Homeless, Not Lost

  • April 11, 2017
  • By: Richard Gretsky
John and his family

John Carter doesn’t know where his home is; he never really has.

As a missionary kid, he bounced to many “homes” — from the United States, to Germany, to Israel and even out to the remote Solomon Islands. And while they all felt like home to a certain extent, it was hard to identify one of those places as his true home.

By the time he graduated high school, it was time for John to choose for himself where he wanted to call his home — and what he wanted to do with his life.

He had the world to choose from. When he heard about Explore, a program offered by Prairie Bible College in beautiful Alberta, Canada, he decided to give it a try. In partnership with Camp Bighorn in western Montana, Prairie offered a one-year program in Bible-based outdoor education (including whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, studying Bible teamwork and much more) that could also serve as the first year of a four-year degree. For John, the decision was a no-brainer.

And as anticipated, John loved his time in the program — enough to accept a position working there after his internship.

But the position did not work out as well as well as he’d hoped.

“When I returned to work at the camp, they put me in a job that wasn’t well suited for me, and I wasn’t well suited for it,” John recalled.

Unsure of what to do next, John heard about a missions program at the Canada School of Linguistics (CanIL) in the suburbs of Vancouver. To John, the courses at CanIL sounded more adventurous than any missions courses he’d ever heard of. And since the program was only nine weeks long, he decided to give it a try.

John greatly enjoyed the CanIL classes and a couple weeks into the program, he got a big surprise. He met a young woman named Katie.

John and Katie immediately felt a connection with one another and knew there was hope for a long-term relationship together. And then, soon after they met, John picked up a document that changed the scope of his future — a Wycliffe language survey brochure.

John with his PNG survey team

“I highlighted everything that caught my eye, and it ended up being almost everything in the brochure — like working in small teams, adventure, flexibility, academic writing, traveling to remote areas, supporting Bible translation,” John said. “I thought, ‘Oh, this might be a job I could really enjoy.’”

Simultaneously, Katie was finally offered her Wycliffe assignment … in language survey.

His heart, both for survey and for the young lady, was won over, and John quickly signed up with a Wycliffe recruiter. As soon as he and Katie finished school, they married and started raising support to move overseas.

Finally, two years after signing up and seven years after leaving for college, John made his way back into missions, this time to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and a whole new experience.

Very soon, John realized he had been right to choose language survey and PNG.

“[It is] what I hoped for and a lot more,” John said, “because of the variety, the adventure of doing it, the fact that we’re discovering and researching languages, and we’re determining what language communities need a translation. Some of the other things that appeal to me [are] working in small teams, getting to travel, [and] a mix of academic work and physical challenges.”

It took traveling around the world and landing right next door to where he started, but John Carter finally found his home, regardless of country — in the center of God’s will.

John’s survey team is steadily growing, but the need for survey teams all over the world, including PNG, are still great. If you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved in language survey, learn more today.