“This is Very Clear!”

By Rachel Greco

On the western side of the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the mighty Congo River, two language groups—the Longando and Lonkundo—met for an Oral Bible Translation (OBT) workshop in the city of Mbandaka

The Longando translators and translation assistants traveled more than 560 miles to the workshop held by JAARS partner Faith Comes by Hearing. Because there is no road or flight from their village to Mbandaka, the translators spent two weeks on a boat—day and night—to reach the workshop. 

The Lonkundo translation team.

Most of these translators, who are pastors, had been recording Bible stories with the Lonkundo team. “They were so excited and committed to learn,” Dodji, one of the OBT trainers, said. 

Unlike the Bible stories that the teams had recorded before, the three-week workshop equipped the participants to translate the actual text of Scripture by using certain standards that aim for clarity, accuracy, naturalness, and acceptability. “All the principles that we learned during this workshop target faithfulness to the Scriptures, clarity, naturalness, emotions and audio quality,” one of the Longando translation assistants explained. “These principles will help us translate faithfully the Word of God in our own mother tongues.” 

The Lonkundo team praying together before starting work.

The laptops and headsets provided by people like you through gifts to JAARS Technology Solutions were vital equipment for the teams. Thank you! 

Some of the Longando team members hadn’t used computers before and struggled at first, but they learned how the computers worked as the team practiced. 

One of the Lonkundo consultants was struck by the amount of equipment provided: “I was highly impressed that each language team was given four computers. In addition, each back translator was also given a computer for his work. This really showed the seriousness OBT attached to the workshop and the project. Thus there would be no room for excuse that work could not be done due to lack of the necessary tools.” 

The teams met each morning for devotions, an integral part of the workshop, to grow both spiritually and as translators. After being introduced to the process of internalizing stories from the Gospel of Luke, each participant had an opportunity to lead morning devotions using these internalization techniques. These techniques, such as acting out the passage, singing it, and retelling it in pairs, help the teams memorize the Scripture as well as share it with clarity, naturalness, and accuracy. One of the Lonkundo consultants said, “I love it because apart from the spiritual training, it was a smart way of training them for the oral translation of the Gospel of Luke.” 

Both teams worked hard over the three weeks, redoing their recording each time a consultant pointed out a mistake. Each language group completed three cohesive chunks of Scripture all the way through the translation process, and the consultants approved each passage. 

For Pastor Alain, a participant, this workshop was a dream come true: “We [the Lonkundo] have been hoping for this for so many years. Today we experienced [the training], and we will continue [translating] until we have the entire Bible in our language.” 

During the workshop, the translators were able to see their training pay off. One of the security men in the area where they worked understood Lonkundo. After listening to one of the complete passages of Scripture, he shouted: “This is very clear! It’s God speaking to us directly!”

Enable more people to have the Scripture translated into their language by giving to JAARS Technology Solutions. Thank you!