Receiving a nomination for president of Wycliffe USA in 2003 was the last thing Bob Creson expected. The adoption of Vision 2025 — to see a Bible translation in progress for every language that needs it by 2025 — changed everything for Wycliffe and its partners. When Bob decided to let his name stand for nomination, his first thoughts were, If I’m selected, I don’t want to squander the opportunity.
Bob’s heart’s desire was to be a faithful steward during this historic period of Bible translation, living the mandate of his life verse which says, “… the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NLT).
During the presidential selection process, a three-week trip to several countries in Africa provided Bob the time to think about the future of the Bible translation movement and things he would want to focus on if selected for the job. Bob recently reflected on his notes from that trip and shared how he’d seen God work to bring so many of his initial thoughts to fruition.
The Story of Our Future Runs Through Our Past
Bob realized that the work of Wycliffe would be done standing on the shoulders of people who had gone before — like Wycliffe’s founder, Cameron Townsend. He felt that sharing inspiring stories from Townsend, mixed with those from present day, would help convince young believers that Bible translation was worth the investment. Bob made it a practice to tell authentic stories about what God was doing around the world, sharing them in conversations, presentations, on his blog and social media.
A New Way of Working
Bob saw that the paradigm of our work was changing. New Bible translation pioneers would serve not just as Bible translators but also as trainers and facilitators; these new translators would include those from local people groups as well as missionaries. This new way of working and connecting with people groups was standardized as a framework for the way Wycliffe USA — and our primary partners — engage with the Bible translation movement. The framework emphasizes accelerated impact through local ownership, partnership and good stewardship.
Working in Partnership
During his 16 years in the role, Bob has seen key strategic partnerships grow and strengthen with organizations like Faith Comes by Hearing, the Jesus Film Project and Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN). The goal of ETEN, a strategic alliance of resource partners and the largest Bible translation organizations, is to get the Word to every person in the world. And out of it was born the groundbreaking Digital Bible Library (DBL) — a way for people around the world to access Scripture digitally.
Greater strategic partnerships, new global initiatives, financial resourcing and considering the completion of the Bible translation task all grew during Bob’s time as president and with the help of the executive team and the board of Wycliffe USA. Bob acknowledges that it was God’s sovereignty and a team effort over every area of the ministry that helped accelerate the work during his tenure, resulting in the greatest acceleration in the rate of Bible translation in history. He was just trying to live out Micah 6:8 — to walk humbly and do what is right for the Bibleless people of the world.
Bob and his wife Dallas are taking time to rest and pray about the future God has for them.