Stormy Weather

By Rachel Greco

Since 2010, Pastor Lucas* felt called by God to work among the Ayri* people—99 percent of whom follow a major world religion. Obeying the Lord, in 2017 Pastor Lucas moved to the region where the Ayri live in Africa to start a new church. 

There, he met Pastor Stevenson* who told him about the Oral Bible Translation project underway in the Ayri language. When Lucas heard they needed someone like him, with extensive Bible knowledge, to aid them, the opportunity perked his ears. He was eager to find a way to know and serve these people. So in December 2019, Lucas participated with the translation teams in the three-week training organized by Faith Comes by Hearing using laptops and other equipment provided by people like you giving to JAARS. 

After the training, Pastor Lucas began helping one of the teams as an advisor and the project technician. Some of the team holds beliefs and truths that are different from the Ayri people, so they feared confrontation. Many churches had been destroyed in early 2020, but thankfully, by the beginning of May, the persecution had decreased, enabling some churches to rebuild their buildings. 

Lucas had been building a new church as well, and it was almost complete when, in May, a different discouraging disaster occurred. When he went to the church one morning for his devotions, he found that the church had been destroyed by a violent storm! “I was deeply affected by this disaster,” Pastor Lucas shares. “Please pray for us, that God may provide so that we can rebuild the church.” 

Pastor Lucas’ church before the storm
After the storm

Thankfully no storms can stop what God is doing in this part of Africa! Lucas and the other team members have opportunities to share the translation with community members. And despite fears that these community members would retaliate against them, Lucas says, “We can see that many among them are interested in the translation project. Some even listen to the translation.” 

The four translators on the teams are making good progress. They first hear the Scripture in their national language, often many times. After they have internalized it, they speak and record it in the Ayri language. Pastor Stevenson, as the project consultant, helps make sure their translation is clear and consistent, takes care of administrative responsibilities, and builds connections with the community.

Ayri literacy classes are happening in the community!

This is the first time that many of the translators have been around the gospel message. As the back translator of the project, Tome*, listens to the Ayri version of the Scripture and translates it back into his national language. The gospel message impacted him greatly: “It was a shock to me, hearing a message different from the one I used to hear as a [follower of the world religion]. I was battling with myself. I couldn’t stand some declarations of the gospel—like when Jesus says he is the only way which leads to God.” 

But as Tome continued to translate the Scripture back into his national language, something happened to him. “I’m now always joyful, which wasn’t the case before.” Tome is also more interested in listening to the translation and to Christian music and watching Christian movies. With his wife and brother, he can spend hours listening to the translation or watching a Bible teaching late into the night, when he didn’t have a desire to before. 

Even in the midst of persecution and storms, God is using Pastor Lucas, his Word, and others to draw people to himself! 

Join us in praying that God’s Word transforms the lives of the Ayri people and brings much joy in the midst of trials and tribulations. 

*Names changed or omitted for security reasons