Never Too Old or Too Sick

By Rachel Greco

Elizabeth Farnsworth, a JAARS New Hampshire advocate, invites friends over for dinner. She serves rice to each guest and gives them each a single chopstick with which to eat. 

Guests trying to eat rice with one chopstick.

Once they’ve had their share of frustration and failure, she explains that eating rice with only one chopstick is like trying to understand a Bible written in a language they don’t speak regularly or understand very well. Then she explains the importance of Bible translation and the unique role that JAARS plays in making Bible translation possible by supplying practical solutions to Bible translators and other Scripture workers. 

Elizabeth is one of about 30 advocates across the U.S. According to Michael P. Nelson, the director of advocacy, “Advocates speak for JAARS among their spheres of influence in their local contexts, right in their own home territory. They do this to give people a vision for the support that JAARS provides to Bible translation work and to encourage people to get involved in JAARS through prayer, financial support and serving.” 

Michael P. Nelson shares at an event.

An advocate communicates the vision and mission of JAARS in many ways: in person, over the phone, by letter, or electronically. Presentations have been made at Christian business associations, a Christian-book table and an ethnic dinner, through church newsletters and bulletin boards, at a model airplane club, at a harvest festival, in a radio interview at a children’s home, at a corn roast, and in a coffee shop. 

Kirk McKeen, now in heaven, kept his advocacy hat on even while undergoing cancer treatment in the hospital. He was able to share with several nurses and aides about the work of JAARS and Bible translation. He told those whose primary language was not English that translations in their primary language probably existed, and he suggested ways to find copies. Their excitement was contagious, and one even brought a friend to talk with Kirk. As his wife, Jane, said, “We are never too old or too sick to serve the Lord.” 

Working closely with the advocates are JAARS Partnership Ministry (PM) Reps. They build relationships with donors to broaden their vision and encourage their involvement with JAARS. Gin and Randy Popham enjoy serving as PM Reps in the middle of Iowa’s prairie.

“We have no idea whom God will move to come alongside us,” Gin explained. A man they know well had given to JAARS in the past, and when they learned about some needed upgrades on the JAARS Center, they approached this man, who gave a significant gift. Praise the Lord for his provision! 

Another time, Randy and Gin returned to a family in Montana they had stayed with before. The family’s four little girls handed them an envelope with $12.27 in coins and bills. The children had remembered the couple when they set up a lemonade stand, and they gave JAARS half their income. “It was such a huge blessing,” Gin said. “I keep the envelope above my desk to remind me of the value of small gifts as well as gifts from children.” 

The envelope containing the gift from the girls’ lemonade stand.

Advocates and PM Reps are needed to help make it possible to translate the gospel into the language of every nation and people, as it says in Revelation 7:9—10 ESV: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” 

You can help people spread the gospel to every nation by becoming a JAARS advocate or PM Rep. Check out how here.