By Kim Beaty
(Worthy News)-- Waxhaw, North Carolina. It all came together for her one night as she sat in the pews of her own church, Sunday after Sunday, and understood not one thing. Not a word of the Scriptures read, the songs sung, or the sermon given. She was right there in Burlington, North Carolina, her hometown, but for the amount she understood, it could have been Belgium or Zimbabwe. And she thought: "What if these people were in my shoes? What if they came to my service and couldn't understand anything? They would not have a meaningful worship service at all."
For Sue Crabtree, sitting in the Hispanic services that she was trying to encourage and support with her attendance, that's when it really hit home how important it is that every person have the Scriptures in the language he or she knows best.
Sue had known in her head that this was true. She believed in the ministry of Wycliffe Bible Translators, an international organization whose mission it is to see the Bible translated into the 3000 languages that still need it. She believed it enough to become President of her local Chapter of Wycliffe Associates - the lay organization that supports the ministry of Wycliffe Bible Translators - and has remained president for eleven years.
But it was in the Hispanic service that things changed. "Until then," Sue says, "I knew the need for people to have the Bible in their language, but I hadn't seen it up close. It was kind of like knowing about God before really knowing God. That experience sealed in my mind that Wycliffe Bible Translators was doing what needed to be doneâ€”giving people the Bible in their own language, the language they know best."
Sue continued with her volunteer work for Wycliffe Associates, but now with greater understanding and ownership of the organization's goals. The Burlington-Alamance County Chapter, which she presided over, sponsored informational banquets and fundraisers to channel people and dollars to Wycliffe Bible Translators. As a couple and individually, Sue and her husband, Morris, volunteered at Wycliffe's JAARS center near Waxhaw, North Carolina, several times a year.
In anticipation of Morris's retirement in 1998, the couple prayed about what they should do next. They knew Wycliffe Associates volunteers were needed at the JAARS center. (Wycliffe's JAARS center supports the work of Bible translation through aviation, computer services, and vernacular media.) "Morris retired in August, on a Friday. Saturday we had a retirement party, and on Monday we moved to JAARS!"
Sue's volunteer position, which is full time, is Wycliffe Associates Chapter Liaison for North and South Carolina and for one Chapter in Bristol, Tennessee. "I work with the Chapters to see what they need in terms of speakers and videos. I line up speakers from JAARS and supply publicity material. I visit the Chapters to see how they're doing and to encourage them. Right now I am also working on presenting the International Training and Resource Center in bite-sized pieces that individual Chapters can help finance."
And what of her goals for the future? "At one time there were 22 Chapters in the Carolinas and part of Tennessee. I would like to see the numbers back up at least to that. Right now we have 13. The thing I would like to see most in the Chapters is involvement by people in the 30-60 age group."
Sue has never been overseas to see a Bible translation project in process, but that doesn't dim her vision. "I'm not a Bible translator, but I can support the work," she says. "I definitely feel that what I do here as a support person allows translators to remain on the field doing what God has called them to do. I have such a feeling of fulfillment and of making a difference!"
* * *