In times of great joy or deep sorrow, God’s words in Scripture have reminded Jan Kennedy Ferguson that he is with her and guiding her. “God’s Word has been alive to me all my life,” Jan said.
Jan remembers visiting a Wycliffe regional office with her mother as a young child. She saw her parents’ commitment to follow Christ and how that devotion led them to share his Word with others. Later on, Jan met and became friends with Marge Crofts, a Wycliffe missionary. Jan and her husband partnered financially with Marge, who worked as a translator with the Munduruku people in Brazil.
But Jan’s vision for Bible translation truly expanded while she was on a business trip to Bethel, Alaska, as a program officer for Murdock Charitable Trust. As she toured a local hospital, she noticed signs in both English and Central Alaskan Yup’ik. Jan’s two young tour guides were fluent in both languages and eagerly shared why the local language was important to them.
The following Sunday, the community would celebrate the publication of a new version of the Yup’ik Bible. The version they'd been reading before that included outdated language; the new version would be more readable and meaningful.
“They were absolutely thrilled,” Jan said. She saw the significance of Scripture in a language and format that speaks to a person’s heart. The importance of Bible translation — work she had been involved in for years — was confirmed for her.
“To think that someone doesn’t have a word of Scripture in a language that speaks to their hearts is just a heartbreaker for me,” Jan said. She’s passionate about moving Bible translation forward by partnering with local communities, both now and as part of her legacy. When planning her estate, Jan met with Michael Occhipinti, a senior gift planning advisor at the Wycliffe Foundation.
Jan noted: “Wycliffe’s biblical guide to estate planning was very helpful in the process.” Based on Jan’s estate inventory and her goals for the stewardship of her estate, Michael helped put together an estate plan design. “Working with the Wycliffe Foundation was most helpful and illuminating,” Jan said. “I knew I needed something like this.”
When Jan’s husband, Chuck, passed away in 2019, God’s Word comforted her as she faced a new season of unknowns. Throughout her life, Jan has been assured that, “God is always present with everlasting love. He speaks to us in ways we can understand — a gracious shepherd.” The importance of truths like this from Scripture is, for Jan, the impetus for sharing God’s Word with the world.