Our Faith Journey
Doug was raised in a Christian family and remembers well hearing about the work of missionaries around the world. He trusted Jesus as his Savior when he was young, but struggled to maintain his independence. When Doug was confronted with the need for missionaries through his parents or at his Christian School, he outright rejected the idea of going. He had hopes of a future in computers or electronics engineering. But the Lord put this question in Doug’s mind: “Why not be a missionary” and He allowed him no peace until Doug gave Him an answer. Doug’s excuses were plenty, but he always felt like he was running from the question. A point came in his junior year of highschool when he realized he would have no peace if he continued to ignore the Lord's calling. He said, "OK, Lord, I'll do whatever you want me to do, even if it means living in a mud hut in Africa". At that moment, Doug experienced peace and soon felt the Lord leading and equipping him for a career with Wycliffe Bible Translators. His faith became something he was burdened to share with others. Doug knew firsthand that peace can only be found in the center of God’s will. After high school, Doug earned a Bachelor’s in Religious Education from Kuyper College in preparation for linguistic training with Wycliffe. And that is where he met Priscilla ...
Priscilla was raised in a Christian family and attended a Christian school for the first eight years of her formal education. Upon graduation of eighth grade, Priscilla transferred to the county's public school. This was her first deep exposure to the secular lifestyle. During her senior year, she worked almost full-time in a Christian Nursing Home, which to her indicated a future in Nursing. However, while attending Calvin College, Priscilla discovered that chemistry was not her strong point and had to chose another career. For a year and a half she explored other majors available at Calvin, but with no direction. Then from a friend's conversation and encouragement, Priscilla signed up for a Spring Break Volunteer Project in Port Gibson, Mississippi. At that point she discovered an enjoyment in serving others in a missions setting. Missions became a reality. Then through work and personal exploring, God showed Priscilla where she fit into missions. She first noticed Wycliffe Bible Translators. She thought she could go right away without any formal secretarial training, but was mistaken. Priscilla told her parents what she was looking for in a new school. Priscilla’s Mom, an avid reader of a denominational magazine The Banner, saw an advertisement for a new secretarial program through Kuyper College. Priscilla explored the possibilities and enrolled for their secretarial program. When she first talked with Doug and found out he also was planning to work with Wycliffe, she thought it was a neat coincidence, but as their relationship became more serious, they realized that God was providing each of them with a lifetime partner to work in Bible translation.
After graduating from Kuyper College, Doug and Priscilla were married in 1990, and together attended linguistics courses at the International Linguistic Center in Dallas. Upon completion of their studies they were assigned to Côte d'Ivoire and Mali. They raised financial support for their work and soon left for Belgium to learn French. Less than two years later, the Higbys arrived to West Africa. The Fulfulde project in Mali needed another translator and so in 1995 the Higbys were assigned there. Doug worked as a Bible translator, and Priscilla saw to their sons’ educational needs, in addition to handling all of the administrative tasks for the translation project. The work of translation was shared between three separate missions working together as a team to translate the New Testament, as well as portions of the Old Testament. At the end of 2006, the New Testament was dedicated in Sévaré, Mali. Another team has now taken on the task of continuing the Old Testament.
The Higbys were then assigned to Burkina Faso where they continued to use their gifts to further the work of Bible translation. Doug became the Africa Area Coordinator for Language Technology. He trained African Christians and missionaries to use the best available software tools to speed up the work of linguistic analysis and Bible translation. Priscilla used her secretarial skills as the Administrative Assistant at the international school their sons attend. During their six years in Burkina Faso, the Higby’s three sons - Henry, Kevin and Roger - attended the International School of Ouagadougou (ISO), where they attended classes with children of many nationalities. They also participated in the interdenominational youth group that met weekly. After Henry and Kevin graduated from ISO, the Higbys returned to the States for a year of furlough to update their supporting churches and friends on their ministry.
In November 2015, Doug and Priscilla settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan which they have a home office and work when they are not travelling and training. They travel frequently for Doug's role as Director of Language Technology Use. Priscilla is serving as ePub Manager, creating digital versions of books and manuals that are important for cross-cultural fieldwork.