Serving Bible Translation Through IT
We are the Shipley family: Phillip, Melanie, and Hunter. We (Phillip & Melanie) were born and raised in Sacramento, California. Both of our families attended First Church of God there so we have literally known each other our whole lives. We were married in 2004 and in 2006 Phillip accepted a promotion and transfer at his company, Cisco Systems, to San Jose. After that we lived in the south San Jose area attending Bernal Church. At Bernal Church Melanie organized the Prayer Ministry and I served on the Men’s Ministry leadership team and Elder Board.
In San Jose I worked for Cisco Systems as an IT Manager of a web development team. Melanie is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and worked as a counselor for children in foster care for three years before our son Hunter was born three years ago. She is now a full time mom.
Our call into Wycliffe started a few years ago, when I began to be frustrated, discontent, and eager to leave my current job. However, every time I became frustrated enough to take action, God would tell me to wait. This happened four or five times over the course of two years until I finally accepted the message and put my full trust in God’s timing and plan. This period in our lives really brought us to a deeper dependence on God and a heightened awareness of His work in our lives.
In April of 2011 our church sent a short-term mission team to North Carolina to help with a construction project at Wycliffe. I signed up to go on the trip mainly because I thought the construction work would be fun, but we now know it was because God had a plan for us there. At the time of the trip we were not familiar with Wycliffe or even Bible translation but I quickly learned about it. I also began learning about all the support work required to enable the translators to do their work well around the world. Through the course of the week I met several people from the IT department and learned about the different technologies and roles being performed at that location and it started to hit me that perhaps this was what God had me waiting for. One day during the week I was able to have lunch with the VP of IT and one of his key staff members and share with them about my experiences and passions in regards to technology. While talking to them they made an interesting smile to each other and went on to explain that six months prior they had recognized the need for someone, like me, with a specific cross-section of skills and experience to come into the organization and lead a newly formed team. They made it one of the priority prayers for the organization that God would send someone to them. They were not telling me this to pressure me into joining the organization, but it certainly came as a confirmation for me that not only could this opportunity be an answer to prayer for me, I could also be an answer to prayer for them. It was a very humbling and exciting time to consider how God had been preparing me for years to come on this trip so that He could call me into His ministry.
I went home from the trip a little worried about how Melanie would react when I told her I thought God was calling us into full time missions. To my surprise, within 15 minutes of my return she asked me “So when are we moving to North Carolina?” It turns out God was not only working in my heart but in hers as well and we were ready to follow God’s call. We began the process of joining Wycliffe just a few weeks after I returned. As we went through the application process we received another confirmation of God’s call when we found out that the center in North Carolina features a counseling center for Wycliffe’s staff where Melanie can serve. It is amazing how God can use two people with completely different skillsets to serve the same purpose from the same location.
How We Serve
As an IT Software Development Manager, I have the privilege to work with a team of developers from North Carolina, Florida, and Texas. The team is responsible for developing web sites and applications that help translators in the field collaborate better as well as other applications to serve the needs of the organization and provide information to the public. The team is also starting to invest more time in mobile (cell phones, etc.) web sites and applications. In many third world countries it is far more common for people to have cell phones than an internet connection at home, and so finding creative ways to distribute the Bible and related media is very important. Twenty years ago translators did most of their work on notecards stored in shoeboxes, but today most of their work is done on computers. Technology has played a major role in helping to accelerate Bible translation and revolutionize the translation process. I will be helping to provide tools to enable translators to collaborate in the translation process.
While Melanie is currently taking care of our family, she is also preparing serve part time as a counselor to Wycliffe staff. Many of the individuals and families she will be working with are people who are in some form of transition. They may be preparing to go overseas, returning from assignment overseas, or visiting on furlough. The significant stresses that people deal with while serving in another country can be serious enough to prevent them from returning so having this type of assistance can allow them to continue doing God’s work.
We began serving at our assignment in North Carolina at the beginning of May 2013. We are currently living in a small apartment on campus while we adjust to life here. We will participate the Inter-Cultural Communications training this summer in July and August. After we’ve completed that training we will look for off-campus, permanent housing. Hunter attends the Missionary-Kid pre-school on campus and enjoys playing with the many other children living in the apartments around us. It is like one big never ending playdate for him.
It is our joy to share with others about Bible translation and the broad spectrum of ways to serve in missions with your unique talents. If you have any interest or questions about our ministry or Wycliffe in general please feel free to contact us.
Until all have His word,
Phillip, Melanie, and Hunter Shipley