In the midst of honking horns and street vendors selling their wares in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL) faithfully works to see individuals and communities transformed by God’s Word in their language. Just as they have for 35 years.
CABTAL has partnered with more than 90 language communities and has completed close to 40 New Testaments. But the work is not done yet! Technology has become crucial in speeding up the Bible translation process and storing data, which is why it’s so important for CABTAL and other Bible translation organizations in Africa to have well-trained IT technicians who can aid translators and other Scripture-use workers.
For this reason, thanks to people like you giving to JAARS Technology Solutions, we have been able to fund annual IT Connect conferences: one for the English-speaking regions of Africa, and one for the French-speaking countries.
According to Frans Barah, the director of technical services and training at CABTAL, these conferences were created “so that IT people who support language development and Bible translation could come together for a time of fellowship, a kind of spiritual retreat, and then learning and growing together so that they can equip themselves and go back and be able to support the mission work.”
Frans and his coworker, Etienne, have found the IT Connect conferences helpful in a multitude of ways: “It’s an opportunity to connect with people in different organizations who do [the same] kind of work that we do, and we build our capacities by learning from one another,” Frans explained. The participants also take the challenges they face in their countries to people at the conferences who might be able to help because they handle similar challenges.
The 2022 IT Connect conference was the first bilingual one. The hosts wanted to encourage cooperation between English-speaking and French-speaking technicians so they could benefit from one another’s skill and experience.
“It turned out to be really good,” Frans said. Despite some difficulties involving the language difference, it was a neat opportunity for people to fellowship and learn from each other.
During the conference, Frans learned that IT people have a lot of authority and power but need to use that well because they are stewards of the data. “Our leadership has to trust that we [will] take care of the resources, the data, and the systems. We should not take advantage because we know so much. We have to be good stewards.”
Etienne, too, has been able to use what he’s learned from these IT Connect conferences. Recently, one language team chatted with him, asking for his help in fixing their computer. They had a problem with Paratext, the translation software, and were unable to make progress until the issue was fixed. With the knowledge and teamwork skills he’d acquired from IT Connect, Etienne was able to work with the IT staff at the Seed Company* to fix the problem. “[It] was very helpful for the team to restore their project so that they can continue to edit the translation,” Etienne said.
Frans would like to express his appreciation to you for enabling the translation work to continue: “I really want to say thank you to JAARS. Thank you to all the donors who have been giving over the years so that we can do this. Thank you so much, and God bless you.”
IT Connect is just a drop in the bucket of what our Bible translation partners need in Africa. Consider giving to Technology Solutions to reduce the many barriers they face as they share the gospel.
*A funder of Bible translation projects worldwide.