Until only a couple of years ago, there were no Wesleyan academic commentaries available in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a confederation of 15 Eurasian countries part of the former Soviet Union.
Now, thanks to the generosity of retired school teacher Chloe Schweitzer and the multitudes of people who donate to the Church of the Nazarene's World Evangelism Fund (WEF), there are nearly 15 of the New Beacon Bible Commentaries translated into Russian — the most common language in the CIS.
In 2006, Schweitzer was a volunteer teaching English in Moscow, Russia. Schweitzer and her siblings decided they wanted to sponsor the translation of a book into Russian in memory of her parents, who were retired Nazarene ministers. The book they sponsored was The Story of God by Michael Lodahl and was published in Russian that year.
Shortly after this, Schweitzer returned home to the U.S. due to health issues, eventually passing away the following year. Before her passing, she donated a portion of her estate to the development of a much larger translation project than the previous one.
It wasn’t hard to see that the Russian-speaking world of the former Soviet Union, known as the CIS Field, needed Wesleyan commentaries, particularly for the Old Testament. To fill that gap, Schweitzer and the Church of the Nazarene's CIS Literature Committee decided to use her donation to translate the New Beacon Bible Commentaries.
The Schweitzer family needed to sell her home to receive the money to donate to the project, but due to the U.S. recession during that time, it took nearly 10 years after she passed to do so. In the meantime, the church partnered with local Christan publisher Bible for Everyone and translation moved forward in 2010 with WEF funding the project.
In 2016, the Schweitzer home was sold, and by this time there were already 11 commentaries translated. Since then, her donation has been used to sponsor the translation of three more commentaries with up to four more planned if all goes well.
Church of the Nazarene Global Missions Director Verne Ward recently presented the commentaries to General Superintendent Carla Sunberg, who served as a pioneer missionary in the CIS Field for many years.
"Chloe Schweitzer loved the church in the former Soviet Union and gave generously of herself as a volunteer," Sunberg said. "Now, her legacy will live on in the lives of our pastors and leaders across the CIS Field. My life is richer because I have known her, and this investment in such an outstanding commentary series will make a difference for years to come."
The resources are expected to benefit hundreds of ministers, students, and laity across the field.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Schweitzer family, Nazarenes around the world, and the excellent work of our literature team," Ward said, "these commentaries will have an incredible impact as we continue to develop leaders in our churches across the CIS Field to better equip them for ministry and going where the church is not yet.”