Behind the Scenes Look at Wycliffe USA

Ellie and I are excited to be a part of Wycliffe USA. We have the opportunity to work with some wonderful, God-fearing people who have a heart for Bible translation and being obedient to Christ’s command of the Great Commission. I hope you will enjoy this 4 minute and 14 second video talking a bit about what we do at Wycliffe. You might even notice where the top of my head makes a cameo (only two seconds and JUST the top).

The Kelikos

We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!

Psalm 126:2-3 (NLT)

Many of you are our partners with our Wycliffe Bible Translators ministry. As our partners, you share in the faithfulness to people groups around the world. Because of God’s providence this past year, we rejoice with 57 communities who received scripture in their language.

Communities like the Keliko people of South Sudan who recently dedicated their New Testament. By God’s grace, the Keliko persevered through 30 years of trials and displacements from their home country. They persistently kept their eyes fixed on the hope of holding God’s world in their hands someday.

Translators and pastors Ezekiah Dada, Isaac Kenyi and Enos Dada celebrate the completed Keliko New Testament. Photo: April Haberger

The Keliko New Testament is the 1000th New Testament completed with the engagement of Wycliffe USA and our major partner, SIL International. The first 500 took 57 years to complete. But the second 500 took just 17 years. As the work of clear, accurate and natural Bible translation progresses faster than ever, we continue to rely on key partnerships with SIL, the Seed Company, the Jesus Film Project, Faith Comes by Hearing, Deaf Bible Society, YouVersion and many more, to bring the hope and healing of God’s word to every people group.

The Keliko

Complimenting partnerships is technology which continues to positively shape the face of Bible translation. Because of advances in technology, we’ve been able to identify more people groups in need of translation. Many of these are sign languages. We’ve seen that when communities learn that God can speak to them in their language, that people discover their value to Him and are eager to begin translation work.

As we reflect on God’s goodness in 2018, our hearts and minds turn toward people still waiting to get the good news. We anticipate the day when every person will have access to the scripture in a language and a form that clearly speaks to their heart so they can proclaim with the Psalmist David, “How sweet your words taste to me. They are sweeter than honey.”

Thank you for being a part of this life changing work.

Thank you for being a part of this life changing work.

Much of the information from this BLOG is at least in part, from a Wycliffe Bible Translators USA

Business Analysis: Lessons from Fables

In another article, I talked a little bit about my career path leading to the role of “missionary”. One of my more recent categories of professional work has been in project management and business analysis. An aspect of both of these roles is to produce something that is new or unique within a certain time frame. Key to doing this well is to know what “customer” wants. So a very important first step in creating something new is to figure that out.

Gathering and documenting requirements is a crucial aspect of any project. Unfortunately, in business analysis and project management, we can fall victim to the trap of assumptions. This is not only for someone lacking experience. Even the most seasoned of professionals can fall prey to this error in omission and can be one of the weakest links in developing a project.

The difficulty can be attributed to a number of reasons. It is an aspect of planning. The time that it takes to effectively gather requirements can feel like unproductive time. Business analysts are not alway trained in art and science of requirements.

But I must say that the blame does not solely rest on the business analyst. Frequently it is the customer who has a challenging time articulating precisely and clearly what their needs are.

And finally, there seems to be a persistent problem with users and business analysts jumping to a solution rather than keenly describing and analyzing what the needs are. It is our human nature to want to jump right to the solution. This may lead to something that I call “Ready, Fire, Aim”. Understanding the problem to its fullest extent reveals a greater part of the ultimate solution.

By skipping this part of the problem solving, our solutions are not what typically solves to root cause of our problems. The graphic below is a classic representation of what a poor description, or (and more frequently) poor understanding of that the requirements are. 


On a trip home from the emergency room in another city where one of our granddaughters was having undigested coins removed, there was a bright, full moon off to our left. Thinking of our princess and seeing the bright orb in the sky, I was reminded of a story that my second grade teacher read to the class one day. It terms that even a child can understand, the story reflects the additional costs, features and compounded problems that we add to our ‘solution’ when we fail to find out what the end user truly wants. The following is a paraphrased version of the classic tale by James Thurber called ManyMoons.

The king called for the Lord High Chamberlain, the Royal Wizard, and the Royal Mathematician who all quickly came into the throneroom. The king explained the dilemma, then asked, “Tell me about the moon and how can we get it for Princess Lenore.”
“The moon, sire,” replied the Lord High Chamberlain, “is three miles above the earth, is as large as the princess’s room, and made of green cheese.”
Unhappy with the reply, the king turned to the Royal Wizard for counsel. “My daughter wants the moon. Please get it down for her.” This proved to be more disheartening since by the wizard’s estimation the moon was 25,000 miles above the earth, was as large as the entire castle, and made of purest silver.
Finally, the king turned to the Royal Mathematician to hopefully get a more realistic description and more promising results. “Sire,”said the Royal Mathematician, “the moon is 50,000 miles above the earth, is as large as the entire kingdom, and is painted to the sky.
The King, exasperated, sent the three on their way and called for the court jester. He asked the jester to play a dirge on his lute since he was so terribly sad that he could not get the moon for his daughter and she was, therefore, seemingly incurable. The court jester begged, “Let me talk with her, Sire.”

He told the Princess her bedtime story and looking out of the window together he asked, “Tell me about the moon?” The princess explained that the moon was about the size of her thumb nail since she could hold out her thumb and just cover the whole moon with her thumbnail. It wasn’t any higher than the tree outside her window since it often got caught there just before she fell asleep. And then she further explained that the beauty of the moon was because it was made from pure gold.

The jester went to the court jeweler and asked him to fashion a piece of gold into an orb, slightly smaller than Princess Lenore’s thumb nail and to fasten it to a golden chain. The next morning when the princess awoke,her father, the king, presented her with the pendant. Lenore’s heart leapt for joy. By the time she finished her breakfast, she wanted to get dressed and play outside. She was once again well.

James Thurber Many Moons


On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Shalom Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota commissioned us for our ministry in God’s Kingdom. 

Wycliffe and Resonate Global Mission both see it vital that missionaries be commissioned by their home church. This action clearly says that the missionaries are not on their own — they are called by God and sent as agents of the Church. Missionaries are an extension of the congregation’s ministry (Acts 13:3).

By commissioning, inspiration is provided for how God is working in the church and in the world: young adults who are wondering if this is also their calling, older folks who may not feel the call to go but can send and engage in ministry right where they are, and pastors who remember their own ordinations through this ceremony and are inspired again toward the work of ministry. This connects the work of God in the congregation to God’s calling in our hearts and God’s work in the world.

It was so incredibly humbling to have friends, family and the Shalom congregation there to support and send us into our ministry. Their personal affirmation was a blessing and for which we are so grateful.

As a part of the process, we were asked a series of questions. Those questions as well as our answers are listed below.

How have you experienced His call into missions?

  • We have felt God’s calling for some time and Shalom has played a significant part of that call. Through a blending of His Word and the Holy Spirit we have heard His call. Through prayer we have been strengthened. We have been encouraged from family and friends with deeply rooted faith. Through a sermon right here, we heard strong affirmation of our call. And finally, through the overwhelming conviction from the Holy Spirit to be obedient to the call.

What is the task you are being called to?

  • We will be working for Wycliffe Bible Translators and in partnership with Resonate Global Mission. Our functions will be in Strategic Workforce Planning, project management and donor relations.

Where will you be serving?

  • Primarily out of our home office in Woodbury, with several international and domestic trips each year to establish and maintain relationships with partner organizations. Most international travel will be to various parts of the African continent.

How will our partnership give glory to God and extend His Kingdom?

  • Glory goes to God when we are obedient to the Great Commission. Some he calls to go. Some he calls to send. With our focus on the continent of Africa where there are 706 languages waiting for Bible translation, your partnership will help deliver Bibles to them and lives will be transformed.

Ellie Goes to Africa!

by Ellie Sikma

Sometimes God seems to have a sense of humor. When I would go on walks with my friend in Sioux Falls, we would often talk about how we wanted God to use us. We wanted so very much to serve the Lord. But there was one thing that we figured we did NOT want to do. That was going to Africa in order to serve him.

So as we fast forward a number of years, we see yet another significant revelation of God’s plan for my life. This one came by way of a friend of mine, Melinda Dykstra, who is the founder of Lydia Circle Ministries. She asked me to accompany her to Tanzania and Zambia for a conference from November 4 to 19 to train women in spiritual discipleship and evangelism.


While we were members of the same church many years ago, we have had very little contact over the years. So it was quite a surprise to hear from her now after all of these years. In my mind, my first response was “NOOOO!”. But when I found out that it was in her prayers that my name came to her, I knew that it was something that I needed to do.


So as part of my preparation for our mission to Tanzania and Zambia, I put a portion of Ephesians 3 into a prayer. Please pray this prayer with me while I prepare and while we are gone.

Dear Lord. As I prepare for this mission trip, I pray that you empower me with your wisdom, love, and grace. Use my hands and feet to touch the hearts and lives of women in Zambia and Tanzania in such a way that they may experience your presence. May they hear you whisper their name, calling them to repentance. And may they grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In our Savior’s precious name. Amen


For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.

(Ephesians 1:15-19 ESV)