The Gospel for All

by APU Life

“God weaves together our diverse experiences to prepare us for whatever He calls us to do,” said roy Peterson, M.A. ’99, Litt.D., and the life of this servant leader reflects these words. As president and CEO of the American Bible Society, a world leader in Bible engagement, distribution, and translation, Peterson works to ensure that every person has access to God’s Word.

Peterson did not initially plan a career in Christian nonprofits. With an undergraduate degree in business administration, he worked for more than a decade in sales management. Then he traded the business office for a very different work environment: the mission field of Ecuador and Guatemala, where he worked for eight years as a liaison between Wycliffe Bible Translators and local government, ministry, and business leaders, while also studying leadership at Azusa Pacific. “God’s calling was clear,” he said. “I knew He was leading me to use my business experience in a new way—contributing to the Bible movement.” Eventually, the threads of his experience in leadership, business, and Bible translation came together when he served as president and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA and The Seed Company, international nonprofits focusing on Bible translation.

Today, Peterson guides American Bible Society in initiating worldwide goals, collaborating with donors and key stakeholders, and empowering international partners and churches in Scripture engagement to provide global access to God’s Word. The organization also served as a founding partner in Every Tribe Every Nation, an alliance of translation organizations gathering and digitizing every known translation of the Bible in the world. “I’ve seen workers carry Bibles into villages on canoes, buses, trucks, donkeys, and on foot, and now, on the digital highway,” said Peterson. “We do whatever is necessary to make God’s Word available and alive everywhere. The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives, and everyone on Earth should have the opportunity to know the greatest story ever told.”

But Peterson’s ultimate goal goes beyond placing a Bible in someone’s hands. “Access to the Bible is important, but we pray that people might truly know Jesus, and engage Scripture with all their hearts and lives.” Recently, American Bible Society ministered to women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who suffered abuse and lost family members to war. “They found new life and freedom in the healing words of Scripture, and went on to help other women in their country through emotional and spiritual restoration,” said Peterson.

Even with great strides in recent years, much work remains for Bible translators. More than 1,800 languages have no translations, and more than 1 billion people are without access to the complete Bible. Peterson sees the next generation of businesspeople as key to spreading the Gospel. “The world needs people who can create more efficient and effective systems using technology along with best business and people practices,” said Peterson. “The insights I gained at APU carry into my work today, and I look forward to seeing today’s students become servant leaders. No matter where God places you—whether in business or ministry—that’s your calling.”

Originally published in the Winter '15 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.