Annual Report | 2015
This year, through your prayers, gifts and encouragement, you made an eternal investment worth far more than any earthly inheritance. Thank you for that partnership.
Below, I’ve taken the opportunity to report on Wycliffe USA’s key performance areas for fiscal year 2015 and to share some thoughts as we look toward the future. I hope you’ll find this information useful as you reflect on God’s faithfulness during the past year and rejoice over the way he’s using your investments to transform lives.
Fiscal Year 2015 Recap
Overall, I was greatly encouraged by our 2015 progress across strategic programs and initiatives. Our engagement numbers were especially high this year, and I look forward to seeing the full fruit of these relationships in the future as individuals engage in deeper levels of prayer, giving and service.
We fully rely on God, through prayer, to see Bible translation completed, and engaging new prayer partners is a high priority for Wycliffe USA. Our prayer engagement goal for fiscal year 2015 was to add 3,500 new partners to our team. We met 49 percent of that goal with 1,699 new partners. Given the spiritual challenges surrounding prayer, we feel that this was positive progress, and we now have a total of more than 22,000 prayer partners. Next year, we anticipate even greater numbers as our new Bibleless People Group of the Week initiative gains traction.
This year our Mobilization team had the privilege of sharing about Bible translation in 750 university and college classrooms, which is more than seven times what they’ve achieved in past years. They were also able to share at 110 Perspectives courses, doubling their previous participation. We anticipate seeing the full results of these efforts in the future as these individuals engage with Bible translation at deeper levels.
Meanwhile, our staffing goal for fiscal year 2015 was 152 new Wycliffe members. We met 79 percent of that goal with 120 new members added. We also launched a new volunteer program with 48 participants who, together with the new members, filled 168 critical positions.
This year our organizational engagement goal was 35,000 new contacts. I am happy to report that together our Prayer, Advancement, Strategic Partnerships, Mobilization and Marketing teams exceeded that goal by approximately 50 percent with 52,448 new contacts. During the summer, we partnered with Moody Radio to run a successful funding campaign. In addition, we implemented a new marketing automation system to support our face-to-face partnership efforts. This system has already proven highly effective as we engage new partners and nurture them toward deeper levels of engagement.
Fiscal year 2014 was a good year for our Advancement team, and they carried that momentum into 2015. Our fiscal year goal was $20 million in field project revenue and we came in at 91 percent of that goal with $18.2 million. Meanwhile, revenue through our Wycliffe member ministries reached 99 percent of the annual goal, totaling $114.5 million of the $115.8 million anticipated. We rejoice in God’s provision and are thankful for your continued partnership.
Fiscal Year 2016 Plan
Our vision for fiscal year 2016 is to continue pursuing new innovations that accelerate Bible translation and the life-transforming impact of Scripture in language groups around the world. While our organizational engagement numbers exceeded our expectations in 2015, we believe that continuing to expand our contact base and inspiring more individuals to step deeper into Bible translation involvement is crucial to the growth and success of Bible translation efforts worldwide.
This fiscal year our Prayer Ministries team launched a new email initiative with the purpose of providing a broader spectrum of engaging content and exposing both new and existing prayer partners to needs all over the globe. Meanwhile, our hope moving forward is to see that every identified Bibleless people group has a minimum of 10 prayer partners faithfully interceding for them. Would you join us in praying that God would break through the spiritual barriers, dramatically exceeding our expectations for new prayer partners in the coming year?
Additionally, if you haven’t already, I invite you to join our prayer team.
I am truly grateful for the way God blessed our engagement efforts in fiscal year 2015, allowing us to perform well beyond our own expectations. In the coming year, we look forward to even greater opportunities for engagement through emerging technologies and creative new strategies. Our desire is to not only inspire people in the U.S. to become engaged in Bible translation, but also to facilitate opportunities for God to transform their own lives through his Word.
We are grateful to God for continuing to provide for the Bible translation movement through financial partnership. Our prayer for fiscal year 2016 is that he would not only meet our funding goals, but also provide the resources necessary to accelerate the work of Bible translation to reach every language in the coming decade.
As our Mobilization team continues to adjust strategy in order to meet the challenges and opportunities of a new generation of recruits, we are grateful for the successes of fiscal year 2015. Not only do we look forward to continuing to grow our annual membership numbers — especially filling key strategic positions — but we also anticipate that our new volunteer program will help provide critical momentum to reach every language in need by 2025.
You may have heard that Wycliffe USA has entered a new period of innovation based on a Common Framework for Bible Translation. Since its beginning, Wycliffe has always been committed to working in partnership to best serve local people groups. Under the Common Framework for Bible Translation, our intent is to prioritize partnerships with the most local expressions of the church, supporting people like the Cakchiquel man in my introduction who is sacrificing so much to make God’s Word available in his own language.
As we continue to align ourselves under this new strategy, in coming years we anticipate even greater acceleration of the pace of Bible translation program starts and new levels of innovation. These changes bring new opportunities, but also new challenges, and we greatly cherish your prayers and continued partnership.
Thank you for your faithfulness as we continue to pursue this life-transforming work — seeing a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025.
Wycliffe Bible Translators USA
About 7,000 languages are spoken around the world.
Up to 1,800 languages still need a Bible translation started.
Work is being done in almost 2,300 languages worldwide. Almost 1,800 of these projects involve our family of organizations.
Light in the Kamis Darkness
For the last five years, SIL* has been supporting a project translating the New Testament into Kamis, one of many tribal languages in South America’s Amazon jungle. The translation team considers it their mission to bring the light of God’s Word into the darkness of Kamis culture. The Kamis people know darkness — the visible kind that comes from a lack of electricity, and the spiritual kind that comes from a perpetual fear of mercenary spirits called the Jai, who control their fate.
The Kamis people look to the Jaibana, sorcerers who influence the Jai, to bring good luck or administer retribution to their lives. The Holy Spirit is new to them, so they question his power. Is he stronger than the Jai? These questions are being answered every day. Recently, a Kamis woman was bitten by a deadly snake. A believer in Christ, she invited fellow Christians to pray for her. As they prayed throughout the night, the news of her condition and her unconventional treatment spread. “If she dies,” village leaders said, “it will be because the Jai are more powerful than the Holy Spirit.” By morning, she was still alive. She eventually fully recovered, and today her story testifies to the power of the Holy Spirit in her village.
The local Kamis translation team has recently translated the book of Philemon, which challenges the pervasive Kamis culture of retribution. In Kamis communities, petty criminals are punished harshly, often by spending several days in the stocks, vulnerable to weather, pests and ridicule; to murder a thief or debtor is not considered unjust. In this context, local translators were shocked to read how the Apostle Paul recommended a thief so highly — that he would even take on the thief’s debt as his own. Paul’s behavior demonstrated a kind of forgiveness rarely found in Kamis culture.
One of the translators recently shared how this new biblical concept of forgiveness has changed his life.
“A neighbor stole a pig from me, and I was ready to kill him; I even went looking for him on the mountain with my machete. But on the way, a voice told me, ‘Don’t do it.’ I fell to my knees and wept. When I got up, I went to his house and forgave him. When he asked me why, I told him because that’s what Jesus would do. He asked to be introduced to Jesus, and he is now a follower of Jesus like me.”
The Kamis translation of the New Testament is still incomplete, but its light is already piercing the surrounding darkness. Members of the translation team are gaining a reputation as Bible experts; local pastors are increasingly coming to them to clarify the Word and rectify false teachings. As they come to know the Word of God for themselves, their light shines bright into the Kamsis’s darkness, and the power of that darkness is beginning to wane.
Mukasa John and Saliima’s Story
For centuries, the Bwisi people of Uganda had no access to Scripture. But that changed in 1992 when missionaries started translating the Bible into the Bwisi language. Today, Mukasa John and his wife Saliima tell the story of the freedom they found through Scripture.
“Before I began reading God’s Word, I was very, very badly off,” says Mukasa John. “I was a drunkard, and the Word of God was very far from me.
“Because of my behavior, I lost my teaching job and sold my land, which I am no longer able to get back. I had no friends, my clan members hated me, and I had no peace with my wife and children.
“Because of me, my children lost their chance of being educated and our family often went hungry. I used to sleep with other men’s wives and there was no peace in my home. Eventually my children left and went to live with relatives.
“Whenever I drank, I would fight with my wife and beat her almost to the point of death. I wanted to kill her. I would even shoot her with a slingshot. I was taken to jail for a week because of beating her so badly. My wife became very sad and sorrowful because of the suffering I brought her.
“Then the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark in my own Bwisi language touched my life so much I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.”
“I see my husband being totally changed in a Christian way. He is no longer drinking, smoking and beating me like a drum.
“We are reading the book of Mark and other books together. We are walking together. He is even telling me how much money he has, which was difficult for him before. I am now the treasurer of our home in everything.
“I used to have to sleep in the bush, but now I am in my house, with my husband, with peace.
“I do regret the time my husband wasted doing things that did not bring profit in our home. We lost the chance of educating our children. But we are now trying to educate our grandchildren — teaching them the Word of God.”
Mukasa John’s Growth
“The verses that really touched me were where John the Baptist preached repentance and the forgiveness of sins. In addition, Jesus’ words that say it is what comes out of a man — from his heart — that defiles him. From the book of Hebrews, God commands us to honor the marriage bed and to not let it become defiled. Up to now those words still challenge me.
“Ever since I have had the Word of God in my own language, my level of understanding has increased. I was trying to memorize verses in other languages, but the verses left my memory. These days, when I memorize verses in Bwisi, though the exact words may go out from my head, I always remain with the meaning of the verse.”
The Repentant Atheist
Juan* has lived a difficult life. As a child, he grew up in a home where his mother would vent her anger and frustration by hitting him, and his father was bound to alcohol. His parents separated when he was very young, and his mother left him in a neighboring community with his grandparents. After that, Juan never heard from his mother again.
Juan’s life didn’t get any easier over the years. “At six years of age … I became a practicing atheist,” Juan says. With nothing and no one to believe in, he began to act out towards his grandparents and was drawn to alcohol himself. By 32, Juan was an alcoholic.
“I was losing my family, my friends, their trust, my community work, everything, because I had begun stealing things,” Juan says.
But God had other plans for Juan.
The Scriptures had been recorded in Chipaya, Juan’s language. Faith Comes By Hearing, a partner organization of Wycliffe, and the Bible Society had brought devices called Proclaimers that would play the recorded Scripture. Juan knew of them, but chose to give them no importance. After all, he didn’t believe that God existed. Sometimes, though, he would pass the door of the church on his evening walk around the city and stand by the door of a church, listening to the recording for a while before going on his way.
After several months of occasional listening, one night Juan heard something that really caught his attention. Afterwards, he went to talk to the pastor about it, sharing, “I heard some words that seemed so straightforward that it seemed like they were being spoken directly to me.”
The pastor told Juan that the verse played that night was 1 John 3:8. He showed him the verse in the Chipaya New Testament. It read, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
Those words made an impact on Juan’s heart.
“I could not understand how God could speak to me so directly,” Juan reflects, “and how he could change my life that was so full of problems. I have to say that every time this device was turned on and sound came out, and when it proclaimed the Word, my body shook. Because of this, the next time I stopped by there, the pastor invited me to repent.”
So that day, Juan — an atheist for most of his life — believed in God.
“I didn’t know at the time what was happening,” Juan says, “but I remember being prostrate and crying like a child, receiving God’s love in my life.”
Now Juan encourages other people to listen to this device. “I have told the people they have to listen to this device because God is speaking to us in our language and he is speaking clearly so that we will understand him,” Juan says. Juan, a professed atheist, confessed that there was a God after he understood, and now he hopes that others too will surrender their lives to God and receive his love themselves.
To see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025.
|Cash and cash equivalents||8,441||11,060|
|Contributions receivable — net||440||0|
|Amounts due from related entities||958||752|
|Investments related to fiduciary agreements||18,271||19,769|
|Property and equipment — net of accumulated depreciation||39,502||38,070|
|Assets held for endowment||2,475||2,643|
|Accounts payable and accrued expenses||2,048||2,365|
|Deferred matching contribution revenue||65||693|
|Medical claims payable||1,630||1,500|
|Amounts due to related entities||967||789|
|Accrued liabilities for office relocation||2,042||0|
|Equity in property and equipment — net||37,670||38,070|
|Total Net Assets||$110,724||$108,843|
|Total Liabilities and Net Assets||$136,954||$134,777|
|Operating Support and Revenue||2015||2014|
|Interest and dividend income||1,492||1,536|
|Total Operating Support and Revenue||$186,786||$183,001|
|Bible translation and related programs||144,877||139,134|
|General and administrative||23,938||24,131|
|Total Operating Expenses||$185,099||$179,682|
|Net realized/unrealized gain/(loss) on investments||1,151||541|
|Net realized/unrealized gain/(loss) on fiduciary agreements||(957)||(372)|
|Total Non-Operating Income/(Expenses)||$194||$169|
|Change in net assets||1,881||3,488|
|Net assets — beginning of year||108,843||105,355|
|Net Assets — End of Year||$110,724||$108,843|
2015 Board Members
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