Across the world, I think we all can agree: We need a strong vision for the future more than ever.
This year has gotten off to a tumultuous start, to say the least. And as I reflect on our crucial need for unity, clear direction and vision during this time, I can’t help but think about my own eyesight. Before I had eye surgery, my vision was blurry and distorted. I could see some semblance of my surroundings, but my eyes didn’t give me a true picture of the world around me.
Before surgery, my vision was far from 20/20. But after surgery, things that were previously indistinguishable become crisp and clear. Things that I couldn’t make out before formed perfectly before my eyes.
Isn’t that the way it is with encountering God’s Word and being transformed by him? He takes our old, worn lives — distorted and blurred by sin — and through the lens of his truth, we at last see clearly. In fact, when we focus on God’s Word, Psalm 119:105 tells us that the way before us is illuminated because, “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (NLT).
In March 2020, Wycliffe USA adopted a new vision for people from every language to understand the Bible and be transformed. Our commitment to Vision 2025 — that all languages that need a translation of the Bible have translation started by 2025 — remains, while our new vision further defines our goals for our current and future involvement in the global Bible translation movement.
I love this new vision statement because it focuses on our heart’s desire for people around the world to know God intimately through his Word. Our desire is not simply to produce a translated Bible to sit on a shelf! We want to see lives and communities transformed as people encounter God through the Bible and come into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
To reach this exciting new vision, we also adopted a new mission: to serve with the global body of Christ to advance Bible translation and work together so people can encounter God through his Word. This refocused emphasis on partnership outlines the importance of working together with others as the body of Christ. As we serve with humility and mutual respect, Christ’s love and unity within his body shines through in our collaboration. We strive to support and equip others to bring God glory throughout the nations. Working together with the local church and organizational partners in tasks such as translation, language development and Scripture engagement will equip people to encounter God in his Word and be transformed!
As we pursue our mission to reach our vision for people from every language to understand the Bible and be transformed, I’m reminded of the Old Irish hymn translated into English by Mary Byrne: “Be Thou My Vision.”
Old hymns have such rich backstories. Many believe that St. Patrick inspired this hymn while serving as the first Christian missionary to Ireland. In 430 A.D., the king of Ireland decreed that in observance of the Druid festival of the “fireless night,” no lights could be lit on Easter until the king lit his own fire, a ritual intended to prove he was a “god-king.”
To demonstrate that Christ is the only God-king, St. Patrick defied this order by lighting a fire in the darkness high on a hill before the king lit his own fire. In doing so, St. Patrick proclaimed Jesus as the light in the darkness, the light to guide us, the light and the hope of the world, the light that gives us clear vision and a path out of the darkness.
Each verse of this hymn holds such truths of who God is, how he transforms us and why we want the world to know him.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art —
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Father God, as we consider Wycliffe USA’s vision, we pray that we always give you first place in our hearts, seek your truth and light, and strive to help others come to know you through the truth of your word.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
We thank you and praise you that you have adopted us as sons and daughters into your family, and we ask that you continue to seek and save those who are lost from every language group around the world.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight,
Thou my soul's Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
Lord, help us serve others with joy and humility, and protect us from spiritual warfare that can discourage or distract us from following you with all our hearts. Help us to trust our salvation to you.
Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
Help us work together to further the work of the Bible translation movement. Draw us back to focus on you as our king and treasure and to do all things for your glory so that the world will know you.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heav'n's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whate'er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
Thank you, King of heaven, for being our Father and for the promise of eternity with you. Keep us in your hands as we proclaim the gospel so that people can be transformed by your love and your Word.
In addition to our new Vision and Mission statements, this year Wycliffe USA also adopted new Core Values statements. Let me encourage you to check out our five-part blog series where you’ll hear from Wycliffe USA’s leadership and personnel serving in the field as they share about what these values mean to them and how they are applied to the ministry of Bible translation in the many different contexts where we work around the world. I hope these reflections bless you as much as they’ve blessed me.