How does a person go from just thinking about missions to actually stepping into a new role?
Every missionary has a different journey, but all of them involve prayer, community and conviction. Since Wayne and Crystal McMaster were children, they knew cross-cultural work would be in their future. The two met in the United States after working separately in Uganda and East Timor. Missions wasn’t on their radar until after they married and Wayne gave his life to Christ.
“We decided to head to East Asia to work in missionary education,” Wayne said. “We were testing the waters, so to speak, to see if we could hack it.” But after a year and a half, the couple headed back to the U.S. to address their newly adopted daughter’s medical issues. While waiting for her surgeries, Wayne received an email from Wycliffe.
“I replied to that email but I got no response. Later I received another email from Wycliffe, so I responded to that one, and again, no response. So I thought the Lord was saying I’m not supposed to be a part of Wycliffe. Several weeks later, someone from Wycliffe emailed me and told me that in the past I had marked my email as ‘not interested, do not contact!’” Wayne laughed. “After that things finally started moving!”
Explore Bible Translation
While serving in East Asia, Wayne fell in love with languages and intercultural communication. He wished he could go back to school to study language and linguistics, but translation and linguistics didn’t appeal to Crystal. The couple’s Wycliffe missions coach suggested that they both attend a 5-day event to learn more about the different roles within translation.
That event, now called Explore Bible Translation, allows participants to get hands-on experience in various aspects of Bible translation under the guidance of seasoned missionaries. Over the course of a week, participants gain exposure to Wycliffe's culture, history and vision for reaching the Bibleless. They explore the process of Bible translation and the roles needed to complete the work, and discover how God might use them to impact Bibleless communities.
“When we went to [Explore Bible Translation], my wife and I weren’t on the same page at all,” Wayne said. “We really needed the time to step away from life to focus on whether we should do this. Although it was a long drive [to the event], it was a time for us to come together. The event was an opportunity to allow God to speak into the situation.”
Wayne continued: “While we were at [the event], Crystal was reading Psalm 96 when she came across verse 3: ‘Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.’ That really struck her heart. It was confirmation that God was speaking in the midst of this time.”
“After all,” Wayne added, “How does the church have a chance if it doesn't have God’s Word in a format they understand? It broke my heart. ... I was 100% ready to sign up!”
At first Wayne and Crystal thought they would serve as translators, so Wayne began his master’s degree in linguistics. But soon, another Wycliffe missionary who had worked extensively in Africa approached him. He noticed Wayne's background in management and told him that God could use those skills to serve the work of Bible translation.
Wayne and Crystal prayed about the opportunity and sought counsel from their colleagues. Now, Wayne is excited to serve as part of the management team in Southeast Asia. “Recently I was at a meeting for managers from numerous Asian countries,” Wayne said, “and I was the only person there who came to serve in Wycliffe as a manager. Everyone else had started elsewhere. They were so excited to have someone who wanted to be there and was trained for that very purpose!”
“By serving as a manager, I enable translators to continue in their projects ... I handle everything from finances and budgets and HR issues. … I [also] get to be [the] person who helps the system along and manages the relationships.”
Partnerships and Community
Most Wycliffe missionaries’ salaries come through the gifts and the financial partnership of churches, groups and individuals. “I loved inviting people to have an opportunity that they otherwise wouldn’t have — to bring the Bible to unreached people,” Wayne said.
“God has provided everything we need. I really just put [partnership development] back on God. After all, if it’s his mission, then he will resource it and bring the right people to us.” Wayne concluded: “God has surrounded us with an encouraging family wherever we are in the world. Both my wife and I come from broken families, and so we had this unstable upbringing. But we’ve seen the church come around us, including the Wycliffe community, and encourage us.”
The Story Goes On
Now Wayne and his family are working hard at language and culture learning as he prepares to serve translators and language groups in Southeast Asia. As Wayne and Crystal transition from one stage of their missions journey to another, they’ve been able to look back and see how God has orchestrated every step. The next chapter God is writing for them has just begun.