Well-known missionary & Bible translator dies

21.12.2017 | Mission News, Global Mission, Mission

Mary Steele, who served in Ghana as a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators for over 50 years, has sadly passed away.

Mary, who was a member of Killymurris Presbyterian Church in Ballymena Presbytery, died on 20th December and was well-known throughout the Presbyterian Church in Ireland for her long-term devotion to Bible translation and literacy work.

In 2006 this work was recognised by the Queen when Mary was honoured with an MBE for services to linguistics, literacy and Bible translation in Ghana. In 2015 the President of Ghana appointed her as a Member of the Order of the Volta, a national order of merit.

Rev. Uel Marrs, secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Council for Global Mission said, “While saddened to learn of Mary’s passing we do give thanks to God for her life and witness, including over 50 years of dedicated missionary service in which she contributed so much to language development and spiritual formation in Ghana. Mary was truly inspiration to so many.”

Mary began her service overseas in 1962 with Wycliffe Bible Translators – an organisation whose vision is to see the Scriptures available to all people in their own language.

Describing Mary as “one of the true ‘legends’ of Wycliffe”, Ricky Ferguson of Wycliffe Bible Translators in Northern Ireland said, “Mary was greatly loved and admired by so many both in Ghana and at home. She worked extensively on the Konkomba and Bimoba translation projects in the north of the country, facing a variety of challenges, including health issues and serious inter-ethnic conflict.

“Both of these language groups now have completed Bibles, and have seen significant church growth. In addition, Mary was instrumental in a wide range of literacy, Scripture Engagement and Community Development activities, all of which were of significant benefit to these communities. Mary also served as a translation consultant to a number of other projects. She was a much-loved and highly valued member of the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation.

“Asked in a BBC Northern Ireland interview about her work, Mary declared ‘I love the work.  I love the people and I love the Lord.”

A service of thanksgiving for Mary’s life will be held in Killymurris Presbyterian Church, (175 Dunminning Road, Glarryford BT44 9PW) tomorrow, Friday, 22 December at 1pm. 

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