Michael and Teija were blessed and sent by Redhill Baptist Church in 1990 to work in Bible translation. Michael has been a member of the church since the 1970s, and met Teija when beginning his training with Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International. They married in 1988.
Blessed and commissioned by the church, in 1991 Michael and Teija moved to what was then still the Soviet Union, and two years later joined the Tatar Bible translation project. The Tatars are the largest people group in the Russian Federation, apart from the Russians themselves. The New Testament was published in 2001, and the whole Bible in 2016. Teija was also asked to assist in a neighbouring project, where the New Testament was published in 2014 and the whole Bible in 2023 (God willing).
Teija is now a translation and linguistics consultant, helping and guiding other projects in the Russian-speaking world. This includes traditional Bible translation projects, and also oral projects, where translation is done orally, without pen, paper or computer – for the simple reason that these are languages which people prefer to speak and hear, rather than read and write.
Michael is part of the leadership team of SIL Eurasia. SIL’s vision is to see people flourishing using the languages they value most. This includes Scripture translation and engagement, and also education, literacy and other language issues. “Eurasia” is defined as from Siberia to the Sahara Desert, and Michael’s role is to lead the communications team, telling the story of what God is doing in this part of the world, couched in language appropriate to the sensitive context. God is alive and well there!
Michael is also helping lead two of SIL International’s global projects. Firstly, he is one of the editors of SIL’s book, God and Language – the role of language in the mission of God (see link below).
Secondly, he is part of a team looking at how SIL can be more closely connected to the Church in the places where it is working. For Michael this is a particular challenge since in some parts of Eurasia churches are very few and far between: how to relate to the Church where there aren’t any local churches.