Celebrating the Kingdom Work of Administrative Professionals
American Bible Society honors the work of administrative professionals in the Bible cause
Behind every milestone in Bible ministry is a team of people who have dedicated their time, talents, and energy to spreading the gospel. This Administrative Professionals Day, American Bible Society praises God for the efforts of past and present administrators, managers, secretaries, and other administrative professionals who have used their gifts to build Christ’s kingdom.
Accelerating the Work
For the past two centuries, American Bible Society’s work has been overseen by generations of gifted administrators. Through their planning, organization, and commitment to sharing God’s Word, these administrative professionals have accelerated the spread of the gospel throughout the United States and around the world.
One example of faithful administrative service is Shirley Ruth Barrett, who started her career at American Bible Society at a secretarial level in 1924. She had learned Braille during her educational studies and found her calling in the Editorial and Blind Department, where she completed various tasks “essential to the smooth working of the Society.” She soon reached an executive administrative level within the department and oversaw several major projects annually, including the assembling of American Bible Society’s annual budget and preparation for Record magazine publication.
Through her expert management, Barrett increased her department’s distribution volume substantially. Prior to her involvement, 122,000 copies of Scripture for the visually impaired had been distributed over a century of ministry. During the 25 years of her administration, nearly 670,000 copies of Scripture were distributed among visually impaired people in the United States.
Barrett’s impact was not confined to the United States. During World War Ⅱ, she oversaw shipments of Braille paper to Japan, Korea, Germany, and Finland. She also managed the production of the first Spanish New Testament in Braille, along with translations of Braille Scripture portions in Portuguese, Arabic, Greek, and Modern Armenian.
In 1959, Barrett was awarded the Migel Medal for Outstanding Service to the Blind. Helen Keller, who was unable to attend the event in New York City, wrote a congratulatory statement that summarized the lasting impact of Barrett’s administration:
The beauty of your work is that you do it for the Blind, not simply because they lack sight but because you love them as human beings, and you sense their spiritual needs as your own. Not only have you labored for the American Bible Society, you have also lent your energies without stint to other organizations so that the Blind might forget darkness in the light and strength of religion.
Advancing the Gospel
Today, administrative professionals like Barrett combine their personal passion for spreading God’s Word with expert strategy to reach those who are still waiting to experience the Bibles’ message.
Each day, Bible Societies, translation teams, churches, and local ministries around the world rely on administrative support to accomplish their work. In many locations, administrative professionals serve in multiple roles due to a limited budget or small team size. A translation team in Zambia has been working on translating the New Testament into the local Nyanja language. Pastor Emmanuel, who is retired from ministry, answered God’s call to help bring the Bible to Nyanja speakers by joining the team as both a translator and the project’s administrative lead. The team met in a small house until COVID-19 forced them to work remotely. “COVID-19 has changed our entire working culture,” says one of Pastor Emmanuel’s colleagues, “but thanks to Zoom we have been able to continue.”
The team has been meeting together online for 9 hours each day, often continuing their work individually in the evenings. In addition to his translation work, Pastor Emmanuel manages the needs of his team by communicating with the Bible Society of Zambia’s translation department. Thanks to the careful administrative oversight of Pastor Emmanuel and his team’s tireless translation work, the Nyanja translation project has progressed in spite of the pandemic and is due to be completed in 2021.
American Bible Society recognizes administrative professionals in Bible Societies around the world as essential to the completion of our mission: helping all people experience God through the Bible. We thank God for the current administrative professionals serving with us today, acknowledging that we could not do this important work without them!
Cordato, Mary. “Women’s Involvement in the Bible Cause: 1816 to the Present.” ABS Historical Working Papers Series. American Bible Society Archives. 1993.
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