The Frederick News-Post
IJAMSVILLE, Md. - David Pennington's initial encounter with Wycliffe USA Bible translators in 2005 moved him to become a volunteer with the international organization, which works to translate the Bible into languages from around the world.
As of September 2010, translations of portions of the Bible, the New Testament or the whole Bible exist in more than 2,500 of the world's 6,860 languages.
Wycliffe USA now works with more than 1,500 translation programs, using volunteers from around the world.
Work with Wycliffe and other organizations has taken Pennington to Haiti, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Papua, New Guinea, Nova Scotia, Togo and Burkina Faso.
Pennington was nearing retirement as the owner of a custom home design business when he volunteered to go to Africa to help design an international school in Ethiopia for Wycliffe. He was then asked to work on two Wycliffe projects in the western horn of Africa.
After evaluating the amount of work, Pennington decided to take on the additional projects, which included the redesign of an office for better use of campus space restrictions in Lome, Togo, and developing a housing, conference, training classrooms, and feeding center in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
"It was frightening in that I did not know the multiple languages that I would have to deal with," Pennington said. "I arrived in the country totally relying on the support of others."
When he arrived in Ethiopia, a man who did not speak English arrived to escort him to a housing center in a car that would be prohibited on Maryland's highways, Pennington said.
"This gave me a sense (of) what it would be like for a non-English-speaking individual to attempt to read our Holy Bible not in his mother tongue," he said.
Wycliffe does not try to turn people into American-style Christians, Pennington said.
In the last six years, Pennington has spent about four months traveling as a volunteer and many hours designing structures.
"I have enjoyed every minute. I desire to continue," he said.
Pennington, 67, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010 and is now in treatment.
Though he will not be able to travel outside the U.S. in the near future, he remains busy at home designing structures.
"I still have been able to work on additional projects, including drafting changes for housing units in Nova Scotia, and for other mission organizations," he said. "I hope to be able to continue to support Wycliffe for as long as possible."
Pennington and his wife, Marsha, are active in Waterboyz for Jesus and Waterlilyz _ organizations dedicated to "becoming the hands and feet of Jesus by serving others."
Pennington describes Frederick as one of the most caring, thoughtful and active communities he has lived in.
"For a young man whose father was a coal miner, I've been blessed," he said. "Coming out of poverty and coming into one of the wealthiest areas of the world, shaking hands with senators, all I can say is thank you, Lord.
"Knowing God has left me just very content with life. I just wish God would give me strength to keep working."
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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