Advance Magazine
Fall 2020

Class of 2020: Caleb & Rebekah Wagner

Sending Church: Grace Baptist Church— Birmingham, Michigan

Children: Caleb Jr. (Timothy)–2, Charity–1, expecting their third child in January

Ministry: Bibles International

A common thread runs through Caleb and Rebekah’s lives: the impact of God’s Word. In Rebekah’s family, Bible reading came before breakfast. Her parents, a pastor and wife, made sure their children memorized passages during their school work. Caleb’s parents and his teachers faithfully encouraged studying God’s Word. In college, biblical interpretation classes made the Bible come alive. Every time Caleb found a good Bible study resource, he couldn’t wait to share it with others.

Rebekah loved missionary stories during summer VBS. She dreamed of being a Bible smuggler like Brother Andrew. Although Caleb relished missionaries’ visits to his church, he never thought seriously of missions until a college trip to Asia. Seeing the world’s spiritual needs gave him a thirst for missions he’d never before had. On a second trip to Asia in his senior year, he visited a remote mountain village. In the entire seven-day trip, he never met a Christian or saw a single church. He also saw how little access the mountain people had to God’s Word.

“Bibles International has been focusing on getting God’s Word into people’s hands. Our desire is to get it from their hands into their hearts.”

—Caleb Wagner

Caleb and Rebekah married after college, but God’s specific plans weren’t defined until Caleb’s last year of seminary in 2019. Caleb’s brother and sister-in-law, Joel and Sarah Wagner, serve with BMM’s Bible translation ministry, Bibles International (BI), and often told Caleb about the needs. Rebekah had seen their ministry firsthand while she and Caleb were dating. After Caleb and Rebekah’s marriage, they visited BI’s overseas ministries and saw how they could fill a need with BI’s newest ministry department, Scripture Use.

Scripture Use will help people groups get the most from the Bibles that BI is translating. The Wagners’ goal is to identify cultural and social factors that could hinder people from accepting a translation’s wording. They’ll also develop resources such as study Bibles, Bible dictionaries, and audio Bibles. The Wagners will ease the load of BI translators, who don’t have time to fill these roles. In so doing, the process of getting the Bible into people’s hands—and hearts—can be accelerated even further.

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