Night and Day

By Rachel Greco

“For a long time, I have heard teachings and sermons on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ,” an Ifè believer in the African country of Togo said. “I even read that portion of the Bible several times and in different versions. But when I read the crucifixion scene in my own language, I shed tears! The words chosen to describe the scene were accurate and natural, and were very moving. Tears flowed, even without me realizing it.” 

The Ifè language is spoken by 170,000 people in Togo and neighboring Benin. Their New Testament was published in 2009, and now the team is translating the Old Testament. Much of their work is done using computers and the services of the SIL* center in the town of Kara.

For years, the center has struggled with an unreliable and slow internet connection. According to Eric Esse, the IT specialist at the center in Togo, “Users had a hard time getting their work done properly and fully, especially if it required an internet connection.” 

The simplest tasks, such as sending or receiving emails with large attachments or filling out forms on web pages, were frustrating and time-consuming. And when the pandemic crash-landed in Togo, it complicated Bible translation, literacy classes, training, and other activities that needed to meet online. 

Two Ifè translation team members check Scripture with a translation consultant (on the right).  Credit: © Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and Ireland

Many workers at the center couldn’t fully participate in online meetings all the way through. Several times, the poor internet connection kicked the IT staff off online events organized to create better training to serve the center’s users.

Over the last three years, whenever Richard Young, a member of the SIL Africa IT team, talked to Eric, Eric would share the same story about visiting the local telecom company to urge them to improve the center’s internet. The company would promise to get the connection up to Kara in a few months, but it failed to deliver. Finally, at the end of last year, when Eric went back to the company to ask about improving the connection, a faster connection was available. And not in a few months, but straight away

With help from people like you giving to JAARS Technology Solutions, Eric was able to pay the bill, and not long after, technicians came to install a modem and a receiving antenna. 

Since then, Richard has had three online meetings with Eric, and there were no major technical difficulties! Eric was even able to share his screen so that Richard could help answer some of his questions, which Richard had never tried before because the connection had been too unstable. “It was a huge difference,” Richard said. 

Now, when translation teams like the Ifè who are based in locations as much as 100 miles from the Togo center encounter a technical problem with their translation software, they can contact Eric at the center to help them virtually. “My virtual collaboration with teams is a palpable example of what the right connection can do to make [software and computers] work for everyone,” Eric said. And when translation teams travel to the center for training, they don’t have to worry anymore about the connection breaking. 

One user of the center’s internet said, “Compared to the old internet connection, it feels like night and day. We have exceptional [speed], and we are doing things we never did before. I am browsing more easily, and I would like to congratulate the people who made this improvement possible. May they be fully blessed.”

Now, with this improved internet, work on the Ifè Old Testament and other Scriptures can proceed quickly and with fewer interruptions. Praise the Lord! 

To enable translation teams to have the internet service and technology they need, consider giving to Technology Solutions

*A Bible translation partner of JAARS