Michael and Lisa Colburn specialize in linguistics and translation. Michael served as a missionary with the Wycliffe Bible Translators for 13 years, and lived eight years with the Ogea tribe in Papua New Guinea. When he went there in 1977, the Ogea were an “unreached” people group. His primary assignment was to establish a project to translate the New Testament into Ogea. This required his learning Ogea without the benefit of a written grammar or dictionary. He devised an alphabet for the Ogea language and taught people to read and write using the new alphabet. He trained Ogea speakers as “mother-tongue” translators and provided consultation and review of their translation throughout the process. As a lay person, he worked to evangelize the Ogea people, praying that not only would many Ogea become Christian, but they in turn would become missionaries. This prayer was answered, and the Ogea planted churches in a number of surrounding tribes. In addition to serving the Ogea, he also served for a period as the director of Wycliffe’s work in the Madang province of Papua New Guinea, supervising over 20 translation teams, and was a member of the executive committee, which oversee the work throughout Papua New Guinea.
After returning to the US, Michael worked 24 years as a full-time software developer for the US Government. For the last seven years of this time, he established and managed a software development division within the U.S. government. He has a certification in project management from the Project Management Institute, a certification in multi-million dollar program management by the Federal Acquisition Institute, and led numerous initiatives from initial vision through to implementation.
Michael's academic qualifications include a BA in Biblical Studies, MA in Linguistics, MCIS in Software Engineering, and a Doctor of Computer Science degree. He has developed courses and taught both within industry and at the college level.
He and his wife, Lisa, now work full-time with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) as mission specialists in linguistics and translation. Their vision is that every Orthodox Christian parish in the world will have the opportunity to worship God using the mother-tongue of its parishioners. His mission is to equip translators of the Orthodox liturgical texts with the knowledge and tools they need to produce accurate and understandable translations that speak to the hearts of those who pray, hear, or read them. To that end, Michael has laid out a multi-year plan to develop and provide four types of assistance to OCMC missionaries, liturgical translators, and publishers of translations: software, courses, handbooks, and consulting.
Working with Fr Seraphim Dedes (creator of eMatins.org), Michael developed AGES Liturgical Workbench (ALWB). This software has tools for translators, a multi-lingual library, typikon templates, and a rubrics engine. The rubrics engine calculates the liturgical properties for a given date (e.g. the tone of the week, what day of Lent it is, what feast day it is, etc), in order to generate services for specific dates , automatically determining and inserting the variable hymns. He is working on a web-based Translation Management System (TMS) to provide tools for translators as they create their translations, and to enter them into a database that can be used by ALWB to generate services and/or books.
In addition to software, Michael has been working on a liturgical translator's handbook for the Hymns of Theophany. The handbook is being written using a form of English that should be more easily understood by people who have learned English as a foreign language. The handbook provides a grammatical analysis of the Greek text, model translations, and commentary that explains the meaning of the text, identifies potential translation problems, and provides suggestions on how these problems can be solved.
The Colburns are currently based in Thessaloniki, Greece, and from there travel to Kenya and other countries to train people in the use of the AGES Software. They plan to return to their home in St. Augustine, Florida, September 2016, and continue their work with OCMC from there.