An Accountant’s View of Bible Translation & Transparency: Dr. Tim Neu on Wycliffe Associates and the Ministry of Bible Translation
God calls us all to have honesty and integrity with finances, and because these things are important to God, they are important to Wycliffe Associates. We are committed to empowering local churches in their Bible translation projects while also being wise stewards of funds donated to advance translation projects around the world. This commitment extends to every facet of ministry—from our print and email communications, to our financial reporting, to our hiring skilled staff.
Dr. Tim Neu, our new Interim President/CEO, has served Wycliffe Associates in finance and operations leadership roles for the last 13 years, leading with a commitment to financial integrity and transparency.
Tim is an accomplished, accredited professional with more than 30 years of experience in finance and administration. He holds two bachelor’s degrees, an MBA, and is a licensed CPA. He also earned a PhD in Biblical Studies, specifically to gain expertise in the quality checking process that is used with Bible translation methodology because he wanted to ensure that the training and structure provided by Wycliffe Associates positioned Bible translators to execute accurate translations.
In this blog, you will learn more about Tim as he shares his journey into Bible translation ministry, his heart for the Bible-less, and how God has uniquely prepared him to lead Wycliffe Associates in the important work of Bible translation. In his words—
I am honored and humbled to serve Wycliffe Associates in the role of Interim President and CEO. My love for God’s Word and Bible translation has shaped so much of my life and my career—there is no greater joy I have than seeing fellow believers grow and mature in their knowledge of Jesus Christ through Scripture!
God laid the nations on my heart as a young high schooler. Directly after high school, I entered missionary training with New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos360), preparing to do church planting, leadership development, pastoral discipleship, and Bible translation—following the Lord’s calling wherever He would lead.
But God’s path for me was to develop my aptitude for finance in service to church planting rather than field work as an overseas missionary. For the next 20 years, I concentrated on growing and leading the ministry’s financial operations.
Truly, God was preparing me to serve in this unique place and time to further Bible translation around the world.
During my early days at Wycliffe Associates, I served in accounting, finance, and administration to fine tune efficiencies for this vital, robust organization. Later, I oversaw development of our Bible translation technology and translation services, and then became Chief Operating Officer.
Through my 13 years of service, I have seen first-hand the strong commitment Wycliffe Associates has for transparency—both as a financial practice and in support of our local partners, national translators, and volunteers.
Our Transparency Honors God
I am thrilled that my background in accounting and tax law gives me special expertise to help Wycliffe Associates uphold our commitment to accuracy, honesty, and openness in regard to our financial standing and fiscal responsibility. I have worked closely with independent auditors who review Wycliffe Associates’ finances, help hold us accountable, and ensure we honor those who have so faithfully supported and entrusted us with their donations.
Each year without fail, our auditor’s end-of-the-year reports have given Wycliffe Associates a clean bill of health. And in the spirit of transparency, these financial audits are available to the public on our website. In recognition of our ongoing commitment to accuracy and integrity, Wycliffe Associates has been awarded the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency.
Furthermore, one of my chief areas of focus in the last several years has been to strengthen our ability to track, follow up with, and report back on the progress of Bible translations we support. We don’t want to just start Bible translations—we want to help churches finish them so that every believer can have a complete Bible that they can study in their homes, read from in church, and share with their neighbors.
And as you can imagine, it takes great organization and attention to detail to track the progress of thousands of Bible translations happening around the world.
I asked our team to create a database and reporting tool that would track every Bible translation workshop and all the costs involved so we could report back on translation progress and identify if any translations have experienced delays.
Proverbs 27:23 says “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” No organization is perfect, including us, and that means we need to have our eyes open to places where our projects are running into obstacles and a change needs to be made. By keeping a good accounting of the Bible translation projects we’re working on and by inviting others to help hold us financially accountable, we work to make the most of every opportunity God puts in front of us.
Upholding Transparency and Integrity in Ministry
Our work with hundreds of churches and thousands of national Bible translators around the world is an ever-changing landscape, affected by many factors, including persecution and unrest, geographical and cultural challenges—and even a global pandemic.
Let me share just a few ways we are upholding transparency and integrity in ministry—
Wycliffe Associates’ commitment to transparency includes the sharing of behind-the-scenes details of the opportunities and challenges national Bible translators are facing. This sharing through print and email makes our donors true partners in ministry—partners through prayer and financial support.
Yet, when translators are living in places with high levels of persecution, we must share details without compromising their security. After checking with local leaders about what information can be shared and what can’t, we may use pseudonyms as an added layer of protection. And although we ask friends to pray for people working in locations we can’t share—we can trust that God knows all the details as supporters lift them up.
Wycliffe Associates is committed to transparency in the tracking of translation projects so we can report back with accuracy. Tracking thousands of translation projects around the globe requires a robust information management system. Our translation support and field development teams are meticulous in tracking how translation projects are progressing, which teams need more support, and where local churches are asking for new translations to begin for their people.
As a “numbers person” myself, one of the most exciting times in my work week is receiving reports from our translation services and field development teams with updated statistics on the translation projects we’re supporting.
We report these progress numbers in our newsletters and on our website—the number of Bible translations we’re supporting, the number of computer tablets distributed to national translators, and other updates about programs that are helping to advance God’s Word throughout the world.
Take a moment now to review the many ways God is using Wycliffe Associates to overcome obstacles and barriers to Bible translation around the world:
- Wycliffe Associates Annual Reports and Audited Financial Statements
- Bible translation in regions of the world and global progress
- Current Bible translation projects
Empowering Local Churches to Translate God’s Word Honors Him
By putting all the resources into the hands of local churches—by supporting Church Owned Bible Translation—Wycliffe Associates empowers them to move forward with their translation work, but we do not abandon them. We partner with the local church and their translation teams through discipling and mentoring to help them guide and guard translation work. With support from people around the world, we are able to provide them with resources, technology, and training to accelerate and check their very own Bible translation.
Among the most valuable resources we are providing to the local church is training in Church Owned Bible Translation.
Church Owned Bible Translation workshops operate from a well-structured Bible translation methodology. During a workshop, a team of national Bible translators—equipped with robust technology like mobile computer tablets filled with translation resources (which we often refer to as Tablets for National Translators, or TNT), internet connection equipment like Bible Translation Acceleration Kits (BTAKs), and mobile Print on Demand units (POD)—works together to translate different portions of Scripture and then review and edit each other’s work. The national translators typically each work on one chapter at a time, using a source text in a language they understand fluently (often called a trade language or a gateway language) to translate into their own heart language.
I was able to help develop more than a dozen Translation Reviewer Guides and various rubrics that local churches and translation teams could use to evaluate the accuracy of their translations. And I have seen, over and over again, the care and concern national translators have—and the burden they carry—to be sure they are translating accurately. The warnings in Revelation to not add or take away anything from Scripture weigh heavily over these translation workshops, so they strongly rely on translation resources and community accountability.
Local churches are now truly leading the way in providing access to God’s Word for all language and people groups!
The Future of Bible Translation Is at an Extraordinary Threshold
Wycliffe Associates continues to receive requests from all over the world, and we feel compelled to answer “YES!” to as many of those requests for help in Bible translation as we can.
We are working to make our translation workshops and training more effective, and we’re encouraging everyone we have ever trained in Bible translation to share what they’ve learned with other Bibleless people groups so the impact will multiply.
After all, this is what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Good Seed: All who have received God’s Word must also give. And as Bible translators pass their training on to other language groups, we will see some reap a harvest of 30-fold, some 60-fold, some 100-fold!
We are actively building a discipleship and mentoring team just for this—to teach Bible translators to take a step beyond doing their own translation and to go and train others. In this way, Bible translation can take the next step in growth, and these church leaders will be making disciples of all nations!
Bottom line, our unwavering commitment is to achieve the goal of having a Bible in every language, translated into every tongue to speak to every heart.
To that end, we are committed to providing local churches with every resource they need: computer and internet technology to access Bible translation resources, Print On Demand equipment so they can quickly print and distribute God’s Word in their community, and now, even training and discipleship for them to teach Bible translation to other language groups . . . whatever it takes to ensure local believers have God’s Word in its fullness so that all can be made mature.
I long for the day when every language group—regardless of how much or how little they have—has God’s Word in its fullness. If they have a portion of Scripture, they need the rest to fully understand the heartbeat of God. If they have the New Testament, they need the Old Testament to understand the context of some of the stories and prophecies that bring Scripture alive!
God’s Word is moving forward in every part of the world. Men’s and women’s hearts and lives are being transformed by the power of the Bible, translated into their heart language.
And support from many caring friends and donors is the foundation of Wycliffe Associates’ outreach. When believers give financially, we can share translation methodologies, equipment, and technology with local churches and national translators to launch or advance their translation projects.
As the work of translation continues to accelerate, evangelism increases within the communities where the work is taking place and lives are changed!
I have seen tears of joy in the eyes of many a translator who is grateful beyond words that people give generously to help them bring their language to life in the most important of all publications, the Bible. It is such a privilege to serve God and our brothers and sisters in Christ in such a meaningful way!