Not Your Average Road Trip

By Rachel Greco

For most of us, the main worry on road trips is where the next restroom is. But when a team from the Yansi* Linguistic Community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) embarked on a recent road trip from Kinshasa to outlying communities, they worried whether the road would be drivable and whether they would even be able to reach their destinations.

The Yansi Linguistic Community consists of all the Yansi people in the territories of Bagata, Bulungu, Idiofa, Masi Manimba and Kwilu Province around the capital city of Kinshasa. A major focus of this community is translating the Bible into the Iyansi language.

The committee members with the vehicle

With help from people like you, JAARS recently provided the Yansi Linguistic Community with a Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD vehicle and two motorcycles and trained drivers in the operation and upkeep of the vehicles. And now the Yansi Linguistic Community can increase their headway on translation efforts!

Five people from the Community—Oscar, Honoré, Teddy, Pastor Armand, and Micheline—tackled the DRC roads in their new vehicle during a seven-day road trip. They visited villages to share information on the Iyansi Bible translation project; raise awareness for the spiritual, material, and financial support of the project; and announce the schedule of Trauma Healing workshops throughout the year.

Micheline making a speech at a local church

From Dula the team traveled to Mongo-Mbala, and then to Kio. There, many of the local people had already gone to their fields to harvest peanuts and corn, but Oscar was still able to explain to headmasters, teachers, and elders about the importance of translating the Bible into Iyansi and solicit their support for the project through prayer and financial contributions.

In the village of Mokala, the group went to the Catholic Parish and met the hospital staff and the sick. They also spoke at the market and to the Protestant Parish, “to the great satisfaction of everyone,” Oscar said. At the city market, an influential person used his sound equipment to help them make the population aware of the support for the Bible translation project.

Members of a parish in Mokala listening to the team’s message

In Nianga, the team spoke at a special worship service organized by the District Pastor from the Communauté Baptist du Congo, a large Baptist denomination in DRC. During this service, the team delivered their message of the Bible translation work and upcoming Trauma Healing workshops, both of which were received well.

At the parish in Molili, the pastor, via megaphone, invited the people present to attend the Linguistic Community’s meeting. During the meeting, the pastor and the heads of primary and secondary schools made a commitment to continue the campaign for the Iyansi Bible translation in the region.

At the Kimputu parish, the pastor and clergy said they would promote the continuation of the awareness campaign of the Bible translation project on a permanent basis during Sunday services and in their itinerant visits to villages.

Digging the road so the vehicle can pass

Several times along their journey the team encountered difficult and dangerous road conditions. At one point, they all had to get out and level the ground with shovels so the 4WD vehicle could pass. But the training the drivers had received from JAARS helped them through the various obstacles they faced. “Both drivers demonstrated skill in driving the vehicle, especially in the most difficult places on the road,” Oscar recalls. “They used all the methods they learned during the training, especially when we were approaching the hills where the red earth was very slippery and sandy. They drove masterfully even though it was the first time they had driven on these roads in the region. They deserve the ‘excellent’ rating.”

That rugged, reliable 4WD vehicle made all the difference for this team. Without it they would not have been able to travel to these villages. Now, they’ve had the opportunity to get in touch with the populations who will receive the Bible in Iyansi. They can collect the reactions of those who speak different variations of the Iyansi language in order to come to a common understanding of the message of the Bible in their language.

“In general,” Oscar says, “people received the news joyfully wherever the delegation went, and everyone is eagerly awaiting the final version of the Bible in Iyansi.”

Thank you for helping the Yansi people grow closer to receiving the Bible in their own language!

To help other language groups in Africa still waiting for vehicles, make a gift to our Land Transportation Solutions.

*Learn more about the Yansi by checking out these stories: Their Only Obstacle and Elephant-Tusk Music