Information Technology in Missions: Tech Support

Another problem was lack of technical support. When I arrived in Arop for a translation workshop seven months after each translator had his own computer, half the computers would not work—mostly the old ones. I ended up spending 80 percent of my time during that workshop trying to keep seven different models of computers running. This left precious little time to do what I had come to Papua New Guinea to do, my work lamat 1: helping Papua New Guinean translators improve their translations. 2

What do you do when your computer stops working? I guess it depends on several variables. Are you good with computers and therefore fix the problem yourself? Do you call support because the computer is still under warranty? Do you find a geeky kid that lives next door? Maybe you call the computer shop?

Imagine with me for a moment that only one or none of these options are viable. Long phone calls are expensive overseas. There usually isn’t a geeky kid next door, and there isn’t a computer shop for miles on end. What does that leave you? Fix it yourself. That is whether or not you are a geek.

Now the good news is that John Nystrom, who wrote the excerpt above, was able to find a solution. However, it struck me hard as I read this chapter that John a translator could not accomplish more than 20 percent of his work because of computer issues. Leaving him to work on computers rather then on God’s Word in the Aitape West Translation Project. This project included several language groups in need of God’s Word.

Ukarumpa Helpdesk or technical support. Courtesy of Steve Curry. 2012.

Ukarumpa Helpdesk.
Courtesy of Steve Curry. 2012.

Wycliffe technical support guys and gals around the world work hard to be sure that computers continue to function. Not only those of translators and national translators, but many other support staff around their unique areas. Ukarumpa is Wycliffe Bible Translators headquarters for Bible translation in Papua New Guinea. That’s where these three guys above are working, and where we hope to be late next year.

How can we pray for tech support missionary geeks?

  1. Pray that God would give them patience to handle problems.
  2. Pray that God would give them patience when working with frustrated people. (Hey we all know computer problems are irritating.)
  3. That God would give them insight into technical issues. Sometimes we geeks get stumped.

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1) A word belonging to the Arop people of PNG meaning real essence of something or the most important part.
2) Nystrom, John; Nystrom, Bonnie (2012-08-15). Sleeping Coconuts (Kindle Locations 3036-3040). Wycliffe Bible Translators USA. Kindle Edition.