Far-Flung People

By Rachel Greco

Last spring, several members of the land transportation team at JAARS encountered some serious pandemic roadblocks. JAARS had provided motorcycles to a Bible translation partner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), made possible through generous gifts to Land Transportation Solutions by people like you. A land transportation team was planning to travel to the DRC to train some Bible translation teams in how to use the motorcycles. 

A motorcycle similar to those JAARS sent to the DRC

However, the pandemic put an end to travel last year and for the foreseeable future. 

The translation teams in the DRC were hoping to use those motorcycles, once travel restrictions lifted, to reach remote locations where they could test and promote their translated Scripture. In the meantime, how would they get the training they needed to operate the motorcycles safely and efficiently? 

Videos, of course! 

At JAARS, the land transportation department uses four-wheel drive and motorcycle training material that is organized and written up in a modular format, making it easy to distribute if need be. 

The training team came up with the idea of creating a video of each module. They could then give the videos to the DRC language groups to use for their training. 

But many of these language groups are located in places where internet is intermittent—another problem to solve. 

Thankfully, according to James Lane, the JAARS videographer, “[We] can drop [the videos] down to pretty low quality, and they’ll still be effective. So they won’t be very heavy as far as internet.” 

The members of JAARS land transportation department agreed, with James’ help, to make videos for language groups in twelve different locations that share French as their trade language. The videos can potentially impact hundreds of people: once the translation teams learn how to operate and maintain motorcycles, they will share the gospel with far-flung people in their language groups. “It’s a big country,” Dan, a JAARS motorcycle instructor, said, “and every single one of those motorcycles is going to somebody who’s involved in Bible translation in one way or another.”

James (in the plaid shirt) films one of the land transportation staff putting air in a tire


Making motorcycle training videos in another language is fraught with difficulties. John Pepper and Ken Williams, the French translators for the project, translated the training materials into French. But reading the translated materials verbatim while James filmed the instructors repairing a tire and performing other basic motorcycle functions made the videos too long. “They wanted to speed [the video] up a little bit so it didn’t drag on,” James explained. 

The team decided to film the videos without sound and add the French narration afterwards. This also proved to be a little tricky, James recalled. “The difficult part was figuring out how to translate what they wanted to get through on video, but also match the video that we shot.” 

The team ended up putting the footage they had just filmed on the screen so the narrators could talk while watching it. With James recording them as they spoke, Ken and John would ask each other the best way to say certain terms. James often had to record them several times before the narration was correct. 

The French translation of the land transportation training material

Finally, at the end of the day, James had all he needed for the first two videos. A good thing too, because it was the only day that Ken would be at JAARS for the foreseeable future. 

Back at his house, James set to work editing the footage. He used Google Translate and his son, who’s taken some French, to make sure he was in the right place as he shortened or sped up the videos to match the narration. “Working with a different language was definitely something that took a little bit of work,” James said. 

Even with all the challenges, James still enjoyed the unique project. “I think the neat thing about this [project] is that it’s directly helping the [translators] in the field doing the work. That’s really the neatest thing about JAARS—we really focus on supporting the Bible translators in the field.” 

Please join us in praying that God uses these videos to help Bible translation spread quickly and efficiently throughout the DRC.