Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Phil & Gale's newest letter

This is our letter sharing about my LONG trip to Indonesia,

  • and about Gale joining me there for two wonderful weeks,
  • and what the Lord is doing among the Orya people.

This is a temporary post. I will remove it someday.

Because of the limitations involved with a Text Post, and because I want to share pictures to all readers, I ask you to click this link in order to view the PDF file.

Check out this episode!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mid-May There, and back again

Hi, friends!

I’m back after one of my longest trips to Indonesia. My trips usually run 7 weeks. But because Gale was able to come for two weeks while I was there, this trip was 11 weeks.

Some of you probably remember that our daughter, Rachel, also works with PBT. She worked for three years in Tanzania, but her health challenges (including the kinds of foods she can eat) made it difficult to live there any longer. After coming home, she stayed with us for a few months of recovery before moving two weeks ago to Dallas, where she is now working in the finance office at our organization’s headquarters.

 After working through various challenges, she left for Dallas full of joy in anticipation of taking up her new work. And her work has gone well— including learning new accounting software. But she didn't anticipate that the place she had rented to live in would be filled with mildew and black mold. Rachel already struggles with health challenges that are like her mother's, and that includes a sensitivity to mold and mildew. She has cleaned as deeply as she can in her area, but the problem remains throughout the house. Recently our son, David, was on a business trip to Dallas and stopped in to visit Rachel. He said his eyes started watering as soon as he stepped into the place.

Please ask the Lord to quickly provide Rachel a good place to live that will not cause allergic reactions. Housing is very tight in the Duncanville area, south of Dallas. So finding a vacancy and getting a reasonable price are both difficult.

Since coming back, my first major job was to typeset our Plain Indonesian Translation NT (TSI) for edition 2.3. While I have prepared smaller books for publishing, I have never had to do a whole NT. I praise the Lord that the Lord has enabled me do a passable job just using humble open source software. The job is not quite finished. Please pray that my team and I will be able to catch any errors that linger in the layout. Through the generosity of a donor in another country, 9,500 copies of this edition will be sold at a subsidized price of $2.50, and 500 will be given away. Please pray that the Lord would do exactly like He says in his Word, that his Word would not return void, but would cut deep into the very soul and spirit of each reader, bringing a harvest of repentance and transformed lives.

Daniel, the office manager for our non-profit organization, called Albata, recently had the opportunity to attend a conference and prayer gatherings in the province of Sulawesi. He took copies of our NT along with him, some to give away, others to sell. He was disappointed that he was not able to get any time to present about our translation in a conference meeting, so he just prayed that God would work somehow. He had only given  a place for our display. But the regional head of the Fellowship of Churches was there, and Daniel gave him a free copy of or NT. The next morning, that man was the speaker for the morning devotions. He preached from our TSI NT! He said something like, “When I read in this translation, the points I want to speak on just leap out of the page.” Another pastor there bought a copy. He spoke for the next morning’s devotions, again reading from and preaching from our NT. When things like this happen, we don’t need to give presentations. The Lord himself promotes his Word! Praise God! What a great answer to prayer.

The prayer request that I have mentioned again and again is that we in Albata would finish a high quality draft of the whole OT by sometime in 2020. It actually is beginning to look like we may meet that goal. But our further goal of getting all of the OT checked and ready for publication in 2022 seems almost impossible. There is a way out of this impossible situation, and it is something I hope you will join us in asking the Lord for.

Let me introduce the answer to my impossible situation by telling a little of what happened on my trip. Several things worked together so that I had a noon meal with three young single ladies in a large mall in Jakarta. Let me just say that they are from two different churches that already support Albata, and all three are from well-to-do families. All speak English fluently, and one is a graduate of Cornell in the USA, another with a degree from Australia. Two teach online courses. All had another wonderful thing in common: They all would like to help Albata meet the goal I just mentioned. So I asked them, “How can we find and involve more people just like you in completing our Bible translation?” The three young women turned out to be the experts God had appointed to answer that question! As a result of that meeting, I will create a new online course with the goal of training volunteers to help our translation team. Their advice included that the course needs to touch the listener’s hearts to motivate them to give their time, and I need to tell stories that will powerfully share our vision.

But, argh! I’m not good at telling stories! And this requires me to make some videos. This is NOT something that was on my want-to-do list! Please pray that God will enable me to make an interesting and engaging course that will be successful in reaching the hearts volunteers to be involved in a hands-on way in our Bible translation work. Please pray that we can manage the results so that the volunteers actually help, and not slow down our progress. There is something here that pertains to the Daily Bible Reading Podcast: I will not be able to release any new episodes until this course is set up and operating.

On May 6th, a family of 6 living in Surabaya, Java, split up and went to three different churches, and all set off suicide bombs that killed 25 people and injured others. Tension between Christians and Muslims has been increasing, and part of the reason are certain political events that have happened recently.

I tell about that to give a little perspective to another prayer request: We are adapting our current NT translation for use by Muslim background believers. This month we for the first time floated the Gospel of Mark at our web site. Because of the interests and needs of that group, the translation will be designed to be viewed in two columns together with the Greek text, and it will include many more footnotes showing how the source text has been translated.

I flew to visit with a consultant concerning that NT translation. Since it was an early flight, I ordered a taxi to pick me up at 3AM. The taxi driver was friendly and we started talking about the governor of Jakarta who was given a two-year jail sentence relating to his Christian beliefs. Then he said, “I’m a Christian myself. But I am originally from Aceh (a hotbed of radical Islam). Both my father and mother are devout Muslims and have even taken the required haji trip to Saudi Arabia.” He went on to describe how he was raised to be devout like his parents. He repeatedly went to a small church in the town, stole Bibles, and then burned them. He thinks he must have burned over 100 of them. But one day, a scrap with one verse didn’t burn up. He stuck the fragment in his pocket. It said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” Beginning with that night, the Lord began to speak to him. He stole another Bible, but this time didn’t burn it. Instead he took it home and secretly searched in it to find that verse. But after four months he still couldn’t locate it. In anger he went to the church on a Sunday morning and kicked at the door while people were singing. They let him in and demanded, “Where is this verse!” It only took them a minute to locate John 14:6. Then his question was, “Who is the person who said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life?’” The answer was, “That’s Jesus.” “Then I want to follow him,” he said.

But he didn’t tell his parents. He left home. But after working in other cities for a few years, he went back home to tell his parents. He wanted to tell them about his conversion before he got baptized. His parents’ response was what might be expected. A huge argument erupted. He was stabbed twice in the back. Then someone took a huge rock and cracked his skull with it. When he came to, his body had been thrown out in the jungle. (At this point, still on the way to the airport, he took my hand and placed it on his head, so that I could feel the indentation in his skull.)

Then I said, “Your story is almost like the man who is working with me to create a new New Testament translation for Muslim background believers in Indonesia. His name is ___ (we’ll call him Zack today), He’s also from Aceh. He also was almost killed when he believed in Christ because of reading a Bible.” Then the taxi driver said, “Oh, Zack! Is he real short?” And I said Yes.

There are around 20,000 Bluebird taxi drivers in Jakarta. What are the chances that I would be picked up by a driver who had met Zack two months earlier? And this happened on the day I was traveling to meet a consultant for the special NT translation being prepared for such people!

I want to repeat and hopefully simplify a couple of announcements I made in my News from Jakarta post one month ago. (That was a text only post, not a podcast. I recorded a podcast, but experienced a software meltdown making it so that I couldn’t edit my recording.)

  • If you access the Daily Bible Reading podcasts via the Devotional Content page inside the YouVersion app, then I want you to be aware that the search string encoded in the Podcast Choices link is often not working well. Try adding the letter p to the front of that search string, or if you search for podcast released this year, add the letter y to the front of that search string.
  • The same is true for the DBR website as well. If you just search for a day number 130, (and search without any other characters from the file name) you will also find all the podcasts that include Psalm 130 as well. It is better to add a few more letters matching the file name of the series you want to listen to, in order for your desired podcast to come up on the top of the results.

May the Lord bless you 'real good'!


Check out this episode!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

News from Jakarta 19April2018

Hi everyone!

I tried to record this update here in Jakarta and failed miserably! The audio editing app that I tried to use on my tablet wasn’t able to export the finished product. So all I can do is post this text update.

I took my wife (Gale) to the airport in the middle of last night. She is now in a plane on the way across the Pacific bound for Chicago. Tomorrow at a similar red-eye time, I will be on my way to Makassar in South Sulawesi, and after a couple of days I will go from there to Papua.

This was Gale’s first time back in Indonesia since 2005. And this was a totally new experience to her, because she never spent any time previously in Jakarta, the capital city. The main event was (of course) spending time with Hannah and Brandon’s family, including Ava (9), Joel (8), and Devin (2). I read Tales of the Kingdom and Tales of the Resistance (by David and Karen Mains) to Ava and Joel. (Those books are included for your listening pleasure in the Joy Sightings series, starting at episode 012. When I recorded them, I didn’t anticipate that I would ever get to read those books to Ava and Joel in person.) All our time with the kids was precious. Devin is increasing in his vocabulary daily, but unfortunately he never mastered the difference between saying Gramma and Grampa. He knows Grampa better, because I am here more than Gale. So I am sure Gale will want to come again, so that she can hear him say Gramma.

One special highlight with Hannah’s family was visiting the Safari Park (Taman Safari) in Bogor. (There is another similar park in Bali.) The Bogor Safari Park is a world class attraction and we would have gladly spent another day there.

I want to make a couple of announcements:

  • This announcement is only for people who are a few days ahead in the yearly 3D schedule: Tomorrow I leave for Papua for almost 2 weeks, and right now Papua does not have Internet because of a break in an undersea fibre optic cable. So I have queued up episodes in the NL and GN series through May 6. The problem is that when I rename an episode and place it in the queue, that episode is no longer available under the old name. So if you are one who is listening ahead of schedule and looking for one of last year’s episodes (let’s saya you are 10 days ahead), you may need to pick one of the older episodes with the same day number. The newer series has names that start with NL and GN, and the older ones have names that start with NLT and GNT. (The difference is between NL and NLT.) Sorry for this temporary glitch.
  • Second: This announcement is for those who listen to DBRP episodes using the YouVersion Bible reading app: On some devices (like my Android tablet), the automatically generated search string is not specific enough. Let’s say (for example) that I hit the Podcast Choices link in the YouVersion app for day 114. The search string that will appear at the top of the results page is _114. But unfortunately, that will return results that include the episodes where Psalm 114 was read, and any other episodes that include the number 114 anywhere in the devotional text. So, from now until we finish the book of Psalms, it will help you find the episode you want if you put one or more letters of the file name in the search string. If you are searching for one of this year’s series, put a y (or the whole word ‘day’) before the underscore. If you are searching for an older episode, put the letter p before the underscore. (Older episodes have the letters DBRP before the underscore.) My tablet will only show about 6 search results, and that often isn’t enough for me to see the episode I want. Make a more specific search string, or use the dailybiblereading.info web site. The website shows more results when using an abbreviated search string.



I want to share some prayer requests with you:

  • I will soon be in Papua. There are five of my translation team members who live in Papua. It will be more difficult to work with the team members without the aid of the Internet. I think that the Lord may have other plans for my time in Papua. Perhaps the Lord would like for me to spend more time in Orya villages. The Orya people are the ethnic group we worked with for 21 years, and I am more and more convinced that continuing contact with me is important in encouraging them to continue walking with the Lord. Another project is to work with my team in developing a new online Bible translation course. This new course is needed to make it possible for more volunteers to be involved in checking and revising our Old Testament translation.
  • Please pray that the draft of the Old Testament will be finished sometime in 2020, and that it will all be checked so that we can publish it in 2022. Such quick progress would normally be considered impossible. Let’s pray for miracles to happen.
  • I’ll be 72 in 2022. This is one reason Gale prays daily that someone will be appointed by the Lord to continue my work here. It would be best if the Lord would provide someone NOW, so that he or she could be mentored to lead our Bible translation organization into the future.
  • Hannah’s husband (our son in law, Brandon) leads the Roshan Learning Center, which is a ministry to refugees who get stuck in Indonesia on their way to some other country. Most of them want to go somewhere like the USA, Canada, or Australia. Now is not a great time to be a refugee. I am thankful that the Lord has given a ministry to Brandon that perfectly fits his talents and is fulfilling as a ministry helping these people.
    • My main prayer request right now is for Hannah and Ava and Joel. There is one American family that is their close friends here. They have kids that match the gender and ages of Ava and Joel. But that family will return to the USA in June, leaving Hannah’s family rather friendless. Having few friends, and having to say goodbye to very close friends is a part of mission life. Trying to make friends with different families is difficult for them in this big city. Most often there are deep cultural differences between the families, or huge economic differences, or if they find an American family with kids the right ages, they may live hours away. So please pray for the Lord to give wisdom and help, and provide friends for Hannah’s whole family, including Brandon, and especially for Hannah herself, and Ava and Joel.


Thank you for praying for us!

May the Lord bless you ‘Real Good’.

Check out this episode!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

NE-DBRP_014 GEN.25 GEN.26 JOB.14 MRK.9.1-29

The complete episode notes for this podcast are attached as a PDF file. Many podcast aggregator apps will not let you see these attachments. Using our dedicated DBRP listening app, you can get the PDF file by clicking on the wrapped present icon. Or you can find the PDF attached to this podcast at our website, dailybiblereading.info.

For information about all the different categories of podcasts under the DBRP banner, see dailybiblereading.info.

Here is the link to our Digging Deeper Facebook group

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


This podcast is sharing news from our family for February 2018. I will basically be commenting and adding to our recent e-mail update. If you want to be in the know about what is happening with us, use the link given in the episode notes to sign up for our e-mail updates. They are always entitled There, and Back Again. We’ve been using that title since around 1987 (which, by the way, was long before the Hobbit movie). Also, to see the pictures I will mention, please see the PDF file attached to this podcast.

If you would like to get our e-mail There, and Back Again letters, here is the link to sign up.  

The PDF file can be downloaded from this episode’s page at dailybiblereading.info, or using our dedicated listening app. If you don’t have that app or have other questions, please see the ReadMe First file linked in the header of dailybiblereading.info.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, February 10, 2018


Three more parables from The Wit and Wisdom of Safed the Sage:

  • The Next Time
  • Eden and the Serpent
  • The Height of the Sky

Check out this episode!


EXODUS 23-24:
Yesterday we heard laws regarding treatment of slaves, cases of personal injury, protection of private property, and social responsibility.

Job 42:
After three chapters of God confronting Job, Job gives his final response, and we hear of God’s blessings to him.

Luke 2a:
Yesterday in Luke, Mary visited Elizabeth, and we read Mary's song of praise, and later John's father Zechariah prayed his prophetic prayer.

GNT Translation notes:
Luk. 2:15 When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us [about].”
33 The child's father and mother were amazed at the things Simeon [had] said about him.
34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, [the child’s//his] mother, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against 35 and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”

NLT Translation notes:
Exo. 23:17 At these three times each year, every man in Israel must appear before [Me,/0] the Sovereign[, the/0] LORD .
25 “You must serve only [Me,/0] the LORD your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness.

Check out this episode!