Shalom to you all from Jerusalem. I am Bob Carter, the new Executive Director of JCBT. It is a privilege to write to you in this newsletter. And it is a privilege to serve our Lord through JCBT in Jerusalem. Serving God in Israel has been a long-time dream for me and my wife Amy, and we thank God for leading us to this opportunity. Throughout the world, more and more language communities are asking for help to have the whole Bible in their languages. And that means the need for help with Old Testament translation is increasing more and more. There is so much work to be done, with God’s help.
Amy and I have served with Wycliffe Bible Translators for 39 years. We have five believing adult children who are all married to believers and 12 grandchildren. We’re so grateful that the Lord has held them close for all these years. For 25 years we were assigned to serve with SIL International in South Asia, West Asia, and the South Pacific. Before we went to the South Pacific, we had the privilege of coming to Jerusalem in 1994-1996 where I completed a MA in Hebrew Bible Translation. I have been focusing on Old Testament translation since then. Our project in the South Pacific was to help translate the Old Testament into Pijin, the national language of the Solomon Islands. God helped us so much, and we were able to dedicate the whole Bible in 2008.
Starting in 2010, we began a new Wycliffe assignment with Seed Company. I serve as a Translation Consultant and a Consultant Trainer. Seed Company supports mother tongue translation projects all over the world, and my focus has been on translation consulting and training translators in Nigeria and South Asia. Since 2012, I have worked mostly with three Old Testament translation teams in South Asia. Two of these teams have finished their Old Testaments and the third team has several years to go. I am also involved in training six teams that have recently finished their New Testaments and are now in the early stages of translating the Old Testament. We have designed a series of five OT workshops for them, and we are planning to hold the fourth one in February 2024.
I am also involved in translation consultant training. Since 2016, in partnership with JCBT, Seed Company has provided Hebrew and Old Testament training to 69 translation consultants from Seed Company, SIL, and other Bible translation organizations. I have also been involved in South Asia and Southeast Asia in training consultants-in-training from more than 30 countries in those areas and elsewhere.
It was when we were in Israel in the 1990s that we first met Halvor and Mirja Ronning. We have been friends since then. I’ve taught several times in JCBT Semester Programs, and we share the same vision for training Bible translation personnel in the Language of the Bible and the Land of the Bible. This is why Halvor and Mirja asked me to become the new Executive Director. With God’s help, we will continue to do His work through JCBT.
Amy and I came to Jerusalem in time to join the students in this year’s Semester Program as they arrived in Israel for the three months of in-person courses. There are 11 students from 9 different countries, from Philippines in the east all the way to Haiti in the west. April was very busy with the Land of the Bible course. It included 18 days of field trips throughout the Land and various lectures. What a rich experience is was for the students! They literally traveled from “Dan to Beersheba” (1 Kings 4:25) and even farther south, through the wilderness all the way to Eilat on the Red Sea. The course was very tiring though, so please pray for God to renew their energy for the Living Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Analysis courses that have already started.
In April, Halvor and I were able to go to the Forum of Bible Agencies International (FOBAI) conference in Athens Greece. Halvor went to introduce me to the other members and to see some of them for perhaps the last time since he is retiring. It was a stimulating time, and I was a little surprised at how much enthusiasm there was among the attendees for Hebrew and Old Testament translation. I had opportunities to share the vision of JCBT and the opportunities we offer to Bible translation personnel from all over the world. There were several deaf translation groups there and we are hoping that we can have a special two-week Land of the Bible course for them. I also talked with the director of a Bible translation organization in Russia, and she also wants to send a group to JCBT for the Land of the Bible course. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go and speak with so many colleagues who are following God’s call in Bible translation.
Allow me to finish by asking you to pray. Satan really hates the work of Bible translation because God’s Word through the Holy Spirit is the greatest threat to him and his evil work in this life. So please pray that God would stop all of his attacks against JCBT, the students, and the staff. Please pray for the teachers as they equip these precious students to go back to their countries to train others. Pray for the students who are working so hard. And pray for all of us on staff as we make the transition from Halvor and Mirja’s leadership to a whole new way of leading the work of JCBT. We praise God for our Finnish partners! May God richly bless you.