Stories from the Field, 4 April 2023
Does serving with Wycliffe only involve Bible Translation? What about those gifted with different skill sets?
Mike and Eve Brooks have served in missions since 1989. Mike had been a military pilot in the US Air Force until 1984, but felt God calling him into full-time service while serving in Guam in the Pacific. He later served as a pilot with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) for 21 years (1989-2010) in Irian Jaya (now Papua) and Kenya, piloting the small planes which provided transportation to missionaries and others who served in remote regions. This also included transporting all sorts of items such as printed Bibles, produce and even animals!
During their time with MAF, Eve, a speech pathologist, volunteered her services to missionary kids and local children. This was a great blessing to the missionary families, as some would have had to return home prematurely if their children had not been able to get help in the field.
In 2010, Mike and Eve joined Wycliffe, and Mike served as Director of Aviation at JAARS (an organisation that provides logistical services to Bible translation teams) until 2015, when they returned to Indonesia with Wycliffe. Now, they serve alongside Indonesian colleagues at the UBB (Language and Culture Unit) office in Kupang, West Timor, facilitating translation and literacy projects to some of the 66+ mother tongue languages in the province. Teams of trained mother tongue translators do the translation, with support from overseas trainers and consultants who travel in or work remotely. They are thankful that the teams were able to keep going through the pandemic.
Eve also serves as a literacy and education specialist in a Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) project which is now in its second year. The project currently involves 6 languages, and aims to provide instruction in the mother tongue for preschool and Grade 1, introduce the national language in Grade 2, and gradually increase national language content up to Grade 6. After that, students will be able to continue their education in national schools. The curriculum follows the national Indonesian curriculum with some additional cultural material and Bible stories. The project not only produces the curriculum and teaching materials, but also trains teachers to teach the MLE curriculum.
Teachers have reported that the MLE curriculum has made a great difference to the children. They say that young children who did not understand the national language simply copied what their classmates did, but teaching them in their local language means they are able to understand instructions and work independently.
Mike and Eve’s enthusiasm and dedication to their work shone through in their sharing.
Mike’s parting words to encourage those who are considering serving in missions: Remember that it is God’s work, not ours; and we have to be willing to take a step of faith.