod White and had a great relaxed chat. When we got back to the office I asked, “So, when are you going to interview me?” They laughed, “We did, over lunch!” Things were pretty relaxed!

What were your first impressions on the field?

I loved learning the language!! I found the local people incredibly friendly, and although at times I became exhausted engaging for long periods of time, I also remember that when I was feeling down, homesick or alone, hanging out with local people was usually the best antidote. Another big impression was Americans! I was the only Aussie in our area at that time, and I was on an all-American team. They were so kind – always making a big effort to ask about Australia, to include me in their families, and to support me as a single. I was challenged by their generosity and the genuine affirmation they gave – a bit different to the Aussie ‘put down’ humour I was used to.

Sadly, the events of September 11, 2001, left a big impression too. That act of terrorism occurred eight weeks after my arrival on the field, and changed everything, bringing much fear. My team had already been traumatised by violent riots against Christians 18 months earlier, and now the tensions between Christians and Muslims worldwide were at an all-time-high. I lived with an evacuation bag packed next to my door for at least twelve months, ready to leave quickly if the local people turned on us – but thankfully that never happened.

How has ministry/mission changed over the years?

Two very significant changes are that my team is now all local people, and my role is now more supporting local leadership rather than leading the local team.

Probably the biggest change in our area of ministry – Bible translation – has been the changing use of technology. We are working in a very sensitive area, so using printed copies of the Bible is risky for our partners who are reaching out the Eswe people – but having the Bible on phones or online opens myriad new opportunities. Working remotely is also now easy and effective. COVID saw me stranded in Australia for two years, but we were able to continue working together on Zoom, and in fact got more translation done in those years than in any previous year! Now I am working from Australia about 60% of the time, connecting with the team most days thanks to technology.

What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to:

  • – seeing my national colleagues running the project and telling me what to do!
  • – the translation of the New Testament into the Eswe language finally completed!
  • – more and more Eswe people hearing God’s Word in their heart language and seeing God transforming their lives.

And, most of all, I am looking forward to one day, standing around the throne, worshipping Jesus alongside thousands of Eswe people among others from every nation, tribe and tongue!

JB | A Pioneers Member

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap the harvest if we do not give up’ Galatians 6:9

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