Steps of Faith: An Interview With Krista About Finance Roles In Missions | Wycliffe Bible Translators

Steps of Faith: An Interview With Krista About Finance Roles In Missions

  • December 1, 2021
  • By: Catherine Graul
Krista Besselman

Krista Besselman has worked across the globe using her skills in finance to serve and partner with the global Bible translation movement. Krista has been with Wycliffe Bible Translators since 2007, and sat down with me to share a bit about her perspective on the crucial role of finance professionals in missions.

How did you first get involved with Wycliffe?

I was in college when I found out more about the need of Bible translation. I had grown up in the church, and I heard the stories of translation work. But I thought they were old stories; I didn’t realize Bible translation was still a need! I was at an accounting society meeting in college looking for an internship, and someone from a local firm told me about how after college, she went overseas with Wycliffe Bible Translators. She had gotten to serve the Lord and use her accounting skills at the same time.

Although I wasn’t interested at first, I ended up changing my mind and pursued an internship with Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea. After I came back, I finished my final year of school, got my experience for my certified public accounting license and then went back to Papua New Guinea full time with Wycliffe.

How did you feel about raising your financial partnership instead of a traditional salary?

For me, raising financial partnership was a unique expression of walking by faith.

When I was first considering my internship with Wycliffe, I was conflicted because I figured out it would cost me as much to go there as a volunteer as I would make during the summer if I got a “real” job. I was wrestling through the decision one night when I read Matthew 6:24b which said, “You cannot serve both God and money” (NIV). I finally realized that I could either trust God for what I knew he wanted me to do or choose what I wanted to do because I wanted the money. So I decided to trust God with the financial side of things and I had a real peace about that.

The next morning I had my Principles of Finance class. Spontaneously the professor announced that instead of following the normal curriculum, he was going to spend the class time discussing principles of Christian stewardship — focusing on the same verse I read that previous night: Matthew 6:24! That was really deep confirmation for me that God knew my needs and that I was following him on the path he was leading.

How did you use your finance skills to serve in missions overseas?

Finance workers are critical! At one point, our cross-cultural worker center in Papua New Guinea considered shutting down due to the lack of finance workers. Thankfully they found other options, but when there are not enough finance professionals, then the organization cannot function effectively.

Krista with a finance colleague
Krista with a finance colleague.

While I was in Papua New Guinea, I performed nearly every job on the finance team, but I finished my time there as the chief financial officer. There was never a dull moment. I loved learning new things and making an impact. It was challenging because I accumulated new responsibilities quickly, but God enabled me! When I went to Papua New Guinea, I knew that I was going to grow in my career, but because people were retiring, I ended up in the CFO position sooner than I expected. But God was in that because the position had foundational knowledge for the role I’m in now.

How do you use your finance skills in missions now?

I work for SIL International, Wycliffe USA’s primary strategic partner, in the Global Finance Office in Dallas, Texas. I do a lot of technical research to understand new accounting standards, trying to figure out how the new standards affect us and how they should change what we’re doing. I write guidance to make them understandable for whoever might be working in the accounting offices around the world so he or she can make changes.

I also create and lead finance training sessions. For example, I led a focused training on year-end finances. It’s really neat to see that go out and hear coworkers say, “Oh wow, I feel better prepared for year-end this year.”

How can someone get involved in finances and accounting?

There are lots of ways to get involved. For example, Wycliffe has finance managers, bookkeepers, accountants and internal audit volunteers. Some roles need to be onsite, but there are many remote roles as well. Every year we offer opportunities for volunteers to help with internal audits both overseas and remote.

Having a CPA is helpful, but not required for a career in finances and accounting in Wycliffe. In some countries, however, it can make a difference for work visas. Many of the roles have on-the-job training, and we have some openings for people right out of college. Other roles focus on training local people in accounting and require more experience.

To learn more about finance roles and how your skills might fit, I encourage you to reach out to a missions coach.

Any last thoughts?

When I first flew to Papua New Guinea for my internship, we had a layover in Australia. I was hungry, so I exchanged some currency and found a snack to purchase. I went up to the counter with my money and I panicked! I looked at the Australian currency in my hands and realized I didn’t know what anything was worth. Were the big coins worth more than the small coins?

All I could do was hold out my hand with the coins to the cashier and say, “Take what you want!”

Over the course of my internship, I could feel God challenging me to let go — not of just a few Australian coins, but of my plans, skills, dreams and my future. God wanted me to just offer everything up to him with an open hand and to tell him, “Take what you want!”

It has been an adventure of faith to step into missions, and I’m grateful for the way God has reinforced this calling as I take those steps of faith.

Watch this webinar to hear more from Krista as she shares about the importance of finance roles.