“My dad took Greek in college and had a Greek New Testament on his desk, in my room. I began to understand the New Testament in Greek [when I thought] how ‘How do I break this code?’” Luke Shaver, the first Grace College student to graduate with a degree in Bible Translation, said. “I started with Luke, my name, and thought ‘I know my name! I know Greek!’”
Since he was a child, Shaver (pictured at right) has been interested in cracking codes. “I was really interested in secret codes. I would play games with friends trying to break codes figuring out who liked whom, etc.” However, it was not until Shaver began reading the history of the English Bible and studying the Greek New Testament that he realized he could serve God and crack codes simultaneously. (There are approximately 1,700 languages with no access to Scripture today.)
Years later, when Shaver began looking for a college where he could major in Bible translation, Grace was not an option as the school did not have such a major. However, Shaver applied because the application was free.
Shaver was accepted, and, after feeling a calling to attend Grace, he began attending in 2012 with a double major in Biblical studies and intercultural studies with a Biblical languages minor.
During his first year on campus, Shaver learned about Race to 2025, an adventure race fundraising opportunity by Wycliffe Bible Translators, during the annual Conference on Missions. Unable to fill a team of fellow classmates, Shaver built a team of four students: Grace College’s Mason Whittaker, a high school student from Indianapolis, Ind., one from Moody Bible Institute, and himself, to participate in the extreme fundraiser adventure. He says that this changed his life forever.
After returning from the conference, Shaver started the campus organization “Voice for the Bibleless” as an outlet for people to be advocates for those who attempt to eradicate Bible poverty. Grace students soon became involved with the group and built a team to attend the Race to 2025 in 2014. As the overall winners of conference activities, the group gave Shaver all financial winnings so he could travel to Central Asia to help the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) with Bible translation projects in 2015.
That same year, Shaver traveled with Grace students, Isaac Thompson, Katlyn Knuver, Clayton Embry, Rachel (Fehring) Huhta, and Chris Sharrock, to the spring Race to 2025, this time in Tennessee. Through attending that conference, students were able to, again, see Shaver’s passion for helping the Bibleless. “I honestly don’t think I’ve seen anyone more fired up about something than he is for Voice for the Bibleless,” says Thompson.
The biggest impact on his life, however, has been the addition of the Bible Translation major at Grace. Dr. Tiberius Rata, assistant dean for the School of Ministry Studies, introduced the major to Grace during what was supposed to be Shaver’s last year at Grace.
Set to graduate, Shaver quickly changed his major, ultimately receiving his diploma in February 2015. The cooperation between Grace and SIL UND (University of North Dakota) capped off the required linguistics courses and Luke completed an internship with his church in the fall. As the first person to graduate with the major and because of his passion for that aspect of missions, he has helped promote the major.
“Luke was one of the first Bible Translation majors here at Grace, and he is the first one to graduate with a Bible Translation major,” Rata said. “Luke was instrumental in promoting the new major… Right now we have four students in the major.”
Since graduating, Shaver led another group of students to the Race of 2025 conference in March 2016 and is aiming to supplement his degree with further hands-on training in tribal church planting and linguistics at Radius International in Tijuana, Mexico. Send Luke a letter of encouragement here. — by Grace Beight
Editor’s Note: Grace Beight is an intern at GraceConnect. She is a senior at Grace College and is from Amherst, Ohio.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.