Taking the Gospel to the Far-flung Reaches of Africa

By Rachel Greco

Transporting equipment for the installation of an Oral Bible Translation studio, carrying a sick woman to a hospital, and opening literacy centers are just a few examples of the many ways that the four-wheel-drive vehicles and motorcycles funded by people like you giving to Land Ops are helping to ease the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Africa.

These vehicles and motorcycles not only make our co-laborers’ work easier and, in some cases, even doable, but also show them that they and the people they serve matter to God.

Wycliffe Benin: Ending the Nightmare of Transportation

Benin, a country of 13 million sandwiched between Togo and Nigeria, has been plagued by increasing religious turmoil since 2019 that threatens our brothers’ and sisters’ lives. Yet they continue to translate the Bible, teach people how to read and write, and encourage other believers. They are doing whatever it takes to reach their neighbors for Christ, and we are humbled that we can have a small part in helping them do that.

One man, David Sawondogo, said, “We no longer expected any organization to think of us. Everyone is fleeing us because of the [civil and religious turmoil]. But you agreed to come to us despite the insecurity. We’re very happy.”

Because of the religious unrest, many roads in Benin are degraded. But trainers used their JAARS-funded 4WD vehicle to reach three communities in areas that the Wycliffe Benin team otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get to. The team encouraged community leaders to become more involved in the work of Bible translation.

Noussi, our Africa Areas Director, with translators in Togo-Benin with their new vehicle.

For 20 years of ministry in translating the Bible into mother tongues, Wycliffe Benin has suffered greatly from the lack of adequate means of transport,” Yvon Kohunfo, a project manager for Wycliffe Benin, said. “The arrival of the vehicle donated by JAARS marks the end of the ‘nightmares’ associated with traveling to projects. It is quite simply an unprecedented relief to be able to minister the Word of God in the mother tongue to the Beninese communities in complete safety, thanks to the vehicles received from JAARS.”

Team members also used the vehicle to deliver equipment to communities for setting up Oral Bible translation studios. “Had it not been for these vehicles, it would have been very difficult,” Yvon said.

The team also traveled to communities to encourage them rally around a project to translate the Bible into sign language for a specific language in the area. What a great way to show these deaf people that they matter to the Lord!

The vehicle and driver hard at work in Togo-Benin.

These vehicles not only make teams feel safe when traveling on rough roads or into tense areas, but they also have sped up the work of Bible translation. Dr. Daniel Dedji, the director of Wycliffe Benin, said: “We were able to recruit translators in six communities. Thanks to the vehicles we received from JAARS, we were able to send several teams into the field to complete this activity within the allotted time. Had it not been for these vehicles, it would have been impossible to recruit all these translators in such a short time! In fact, it’s the first time we’ve been able to achieve such a high level of performance in such a short space of time for the advancement of Bible translation work.”

Praise God for how he is advancing his kingdom in Benin through our brothers and sisters!

Chad: A Motorcycle Saves a Life

The roads in Chad are muddy, rocky, or sandy. With your help, we’ve been able to provide our co-laborers working for ATALTRAB—a Bible translation organization in Chad—with a 4WD vehicle and 10 motorcycles.

The ATALTRAB team found that the vehicle made it much easier to check on several translation projects at the height of the rainy season. “The eroded sections, and the muddy and clay ones were crossed without too much trouble!” Ndonam Caleb, the director of ATALTRAB, said.

Last year, when ATALTRAB staff members were visiting literacy centers, reaching one required crossing a swamp. All the staff members were scared. But when they arrived and drove through a shallow part of a pothole in the road … to everyone’s surprise, the vehicle didn’t get stuck!

One of the Bible Translators who works for ATALTRAB with his new motorcycle.

The team uses the motorcycles to reach communities where the “roads” are too narrow for the 4WD vehicle. “The motorcycles have made it possible to easily reach the communities to obtain the information needed to advance the project activities,” Ndonam explained.

They have also used the motorcycles to meet practical needs. A translator’s sister fell ill and suffered excruciating pain. The village had no hospital or doctor, so the translator, Loubeta Miclo, used a motorcycle to take her to a nearby town’s hospital where she was treated.

When she recovered,” Loubeta recalled, “she came home full of wonder. She came back with a happy heart to say thank you for this life-saving gesture. Since then, she has done nothing but implore God’s blessings on the motorcycle and on the outfitters, for without this motorcycle, she is no longer in the world. She prays that God will bring other [motorcycles] to the project, not only to facilitate the project’s tasks, but also to rescue family members who may find themselves in disastrous situations.”

SIL Togo-Benin: No Longer a Worry

Daniel P. Anade, the language program manager with SIL Togo-Benin once had to use his own car to travel to language programs when he was assistant to the director. His car was small and didn’t have 4WD, making it difficult to reach the far-flung teams. Sometimes he and his staff had to leave their car on the way and travel the rest of the way by motorcycle or foot.

Now that we have this [4WD vehicle from JAARS], which is off-road and has more capabilities,” he said, “it’s no longer a worry for me to go to the field to meet the partners and to have meetings.”

SIL Togo-Benin recently received a 4WD and five motorcycles. It will assign each motorcycle to a Bible translation project, making it easier for the translation teams to reach remote villages for testing, editing and other activities.

The motorcycles enable the teams to reach communities otherwise inaccessible during the rainy season.

Even during the dry season, roads can be impassable. But now the teams will be able to go to remote places year-round for translation work and Scripture engagement. They also train people how to use the Proclaimer, a device that can play audio Scripture. “If this motorbike was not here, it would have been very difficult to carry out certain activities that are important to promote the texts we translate,” a translator for the Ifè language team remarked.

The translators holding boxes containing the parts for their motorcycles and vehicle.

The motorcycles have also enabled the team to open literacy centers at churches that they previously couldn’t because of the distance. Now these people will be able to learn how to read and write God’s Word in their language!

Our brothers and sisters in Benin, Chad, and Togo are giving whatever it takes to make the gospel known to their neighbors. What a wonderful privilege we have to make that work easier for them, even in such a small thing as giving financially so they can more easily reach their neighbors with the gospel!

Believers face transportation challenges in other places in Africa and in Peru and elsewhere as they share the love of Jesus. Consider giving to Land Ops or Where Needed Most so these barriers can be removed and God’s Word delivered into the hands of all who need it.