There is Joy

By Rachel Greco

An ocean separates Mary McLendon and Kividi Kikama from the rest of their translation team. Mary and Kividi, who live in North Carolina, work on the New Testament translation of the Iyansi language, spoken by the Yansi people. The other half of their team works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kividi’s homeland. 

A member of the Yansi translation team shares about the importance of Bible translation.

Mary and Kividi were ecstatic when the opportunity arose for them to travel to Kinshasa, DRC’s capital, to see the other half of their team. Ordinarily, Mary and Kividi are able to communicate with the team in DRC only through phone calls, email, or their translation software tool, Paratext. The main purpose of the trip was to have a consultant check the books that Mary and Kividi had translated—1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus—for naturalness and accuracy. 

For the 10 days that Kividi and Mary were there, the Yansi team worked at the office of the Bible translation organization ACTB*. The office is across the huge, sprawling city from where most of the Yansi live, and it can take hours to drive there. Thanks to people like you who gave to JAARS Land Transportation Solutions, the team and other Iyansi speakers were able to cross the city in the 4WD vehicle that JAARS had supplied to them. “The Yansi team is using the vehicle,” Kividi said, “and it’s making a difference.” 

Checking with a consultant was a first for Mary, and the process encouraged her. The Yansi translators would meet with the consultant and a back translator who understood both Iyansi and French. One team member would read a paragraph from the Iyansi translation aloud, and then go back and repeat each sentence. Next, the back translator would translate it into French—the trade language of DRC—so that the consultant and others could see what the back translator had understood. 

The Yansi translation team checks the recently completed Scripture portions.

The team encountered a few words they disagreed about because some team members are from different villages. “Even though we all speak the same Iyansi [language],” Kividi said, “there is always preference for a word. We can understand one another, but when it comes to preference, that’s where you see the difference. So we have to discuss it and come to an agreement.” But, as Kividi pointed out, “The most important thing is that the gospel be expressed clearly, that the Yansi understand what we are saying.” 

To see if the wider Yansi community understands the meaning of the translated words, trips to villages are a vital part of the translation process. After Mary and Kividi had returned to the U.S., the DRC team drove the vehicle to villages and read the newly translated Iyansi Scripture portions to the people to see if they understood the translation.  

The Yansi people are looking forward to reading the complete New Testament! “They want it as soon as possible,” Kividi explained. “They have been waiting a long time.” 

But it’s not just the Yansi in the DRC who are waiting to receive Scripture in their language. Due to economic pressures, the Yansi people are dispersed. Kividi was talking recently with a Yansi woman who lives in Pennsylvania. She read the list of the number of books that have been translated and was excited; she can’t wait to have a copy of the Scripture in her hands! “There is excitement; there is joy in the people to have these books as soon as possible,” Kividi said. 

He and the other team members hope to publish portions of the Scripture to hand out so the Yansi can understand the depths of the God who loves them. The vehicle will help make this dream happen. 

And you can pray with us that God enables them to accomplish an even bigger dream—to finish translating the New Testament by 2023! 

To enable language teams like the Yansi to begin and finish their Bible translations, consider giving to Land Transportation Solutions

* l’Association Congolaise pour la Traduction de la Bible