Imagine for a moment that you do not have the Bible in your language, that you have to learn another language and maybe even go to another culture or land to hear about God. This is the plight of people in nearly 2,000 language groups around the world who do not have even one scrap of the Bible. As the world population nears seven billion people, Johnson University and Pioneer Bible Translators have formed an educational partnership with the specific aims of providing Scriptures to those who do not have the Bible in their own language, planting churches among unreached peoples, and offering hope to those who are in need. In 2011, this partnership was just a vision. Today, the dream is reality.
Currently, over 1,967 languages do not have any part of the Scripture in their language. Pioneer Bible Translators is aggressively and systematically focusing on providing Scriptures and planting churches for the least reached of these people by the year 2050. Johnson University is providing the education as new recruits prepare to go to the field.
In 2012, Johnson University received accreditation approval from both SACSCOC and ABHE for the new fully online Intercultural Studies (Missions) academic programs. These programs provide a quality education to new recruits and experienced missionaries alike at the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Arts levels.
The online delivery system facilitates training for national and international missionaries working in PBT (and other missions) teams. Students are able to access their classes from anywhere in the world—whether they are recruits raising funds for their first trip, in language school, or seasoned missionaries who are desiring to expand their knowledge and capabilities. Currently, students in the new online B.A., B.S., and M.A. Intercultural Studies programs are located on five continents and numerous islands. They are recruits preparing for the field, national ministers seeking to reach across cultural boundaries to their neighbors, and seasoned missionaries. It has become common for students in these new online courses to be from a variety of countries and ethnic backgrounds, each contributing to the discussion and understanding of the group.
Drawing upon the experience of veteran missionaries and scholarly researchers, each course is crafted to build the student’s reservoir of theological and theoretical foundations for precise preparation for what the student encounters on the field. Course content and related required practical experience match the mission field needs. Highly educated and experienced PBT missionaries and trainers work hand in hand with Johnson University faculty to prepare mission recruits for teamwork, leaving for the field, and other issues relative to being a missionary. Together with the Johnson ICS faculty, who all have mission experience as well, the instruction contained in the programs is the most current and effective possible.
Response from students has been enthusiastic. Current student Sharon, who is preparing to work in Papua New Guinea, says,
The classes that I have taken at Johnson University have opened my eyes to a whole new world. I am walking toward being an overseas missionary, and being in their Intro to Linguistics course has given me a new respect for Bible translators. The class was amazing. There is so much detail; it is a fantastic course. I highly recommend (Johnson’s) online classes. I “know” my classmates just from all of the online communication. We are like a family; it is great! The professors at Johnson care about us. They are quick to respond when we need something and they are just as quick to offer prayers. They make us feel like a part of the family. I highly recommend taking courses from Johnson University. It will give you what you need to go out and do what God has called you to do.
The direct application to real life ministry and the added relationship building are great benefits to the students. The ICS student body is growing quickly, not only from Pioneer Bible Translators recruits, but also from other mission groups as well.
God is accelerating Bible translation and advancing his Kingdom around the world. Pioneer Bible Translators has grown from translating the Bible in 35 languages to 58 languages and from 185 to 356 teammates—and even more amazing is the fact that PBT has enough recruits in the pipeline to double those numbers. God is on the move! As a Great Commission university, the educational partnership between Johnson and PBT simply makes sense. Greg Pruett, president of PBT, recently shared in his blog,
It is 4:30 a.m. and the Islamic prayer call rings out on the loudspeakers. One hundred Christian students use that as their cue to assemble in their chapel to worship Jesus. This day a team member from Pioneer Bible Translators is their guest. He shares that in their country, where we have just begun working, 450 language groups do not have even one book of the Bible in their language. When he asks students how many speak a minority language, virtually every hand goes up. By the end of his message, 55 students express a keen interest in becoming Bible translators.
Johnson University has the capability to deliver education and training to those potential Bible translators as well as those in more developed areas. Together, we can reach the goal of providing a Bible for every language group.
People are waiting for the Bible. They are waiting to hear about Jesus. Johnson University and Pioneer Bible Translators are determined that they not have to wait long.
From Jim Bliffen, M.A. ICS student and Pioneer Bible Translator recruit:
I have really enjoyed my academic adventure in my online classes from Johnson University. The information gathered has been both informative and practical. I am enrolled in the Masters program for Intercultural Studies (Missions) in preparation for going on the field with Pioneer Bible Translators. The work I do in the online classes has enabled me to understand missions in a whole new light and is equipping me, as well as anything can, for a new cultural experience. The work is challenging yet fulfilling and useful. I am indebted to the staff and professors of Johnson University for their dedication, skill, and excellence in academics as they prepare men and women for greater service in the Kingdom of God.