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Joining Wycliffe – Frequently Asked Questions

Literacy class

  • Did you know that over 2000 people groups do not have any scripture in the language that touches their heart most deeply?

  • Do you want to help marginalised people groups hear God speak in their own language, and see their lives transformed by understanding and applying God’s word?

  • Do you yearn to stand in the multitude in heaven and hear God praised in every language, and know that you played a part?

Read on to find out more about serving in Wycliffe!

Q: What roles are available?

Wycliffe organisations work in field projects all over the world, and people with many different skills are required. Just a sample of the varied roles:

  • Translation (Bible translation, scripture use, oral storying, etc.)

  • Literacy and multilingual education

  • Administration (HR, finance, project management, IT, communications, etc.)

  • Community development (‘tent-making’, business as mission (BAM), poverty alleviation, etc.)

Q: What’s the best age to join Wycliffe?

There is no ‘best age’! Some join Wycliffe in their twenties, practically straight out of education. Others may have worked for several years before joining Wycliffe in mid-career. Still others may only join after retirement. Each stage of life brings with it different strengths and challenges. Younger people may have more energy and a long runway ahead, while older people will be able to draw on more extensive work and life experiences.

Explaining a passage

Q: Is a linguistics degree or specific working experience necessary?

Many of our members have a university degree, but not necessarily in linguistics. A degree or other tertiary qualification is generally recommended because it provides training in critical thinking, transferable skills and in-depth study of a subject. Another important reason is that a tertiary qualification can make it easier to find opportunities to live and work in another country.

There is no precise course which is the ‘best’ for the work of Wycliffe as it depends very much on the role to be filled. Except for language-related roles, formal training in linguistics is actually not needed! And in fact, many Wycliffe translators do not have linguistics backgrounds, and only get linguistics training after joining. Those who wish to serve in other types of work should have the appropriate training and experience for their area of service.

Many Wycliffe members in future are likely to be ‘tent-makers’, holding down a job or running a business while doing ministry. A track record in some line of work, whether as a teacher, entrepreneur, doctor, baker, etc. will provide equipping in work skills, and also make it easier to find ways to live and work in another country. Experience of working in organisations is also invaluable for anyone who intends to work cross-culturally and with other people in the field.

Q: What other training is needed?

Before heading to the field, everyone will needs training in how to work and relate to people cross-culturally and how to learn a language.

Technical training for ministry will be needed as well – whether for language work, IT, running a business, etc. However, some of this can be acquired when needed, not necessarily before heading to the field.

Some theological training is recommended, though not a full seminary degree. Serving among an unreached people group will often mean that you will need to minister to others in some way, and a good grounding in scripture is essential. Other ministry skills such as discipling or leading small groups will also be important in situations where there may be few Christians and churches. You will also need to learn how to maintain your own spiritual health in tough and lonely situations.

All this adds to the time before getting to the field, but the training is necessary to ensure that you have sufficient equipping for the job and to thrive in the field.

Audio checks

Q: Do I have to speak the ‘target’ language to translate the Bible?

The simple answer is ‘yes, but not necessarily to a very high level’! Language projects always involve mother-tongue speakers, but you will be able to contribute more to the work if you know language better.

Expatriate workers are most needed for their skills in project management and supervision, accessing outside resources, and making sure that the texts are sufficiently tested and checked. In particular, as the local people are often fairly new believers, the expatriate will usually be responsible for helping them understand the scripture and translate it accurately.

In order to serve in these ways, the expatriate will need to be able to communicate with the team in their language or the working language of that area. So, some language learning is needed before embarking on any project.

Q: What can I do now to find out more?

The best way to find out more is to contact us for a chat. Attend our events and activities to get a feel of what we do. Sign up for our regular mailings and read our website. We look forward to answering your questions!

Considering missions but not sure where to start? Our members come from all walks of life, contributing to our ministry in many different ways. Are you or do you know someone in IT, HR, accounts, admin, working bi-vocationally etc.? We need more than Bible translators to do the job!


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