When we think of doing missions work, what comes to mind first?
We usually imagine missionaries as pastors or martyrs who plant churches in faraway lands or journey for months to reach remote people groups.
If that’s what a missionary does, how could we as “normal” people possibly get involved in missions?
That’s exactly how Hannah Kelly felt — until she joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and began serving in a way she hadn’t thought of before.
Hannah knew she was gifted in the area of teaching and loved working with students who had special needs. But she wasn’t sure how those gifts could fit into God’s plans to advance His kingdom around the world.
When she encountered the ministry of Wycliffe Bible Translators, she was intrigued by their invitation to join the mission of Bible translation. Translation work calls for many people with a wide range of skills—but how could a special needs teacher fit in?
God had plenty to show Hannah.
“In June 2018, He led me to attend a Wycliffe training for teachers,” said Hannah. “During that time, God really humbled my heart. Me and God had a lot of conversations that week.”
It was a journey of seeking God’s will for her life and gifts, and Hannah struggled to work through some of her own desires and doubts.
“But I had decided to join Wycliffe by the end of the week,” she said, and from that moment on, she was ready to prepare for her new career as an overseas teacher with Wycliffe.
After attending the training event and committing to work with Wycliffe, Hannah admitted, “I found out that I was excited to teach overseas, but I was more excited about Bible translation.”
Although the pace of Bible translation has greatly increased over the last several decades, the need for translation is still great. Wycliffe reports that at least 2,000 people groups around the world still don’t have any portions of Scripture in their own language.
The work of Bible translation requires people with many different skill sets: linguists, writers, videographers, computer programmers, actors, painters, and yes, even teachers. Teachers who come on staff with Wycliffe work in local schools or missionary schools to teach the children of missionaries.
Missionary kids are an often-overlooked group in the missions conversation. They have distinct needs and gifts, but their parents don’t always have time to nurture them since the work of translation is demanding and often exhausting.
If missionaries can’t find schools and support systems for their children, they aren’t able to stay in the countries and communities where they serve, and the work of translation may stall.
When Hannah had the opportunity to travel to an area of Southeast Asia where Wycliffe is working, she knew it was the right place for her. After visiting the school where she would be serving, she was touched by the immense need for her teaching skills.
“God just showed me that by meeting the needs of [missionaries’] children, I’ll be allowing their parents to stay in the country and continue working to spread the gospel,” Hannah said. It was her opportunity to contribute to the incredible work of Bible translation.
She’ll be the special education teacher for grades K-12—quite a lot of responsibility for one person! But Hannah knew that God specifically called her to this role, and He was working all along the way to open the right doors.
“I just felt God telling me again and again that He has prepared me for this specific job in this specific school with these specific kids,” Hannah said. Her particular gifts and interests were perfectly crafted for this role.
“It’s just cool to me how God can use something He’s made me good at, which is supporting students with special needs, but how He can use that to reach people I’ll never meet.”
Because of Hannah’s service in teaching missionary kids, the missionaries themselves will be able to continue their work of translation and preaching – and know that their children are in the care of a capable and God-honoring teacher.
And because of Hannah’s service as a teacher, more than one people group in Southeast Asia will receive the Word of God in their own language soon.
“I’m just so thankful that God can use the things that He’s made me good at to help serve His kingdom,” Hannah said. She’s ready to follow God wherever He leads!
Interested in learning more about Wycliffe’s work? Curious about how your gifts could contribute to the Bible translation movement?