“Half a billion people don’t have even one Bible verse in a language they understand.”
When Duane Troyer heard this statement in July 1987, it altered his life and vision. Duane’s grandfather grew up in the Amish culture. Though Duane’s grandfather spoke English to Duane and his cousins, he always deferred to his German Bible for his doctrine. Seeing the tangible impact of Scripture in Duane’s own family really stuck with him.
Joining an organization that did Bible translation work was a natural fit for Duane. “How could I not be involved in helping others receive the same life-transforming gift that meant so much to my family and me?” he asks.
So five years into his career as an engineer, Duane quit his job and joined Wycliffe. During his pre-field training in Dallas, Texas, he met his wife, Shirley. Together they accepted an assignment to Cameroon in the language survey department.
Though Duane started in language survey, in 1997 he was asked to serve as director of technical services, overseeing the many support services — one being media services.
While overseeing media services, he saw the importance of audio media for distribution of newly-translated Scriptures. When media was short-staffed, Duane volunteered to help record a dramatized version of the Gospel of Mark in Mbuko, a language in the far north of Cameroon. When the recording was published, a man invited his neighbors to listen to it. Though it was late in the evening, the man’s house was quickly filled. The enraptured crowd sat and listened to the entire recording. Then they said, “Play it again!” When it finished, they said “Play it again!” They listened to the recording for four hours!
In 2006, Duane attended the Vernacular Media (VM) Training Course conducted by the International Media Training, which is part of International Media Services (IMS). IMS assists translation teams and local believers in creating and distributing Scripture-based audio and video resources. For many Bibleless people, printed Scripture only reaches a small portion of their population. Many cultures prefer oral and visual communication, and more naturally engage with Scripture in audio and video formats.
As a VM specialist, Duane had the opportunity to do recordings in Cameroon, Chad and Equatorial Guinea. Over the last three years on the field, he oversaw the completion of seven “JESUS” film dubbings, two dramatized recording of Mark, and a Christian music video. Based on the populations in the languages recorded, these digital publications have a potential to reach more than 1.5 million people!
In 2010, after 18 years in Cameroon, Duane and his family returned to the United States so his oldest child could attend college. Duane continued his media work with IMS by relocating to JAARS in Waxhaw, North Carolina.
In the last decade, mobile technology has opened huge opportunities for translation work and Scripture distribution. Duane helps missionaries on the field take advantage of mobile devices, social media and apps to provide people with access to Scripture and Scripture resources. In addition to networking with IT workers around the world, Duane also sifts through the Internet in search of ideas and technology suitable for Scripture distribution. He describes his work as “looking for technology that can be repurposed to spread the gospel.”
As a Christian and an engineer, Duane initially felt called to support others entering the mission field. But his life was repurposed when God gave him a new vision of how he could be involved in missions — one that used his skills and passions to serve in media.
Are you being called to a repurposed life too?