The World and Everything in It — December 31, 2019

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Translating the Bible for those who don’t have it in their native tongue is getting easier —thanks to technology.

KEENER: The three largest countries where there are needs are Nigeria, Indonesia, and Papau New Guinea. Those three countries alone account for about 40 percent of the remaining need.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also a former inspector general talks about rooting out federal government waste and fraud.

MILLER: I was asked, why are there always scandals at GSA? And I told them that, you know, the same answer that the bank robber gave: “That’s where the money is.”

And Les Sillars reflects on the closure of the Newseum, the museum devoted to the news business.

REICHARD: It’s New Year’s Eve, 2019. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Now the news with Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, NEWS ANCHOR: Praise for Texas gun laws in wake of church shooting » Texas officials are praising the state’s gun laws in the wake of a church shooting on Sunday that could have been a lot worse. 

Jack Wilson is a former deputy for Hood County and a firearms instructor. He also heads the security team at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement.

Wilson fired the single shot that killed a gunman and thwarted a would-be mass shooting during the Sunday morning service.

WILSON: I don’t consider myself a hero at all. I did what I was trained to do.

Before Wilson fired his weapon, the gunman shot two members of the congregation. Both died.

Investigators still haven’t identified the gunman. But FBI Special Agent Matthew DeSarno said they are interviewing people who knew him to figure out what prompted the attack.

DESARNO: The shooter has had multiple contacts with law enforcement in the past, but he was not on any kind of a watch list.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton visited the church just west of Fort Worth on Sunday night. He praised the congregation for being organized and ready to meet any threat.

PAXTON: We can’t prevent every incident. We can’t prevent mental illness from occurring, and we can’t prevent every crazy person from pulling a gun. But we can be prepared, like this church was.

The Texas Legislature passed a law earlier this year that allows licensed handgun owners to carry guns in church, unless the church expressly forbids it. 

Hate crimes charges in Hanukkah stabbing case »  Meanwhile, federal prosecutors in New York have filed hate crimes charges against the man accused of attacking a gathering of Orthodox Jews on Saturday.

Grafton E. Thomas already faces five counts of attempted murder for the knife attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, just north of New York City.

Attorney Michael Sussman represents Thomas. He says his client is mentally ill but not anti-Semitic.

SUSSMAN: I spent about 35 minutes speaking with Grafton Thomas this morning. And while obviously I can’t disclose the detail of that conversation, I can tell you that I heard nothing in that conversation that confirmed in any way, shape, or manner that he’s a domestic terrorist.

Prosecutors added the hate crimes charges after finding handwritten journals containing references to Jews and anti-Semitism in Thomas’s home. His phone’s web browser included repeated searches for the phrases “Why did Hitler hate the Jews” and “German Jewish Temples near me.”

China sentences pastor to nine years in prison » Chinese officials announced Monday that a prominent pastor will spend the next nine years in prison.

A court in Chengdu convicted and sentenced pastor Wang Yi of illegal business operations after a secret trial last week. Before his arrest, Wang led Early Rain Covenant Church. It was one of the most influential and well-known house churches in the country.

Security forces arrested more than 100 leaders and members of the unregistered church in December 2018. The crackdown on Early Rain is part of a wider campaign by the Communist Party to limit all religious activity in the country.


Iraq condemns U.S. airstrikes, militia vows retaliation » The Iraqi government has condemned U.S. airstrikes on Sunday against a militia backed by Iran. The official statement called the attack a “flagrant violation” of the country’s sovereignty.

The Pentagon said it launched the airstrikes in retaliation for a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base last week. An American contractor died in that attack.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the airstrikes were designed to send a message to the militia’s backers.

POMPEO: We continue to demand that the Islamic Republic of Iran act in a way that’s consistent with what I laid out back in May of 2018 for what it is that we expect Iran to do so that it can rejoin the community of nations. 

The strikes killed at least 25 Hezbollah Brigades fighters and wounded dozens of others.

The Iraqi government said it would “review its relationship” with U.S.-led forces in the country following the attack.

Congressman John Lewis announces cancer diagnosis » Congressman John Lewis of Georgia will soon begin treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer. The long-time civil rights leader announced the diagnosis in a statement saying he’d never faced a fight like this before.

At 79, Lewis is the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists once led by Martin Luther King, Jr. He was first elected to Congress in 1986.

He frequently compared current political battles to the fight for civil rights: 

LEWIS: We have come a distance. We’ve made progress. But we’re not there yet. There are forces that want to take us back to another place. We don’t want to go back. We want to go forward.

Lewis says he has a fighting chance of beating the cancer, adding: “I have been in some kind of fight—for freedom, equality, basic human rights—for nearly my entire life.”

He intends to stay in office during his treatment, although he acknowledged he might miss a few votes in the coming weeks.

I’m Paul Butler. Straight ahead: an update on our year-end giving drive.

Plus, Marvin Olasky talks to presidential adviser Brian Miller.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, December 31st, the last day of 2019. We’re so glad you’ve turned to The World and Everything in It to start the day. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Well, today is the final day of our December Giving Drive, and I just want to say thanks so much for the overwhelming response. We are very encouraged.

Now, we’ve made a late change and I want to tell you about that. But first, as background, when we set the goal initially, we had three things in mind, our ABCs for this giving drive: (a) for achievable, what seems reasonable, (b) for budget, which is to say, what’s necessary to meet budget, pay the current costs, live to fight another day, and then (c) for challenge, what would be the bold thing to do, what would require some faith on our part, a challenging goal that if we hit it, that would give us a nice boost of confidence, another “c” word, that we can grow this effort.

So, I had a call yesterday with our team and what we learned as of yesterday morning was that given where we stood, we were going to make the goal and then some. 

It seemed we’d put too much emphasis on “a” and “b”—what’s achievable and meets budget—and not enough emphasis on “c” for challenge.

REICHARD: I think it’s fair to say that you’ve challenged us, to think bigger, to imagine more. 

Because of your generosity, as we’ve said, we’re launching the Effective Compassion podcast. We do have confidence now also to take the next steps toward the Legal Docket podcast. Believe me when I say that’ll take more brains to research, write and produce, obviously, but also to bring Biblical worldview to all of it. To put the resources into taking the time actually to think it through all the way. 

Dare we think what else can we do?

EICHER: That’s what your amazing response to our giving drive has done: dared us to be bolder. So we added another hundred-thousand dollars to what we can reasonably say is our new challenge goal for the December Giving Drive. 

What would one of these be without a little drama! 

But seriously, this is two-fold. We do want to be bold, but we also don’t want to give anyone the idea that we can’t put your gift to work doing more and better journalism.

Here’s what I mean by that:

I get the pleasure of meeting and talking to donors and reading the wonderful notes many people enclose with checks, and it’s humbling. But here’s the message that comes through consistently: Just Do More. 

The Nike slogan is Just Do It. What our WORLD Movers say is, “Just Do More.” And that’s what it means to stretch and be challenged and give more people the opportunity to be an important part of this army.

So all that to say, we’re sitting at 90 percent and have about $100,000 to go to hit the new challenge goal. You can follow all the action online at, watch the progress bar progress.

REICHARD: We have all day today and through tonight!

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Bible translation.

The World Evangelical Alliance along with other Christian organizations have designated 2020, the Year of the Global Bible. The goal of the initiative is to promote the significance, value, and need for Scripture around the world.

MARY REICHARD: Today, 1 in 5 people still don’t have the Bible in their native language. But new approaches to translation are helping the global church tackle that challenge. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports now on how they’re doing that.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Andy Keener and his wife spent nine years in remote northwestern Panama. There the couple worked alongside the Teribe people translating Scripture. 

KEENER: It’s been 10 years since we completed the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament in the language that we worked in. 

Keener says that translation was made possible by the locals who came alongside them. A Teribe translator named Teto reads John 16:1-2 in the audio version of the New Testament. 


Now, Andy Keener is the executive vice president for global partnerships at Wycliffe Bible Translators. He says while translation efforts over the last 75 years have made major headway, the need for the Bible is still great in many places. 

KEENER: The three largest countries where there are needs are Nigeria, Indonesia, and Papau New Guinea. Those three countries alone account for about 40 percent of the remaining need. But then there are small numbers of languages, a dozen or so in several African countries and throughout Asia. There are languages in Eastern Europe, quite a number of Roma, the gypsy languages.

Bryan Harmelink is the director for collaboration at Wycliffe Global Alliance. He says to tackle that daunting task, Bible translation ministries are pooling resources and knowledge. 

HARMELINK: We’re not the only ones involved in this ministry and if this other organization is working in a certain part of the world, um, great, may God bless their work there. 

Thirty-five organizations have now joined the Forum of Bible Agencies International. It meets once a year to discuss challenges and create Bible translation standards.

In 2017, 10 agencies started directing their supporters to a single website that tracks the progress of Bible translation around the world.  

Three ministries developed an online database that allows translators to collaborate The software is called Paratext. Translators all over the world now use it to share work in real time. 

HARMELINK: There are joint projects where sometimes two, even three organizations may partner together and one may say, we have, um, direct connections with people in a community where they’re asking for a Bible translation in their language. Another organization may have other resources that they bring to that project. 

The way translation is happening on the ground is also changing. Traditionally it’s gone something like this: Missionaries trained in linguistics moved to a place in need of Scripture translation. Then they trained local believers to help with the work, and, together, they created a translation. 

But Wycliffe’s Andy Keener says now Christians who need Scripture can start translation efforts without missionaries on site. That’s spurred more projects—with efforts to translate 2,600 languages now underway. 

KEENER: There are people interested, believers interested, in almost every language group around the world. Somebody cares.

That change is thanks in large part to new technology and the globalizing economy. 

Woody McLendon is the president of JAARS, an organization that helps translators around the world get the resources they need to work. Often, that includes first providing electricity. 

MCLENDON:  Solar is a big one but there are other options that exist to make it possible. 

And then the Internet. 

MCLENDON: One of the things we do get involved with is  satellite based internet solutions that allow a translation team to work in a remote location and maintain a connection to the internet through a geostationary satellite 22,000 miles up in space.

Once translators have this setup, Woody McLendon says local translators can receive training and collaborate with other linguists all over the world. For instance, a Congolese pastor is working from JAAR’s headquarters with Christians in his home across the Atlantic. 

MCLENDON: He’s helping spearhead and launch now this translation in his own language in the democratic Republic of Congo. And he’s using technology and participating in that translation from my office here in North Carolina.

Wycliffe’s Bryan Harmelink says while there’s a long way to go before every person has the Bible in his or her first language, things are moving in the right direction. 

HARMELINK: Whereas in previous decades, it might’ve taken an average of 15 to 20 years for a New Testament translation in many places. Now that average is maybe seven or eight years.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg reporting from Orlando, Florida.

MARY REICHARD: This story is a real hoot! 

Katie McBride Newman and her kids, Jack and India, love owls. So they decked out the family Christmas tree with about a dozen owl ornaments strewn amid the sparkling lights. 

Well, one evening after dinner, 10-year-old India ran into the dining room at told her mom, “Mama, that ornament scared me!”

When Mrs. Newman examined the family Christmas tree for herself, one of the owls nestled in its branches turned its head and looked at her!

That’s when she realized it was no ornament. A real live bird had been hiding their tree. 

The small owl was easy to miss in the lush, dense, 10-foot tree. But now what? 

They left the windows and doors open that night, hoping the little guy would head for the nearby woods. But he was, apparently, quite comfortable!

So they called a local nature center and a worker there helped them capture and release the bird outside. 

But not too far outside. Katie Newman says she still hears an owl at night hooting away near her house.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: Today is December 31st, 2019. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It, and we are so glad you are! Good morning to you!  I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on WORLD Radio, The Olasky Interview.

Earlier this year, our editor in chief spoke with former U.S. Inspector General Brian Miller. He graduated from Temple University on a wrestling scholarship. He also attended Westminster Theological Seminary and the University of Texas School of Law.

Brian Miller spent nine years with the General Services Administration. Today, he serves as special assistant and senior counsel to President Trump. Here’s Marvin Olasky:

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: What does an inspector general do all day? What is the general services administration? 

BRIAN MILLER: (LAUGHTER) It’s probably the largest federal agency that you’ve never heard of. Because it works behind the scenes, it handles federal property, it’s the federal landlord. It also buys things for the federal government. So it’s a procurement agency. 

And the inspector general is charged with rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse in federal programs. And charged to make these programs more efficient. There are 73 inspectors general, one for each agency. Many of them are Senate confirmed—I was confirmed by the Senate in 2005, appointed by President Bush. They have offices of auditors and special agents, investigators, and they also have individuals who conduct inspections and evaluations.

OLASKY: With that background whenever you read of a lot of government spending right now, has this made you more suspicious of the government?

MILLER: I think there’s fraud and all the programs generally, but fraud is not something that can easily be measured. A lot of people like to say there’s 20 percent fraud and healthcare and Medicare and Medicaid, but that’s a guess. By its very nature, fraud is hidden. People who engaged in fraud don’t want to be found out. I think that what is necessary is to have people looking for that fraud, to root out that fraud, and to catch the people that are engaged in the fraud, perhaps deter others from beginning to defraud the government. 

OLASKY: So how, how swampy is the swamp? 

MILLER: It’s swampy. You know, I think overall in terms of the big picture, the administrative state is growing and you know, tends to steamroll, uh, enumerated powers and separation of powers. But I think in the, in terms of the inspector general world, in terms of law enforcement generally, it is an important task to determine whether crimes have been committed—whether fraud has been committed against the government. And to work in that area is an honorable profession. 

You know, you can avoid the swamp and you just have to be aware and don’t get sucked into any sort of political agenda, and to stay away from political agendas, stay away from overreaches, uh, and that sort of thing. And that requires a lot of judgment. And I think in terms of inspectors general, I think that you need people who have judgment more than anything else, to perform that role well.

OLASKY: We do often read about politicians who have amassed a great deal of wealth in office. How big should our suspicion finders be? 

MILLER: I’m by nature suspicious and especially suspicious of people who may be trying to benefit personally from a government program instead of doing what’s right for the taxpayers and for the American public. And so I think we should always be suspicious of that. There are more regulations now and more organizations that are looking at that. So I don’t know if it’s getting better or not, but we should always be suspicious of that. 

OLASKY: Is, is the work of inspector general, someone like playing that game called Whack-a-mole?

MILLER: It’s a lot like that. There’s always something going on, and maybe it’s not too surprising, the General Service Administration (GSA) had 12,000 employees. So in any town, small town where you have 12,000 people, you have people doing very stupid things and criminal things. Every town has a jail. And so when you get that many people together, there’s bound to be, you know, people doing improper things and what, you know, whether it amounts to criminal activity or not, you know, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. 

I was asked, why are there always scandals at GSA? And I told them that, you know, the same answer that the bank robber gave: “That’s where the money is.” And a lot of money flows through GSA.

OLASKY: So what’s the ideal background for an inspector general? 

MILLER: There are many different backgrounds. By statute it does require that they have a certain background and it lists the number of professions. Um, accounting, financial, law, law enforcement, but generally, uh, inspectors general have been auditors and, uh, law enforcement more recently they’ve been assistant U.S. attorneys and lawyers. 

OLASKY: Okay. So you’re probably unusual among the inspector generals of the past 20 years and having your seminary background, are there other inspector generals who have a seminary background? 

MILLER: Not that I know of, but you’d be surprised who does have a seminary background. Some of the chief compliance officers for major corporations have gone to seminary. And their role is somewhat similar to an inspector general. Uh, but, um, but no, I don’t know of anyone quite that has my background.

OLASKY: How do you connect the dots of theology and inspector general practice?

MILLER: At the most basic level, we serve the Lord and we want to follow the law. So we’re generally against lying, cheating and stealing. Um, it’s not biblical. It’s, uh, displeases the Lord. And so we do want to please him and everything that we do. And so I think that is a good background. People have to be of good character to be an inspector general. To work in an office of inspectors general, uh, that they have to want to follow the law. That mindset helps to, you know, look at whether or not, um, an organization or an individual is actually following the law as it’s written. And so I think all that helps. 

OLASKY: Okay. Well, Thank you very much for coming. Please join me in thanking Brian Miller. Thank you.

MARY REICHARD: Today is the last day of December, 2019. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Today is the last day for the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The $450 million museum of the American news industry opened in 2008. But the facility announced last January that it will close after years of heavy losses.

WORLD Radio commentator Les Sillars teaches journalism history at Patrick Henry College. Recently he took some students down for one last visit.

LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: The Newseum was the perfect symbol of the mainstream media. It was huge. It took itself way too seriously and badly overestimated public affection for it. It romanticized the profession while papering over its failures.

I always warned my students about all this. But whenever I took them down there, they seemed inspired.

ADRIANA VON HELMS: My name is Adriana Von Helms and I am a junior at Patrick Henry College. The Pulitzer photos and the 9-11 exhibit was, um, those were the two things that struck me the most, um, I didn’t expect to come to this museum and cry so often.

ANNOUNCER: This just in, you are looking at what is obviously a very disturbing live shot. Apparently a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center … 

Those were my favorite exhibits as well. It had front pages from that day in 2001 and an antennae from one of the towers. In a small, dark room, a video told the stories of a handful of the reporters who were there.

CAMERAMAN: He told me, he says to me, me, the firefighters, and tilt up to the building, which I did … and as I tilted up … REPORTER: And you can see the two towers a huge explosion now raining debris on all of us! We better get out of the way! … CAMERAMAN: I don’t know if I was filming or not. I wasn’t at work anymore. I was running for my life. 

In another scene, a TV reporter interviews a woman as she describes watching people jumping from windows to escape the flames. She breaks down. Then he chokes up and hugs her, and then I’m tearing up.

Some of the Pulitzer photos are joyous, like the Olympic champion Jamaican women’s relay team. Others are heart-wrenching, like the vulture eye-balling a famine-stricken Sudanese infant.

ELLE REYNOLDS: We were walking through and there were so many pictures of death and anger and evil and I know that a lot of people look at those pictures and question how there can be a God in a world like that …

This is Elle Reynolds, a junior.

… It was impossible to look at those pictures without kind of feeling that conflict of good and evil and desiring the victory of the good over all the evil in the world and, it was almost hopeful, um, instead of depressing …

A guide told me the Newseum should reopen in a few years in a smaller, less expensive facility. I hope it does, if it helps Christian students like Elle and Lovie Churchill understand their calling.

SILLARS: The question is, what does it mean to be a journalist? … LOVIE CHURCHILL: It means to tell the truth, even when the truth is hard and it’s hard to tell it. I don’t know. SILLARS: That’s good. Ian, …

For WORLD Radio, I’m Les Sillars.

EICHER: That’s so awesome. Y’know, Lovie Churchill was one of our students at this past year’s World Journalism Institute. So cool to hear her voice again.

REICHARD: I’ll bet, because you get to teach at WJI. And that reminds me- I was a student at WJI for mid-career writers. That took me straight to a new career in journalism and what a ride it’s been!

All that to say- World Journalism Institute is one of those life-changing experiences that survives and thrives because of donors like you.  And it’s so necessary, because of what you said, Nick, about the message from our WORLD Movers: Just Do More.

Just doing more is all about just training more and just bringing more on board, because it’s labor intensive to do journalism of the type we do: sound journalism grounded in God’s word.

EICHER: Well, here we sit, last day of the year, final day of our December Giving Drive, and we’re pushing toward a stretch goal now. We’re closing in on it, and if you want to be a part of the team, now’s the time. Visit Every dollar we plan to plow into “Just Do More.”

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: how the federal government just wastes more—a new report has the dreadful details. Senator James Lankford spearheaded the report and he talks to our J.C. Derrick. 

Also, World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. And the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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