Working as an Independent Contractor with Biblica
Posted by Gary O’Rourke, 25 February 2020
Joshua understood and accepted the Gospel at the age of 13 in Sunday School. He grew up in the United States, obtained a PhD in Mathematics, and spent a year in England before moving to Kazakhstan. Along the way he married and they lived in Kazakhstan for 29 years raising three children. Since 2019 they have been based in his wife’s homeland.
In Kazakhstan Joshua was involved in ministering to several small groups of Uyghur Christians as he worked on a Russian language Bible translation for Central Asians. Currently he also has responsibility for collecting and editing material in various languages of the former Soviet Union for worshipleaderapp.com – an app which provides free access to Christian songs in many languages.
For many years Joshua has worked in partnership with Biblica, but since November 2019 he has worked with Biblica as an Independent Contractor one day a week, establishing links with partners who are reaching people of the former Soviet Union and providing them with access to Biblica’s resources. One of the main resources is the CARS Bible, the translation that Joshua has worked on for many years.
We were keen to catch up with Joshua to find out more about this work…..
Biblica: Joshua, tell us more about CARS.
Joshua: CARS stands for Central Asian Russian Scriptures. There have been Bibles in the Russian language for a long time, but CARS is different. It is designed for people of the former Soviet Union and for that reason, where appropriate, it uses religious terminology that they would be familiar with and it avoids the kinds of terms that perhaps only Christians use. For example, instead of the usual Russian word for “church” we use a phrase that means something like “congregation of believers”. We also use the kind of green and gold ornamental cover design that they expect for a Holy Book as opposed to a black book with an Orthodox Cross and the word БИБЛИЯ dominating the cover. Our guiding philosophy is that we want Central Asians to feel cultural ownership of the books – to feel that the books are for them.
Biblica: What partner organisations do you work with?
Joshua: Before I worked for Biblica our team established a network of contacts throughout the former Soviet Union including the Kazakhstan Bible Society, Assemblies of God in Kazakhstan, Southern Baptists, Open Doors, The Bible League and Operation Mobilisation. Now that I have joined Biblica I am updating and expanding this network, connecting them with the appropriate Biblica staff. It’s nice, finally, not to have to do all aspects of the job myself, and to know that Biblica will reprint and distribute books whether I am involved or not.
Biblica: How have things progressed recently?
Joshua: I recently represented Biblica at a meeting with various Bible Societies who are working to provide bible resources for various ethnic groups. This was a great opportunity to strengthen Biblica’s relationships with others so that we can cooperate, learn from each other and avoid duplication.
On the book distribution front I’ve put key Biblica staff in touch with the current Baptist leadership working in this field and passed along the results of a survey of their needs over the next several years. I also helped a ministry among people in the Ural Mountains to find a contact willing to resupply their stocks of CARS when they run out.
I was recently in touch with the developers of the most influential Bible app in the Russian speaking world. They already have the Biblica Russian translations, both CARS and the New Russian Translation (NRT), and they estimated that there had been roughly 100,000 downloads of the NRT in 2019. Biblica is making a huge impact among ethnic Russians as well as Central Asians, but more and more this is happening electronically.
Biblica: Please share a story of when you have seen God’s word having an impact.
Joshua: In our region we have had almost 300,000 Bibles printed and at least that many portions of Scripture with the vast majority distributed to people belonging to various ethnic groups. We have collected hundreds of testimonies of how God has been using these books among dozens of ethnic groups. It has been very rewarding to see this work succeed and I want to give all the glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I would like to share an old story from 2004 from Ingushetia at the time of the Second Chechen War.
An evangelist told us that he went to several Ingush villages to distribute CARS Bibles. When he returned to one particular village, several people came up to him and said, “We know you have the green Holy Scriptures, please give us copies too”. A mother complained, “My daughter took my copy away – please give me another!”. A different mother, while holding CARS close to her heart told him, “this is the most precious present”.
I asked the evangelist what would have happened if he had taken regular Russian Bibles to give away. He responded, “I probably would not have come back alive!”. The Ingush are close to the Chechens who were fighting an anti–Russian war for independence and anything that would have been seen as an attempt to convert them to the religion of their Russian enemies would very likely have been met with violence. CARS however was not perceived in that fashion, but as sacred information about the heroes of their own religion.
Biblica: How can people be praying for you and the work?
Joshua: Personally, for discipline as I work from home. Also please pray for my residency application to stay in our new homeland.
Please also pray for the right partnerships to be in place when we again print and distribute CARS and other products; and for us as we consider the right approach as we transition to more electronic distribution of bible resources.
Recently there was terrible inter–ethnic conflict in Kazakhstan between Kazakhs and the Dungan. At least ten were killed and many houses were burned down. I was able to locate enough CARS to meet the need of one particular ministry in that region, but pray for those Bibles as they need to be brought over an international border which is often difficult. Pray also for reconciliation and long–lasting peace to prevail in that region.
Pray as we seek further partners in the huge region of the former Soviet Union and supply them with Bibles.
Pray also for the churches in Kazakhstan who know about CARS but are not using it for various reasons. A gathering of leaders in Kazakhstan is being organised for later in 2020, so there is great potential to make the case for using CARS to these key decision makers.
Biblica: Thank you Joshua, we will be praying.
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