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New Tribes Mission is now Ethnos360. Learn More. dismiss

Expediting the Reach of the Gospel through IT

Tags: Bible translator, Ethnos360 Magazine, Information Technology, Teamwork
POSTED ON Jun 01, 2018 by David Pierce

“I just can't imagine the amount of time that was spent in making corrections that I do now with one button.”

Lisa Kappeler, in that single statement, encapsulates the changes that have come to missions as a result of technology. Technology has transformed her ministry over her 11 years as a Bible translator among the Uriay people of Papua New Guinea and also as an Ethnos360 Bible translation consultant.

Studying language, teaching literacy and translating the Bible are still hard work. But technology multiplies those efforts exponentially.

Translation checks and workshops, by their very nature, are best accomplished face-to-face and in person. For Lisa, traveling from her village to town means a two-hour canoe ride and a one-hour flight on mission aircraft from a remote airstrip — all before making her way to the other missionary’s location.

But now, “in between the face-to-face meetings, we can meet via technology,” Lisa says. She consults with her fellow missionaries whether they are in Papua New Guinea or around the globe in Africa — without leaving her ministry location in the middle of the jungle.  “It's been huge for consulting being able to be part of a translation committee and Skype with the whole team when we're in lots of different locations.”

Norbert Huebner, a German missionary serving with New Tribes Mission Papua New Guinea, along with a handful of IT teammates, maintains computers and networks for Lisa and hundreds of other missionaries. And it was Norbert who helped Lisa’s team get connected to the Internet while they were in the jungle.

Originally Norbert didn’t think he was suited for missions, and instead worked successfully in the IT world. But a number of years ago while on a missions trip, he learned that his skills were very much needed in missions. With no good options for computer repair in that country, leadership had asked one of the church planters to step out of his role in order to fix computers for the other missionaries. Norbert says, “This guy had a little bit of knowledge, but not much. So he read books on how to fix computers.

“Meeting this guy challenged me because I was thinking, ‘My background is electronics and computing. I can repair computers. And if I would replace him, he could go back into church planting.’” God used that experience to challenge Norbert to serve Him in missions.

That “push of a button” that Lisa mentioned takes professionals like Norbert behind the scenes to make it happen.  Whether US-based or overseas, there are many different opportunities to use your IT skills in missions, such as:

  • Security and Compliance Administrators

  • Data and Intelligence Analysts

  • Network and Systems Engineers

  • Hardware and Software Technicians

  • Software Programmers and Developers

  • Training Specialists and End-User Support

“I know over the years we've always been shorthanded in that department,” Lisa concludes. “And yet I don't know of a missionary working on translation in any location that's not dependent on [computers]. Not if they want to do it the quicker, more efficient, easier way.”

How much more efficiently? Instead of taking 25 years or more to translate the New Testament, Lisa declares, “Now it can be done in 10. … It can be done in a much shorter period of time because of technology. I can't imagine doing what we do without it. It's pretty vital.”