Putting Them on the Map
Most of us can’t pinpoint N’Djamena, Chad, on a map without help. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about those who live there.
Martin, a software developer, and Dan, a trainer from the Scripture website partner JAARS supports, ran a website-building workshop for fifteen participants in N’Djamena. The attendees were language development workers and Bible translators from partner organizations of SIL Chad*.
With Dan and Martin’s help, the participants created a variety of websites, all aimed at glorifying God. A church website displayed announcements about its services. A theological institute’s website provided information to its students, and another website in a national language provided access to various multimedia Scripture and evangelistic products. Seven other websites, created in minority Chadian languages, contained Scripture products in audio, video and text formats and also included photos, songs, stories, and histories from their communities. Another website focused on preserving a dying language, which is an important goal of Bible translation, because it shows people that they and their culture are vital and loved by God.
As is often the case when performing the Lord’s work, Martin and Dan encountered some challenges. The conference room at the workshop had ventilation fans and curtains at the windows, but it wasn’t air-conditioned. As the temperature soared toward the upper 90s in the afternoon, the teachers and participants struggled to stay alert and sometimes ended the work day early.
The participants also had a wide-range of abilities, so Martin and Dan struggled with helping the more experienced attendees reach their potential while also supporting those with limited computer experience.
But the more capable participants helped each other and the less-experienced, and the finished product—11 websites ready to be used to reach out to communities with Christ’s love—was worth it!
The way some of the participants wanted their websites to represent their communities to the world while sharing the gospel impacted Martin. “Suddenly, [I realized] months and years of work at my desk back in Germany (along with my colleagues in Canada and the U.S.) were enabling the creativity of real people to reach [out] to and from their own communities. I remember a few moments when I saw the participants’ eyes light up as they understood what they were doing and were keen to do more.”
The workshop ended with a launch ceremony, where Dan and Martin demonstrated the new websites to invited guests. One website contained pictures of a mountain that is significant to the local identity of some of the people groups represented at the workshop. When the invited guests from this people group saw the mountain appear on the big projector screen, they broke out into cheers and applause. “I found this very moving,” Martin said, “to hear what it meant to people from this community that their brand new website was putting them ‘on the map’.”
This people group—loved and cherished by God but at times forgotten by the world—now has a visual reminder that they matter to the Lord. And they can now use it to express that truth to their neighbors.
As these people groups and organizations go about their task of loving their neighbors with these new website tools, let us join them in echoing the prayer one of the participants wrote to Dan after the workshop: “May God help us to move forward for his glory.”
*SIL Chad is a JAARS partner.