Once a Missionary, Always a Missionary
By Melissa Paredes, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA
Missionary life is all Josh* has ever known. Born to Wycliffe missionaries John and Carol, Josh spent much of his childhood in a Kadiya village of South Asia, located 120 miles from the end of the bus road. Often the family had to hike that 120 miles to reach their remote home, a trek that would take six to seven days!
Growing up, Josh would often sit around the fire with the villagers, listening to them read portions of the Bible in their language for the very first time.
“They would start crying,” Josh shared. “They would say things like, ‘We didn’t know our language could say such beautiful things.’ That just always impressed me. I grew up thinking this is what my life has to be about.”
Flash forward to 1992, when Josh joined Wycliffe and headed back to South Asia to start translating among the southern Kadiya dialect — a new project that was related to the one his parents served in. “I can’t remember a time I wasn’t headed toward translation,” he shared.
But God had other ideas in mind. Josh’s dreams of translation were cut short when the two men he was to work with were accused of being insurgents and later executed. As the insurgency raged in the area of the southern Kadiyas, access to the village area was all but impossible. As a result, even the initial steps of translation were never achieved. Rocked by this unexpected turn of events, Josh was assigned to another language project nearby. But the insurgency soon spread to that area too, and again Josh was set adrift.
Historically, becoming a Christian was illegal in this country and could result in a year of imprisonment. Sharing about Christ could result in up to eight years in prison. As a result, churches suffered tremendously for many years. And although persecution is no longer a problem for these South Asian churches, Christianity is still a sensitive issue across the region.
Reflecting on those years of displacement, hardship, and transition, Josh believes that God was using the time to grow and shape him. He had clung to the idea that he would follow in the footsteps of his parents, living in a village and translating among the people. But God was helping him to see that the translation movement needed to be owned and led by the church, with foreign missionaries serving in support roles.
Josh has since filled a number of leadership roles that have allowed him to assess the way translation is done. Currently serving as a project coordinator, he and his team look at the remaining translation needs in South Asia and evaluate ways that these translations can be effectively and efficiently completed, and what partnerships can be established to help this process along.
Isaiah 55:8-9 has proven true in Josh’s life: “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (NLT). God’s plans are sovereign and good — always.
*Names of people and places have been changed.
For nearly 75 years, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA has helped people around the world translate the Bible into their own languages. Its vision is to see God’s Word accessible to all people in a language they can clearly understand. Visit wycliffe.org to learn more.
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, a Mission Nexus member, provided this article. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.