Most of Don’s life has been lived outside the USA. As a result, he has a passion to see Jesus honored and glorified in ALL the peoples of this world, especially those still unreached people groups who have not yet had an honest chance to know the truth about Jesus. His desire is that we will see greater and greater outreach going out from Grace to impact these “forgotten peoples”—the ones some feel are too hard to reach—resulting in Jesus being honored and worshiped more all over this world.
Growing up as a missionary kid in India, Don learned to speak Hindi and Punjabi. After graduating from high school in India, he attended the College of Wooster in Ohio where he graduated in 1969 with a degree in history. He then spent three years teaching English in northern Thailand where he was introduced to linguistics by two friends and learned his first tonal language, Thai.
He was accepted to study Linguistics at the University of Michigan. Before he started there, the Lord showed him that his experiences growing up in India, his experience in Thailand, and his interest in other languages and cultures were all God’s way of preparing him to help a people group receive the Word of God in their heart language. He joined Wycliffe in 1973 and finished an M.A. in linguistics later that year.
While spending a year as a special student in Biblical Studies at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN, he met Shari Lundeen at a Wycliffe recruitment meeting. Shari had felt God’s call on her life to serve in missions since age 12. They were married in 1976 and left for Indonesia in 1977.
Don and Shari worked with many Da’a people to translate Genesis, Exodus, and the New Testament into the Da’a language of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Don has since served as a translation consultant in Indonesia, taught a number of Mother Tongue Translator training workshops, and served 3 ½ years as Regional Director for projects in unreached people groups in Indonesia. He is currently serving as a trainer and consultant for eight language projects doing oral Bible stories, and he also checks written translation with other teams in Indonesia. The Barrs relocated to Dallas in 1999 to get special education help for their son Joseph, who has a rare form of epilepsy that has delayed his academic development.
Don and Shari have four children, all born overseas: Joy, Jonathan, Joseph, and Jeremy. Jonathan died in 2004 at age 23 and is waiting for us all in heaven. Shari teaches three-year-olds at the Wycliffe Child Care as well as directing that program. The Barrs joined Grace Community Church in 2005 and appreciate Grace’s heart for the nations, in particular those as yet unreached peoples. Don has helped with the ESL program, Big Howdy, LAUNCH, and the Grace House of Prayer. Shari has served in AdventureLand, in the Grace House of Prayer, and enjoys being part of the Women of Grace. The Barrs also co-host a home group. Their life motto is: Till ALL the nations (people groups) worship Him (Rev. 15:4).