Cameroon (WAS/MNN) — Just as a crucible can withstand very high temperatures, so is Cameroon being tested by the heat of persecution.
Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, explains that the country is wedged in between Nigeria and the Central African Republic. “The borders of these countries are somewhat porous. This is the situation that Cameroon is starting to experience: they’re being impacted from the West from the Boko Haram terrorism, and they’re being impacted by the East from the Seleka rebels and things like that in the CAR.”
Violence from both insurgencies is disruptive, but rather than stopping Gospel workers, it’s spurring them to greater action. Smith explains that because so many people are facing their mortality, there’s an increased appetite for Truth.
The national translation team remains focused on one thing: “We’ve got to act now to get God’s Word to our people so that these outside pressures don’t overcome us.”
Wycliffe Associates responded by launching plans to help build a translation center in Maroua, Cameroon. If it sounds familiar, here’s why: “The Translation Training Center that we’re working on developing with our Cameroonian partners is in the northern part of the country that’s actually under the greatest religious pressure, right now,” says Smith. Specifically, it’s the same area where two Italian priests and a Canadian nun were kidnapped on April 5 by suspected members of the terrorist group Boko Haram and later released.
Local partners believe they have an open window of only a few months to establish relationships and resources to continue Bible translation efforts. They recognize the struggle for what it is: spiritual warfare. “We need the sword of the Spirit,” says Smith. “We need the Word of God. We need offensive and defensive Scriptural weapons here in order to really participate in this battle effectively and defend ourselves. So, they’re the ones whose commitment is really being tested and being proven to really increase, despite the opposition they’re facing.”
While Cameroon’s official languages are English and French, there are 280 living languages spoken in Cameroon, including 24 major African language groups. Currently, there are 130 Bible translation projects underway, and 70 translations of the Scriptures have been completed so far. Smith emphasizes that it’s this diversity that drives the national translators forward. “This is a Center that will be a resource for training, supporting, and equipping Cameroonian translators to do work in their own languages in this arena of the country.” He goes on to say, “Entire communities are asking–begging–to have Scripture in their own heart language.”
As part of Wycliffe Associates’ support of development projects and literacy training being conducted by local Bible translation partners, the organization aims to raise $175,000 which will be used to train local translators, form relationships with communities, and help direct translation efforts.
From here, it’s important to translate the intention into action, Smith adds. Then, “Listen to the news and remember that behind the news, there is always a story about the implications for the Church in that arena. In light of Wycliffe Associates’ mission of Bible translation, remember that translation teams are affected by these stories, as well.”