JAARS (Jungle Aviation And Radio Service) was founded in 1948 to help translate the bible into languages and dialects as well as deliver them throughout the world. Debbie Newby, JAARS Museums Manager/Curator, explains, “There are over 7000 languages in the world. Most of them do not have complete Bibles. Over 600 million people in the world have no access to the Bible in the language they clearly understand. Our mission at JAARS is to make Bible translation and language development possible, especially in the most remote and difficult places on earth. We do that by enabling locally appropriate and sustainable solutions in transportation, technology, media, and training. That’s why JAARS helps dozens of partner organizations around the world get the support they need most, whether that’s a laptop and Internet access, a life jacket and water safety training, or a flight to a remote island or mountaintop village. In the words of Cameron Townsend, founder of JAARS, SIL International, and Wycliffe Bible Translators, ‘Airplanes and radios don’t just make translation easier; they make it possible.’ ”
“In 1961, Lawrence Routh was in Charlotte looking for land for JAARS headquarters and airfield. He talked with Ed Darling of the Billy Graham Association about the search. Ed Darling told Henderson Belk about the need. Christian businessman Henderson Belk of Belk Department stores gave 256 acres of pine forest and empty cotton fields outside Waxhaw, North Carolina, for the international headquarters. It fit Townsend’s dream: a beauty spot away from cities big enough to establish a large community dedicated to scientific research, cultural service, and Bible translation. The airstrip and hangar were built first. Building after building followed over the years. More land was added so that, today, the JAARS Center includes over 550 acres.”
JAARS has two museums: The Museum of the Alphabet and The Mexico-Cardenas Museum. Both museums have free admission and are open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. They offer guided tours and school field trips as well as Family and PreSchool Treasure Hunts. The free Treasure Hunt encourages the searchers to explore the museum and learn about JAARS and languages to complete the hunt and receive a prize from the treasure box.
JAARS hosts several events throughout the year. The Night at the Alphabet Museum is a free event usually held on Friday nights at 7 pm, but attendance is limited, so please call ahead. Recommended for children eight and up, this event is very different from the normal daytime activities at the museum. Participants get to explore the museum and interact with various historical people. JAARS Day is being held three times in 2019: March 9, June 8, and October 12. Newby says, “You can spend a day at our headquarters in Waxhaw, North Carolina! Some of the many activities include: riding in a helicopter or a five-seat plane, trying the 4-wheel drive course, and recording your voice into the JESUS film. The museums offer a variety of special activities which can include writing Chinese calligraphy, practicing with a blow gun, storytelling, Mexican food, and stamping your name in hieroglyphics. You’ll get an up-close look at Bible translation—and how JAARS makes it possible, even in the most remote and difficult places on earth.“
Currently, over 700 people serve JAARS in paid and volunteer positions as well as 12 pilots. Newby explains, “JAARS is blessed to cover two/thirds of our core operating expenses (including research and development, certain project management and training needs, communications, fundraising, and a range of missionary support services) through our own operations. The balance is covered by generous gifts to our CORE Mission Operations.”
JAARS – 7405 Jaars Road, Waxhaw, NC 28173; 704-843-6000; www.jaars.org