North Kivu Refugee cover photo: Julien Harneis / Story photo: Wycliffe Bible Translators
Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) ― War wounds run deep in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions are as varied as the tribes that live in the region. Violent flare-ups are common.
Ten days ago, a rebel attack in North Kivu scattered tens of thousands. Just north of there sits a facility Wycliffe Associates wants to refurbish, in Bunia, Ituri Province.
Wycliffe Associates President and CEO Bruce Smith explains that now is the time to strike. "Because of the current peace in this area and the opportunity that we have to make this investment, we want to make sure that we equip the local people to do Bible translation."
That's what Wycliffe Associates does best. The international organization mobilizes volunteers and resources in support of Bible translation efforts.
A Bible Translation Center in DR Congo will be key to peacemaking. "All of this ethnic strife is only going to be changed and impacted when God's Word and God's truth changes people's hearts and minds."
Among the more than 3.6 million inhabitants of the DRC, there are 62 living languages spoken in the country, according to SIL International's Ethnologue. In addition, more than 200 African ethnic groups are found in the country.
Wycliffe Associates notes that in the highest translation needs areas, like DRC, the most effective way to accelerate Bible translation is by equipping and involving nationals in every level of the many Bible translation projects.
An improved center will provide the necessary space to assist this method of Bible translation and ultimately will accelerate the completion of portions of the Bible in local languages that have never before had access to the Scriptures.
For example, a national translator recently had the opportunity to share portions of the Bible with a border soldier in the soldier's native language.
While stopped at an official checkpoint, the translator used the time to text his wife, which caught the attention of the soldier, who recognized him as someone from the same village. The soldier asked the translator whether he was texting in French or Lingala, a trade language.
The translator said that he wasn't texting in either language and that he was writing to his wife in Mayogo, one of the DRC's living languages. The soldier then asked how he could learn to read and write in Mayogo.
The translator gave him what he needed to learn to read in his native language, along with copies of the New Testament books of Luke and Acts and a booklet of Bible stories--another seed planted.
Volunteer teams are forming now, but Wycliffe also need to raise $81,375 to help. Smith says the project should go quickly. "It's an existing building. It needs to just be improved in order to have better utility to the translation teams that are going to be working in the area there. So, we're planning to have a succession of teams, probably two to three teams in the coming year."
To request more information about the skills needed and time frame, click here.