Throwback: Great is His Faithfulness

Dr. Jim and Susan Kaiser

About The Episode

For the final throwback episode of Essentially Translatable, we highlight the ministry of Dr. Jim and Susan Kaiser. Recorded in 2020, Jim and Susan were preparing to return to Ethiopia during the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. They discuss their background in mission work and how it has shaped their lives up to now. 

Serving since the early 1980s, Jim and Susan recount experiences in Bible translation ministry from Sierra Leone to Ethiopia to the United States. Each had unique entry points into serving as missionaries: Jim comes from an engineering background and Susan trained as a teacher— a shared interest in missionary work led to a strong partnership.  

If you’ve ever felt the urge to “do something more” for missions, this episode is helpful. Jim and Susan share a similar urging and of embracing God’s provision and leading. Great is God’s faithfulness whether it be in finding a helpmate, a partner, raising a family on the mission field, or so much more. 

Susan Kaiser: [00:00:00] God is so faithful in providing just what it is that you need in every time and place. And so just being able to rest in that and then see what he does with you as a result. All

Rich: right. Welcome back to another episode of Essentially Translatable brought to you by Lutheran Bible Translators. My name is Rich Rudowske. I’m your host. And as we continue through our series of throwbacks. For the 60th anniversary of Lutheran Bible Translators, we are going to throw it back to an episode with Jim and Susan Kaiser.

Jim and Susan have been with Lutheran Bible Translators since 1979 and the early eighties respectively, and have served in several ministry locations over that time in a variety of roles, particularly Sierra Leone in Ethiopia. Jim’s back and Sarah Leong from a remote placement here in [00:01:00] the United States, and they also served a Bible translation in Michigan, the Chaldean Project as well.

So a great breadth of experience. I love their story and I think you’re going to like it too. So enjoy this throwback episode with Jim and Susan Kaiser.

We are with Dr. Jim and Susan Kaiser today talking about their work and ministry with Lutheran Bible translators. So welcome to the podcast. Thank you. It’s good to be here. Thank you. Before we get into. some of the stuff to do with your ministry, which is long and varied. We’d like to have our listeners get to know you a little bit.

Tell us about your background, Jim and Susan, what you previously did before beginning work with LBT, how you got involved in Bible translation ministry.

Jim Kaiser: Um, I was an engineer with General Motors for about two years, and I made the transition to Bible translation. It actually started during college time.

During that time, I got interested in missions and started [00:02:00] talking to different mission agencies about serving with them, and they all told me the same thing, that they don’t really need a mechanical engineer to do missions. Several of them said, you might want to think about Bible translation work.

People who do well in math and science often do well with linguistics and translation work. And I heard that from three or four of these that weren’t involved in that work themselves. And so I thought maybe God’s trying to tell me something here. So I eventually started checking out some Bible translation agencies and went on from there.

Or took a leave of absence from my job and then took some training, enjoyed it, and went on from there.

Rich: So, what got you interested in mission while you were doing this work as an engineer? I think it was

Jim Kaiser: just hearing about the number of people yet who didn’t know about the gospel and who lived in areas of the world where there were language barriers or cultural barriers [00:03:00] that had to be crossed in order for them to hear about the gospel, that someone had to do that for them to be able to hear what God had done for them through Jesus.

God just really put that on my heart and I wanted to be involved with that somehow.

Rich: Okay. And so then you went through training and you became a member of LBTE in what year? I joined LBT in 1983. And prior to that, there was somebody already serving with LBT, Susan, tell us how you got involved in Bible translation ministry.

Susan Kaiser: I’d always wanted to be a teacher, I guess, and so I, that was my plan, was to go to college and become a teacher, which I did. I was attending Concordia College, St. Paul, in that direction. But even in high school already, I was interested, I had learned a verse in Confirmation, 1 Timothy 2. 4, God would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

And so I kind of had that in, in [00:04:00] the back of my mind all the while, but I didn’t know exactly what that would mean. Then, as a sophomore in high school, a family from Lutheran Bible Translators spoke in our church and we sang the hymn, Hark the Voice of Jesus Crying, and the chorus part of that hymn is, Here Am I, Send Me.

I really felt the Holy Spirit leading me to respond. And say, Lord, send me, and it seemed since I wanted to be a teacher that literacy would fit in with that. So that was kind of in my mind, although I didn’t really expect that I would do it right away. I expected that I would teach and get some experience.

But each time I started to forget about LBT, it seemed like he sent someone else along to remind me that LBT really needed somebody. And so directly from college, I then took a summer Institute of Linguistics to find out what it was like and if I would do well. And I don’t [00:05:00] know that I necessarily did great, but I certainly did okay.

And God provided the funds and everything, so eventually I was able to serve in Sierra Leone in literacy. So that’s how I got there.

Rich: Alright, and what year was it that you joined and then went over to Sierra Leone? 1978. 1978. Okay. So then somehow you two met. So tell us about that. And then you had a joint assignment there in Sierra Leone.

So talk to us a little bit about that.

Susan Kaiser: I knew that I needed a partner in order to go back because I wasn’t done with the project that I had started in Sierra Leone. And the best place to get a partner is to go back to school in linguistics where we had been in Dallas or actually Arlington. And I had ladies praying all over, so that even though I didn’t say a male partner, they all knew and were praying for me.

So, in comes this [00:06:00] young man, and I’ll let Jim tell his part.

Jim Kaiser: Yeah, I think when we first met, we both thought, this isn’t the right person. Susan seemed a bit Older, she’s, uh, three years older than I am, seemed a bit older and maybe I thought she kind of dresses like my mother and, uh,

And she thought I was this young guy who always ran around in unironed clothes and things. And so there wasn’t a lot of mutual attraction at first, but as we, uh, got to know each other and became friends through classes and things. There was an attraction, and we ended up getting married in 1985, early 1985, and then went overseas later that year.

Rich: All right, and that first assignment then was to Sierra Leone, to the Kono language community. Is that where you had already been working, Susan?

Susan Kaiser: No, it was a different language group. Thankfully, the Lord provided someone else to return to the language group that I had been working in.

Rich: Okay. [00:07:00] So

Susan Kaiser: it was a new start for me too.

Rich: Mm hmm. All right. And so in 1985, you head to Sierra Leone and begin work in the Kono language. Had anybody been doing anything there before you got there? Or are you the first ones from LBT anyways?

Jim Kaiser: There was an earlier LBT team, the Rash family, who had done some work there back in the 70s, but they were not able to stay working.

One of their children became ill and they had to go back to the U. S. So it had. sat for a while before we got there again. So we were kind of picking up the pieces and putting things together from there.

Rich: Okay. And you had a family there too, is that correct? All of your children were born during your time in Sierra Leone?

Susan Kaiser: Yes. All three of the boys were born there. Two of them were born at a missionary hospital about eight hours drive away. And the last one was born two hours away in a diamond mining hospital. So that was a real experience. [00:08:00]

Rich: So tell us some about your work with the Kono people in your life there. Uh, other memories that stand out from your time in Sierra Leone.

Jim Kaiser: Yeah, we lived in a village, uh, that was at the end of the road, pretty much. Literally, we had no electricity, no running water, no telephones. When we first went there. So it was living at a bit of a, at a bit of a primitive level, but gradually we were able to get solar power, got a hand pump that we could pump water up into a tower.

And so we got gravity fed running water in the house and flush toilets and things like that eventually.

Rich: So that sounds like the engineer’s take on things. Susan, what were your thoughts?

Susan Kaiser: All I know is it was wonderful when we finally got to the point where we could flick a switch and turn on lights instead of having to light kerosene lamps or candles or something like that.

We had a ringer wash machine. That wasn’t too different for me. I grew up on a farm and my [00:09:00] mom had used a ringer. Of course, hers was electric and mine was a very noisy lawnmower type motor, but at least I had some familiarity with it.

Rich: All right. So you worked in the Kono

Jim Kaiser: language area for how long? We were able to stay in the area up until about 1991.

And at that point, there was a rebel war that got started in Sierra Leone. And that pushed us out of the Kono area and down to the capital city, where we continued working with the project up until 1997, when there was a coup, we had to leave the country at that point. Went to Ivory Coast and continued working with the Kono project there up until 2002 when there was another military mutiny there against the government and then at that point we relocated back to the

Rich: States.

All right. In 2002, and the Kono New Testament was completed [00:10:00] sometime in that time,

Jim Kaiser: 2006 is actually when we finished it. When we were back in the States, I continued working with the translator by email. And then I also made about three or four trips a year. I would travel to Sierra Leone for about a month or so at a time to do checking work on the various books with, with a consultant.

They would come and meet us there and, and we would check through the books. Okay,

Rich: after the Kono translation was complete, then you began working with a group called Aramaic Bible Translation. Tell us some about that work.

Jim Kaiser: When we were finishing up the translation, actually, I was looking at possibly getting out of Lutheran Bible Translators at that point, uh, because we really didn’t want to feel up to going back overseas, we had felt, uh, pretty stressed out yet from our times with the war and the various things, uh, at that point.

So I was exploring other opportunities and that’s when Aramaic Bible Translation approached [00:11:00] LBT about getting someone to work with a project that they had in the Detroit area for the Chaldean people. And since we were there living in that area, LBT asked if we would consider working with that project.

And the Chaldeans are a group from Iraq. They are a part of what would be called the Church of the East, which was the Persian church. Uh, there was the Roman Catholic church that was centered in Rome, and there was the Persian church that was centered in the Iran and Iraq area, and they are descended from that Persian church, uh, that was there, the Church of the East.

Rich: Okay, so yeah, in the Bible, we hear about places like Ur of the Chaldees, or we hear the Babylonians, or sometimes it’s translated as the Chaldeans in different prophetic books. Are these the same people or descendants of that same group connected somehow?

Jim Kaiser: That part is a bit fuzzy. Some would say yes, others would say no, maybe not.

They took the name on [00:12:00] later when there was, when they split off from the Church of the And so it’s not clear how much of an actual tribal relationship there, there is with that.

Rich: Okay, and that the language is somehow related or there’s some ancient translation that the church has used to this point?

Jim Kaiser: Yeah. Chaldean is what’s called an Aramaic language. It’s related to the language that Jesus would have spoken with his disciples. And it’s, their original Bible was the Peshitta, which was an old translation done maybe three or four hundred A. D. And so, the church used that, but no one understood it except for the clergy who had spent time studying it.

And so, it was kind of like in the U. S. when the Catholic church was only doing their services in Latin. That was what it was like for the Chaldeans, for many of them, where the scriptures were only available within the old language.

Rich: Okay. [00:13:00] So, you worked with the Chaldean Project until it published the New Testament, is that correct?

Jim Kaiser: The New Testament was completed before I became involved. I was working on the Old Testament with them, training a translator and working with him. And we worked on that up until 2012.

Rich: Very

Jim Kaiser: good. And then

Rich: you were working on doctoral work, and somehow this possibility came up to engage and work in Ethiopia, and tell us about how you got involved in Ethiopia, and how you two sort of wrestled with the idea of going back overseas after some period of time.

Jim Kaiser: Yeah, a pastor from. Ethiopia, Reverend Berhanu was looking online one day to look for help with Bible translation work in his area. He’s the translation coordinator for the Southwest Synod in Ethiopia, and he happened to run across Lutheran Bible translators on the internet. And so he decided to send an email to [00:14:00] LVT and said, can you come over and help us with translation work?

With our projects and that has always reminded me a bit of Paul’s dream of the Macedonian man saying come on over and help us here. But anyway, LBT ended up then, uh, exploring it a bit more and eventually asking us to go and help with the translation projects in that area.

Susan Kaiser: And that wasn’t an easy decision.

Uh, for me, during the time in the States, that was really a gift, I think, because it enabled us to be in the U. S. at the time when our three boys were in high school and college. And I think they really needed that. They needed us to be there in that time of transition and so on. So that was really worked out well.

And when they were through with that is when this new assignment came up. And we had to think through that and what it would mean. I think it was [00:15:00] particularly hard for me. Perhaps I am not one that particularly enjoys change, I think. And it took me quite a while to accept the fact that we were going back overseas.

I kind of think I think. two and a half

Jim Kaiser: weeks,

Susan Kaiser: and I was thinking, what do you do? I

Jim Kaiser: was supposed to go to Italy, and then I went to the US by the way. I, uh, there wasn’t a good time. it was my greatest, didn’t have the time. I’ve been judging people. I don’t want to do this. Ethiopia was like, and get a better idea of what we would be going into.

Susan Kaiser: We had been praying prior that, to that, especially me, to know what God’s guidance was. And it just seemed like the moment I got off the plane there in Ethiopia, I knew that’s what God wanted us to do, even though. My own self was fighting it. I knew that’s what God wanted.

Rich: Yeah, the last episode of the podcast, Dr.

Boafo had this statement in there. It [00:16:00] says, if you’re a Bible translation missionary, then you can’t just go home and do something else. You’re always a Bible translation missionary. Kind of illustrates that, the truth of that. So then the role that Jim was slotted in Ethiopia was translation consulting in Ethiopia.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about translation consulting. What it is, why we do it, just in Bible translation ministry.

Jim Kaiser: Yeah, consulting is a way of getting someone who has more experience involved with projects so that, uh, they can benefit from the experience that person has had and help to improve the translation.

Some of translation consulting is training and advising. Some of it can be looked at as kind of a quality check on things, which helps to satisfy a lot of the publishing concerns that maybe organizations might have that they want to be sure that it’s done in a good way and the consultant can Come in and help to make sure that the translation [00:17:00] has been done in a good way and give the teams advice as to how they can go about and improve the translation with doing that.

A lot of what I do is asking questions, asking teams to think about, you know, have you thought about this and how will people understand that? And what does that mean in your language and what are the implications for that? uh, within your culture. And just helping them to think through what it’s saying and how people will be understanding it and maybe adjustments that they need to make in the translation to take account of some of those things.

Rich: Yes. And so you worked at least initially with four or five different languages and have done work in others. And whenever I talk about translation consulting, with folks and I explained that some folks have these, you know, multiple languages, even dozen or more languages that they’re helping consult on.

And the question I get asked is, do they learn all those languages or how can they do consulting without knowing every single language they’re doing? So how’s that work?

Jim Kaiser: Yeah, it’s impossible for a [00:18:00] consultant to learn all of those languages that we work with that way. But what usually happens is the team will make what’s called a back translation where they.

We’ll do a literal translation of what they have translated back into English or into another language that the consultant already knows if there’s another common language and so it, some of them can look like a word for word interlinear kind of translation of what they’ve done and then sometimes they’ll also do a more free translation that gives more of a rendering of what it sounds like within their language.

And those can be written where that gives a consultant a chance to look at the translation ahead of time and to develop questions and things so that when the consultant meets with the team, then they can go over those questions and work through that. Sometimes it’s also done orally, where the consultant just [00:19:00] asks the team during the meeting to give a translation back to English.

Question. Both of those can help the consultant get a picture of what’s being said and then he can ask questions. Yeah,

Rich: so it’s a dialogical process that helps the, in a way the translators are the ones who know the text the best, can sort of talk about and troubleshoot and unpack what they’ve translated and how they’ve, or why they’ve translated it that way.

Jim Kaiser: It’s they’re the experts in their language and they’re the experts in their culture and so as a consultant, I can’t really say this is what you ought to do and that’s why a lot of my job is just asking questions that when I’ve seen in another similar culture, maybe that they’ve had problems with an area or people understanding, then that’s where I’ll go.

probe a bit more and ask a few more questions to help them think about that and see what the implications are for what they’re translating.

Rich: All right. And then Susan, in those, especially those first years [00:20:00] back in Ethiopia, when you guys lived down away from the Capitol, had served in member care in a certain capacity.

So tell us a little bit about member care or what it, what you did or, you know, to the extent you can for us and why that’s important.

Susan Kaiser: Okay, I was down in an area where there were some missionaries that were fairly remote and most of them were single women, so they were really on their own. For me to just be in contact with them somewhat regularly by phone, by email, whatever means possible once in a while, we would able, be able to actually visit them in person.

That was also helpful to them just to see. To see how they’re doing, to have someone for them to talk to, share things that was a very important thing for them to have. We had one family with children and you know, sometimes you can find out different things. [00:21:00] They could ask questions based on our experiences because we were to the point of being grandparents, you know, just those kinds of things for women in general to be able to ask questions or just to talk.

Women need, I think, opportunity to talk. So probably more of my role was in that area of being a sounding board, an encourager, that kind of thing.

Rich: And this was not just, actually none of these were LBT missionaries. This is a greater service to the missionary community. So then more recently, the two of you have moved to the capital city and begun working in an initiative in one of the departments of the Lutheran Church, the Department of Mission and Theology.

Tell us a little bit about what’s going on with that, Jim.

Jim Kaiser: Yeah, it’s really an exciting and busy time with that. The church there is. looking at becoming much more involved in their work in Bible translation. They currently have about 23 [00:22:00] Bible translation projects that they’re involved in, and part of my work is helping them to manage those projects better, to improve the work that they’re doing with the projects.

They’re also just developing a Bachelor of Theology program in Bible translation through the seminary there. And part of what I’m doing interfaces with that as well, with helping to select people for that training and to help guide that process through.

Rich: And then part of your preparation for, I mean, that led to this, even though we didn’t know, for your translation consulting work too, was the doctoral work that you did, and you did some work researching, the title of the thesis is Using Online Collaboration to Produce Relevant Translation Resources, which speaks some to the idea that resources are needed work that you’re Um, Broadening the involvement of folks that can work in Bible translation, that’s already broadening on its own and there’s a cry for resources to be [00:23:00] available to more than just the English speaking world and to be more available in a timely manner.

So you talk about relevant translation resources. Tell us a little bit about what you mean by relevant resources as you did that research. What kind of stuff were you looking for?

Jim Kaiser: There’s so much information that’s out there when you look at things that have been written about the Bible. I mean, each book has commentaries and commentaries that are pages and pages of things.

And some of that is helpful for translators. Some of it is not when you’re translating. It’s maybe more helpful to theologians, but not helpful for a translator. And so the relevant resources would be resources that would be helpful for them as they are working to do, do translation. They frankly don’t have time to read through five or six different commentaries, uh, to try and find all of those things and many of them don’t have the training and background to be able to distill all of the stuff that’s in those different commentaries down into [00:24:00] something useful that they can work with.

And so a relative help would be something that gives helps that are useful for them in their context. to be able to translate God’s Word for their people. You know, even looking at things like study Bibles that we have here in the U. S., you know, the information given there can be helpful, but often it’s very fact based things like Town A is 6.

7 miles away from Town B, you know, and that’s the footnote that you see in a study Bible. And really, how does that help someone in another culture understand God’s Word? What’s going on in that particular story within the Bible or how to apply that within their life. And so It’s looking at how to give information to people that isn’t just a bunch of facts and things or that won’t be helpful to them but how to give help to a Translator so that he can put the things that are most helpful for his people and [00:25:00] take that into account

Rich: Yeah, and you mentioned that some part of the problem is that the resources, one, could be out of date with biblical scholarship, maybe not practical, but also were written from a perspective that may not be helpful to Bible translators and even, or from a Western theological perspective, which may not give a full scope of translation.

So you, your research tried to set up a wiki method, this kind of crowdsourced idea of putting resources together. And so you wrote that they didn’t gain a lot of traction during the period of time that you did it, which was for a few months that you tested out some things. Why do you think that was the

Jim Kaiser: case?

There were a number of factors I think that led into it not being used so much. One is that it was a limited time I was doing it and so it didn’t have a lot of time to kind of get known and build momentum. Another factor is just people who work in Bible translation are very busy people.

Rich: Yeah.

Jim Kaiser: Already, and it’s [00:26:00] hard to get someone whose time is stretched to say, Okay, take this extra time and go here and do some writing and editing on this website.

Right. Those, I think, were probably the two biggest factors. I think maybe there are different ways people have done this. Sometimes they have kind of what’s called a, a website champion, someone whose main job is to go in and work on that site and to develop material that others can interact with as well.

And then that makes it a bit easier because that person can afford to invest the time of drafting and developing and doing stuff that then others can react and work off of, which doesn’t take quite as much time. But. The initial drafting and working that out is something that takes a good chunk of time and I think just a lot of people didn’t have the time and energy available to put into that.

Rich: Sure. Yeah. No, that’s a, it’s a huge endeavor and something to keep looking at for sure. I think the Bible translation world continues to wrestle with [00:27:00] how to, one, make materials available, but also how to involve a larger segment of the folks that need to be involved, how to find the right platform and tools and connectivity to do that.

Just as you were starting to get in the groove, right? In Addis at the DMT, then we brought you guys home due to the Coronavirus outbreak and some of the uncertainties that surrounded that. I mean, at that time in the whole world, we didn’t know really that coming to the United States was any better than staying in Ethiopia.

But we brought you back and you’ve been here in the States for a number of months, and now planning to return to Ethiopia, one of our first, uh, missionary teams going back. So talk about some of your. and Susan too, about what goes into that decision, your hopes, your concerns as you wrestle with returning even in the midst of a pandemic to your home in Ethiopia.

Jim Kaiser: Well, there’s a lot of mixed emotions with it, I think. And thoughts and uncertainties just because the whole COVID situation, [00:28:00] there’s so many different things that you read and hear. About it all the way from COVID is no worse than the flu to COVID is almost the black plague, you know, it ranges over that whole area and you see all of that and have to filter through that and try and come up with something that that seems to be true.

I think for us, for me, it came down to, ultimately, our safety is in God’s hands, whether we’re here or over there, and there’s risk in life, whether we live here or over there, and that the safest place to be is where God wants us to be, and to be involved in, in that. And, uh, I guess at this point, for me, it came down to it felt the best to be over there.

That’s where God wanted us and that, uh, we could take reasonable care for our safety while we are there. Even though if we would become seriously sick, they don’t have the [00:29:00] same facilities there as we do here, or as many of them resource wise. But ultimately our safety is in God’s hands.

Susan Kaiser: You know, for me, it’s, it means saying goodbye to kids and grandkids, and that’s always the case.

So, as Jim said, we needed to get back and do what God’s called us to do. So, let’s get on with it.

Rich: Yeah, and even if, you know, it’s likely, of course, you’ve been working from home while you’ve been in the States, you may have to work from home there in Ethiopia. So, what’s the difference in your mind for going back?

As opposed to just working from home here,

Jim Kaiser: I think it opens up the options to just better communication with people there. There are opportunities for face to face meetings better with mask and proper social distance, of course, but that’s there. And I, I think it can also be from past experiences when we’ve gone through.

difficult times in countries that we’ve worked in. I think it can also be an encouragement to [00:30:00] people there. Yeah. To have us come back. That it’s not so bad and they’re not at the, uh, not being abandoned by everyone, but that we can be there and help to contribute and stand with them in this.

Rich: That is so true.

And that’s a, a great perspective on it. So the two of you have been involved in mission work now for, I was trying to do the math, years, give or take 30, 35 years, depending on how we’re counting and who we’re counting here. What is the role of the Bible in your lives? You talked about some inspiration as young people, but now after all these years of service, what’s the role of the Bible in your lives and how does that play into your continued outlook and mission work?

Susan Kaiser: For me, I’d say the Bible is totally your, your center. Um, it’s where you look when you need guidance. It’s where you look when you want to remember how much God loves you. And where you look when you need promises of his strength and provision. It’s just very [00:31:00] important because of that.

Jim Kaiser: You know, the Bible is, for me, is, is the reference point to what is true and how to evaluate and build other things on in my life.

It’s what I can come back to and rely on and in a world that doubts truth. Doubts, anything being absolute true, to me, that’s what the Bible is. It’s what I can know to be true and know what to be true about God and my relationship

Rich: with him. Yeah. What do you think that the church here in the West can learn from some of the folks that you’ve worked with over your years of missionary service?

Jim Kaiser: There’s a couple things that come to my mind. One is, we can grow in our understanding of the reality of Satan and his activity in the world. I think we in the West here tend to be pretty materialistic in our view of life. And people in Africa do have a very real knowledge of the, of Satan. Satan’s [00:32:00] activity in the world, and that’s something I think we can learn from.

I think another thing is their persistence in the face of adversity, that they often have to live very difficult lives just because they’re Christians. They can be outcasts from their village or their family, and learning how to still hold on to their faith and persevere through that, that’s something that we really have not had to face here in the West.

Susan Kaiser: That kind of relates to what I would say is that People’s faith to me in the non modern world or however you want to describe it, they can’t attempt to lean on all the things that we attempt to lean on. We lean on our money, we lean on medicine, and most of them over there, they can’t lean on those things.

People are poor. They don’t have the money to do what they want it to do. They don’t have medicines all the time. They probably can’t afford to get those medicines. So. [00:33:00] Their faith is a very vital part of their life. They realize very intensely that God is in control and they see the many ways that he does work and move in their lives to provide what they need and to help them to get well when they’re sick.

They see those connections, I would say, much more clearly than what we in the West do.

Rich: That is very true. So the two of you are unusual in this way that as missionaries you both decided to move to an overseas location as relatively young, just out of school, or just early in career. And then again, as what we would call second career folks, so you had a period of time in the United States and then at a later stage in life decided to relocate to an overseas location.

What advice might you have for either young people or second career folks who might be considering overseas missionary service?

Susan Kaiser: I would say, because I went [00:34:00] as a single missionary originally, there were times that were quite difficult. And so, I definitely wouldn’t promise that it’s going to be easy as a single missionary, but God is so faithful in providing just what it is that you need in every time and place.

And so just, um, being able to rest in that and then see what he does with you as a result. You know, I don’t feel like I had so much confidence at the beginning, but in spite of that, God did his thing and used me for his purposes. So I think that’s something that I learned. I could give to other single missionaries, not quite knowing whether they could do this on their own.

Because I really wanted to be married and felt like God was giving me a promise that I’d be married. But I soon found out that promise was not to be answered before going to the field, but after. God could do it. [00:35:00]

Jim Kaiser: I would add to that to just follow where God is leading you, you know, you may, he may put something on your heart that seems very difficult or out of the ordinary, but if you really feel that’s where God is leading you and wanting you to be involved, then follow that.

I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Rich: Absolutely. Lord willing, at the time that this podcast episode is out and releases for listeners, you two will be in the air en route to Ethiopia. Thinking about that, how can our listeners pray for you as you re engage in ministry in Ethiopia?

Jim Kaiser: I think just praying for wisdom for us as we’re there and helping to work with the church as they develop their translation program there.

Praying for us for good health during this time of COVID, that God would keep us in his hands with that.

Susan Kaiser: Praying for our readjustment. We’ve [00:36:00] been there, so we know something about it, but now things have changed with COVID. Yeah. So exactly what that means is a little bit uncertain. We may have to do some things a little bit differently.

And wisdom in that area also would be very much appreciated.

Rich: Absolutely. All right. Thank you so much for your time this morning. We’ve been talking to Dr. Jim and Susan Kaiser, missionaries to Ethiopia, heading back, likely in the air right now. So thanks for your time with us today and God’s blessings.

Thank you very much for having us.

Susan Kaiser: Thank you very much.

Rich: The story of God’s faithfulness is so evident as we listen to Jim and Susan talk about how He has guided them down this road of service with Lutheran Bible translators, and so thankful that He called them into ministry with their unique giftings and skills and the insight that they have. That he’s still able to give to all of us through their work and through their description and testimony of their observation of God’s work in their life.

So [00:37:00] hope you enjoyed that episode with Jim and Susan invite you to consider a special gift to Lutheran Bible translators for our 60th anniversary year. You can go to lbt. org. And scroll down to the featured campaign, more than words. And certainly we’d invite you to join us as prayer partners too. You can see at that same location, how to get engaged as a prayer partner, receive materials to lift up the ministry of Bible translation in prayer every day and follow along that journey and see how God’s faithfulness continues to be at work.

And as we pray for things and see how God answers prayer, we see that faithfulness answered again and again. Thanks for listening in this week. God’s blessings.

Thank you for listening to the Essentially Translatable Podcast brought to you by Lutheran Bible Translators. You can find past episodes of the podcast at lbt. org slash podcast or subscribe on Audible, Apple Podcasts, [00:38:00] Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow Lutheran Bible Translators social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or go to to find out how you can get involved in the Bible translation movement and put God’s Word in their hands. The Essentially Translatable Podcast is edited and produced by Audrey Seider. Artwork designed by Sarah Rudowske. Music written and performed by Rob Veith. I’m Rich Rudowske, so long for now.


  • Throwback of the 13th episode of Essentially Translatable 
  • The Kaisers put their trust in God as they embarked on a career in Bible translation.
  • The Kaisers share their experiences working with language communities in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. 

Other Episodes and Podcast Transcripts

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