Category Archives: Wycliffe

Hard to Know

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Today is my last full day in Davao. I am just itching to get home to my babies and yet I am sad to leave, knowing I have only seen a small portion of the work that is going on here.

When you visit or move to a new culture, lots of information is thrown at you. Many missionaries refer to this as “trying to drink from a fire hydrant.” The metaphor works.

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I have spent nine days trying to see both the big picture of the work here in the Philippines as well as hear the specific details in the myriad of stories I have heard from individuals who serve here. It is humbling, encouraging, overwhelming, and inspiring all at the same time.

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There are people who have served here only a few months and those who have served for decades. I have read and listened to the stories of Bible translators, media specialists, teachers, medical workers, tent-makers, administrative staff, pastors, mobilizers, orphanage staff, anti-sex trafficking workers, evangelists, social workers, and more. I have talked to people working with kids, mentally dialed adults, orphans, sexual abuse victims, missionary kids, Filipino Christian youth, Christians, Muslims, the poor, the wealthy, the forgotten.

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And the fire hydrant just keeps spewing water.

Sometimes it is hard to know where you fit into the big picture of what God is doing. We struggle all the time. We wonder, “What can a PE teacher and a stay-at-home-mom who likes to write and take pictures possibly do to make an impact on the needs of the world? How we make a difference here in the Philippines? How can we help those in the States make a difference right where they are?”

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Our human tendency is to want to see impact in a straight line. If I do this, follow the line, the impact will be on the other side. We want to know that doing A will cause B. From here to there. If this, then that.

But missions (and life in general) doesn’t work that way. We may never see a direct line from action to impact. And it’s only our pride that cries out for it.

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Just this morning (well, my morning, it’s still evening in America) Bob Creson, CEO for Wycliffe Bible Translators, posted some images from a conference he is attending for Every Tribe Every Nation (an organization whose sole purpose to eradicate Biblical poverty.) On one of the slides he shared was a term I had never heard, a term most appropriate: knitworking. Not networking, knitworking. Just as a blanket or sweater is not made from a piece of yarn merely stretched from end to end but rather through the careful handiwork of knitting needles weaving strands and colors into something of value, making disciples of all nations is done by the careful handiwork of God who weaves people and places and passions and purpose into a beautiful piece of artwork that will only be revealed when we get to the awe and wonder of Revelation 7:9.

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And so, as much I long sometimes to see how exactly we fit in and the difference we can make, we’ll be content to be a single strand of yarn, given up for the cause of this great knitting project. We’ll trust in the handiwork of God. God, who through the beauty displayed through the mountains and the seas and the birds and the trees, leaves no doubt of His capabilities. We’ll offer our loaves and fish to a God who is able to take them and feed the masses.

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God has knit each of us in our mother’s womb and he will knit each of us together in such a way that every nation, people, tribe, and language will know that salvation belongs to our God.

Beauty in the Chaos

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Beauty in the chaos.

It’s my favorite thing about Asia. Well, that and the food and the weather and the people and the pace of life and the value of relationships and the really good coffee. All of those are my favorite. But this one is perhaps my most favorite.

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There is chaos and there is beauty. An American with virgin-Asia eyes would most likely see only filth, garbage, and broken roads. They would see the absence of road rules, or at least of any of them being followed. They would see peeling stickers on every cement wall along with dogs and chickens and children on the streets where we don't think they don’t belong. It really can be chaos, at least where our Western preferences are concerned. And yet, there is so much beauty. Hidden amongst the chaos is a stunning and awe-inspiring beauty that leaves you breathless. The trick is, unlike the always-in-your-face beauty of the West, with its manicured lawns and perfect law-abiding drivers, the beauty here is often hidden. Only those with eyes wiling to slow down enough to see get to drink of its delight. The flowers growing over the garbage. The bird landing on the jumbled wires. The crooked smile of the elderly woman offering hot coffee from her make-shift shop on the side of the road.

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Of course, there is the obvious beauty as well—the gentle sway of the palm trees, the birds of paradise framing the doors of buildings, the put-together beauty of the petite jet-black haired woman sitting next to you. But it’s the hidden beauty I long to catch a glimpse of. I know that if I just open my eyes and see, if I look beyond the dirt and the poverty and pot holes that could be mistaken for a swimming pool—if I look beyond those, true treasure is found.

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And isn’t this really how life really is? Pain and hurt and dissapointment make their presence known every chance possible while the beauty goes unnoticed. The radio plays song after song about being sad, broken, and without hope. We put our mental playlist of tragedy and despair and unmet expectations on repeat, all the while the real beauty in life is there, hiding subtly, framing not just our doorways but also our experiences. The beauty…it’s there. Everywhere we go and in everything we do, God gives us glimpses of His goodness. He whets our appetite for the beauty of a sinless world that needs no light but Christ Himself. If we look past the garbage and the broken bottles and the dogs digging for a bite to eat, we will see beauty.

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And isn’t that what we as believers should be? Beauty amidst the chaos? The world lets out its cries of distress and hunger and horror and they long for the beauty. The world longs to find something beautiful, something poking out from underneath the chaos, something beautiful to frame the doorposts of life. They don’t know it, but they are longing for the light of Christ and the true hope that only He can offer. But where is the beauty they so desperately long for? Where are His image bearers? Where are those of us who have been summoned by a Great Grace to let our lights shine? Are we hiding under baskets or sitting as cities on a hill? I know where I spend most of my time—muffled light buried beneath a pile of self-centeredness and comfort-driven ideals.

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It’s been a year and a half since I have walked these dirty Asian streets and searched for the beauty. As the sun made its ascent over the acacia tree in the corner of the soccer field, I refilled my cup with bold Filipino coffee, its steam rising in the yellow light, and I stepped outside the gates of the guesthouse. Camera in one hand, coffee in another, I walked. And I looked. Just as the faded and peeling street signs boldly proclaim the names of precious jewels, the sights and sounds of this same-but-different Asian city boldly proclaimed its own precious jewels. As I saw the flowers and the birds, as I heard the rhythmic swishing of the brooms of the women clearing the sidewalks, as I breathed in the humid morning air, I was reminded of how much Asia reminds me of home. Not my home in America, but the home in my heart—the place that is filled with all sorts of sin and garbage and bitter disappointments and yet bears glimpses of HIs goodness, holding out hope for the life to come. ©Janet Phillips_november23_2015_web-45 ©Janet Phillips_november23_2015_web-36 ©Janet Phillips_november23_2015_web-35 ©Janet Phillips_november23_2015_web-34 ©Janet Phillips_november23_2015_web-32©Janet Phillips_november23_2015_web-24Beauty in the chaos. I feel at home.

Headed to the Philippines


Bags packed, passport dusted off, hotels and transportation booked. My babies have been held and kissed and told they will be missed. My heart is full of expectant wonder and trust in a God whose ways are not my ways and whose thoughts are not my thoughts.

For eleven days, I will dwell in what we hope to be our future home. I will see the sights, ask the questions, take the pictures. I will visit the ministries, experience the school, and drink in the beauty that is Asia.

It wasn't an easy decision to leave my family for two weeks. It was so difficult, in fact, I purchased and canceled tickets multiple times. How does a mama leave her little ones and fly across the world?

Well, she does it because she has an amazing husband who encouraged her to go on behalf of the family. A husband who knows his wife's heart speaks in real conversations with real people and with taking photos that show the world through her eyes. A husband who is more than competent and confident in caring for the little ones, making sure school gets done, putting food on the table, and having fun through it all. (And there is a big sister that will ensure little sisters' hair gets brushed occasionally!) That's why a mama of six can get on a plane with only one passport instead of eight, with a bag full of books and journals and dreams instead of sippy cups, diapers, and chewing gum. She has a good husband and a good Father.

As I spend this time in the Philippines, learning about what will — Lord willing — be our home starting next summer, my prayer is for a vision for how our family, with its unique perspective, personalities, and passions, will find its place in Davao. Our conviction and desire is to be serving full-time with Wycliffe Bible Translators and play our part on a team that longs to brings God's Word to a world still waiting.

I'll be visiting this space quite frequently while I am away. Come for a visit, will you?

The Moment My Life Changed

I still remember hearing those precious words for the first time: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). As a young girl, guilt over sin threatened to overwhelm me. I was utterly convinced that there was no way God could love someone like me. He may be good and loving, I thought, but those character qualities go out only to the deserving. But when I heard those words, the walls around my twelve-year-old heart started to crumble. The love I so desperately desired and sought after was right there waiting for me. God would take my sin and remove it so far from me that it could never be reached again. That was the moment my life changed.

What if I hadn’t heard those words? What if the condemnation and complete unworthiness I felt were never remedied by the power of God’s Word? That hot summer day, a new eternal life began, all because I had access to God’s Word.

I admit it...this road to working with Wycliffe and gathering a group of prayer and financial partners has not been easy. There are days when we have wanted to give up, to quit, to enjoy the wonderful life of church, school, and fellowship we have here in America. However, it doesn’t take long for us to be reminded that hundreds of millions of people have never had an experience like I have, nor the thousands of experiences I have had since. These people, the almost 1800 languages in the world, are waiting for God’s Word. They are lost in their sin, their condemnation, their feelings of complete unworthiness. I think about that moment back in 1989 when God’s Word breathed life into my heart, and I know we have to go. We have to do everything we can to ensure people are given the opportunity to experience the new life that God’s Word brings.

What about you? Can you remember some of the moments when God’s Word spoke to you in a way that changed everything? What would your walk with the Lord look like if you never read your Bible, never heard a pastor speak from the Bible, never read a book written by someone intimate with the Bible? You have been given so much! With over 400 English Bible translations to choose from and thousands of Bible-saturated books and sermons at our immediate disposal, we have been entrusted with a great gift. We have been asked to be stewards of God’s grace.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11.

How will you steward your gift? We invite you to partner with us in our Wycliffe ministry as we strive to steward our gifts to bring the hope of God’s Word to those who wait. What can you do?

1. You can pray for us. Above all, we need people committed to praying for us. We need prayer for strength, wisdom, perseverance, boldness, and trust.

2. You can partner with our Wycliffe ministry financially. We need regular, monthly financial partners to help us meet our minimum monthly budget (set by Wycliffe) and be freed to serve in the Philippines. Click here to become a monthly financial partner.

3. You can sign up for our newsletter so you can stay up-to-date on our ministry progress and plans. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

4. You can pray about going. It doesn’t matter what your professional qualifications are. Teachers, pilots, doctors, nurses, IT professionals, accountants, translators, managers, and mechanics are needed all over the world to aid in the 2000+ translation projects already underway and to give hope for the almost 2000 projects still waiting to begin.

P.S. I realize that I have never mentioned in this space that our assignment with Wycliffe has changed from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines. We announced it in our newsletter, but not here. I apologize. Lord willing, we will be serving at Faith International Academy in Davao, Philippines.

It’s Been Four Years


It was 2011. I had been praying about my word for the year. Just as the calendar turned to January 1, God gave me my word: ROOTED.

A usual, I didn't know what God would choose to teach me through it over the year, but I knew the context. Immediately, this verse came to mind:

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." — Colossians 2:6,7

At the time, I so wanted to be built up in Christ. I had deep longings for service, for opportunities, for His direction. Although I didn't understand it then, He was telling me, "You must be rooted first."

It's helpful to think deeply for a moment on the purpose and function of roots. An agricultural society would understand the significance more readily than our culture that scarcely knows how to grow anything other than mold in the fridge (myself included!)

Roots serve multiple functions:

1) Roots anchor the tree. Without the roots, without the deep penetration into the soil, the tree could not survive. What we see when we look at a beautiful tree is only half the reality. The other half lies beneath, doing the work that allows the beauty to be exposed.

2) Roots take up minerals and water from the soil, transforming into life-giving sustenance for the tree.

3) Roots store food for use in later growth — in the trunk, branches, and leaves.

Over the course of the year, God showed me what it meant to be rooted. He taught me that the reason I so often felt beaten down was that my roots were shallow. I would let them grow for a while and then pull them up when waiting caused me to lose interest. He taught me that without being rooted, I could not be nourished. Yes, of course, I would survive temporarily, but wilting and dying was inevitable. He taught me that the more I rooted, the more I could store for when the heat and drought came.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream. and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield." — Jeremiah 17:7-9

About halfway through 2011, my roots began to take hold. Beginning when I was twelve years old, God's word fascinated me. I remember my spirit being quickened the first time and in the thousands of instances that followed, I had no trouble believing that God's Word was truly living and active. However, wanting to read God's Word and actually doing it are two very different things.

I've shared my story before, the most important resolution you can make,  and what my Bible time looks like on a regular basis.

But today, I am reflecting on what regular and systematic reading of God's Word over the course of four years has done. Never has the benefit been more clear to me than over the last six months.

As I mentioned before, I didn't expect the wave. And after feeling better for a few weeks, I certainly didn't expect another wave to come crashing down. And yet, it did. Already weary from before, I scarcely had breath to keep going.

"If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction." — Psalm 119:92

I read that verse a few days ago and it was all very clear to me: had I not found my delight in God's Word and intentionally rooted myself in it, I would have perished. Whether that death would have been physical, spiritual, or emotional...I don't know. I don't want to know. What I do know is that God's Word has sustained me. Is sustaining me. It is my life. My strength. My song. My deliverance.

That is because Jesus sustains me. He is my Life. My Strength. My Song. My Deliverance.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God...In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men." John 1:1-5

As the wave recedes, I am thankful once again that I have rooted myself in the Word. I am standing strong with joy in my heart, even as I tend to my emotional and mental injuries. This is only possible because I have been well-nourished and well-supplied for the future.

Is it any wonder we have given ourselves to the cause of the Bibleless people? If I know the One Thing that can truly save and satisfy, how could I be loving to do anything but work to ensure everyone has it? And how could I be loving to not encourage those of you who already have it to saturate yourself in it? There is no alternative to growth, to survival. The 180,000 million people who wait for their very first word of Scripture in a language they can clearly understand need it just as much as you who have to blow the dust off your cover every Sunday.

Why not start today? Why not open those pages and let the living word of Christ penetrate your heart and spirit. Become rooted. There is nothing more beneficial you could do with your time, both for now and for eternity.

Oh, the Excitement!

Kandawo New Testament DedicationLast week, I shared a post about The Third Jar. Other than when I released my e-book, it was the most viewed post ever. That tells me something. I am guessing what it says is that people are stunned with the reality of Bible translation needs. According to new research released by The American Bible Society and powered by Barna, 7 out of 10 American believe the Bible is available in all languages. The Third Jar tells me otherwise.

As of October 1, 2014, 4018 languages of the world have no known Scripture.

But what happens when the long awaited truth becomes available? Excitement that can barely be contained. Watch this one and a half minute video to see and hear the joy of a mother who is "going to get me one of those things." Wycliffe and its partner organizations are working hard, all over the world, to make access to God's word available to all people. The Kandawo New Testament was dedicated in April, both in written format and audio versions for those who are illiterate. Oh the excitement!

Tell me, do you share this woman's joy when you anticipate hearing God's word? 

The Third Jar

PTS | M&Ms_featured

On my dresser sit three large jars of M&Ms. And I don't even like M&Ms!

So why are they there?

They are there to remind me. I'm a visual person. It's with my eyes I dream and think and pray and thank and remember.

When I look at these three jars, representing reality, I remember.

I remember the first jar represents the language groups of the world that have the entire Bible.

I remember the second jar represents the language groups of the world that have portions of the Bible.

And I remember the third jar represents the language groups of the world that don't have even one verse of the Bible. Not one verse!

After reading stories and saying goodnight to the kids, I climb in bed. I sit up, book or phone in hand, and I see them. I think through my day and the complaints of my heart and my eyes fall on that third jar, full to the brim. It is then that I remember what the real problem is.

It's bad enough when we have a Bible and don't choose to treasure it or even read it. God will deal with our prideful and rebellious heart (prideful because not reading indicates we don't truly believe we have a need for it and rebellious because God tells us to let the words of Christ richly dwell within us.) If we choose not to partake of the living bread, it's on us. "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'" (Luke 16:29). 

But what about those who lack the choice to read? The choice to hear? The choice to know and understand?

That third jar represents the 4000+ languages of the world who don't have a choice. They don't have even one word of Scripture in a language they can clearly understand. 

I end my day looking at the jars, knowing I can think of no better way to spend my short time on earth than to use my loaves and fish, as pitiful as they may be, to fill the first two jars by emptying the third.

What about you?