Born in the Netherlands in 1938, Jack immigrated to Alberta, Canada in 1950 as the oldest of a family of five children. He was the first of his family to be converted. He graduated from Berean Bible College where he majored in English and biblical exegesis. Jack and Jo met at this college and were married in 1962.

They pastored a Baptist church in Alberta for three years before joining Wycliffe in 1966, and moving to Brazil with three pre-school daughters. They began linguistics, translation and literacy work with the Canela people of Brazil in 1968.

When the Popjes began work with the Canelas, the language did not have a written form, people were illiterate, and there were no believers. By the time the Scriptures were translated into Canela and distributed in 1990, twenty-two years later, there were scores of Canela believers, all able to read the Bible, and teaching others to read and obey the Word.

While Jack and Jo were managing the Canela translation program, Jack was elected to the position of chairman of the field board of SIL, Wycliffe’s sister organization. He served in this position for six years: a time of political upheaval and major change in Brazil. He also served as the director’s administrative assistant and later was appointed interim director. After completing the translation project and leaving Brazil in 1990, the Popjes’ served as Canadian regional representative at large, and later Jack was appointed as director of promotion and recruitment, directing a team of recruiters and representatives working across Canada. While serving in this capacity, Jack honed his skills as a public speaker at hundreds of promotional banquets, missions conferences, churches, and service organizations. He also served a two-year term on the board of directors of Wycliffe Canada.

Jack and Jo had planned to return to a field assignment but he was unexpectedly appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Wycliffe Canada in 1994. In his two three-year terms Jack, with Jo as his administrative assistant, led the organisation to adopt numerous changes including a change to a full constituency board operating on a policy governance model, a more assertive fund raising policy, and a Canada-wide expansion of promotional activities. He very much enjoyed building a team of competent, highly motivated leaders around him.

Convinced of the truth that God has made the whole Church, not just mission agencies, responsible to evangelize the world and disciple the nations, Jack positioned Wycliffe Canada as a servant to the Church. He negotiated numerous entry-level partnership agreements with Canadian denominations. During these six years, the Canadian Wycliffe membership grew by about 30% and the yearly income by about 50%.

Following his leadership service in Wycliffe Canada, Wycliffe International appointed Jack as CEO of Wycliffe Caribbean for a term of three years, focusing on a half a dozen English speaking nations. He and Jo travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean, speaking in numerous churches and other venues. Jack built a team of trained recruiters and promoters in every major population centre and developed partnership agreements with many denominations and independent churches in the Caribbean. Before leaving, Jack recruited, trained, and oriented a Jamaican executive as his successor.

Jack is a prolific reader, having read thousands of books since leaving college. He considers himself a convinced book pusher. During each furlough, he took a wide variety of university or community college courses ranging from cultural anthropology and personnel management to business and photography. He has written a weekly e-mail column or blog for the past seventeen years. He has published six books—A Poke in the Ribs, A Kick in the Pants, A Bonk on the Head, and A Tickle in the Funny Bone—which are collections of his best columns. The Why & How of Bible Translation, which is also compiled of a columns dealing with four aspects of Bible translation. The Misadventures of Hansje: the Boy who Kept his Guardian Angel Busy, is the first volume of Jack’s autobiography. The thirty-seven stories are written for children and cover Jack’s first twelve years living in Holland under Nazi occupation and the years following. He is currently writing the second volume of his auto-biography.

Currently Jack is an Engagement Team Speaker with Wycliffe Canada, speaking at promotional, recruiting and fund-raising events in Canada and the USA. His current column, Jack’s InSights & OutBursts, goes out by email to about 2,000 subscribers worldwide. He also keeps in touch with the missionaries currently working among the Canela, assisting them through his knowledge of the language and the culture.

Cheryl, Leanne, and Valorie painted and feathered for a festival during a visit to the Canela village in the late 1990s.

Jack and Jo Popjes have three daughters: Valorie, Leanne, and Cheryl. They are also the happy grandparents of eight grandchildren: twin 26 year-old boys; two 22 year-old girls, triplet 20 year-old girls; and one 18 year-old boy.

Jack and Jo live on an acreage north-west of Stony Plain, a 25 minute drive west of Edmonton, AB Canada.

15 thoughts on “Bio

  1. This may sound strange but I was wondering if you and your family served as missionairies in Brazil. I went to the Amazon Valley Acadamy and one of my very best friends there was Leann Popjes. That would have been in the 70’s. I remember she had two sisters. I don’t have face book but have had my kids look for some of the people I remember from school there and decided that I would just look on line and thats how I came across your website. I would love to talk to her if I have the right person. My email address is I know looking at the picture that looks like her in the middle. In fact I have pictures of her at a party we had at our house for our class one year. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. Michele Tillar Wilson

  2. Jack and Jo,
    Phil Baer of SIL pointed me to your site. Very nice design. Phil and I worked together in Cameroon in 1986.
    I am an independent documentary filmmaker Wannabee.
    After retiring from Raytheon I went to film school. Actually I did not have $200K for USC’s film school so I have been taking classes at Junior College for 5 years. Phil shot the footage in that little 4 minute piece.
    In about a month (Nov 9) I am going to South Africa and Malawi to work on a conservation project and I will be meeting my daughter (the nursing student) in Capetown on Dec 11. If you know somebody in Capetown, Johannesborg or Blantyre Malawi that needs some help with media (video,photo.web) please let me know. Thanks

    • Thanks for your comment and background info, Don. I don’t know any of the Wycliffe people currently assigned to that area of the world, so can’t give you any info. Blessings on your trip.

  3. hello Jack, yes I am confirmned. Already have I sent the link to another party and will continue. It is not an easy subject to
    engage people in so I appreciate the insightful articles especially those justly using your experiences to show what is
    still the need and the varied cases of need.It is worthy to send these to those who can pray and/or give.
    Thank you again,

  4. Since you came to Cayman and spoke at the Chapel Church of God for Keswick I believe, I have been enjoying your stories and genuine experiences. I am 23 and studying Management in England now and I relate to your stories they are always an encouragement.
    Thank you very much for your obedience.

  5. I am looking forward to receiving Jack’s INsights & OUTbursts. I have gone a season without them due to a change of email addresses. I have been missing them! Jack-You have a way of cutting to the heart of an issue. Your passion for the, “Great Commision”, is inspiring. God Speed my friend.

  6. Hi Jack,

    sorry I’ve missed some of your articles due to my change in e-mail address. Please send them to my new e-mail

  7. Hi Jack,

    Looking forward to your INsights & OUTbursts. We really appreciate your ministry through writing. You’re a great encouragement to us. We gave a copy of your books (A Poke in the Ribs, A Bonk on the Head and A Kick in the Pants) to our three kids this past Christmas.

    Blessings to you and Jo,
    Debbie (and Abe)

    • Thank you for encouraging me, Debbie. There’s nothing like people buying my books and giving them to their kids for Christmas to make me feel like sitting down and writing some more.
      Blessings on you both.

  8. Hi, Jack and Jo.
    Just a change of email address. Trust you are all well. I enjoy your emails.

  9. Yes, I would love to receive your weekly stories….Loved the 3 books I read and would be thrilled to read MORE!!!! Pat O.

  10. Just changed my email address, so I didn’t really unsubscribe.
    I really enjoy receiving your column and want to make sure I can access it easier.
    Thank you,
    Lynette Braun

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