Conflict in the DRC brings opportunity for the Gospel through Wycliffe Associates

By May 2, 2018

Democratic Republic of Congo (MNN) – The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) faces another crisis, but to many it’s unknown.

Growing Tribal Tensions

Bruce Smith President of Wycliffe Associates explains that conflict in the eastern part of the country in the Ituri province is sending thousands of refugees out of DRC and into neighboring Uganda. Since February dozens have been killed and up to 60,000 people have been forced to flee.

Smith explains that, unfortunately, this is not unusual. “And this is just part of a seemingly endless cycle of tribal animosity and tribal battles that have been going on for generations. In this particular case, it’s between herdsman and farmers over the use of land. And so it’s a part of the context that makes it difficult to sustain any kind of long-term ministry including Bible translation in that arena.”

(Courtesy of Julien Harneis on Flickr

Add government corruption and the fall-out of past civil wars to this conflict and any kind of stability for ministry decreases. With over four million internally displaced persons estimated by the UN, the country is extremely volatile both for outsiders and insiders.

Bringing in the Word of God

However, Wycliffe Associates sees God at work in many of these troubled places. Their mission involves reaching out to new people groups to see if they are interested in having the Bible in their own languages. If the people group wants it, then they must send representatives to a workshop held by Wycliffe Associates to learn the translation process.

Smith says, “Without knowing that their neighboring enemies have similarly done so, they end up, really by God’s providence, to be at the same workshop. Sometimes at the same time and the same place. And really it’s the Holy Spirit’s work of doing reconciliation.

“This is not part of any strategy of ours. It’s just that because of their individual or their respective thirst for God’s Word, it draws them together to a place that can equip them to steward God’s Word for their people. And they end up really facing these issues at the same time and the same place as the people they’ve had these tensions with.

“And because of the power of God’s Word, because of the power of the Holy Spirit, inevitably barriers fall and reconciliation happens.”

Coming Together for the Gospel

Recently Smith encountered a workshop where five different tribal groups came together. They probably would not have come had they known the other groups were coming. Yet, as they began their day with worship, the animosity and tensions dissipated.

Smith saw the tribes wrestling through similar translation issues and helping each other find solutions. God’s Word was literally breaking down years of rivalry as they worked.

A Solution for Oral Cultures

Many of these tribal groups function without any kind of written language. They couldn’t use a written Bible at this point because they cannot read. So, Wycliffe Associates is taking a different approach.

Smith explains, “And so, the primary tools that we’re using to serve these kinds of groups are recording devices called Translation Recorders. That helps them to listen to Scripture in a majority language, like in this case, many people’s second or third language is French. And so we use that as their audio source text of Scripture. So, they can then take that in and then record in their own language, their target language, the translation that they create on the spot orally.”

This process has been a great success among the local groups. Rather than waiting for others to finish translations for them, they work together to translate Scriptures in their own languages.

This has greatly increased the engagement of the Church in the area. At this moment Wycliffe Associates has 69 languages in the DRC that are seeking a translation of the Bible, all they need is resources.

Get Involved

While the cost to translate the Bible has decreased significantly, they still need about 1.3 million dollars to reach these 69 people groups. Please consider partnering with Wycliffe Associates to help them bring the Gospel to new languages.

Smith also asks for prayer generally for the DRC. “And trusting that somehow God is going to use the power of His Word as the reconciliation tool in an environment that has proven to be irreconcilable for generations. So from my vantage point, all I can say is that the intersection of Bible translation in this particular time and this arena, in my view is part of God’s ongoing solution to the dissension that’s going on there.”

Pray that God uses Wycliffe Associates to help bring healing to the DRC through God’s Word.

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