Beside the Crocodiles

By Rachel Greco

Armor-plated crocodiles slide through the Congo River’s tea-colored waters, manatees coast through its tributaries hunting for verdant grasses, and river otters wrestle along its sandy banks. These animals share the water with several different language groups, many of whom thirst for God’s life-giving Word.

Many people along the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa, as well as beside Lake Tumba and the Kasai River speak the Bobangi language.

Four years ago, local Bobangi churches initiated the translation of Luke chapters 1—6 and tested the translation at four different areas: Bolobo, Yumbi, Lukolela and Inongo. People responded favorably to the Scripture and persuaded the churches to expand the translation work to other books of the Bible. A team, known as the Bobangi Bible Translation Committee (TRABIBO), is currently working diligently on translating Scripture into the Bobangi language.

Members of a local church came out to listen to the portion of Bobangi Scripture

The TRABIBO Committee is a dedicated group of millennials who long to see their people have complete access to God’s Word. They have completed the Gospel of Luke, and Genesis is in the final checking stage. This team’s dream is to see the community transformed through God’s Word in the language they understand best.

As the first users of the Bobangi Bible, the churches must participate and contribute to this translation work and be regularly consulted. However, the Bobangi language communities are spread out over a wide expanse, distant from each other and from where the translation team works—in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC.

The Bobangi translation team currently reaches these villages first by the Congo River. The team then rents motorcycles or bikes to travel to the outlying villages to raise awareness for the translation and for testing what they’ve completed.

The translation team attempting to get across a river.

Due to the lack of equipment, the team is forced to travel under difficult conditions with private means. The trip by boat often lasts several days under an open sky, exposing the translators to various bad weather—beating sun or battling winds and waves under battering rain.

The clay or dirt roads that the translators must traverse are often impassable in rainy weather.

Besides being dangerous, the river and roadways leave the translators exhausted, in no condition to throw themselves into testing Scripture.

Hiring boats or motorcycles, a large expense, subjects the translators to the whims of drivers, who operate on different time schedules, sometimes delaying the team for several days. Possessing their own vehicles and boats would save them precious time and enable them to be much more effective in giving the language communities a voice in the Bible translation process.

Due to these considerations, JAARS hopes to provide the Bobangi Bible translation team with two motorcycles, four bicycles, and two boats with your help so this team can safely and efficiently reach those who crave the Word of Life.

According to Pastor Stanislas Nzita Nsafu, “These vehicles will have a major impact on the translation. [They] will facilitate river transport from one territory to another and for translation teams during the testing.”

Although this country and its people have encountered all manner of difficulties—wars, famine, and poverty, many still thirst for the living water found in the well of God’s Word. May the lack of safe, efficient transportation not be a further hindrance to them.

You can provide the transportation the Bobangi people and others need to complete their Bible translations by giving to Land Transportation. Thank you!