More Than a Task: 5 Reasons We Value Project Managers | Wycliffe Bible Translators

More Than a Task: 5 Reasons We Value Project Managers

  • July 7, 2020
  • By: Catherine Graul
Jon and Nafian working together
Project manager Jon Jagt (right) and Nafian working together on the Gwahtike multi-language project.

Bible translation is a huge task.

But it’s more than just a task; it’s also a web of relationships, cultures, beliefs and passions that all come together so that people can be transformed by Scripture.

At Wycliffe, project managers not only break monumental tasks into manageable steps, but they also work tirelessly and humbly to invest in relationships, support local leadership, and ensure that projects are culturally sensitive and relevant.

Here are five reasons we value our project managers:

  • 1. Project managers build bridges.

    What happens when a translator needs new data software, a pastor desires to educate his congregation about Bible translation or when a missions coach wants to develop handouts for a college event?

    A project manager steps into the gap and builds a bridge.

    Karina Lopez, a project manager in the Marketing department at Wycliffe USA’s headquarters, explained: “Bible translation involves many moving pieces and parts and ... a lot of time, talents and resources are needed to complete the [translation] work.” She added: “Our team … works together to bring [stories and information about] the work of Bible translation to those who may not know much about it.”

    Nicole Foxworth, the IT implementation coordinator at Wycliffe USA agreed. She shared how her team recently met a critical need: “I managed a product that was custom developed for our staff to use when … gathering information for new Bible translation projects. This new product will allow Wycliffe to get the information quicker and more efficiently.”

    Similarly Rachel Paul, the director of operations in South Asia, has also been using technology to meet needs in her area. She’s helping project manage a new software application that allows organizations and language communities to share critical information. “Without a good system, you can imagine how information is scattered everywhere, and we can’t share with partners and have a cohesive approach,” she explained.

    Through initiatives like these, project managers bridge gaps between knowledge and resources, equipping and strengthening individuals, churches and communities in the process.

  • 2. Project managers support local communities.

    When individuals from Wycliffe are invited into a local community, they have to be careful not to take on roles in the name of Bible translation that community leaders are better equipped for. Instead, Wycliffe’s desire is to strengthen, encourage and support local language communities in a variety of ways. That might include being a resource partner or co-manager of a project.

    “Project management is about good partner relations,” Rachel shared. “It’s about bringing people together and [honoring our partners].” She added: “Our national partner is in charge and we simply bring technical expertise and service into the mix.”

    Rachel’s goal is to enable people to serve in the roles where they flourish. Without project managers, individuals who are trained in translation or technical services may need to leave their jobs in order to fill the project management gap, even if that is not their forte. “A lot of people are experts in their own language and culture, but they aren’t interested in the project management side. My job helps them to stay in their preferred roles,” she explained.

    John Lindstrom, a Bible translation adviser in Papua New Guinea, agreed. “I see myself as helping Elisha Kiputung, a Papua New Guinean who has worked as a Bible translator for [over 40] years. I consult him on key decisions and also on how to resolve difficulties that arise. … It is absolutely critical that a Papua New Guinean who understands the culture much better than an [outsider] ever could be the one who is actually making decisions.”

    By valuing local ownership and culturally sensitive partnerships, project managers build trust and capacity in communities, ultimately making the project more successful.

  • 3. Project managers put people first.

    Although a project manager’s initial goal might be to complete a task, project management at Wycliffe is all about relationships.

    “[Our] purpose is to honor God by translating the Bible into all languages,” Veronica Colon, a project manager in the Marketing department at Wycliffe USA, said “That understanding … helps Wycliffe personnel respect each other's skills and roles in fulfilling this purpose.”

    Karina Lopez agreed: “We value fostering healthy relationships, team collaboration, clear communication, critical thinking and serving our team, clients and stakeholders well. We strive to … [love] God and [love] people. I’m so thankful to serve in a capacity that allows me to put that to action.”

    By valuing people and their interests over internal processes and tools, project managers can focus on loving and caring for people well, living out the goal of Bible translation incarnationally.

  • 4. Project managers are humble partners.

    Without Nafian, a Papua New Guinean with decades of translation experience, Jon Jagt and the Gwahatike multi‑language project could not effectively translate Scriptures in multiple communities.

    And without Jon Jagt, an experienced program manager, Nafian and the Gwahtike multi-language project would not have access to the technical resources they need in order to reach their people with the Scriptures.

    By using his skills as a project manager to fill a critical need, Jon enables other translation advisers to continue to use their skills in translation rather than step away from translation work to have to direct the project. Jon’s willingness to be a facilitator for Nafian and the other team members has enabled the project to expand and reach language groups who otherwise would still be waiting for Scripture.

    Jon loves his role: “Working as program manager for the Gwahatike multi-language project has been a joy for me over the past six years. I learn something new every day.” He added: “We have seen God move through the projects especially over the last half year, and this is the most exciting part of the work.”

  • 5. Project managers glorify God.

    For Wycliffe project managers, their job is more than just work: it’s a way they can worship and honor God.

    This is what drives Veronica: “All that we do as project managers, every project ⁠— as a social media post, an email to encourage our partners, a marketing campaign ⁠— everything that we help to complete is done for the glory of God.”

    Veronica added: “Before my family decided to move to Orlando from Puerto Rico … I was a project manager for a governmental agency. At that time my prayer to God was to work for his kingdom. I never expected that he would give me the opportunity to work as a project manager helping to complete the Great Commission. Praise the Lord for this great opportunity to combine my skills as a project manager with my passion to serve the Lord!”

Bible translation may be a huge task but our project managers are there every step of the way, caring for people, loving communities and enabling people to encounter the Word of God.

If you would like to think through next steps of possibly using your skills in Bible translation, take a look at this free resource called “Thinking About Missions.” Explore the answer to the question, “Is this for me?”