Phoebe Thomas took the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course in college and it changed her life’s trajectory.
Perspectives, a 15-week course about God’s heart for the nations, focuses on mobilizing the American church. Phoebe explained the impact of the course: “I realized I could no longer just follow the plans I had made for myself.”
After graduation, she began training as a Perspectives class coordinator. As she listened to the various instructors, she was intrigued by Wycliffe’s laser-like focus on translating Scripture. “The more I learned about missions, the more I realized God’s Word in someone’s own language is the best tool for evangelizing the world,” Phoebe said. “I was drawn to Wycliffe because it was a large organization that was innovative, forward-thinking and run efficiently.”
Because she had gone to a K-12 bilingual school and majored in both French and Spanish in college, Phoebe assumed she would be a linguist and translator. But after attending a week-long Wycliffe event exploring Bible translation, she realized that this type of language work was not her skill set.
Instead, after talking with Wycliffe missionaries who worked in non‑language roles, she realized that there were other ways she could serve in Bible translation.
FINDING HER FIT
In 2017 Phoebe headed to West Africa to serve in an administration role. But after several very challenging months, she found herself questioning her assumptions of what a “real missionary” looked like.
Phoebe said: “Africa was not a good fit for me, but it was hard for me to come to grips with that initially.” She elaborated: “You set your mind to do something and think you are capable of doing anything and then you realize, ‘Hang on, I can’t do this in a way that’s healthy.’ I could have stayed [in Africa] and white-knuckled my way through it, but I wouldn’t have been very useful or fun or pleasant to have around. [I had to realize] it was just as holy a calling to be here [in the U.S.] as it was to be there.”
Today Phoebe uses her God-given talents at Wycliffe USA’s Orlando headquarters, helping people encounter the transforming work of Bible translation. It’s something that’s impacted Phoebe’s own life. “Scripture is how I know who God is,” she said. “It’s an immense privilege to have it in a language and form I can understand.”
Currently, Phoebe coordinates vision trips for financial partners who want to visit the countries and people they’re supporting. She takes care of all the logistics, plans the travel and even accompanies the people on the trips to look after their needs. She loves it!
“Many of the people consider [Bible translation] to be just an idea when they are giving,” Phoebe noted. “But when they can see it firsthand, their passion and their commitment to Bible translation is deepened quite significantly. It’s not just an idea, but it’s a person and a place. It’s much more tangible.”
USED BY GOD … WHENEVER AND WHEREVER!
Recently Phoebe helped a Wycliffe translator and her financial partners to travel to Peru for a Bible dedication. The woman had served in the language project many years ago, and the financial partners had prayed for and invested in the woman’s ministry for decades. But none of them thought they could ever travel to Peru for the dedication. “It was really really special,” Phoebe shared. “And if I hadn’t been able to coordinate that trip for them, they never would have been able to go.”
Phoebe is currently thriving in her role, but the position hadn’t even existed when she left West Africa and came to Orlando. Because she was available and serving in the department at the time, she was able to hone in on a need and help grow it into the critical position that it is now.
“The people who work here in Orlando and in the U.S. are just as passionate and committed to the work of Bible translation as those who work overseas,” Phoebe shared. “The Lord just uses them differently. [Both types of roles] are important, valuable and useful. [I had to realize] God can’t just use me in one place. If that was true, then I would serve a small God. But that’s not who he is. If that’s how I view him, then my view of him is quite small.
“... I serve a big God.”