30 years and counting

28 July 2019

A unique Christian mission agency has just celebrated its 30th anniversary. MissionAssist – originally known as Wycliffe Associates (UK) – started in 1989, with just 5 people: Barry & Marie Wetherill, David & Rachel Landin, and Margaret Lowe. It now has a membership of hundreds of people, from both the UK and other parts of the world, who ‘serve world mission from home’.

The idea of the ministry was based on words from Nehemiah 3, when Nehemiah allocated people to help build parts of the walls of Jerusalem. It started in a very simple way when one of the founders, David Landin, put an advert in a magazine for Christians who could use computers, to help those serving in mission with tasks they were unable to do themselves or get done in any other way.

MissionAssist now has 32 parts that fit together like a jigsaw; and has been involved with many long-running projects and initiatives over the years.

One early project was helping to provide the Bible in the Abuan language of Nigeria. The work to ‘keyboard’ this translation started 25 years ago, and many other teams have been involved over the years since.

MissionAssist were also involved with the development of Paratext, a software program for checking Scriptures, with SIL. There are many challenges in reproducing Scriptures, including whether to copy original format, because users are used to it, or change to a common format. This software was produced to enable format markers to be inserted, that convert to the required styles for all the elements of the Bible.

30 years on, MissionAssist is still involved with these and other, long running and one-off projects. It continues to play its part in supporting organisations and individuals who serve in world mission. Amongst the practical services it provides are airport transport, magazine services, small grants, and hospitality. And MissionAssist’s own EasyEnglish Bible, originally a project request, has the challenge of supporting a wide variety of clients with widely varying abilities and equipment.

MissionAssist CEO, Rev Daryl Richardson, commented that as 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of this ministry, clearly thanks must go to our Lord for His grace and goodness to us. He said: “Psalm 127 says that unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it. In MissionAssist we make ourselves available for God to work through us by utilising the gifts and talents He has blessed us with”. He added: “We serve Him by serving others, but all the praise for what has been accomplished goes to Him. I continue to be thankful for the diligent and conscientious work of our volunteers”.