Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Grace L. (Jones) Fabian's {class of 1959} memories of PBTS

Grace Fabian (Grace Jones when she attended PBTS in the late 1950s) is a great friend of mine. It was her testimony in 2002 that God used to call me into Bible Translation. Grace Fabian attended PBTS in the Fall of 1956 and graduated in late spring of 1959. He father Clarence Jones attended PBTS in the 1920s and graduated in 1927 as she mentions in her memories. Her reference to 'Nabak' in the piece is a reference to the language group her and her husband Edmund worked with in PNG. Enjoy Grace's memories:

How the training at PBTS prepared me for the work I did on the Mission field
By Grace L. Fabian

I learned something about servanthood at PBTS. We all had to put in one hour of work each day—the school was attempting to keep the cost of education down. My job was to mop floors in the main building. On my knees was a good place to me. Little did I know then that in the years to follow I would be on my knees many times bandaging tropical ulcers, delivering babies, teaching people to read.

I also worked every afternoon and all day Saturday for Dr. Paul Griffis. My parents did not have money to pay for my school fees so I worked every spare moment. Sitting in the office with Dr. Griffis was a benediction on my life. Yes, we mailed out his loose leaf Bibles and kept the books but being in the presence of such a gifted but humble person showed me what a godly person looks like. When I grow up that’s the kind of person I want to be.

Greek class gave me all the tools I needed for the task of Bible translation—how to look up the words from the Greek N.T., what Arndt and Gingrich was all about, how to conjugate verbs etc.

In Dr. Lowe’s class we basically went verse by verse through every proposition in every book in the Bible. And that’s exactly what I had to do in Bible translation. In preaching or teaching the Bible you can pick and choose which parts you want to talk about, but in Bible translation you can’t skip anything.

He also showed us how various themes are woven through the Bible, how you don’t take an isolated verse and make a doctrinal thesis with it. I learned the importance of cross references and in the Nabak N.T. we put in many. And at the end of the N.T. we put 56 different topics which are addressed in the Bible. There are long lists of references under each topic so a reader can get a fuller grasp of the subject. These are important things I learned about at PBTS.

In Christian Ed. class I learned about outreach, that there was another world outside of Bible School Park. After doing street meetings and release time classes I was ready to go to the world.

In Missions class I learned the history of missions and was inspired to follow in the train of Judson, Carey, and Taylor. The teacher divided us into teams and we had to put on a missions presentation. Our group did an amazing job. I still have the script and did something similar when I was teaching at Christian Leaders’ Training College in Papua New Guinea.

Dr. Griffis taught us Systematic Theology and we learned to dig deeper rather than give superficial answers. He constantly challenged us to think through, look at the other side. “How does that fit with this verse?” I learned at PBTS that pat answers don’t get you very far, and that all of Scripture must be examined. I learned some good principles of exegesis.

That was good not just for translation but I was very thankful for that good foundation because at different times in my career someone would bring up some new idea or silly theology. For instance, some people say we should march around and bring down the strong holds of Satan like Joshua did. But I know that no place in the Bible are we told to march around like Joshua.

Another silly theology is to pray for a mountain to be removed but I know that Jesus never actually prayed and removed a literal mountain.

A few days after my husband was killed someone commented, “Well, Satan really had that afternoon.” I didn’t buy it. In my theology God is firmly seated on the throne. He didn’t slip off the throne that afternoon. Satan never has the upper hand. For sure, emotionally I was shaking but my training at PBTS solidified that God is always in control.

Someone else said, “Grace, don’t give up your faith.” I looked at him like he was crazy. Never in my wildest nightmare would I give up my faith. I learned in my home (my parents were also graduates of PBTS) and then it was drilled into me at PBTS by the classes and by the teachers what it means to have the straight edge pieces in place.

I fell madly in love with the Bible when I was at PBTS. The fact that some people don’t have a Bible became inconceivable and unfair so the day after graduation from PBTS I left home to go to linguistic school and train to be a Bible translator.


NOTE: Grace's husband Edmund was murdered on April 29, 1993 in PNG by a national with schizophrenia.


If you are an Alumni of PBTS or you were a child of a faculty member at PBTS I would love to hear your stories. Click on the button on the side of page to email me.

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