To Go Where No Car Has Gone Before
Chimpanzees hoot, elephants forage for fallen fruit, and endangered okapi tread through the primeval rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This country is home to the second-largest rainforest in the world.
So one can imagine what the weather is often like here: rainy. That’s not a big deal for the animals that live in the forest, but for the humans trying to get around, the near-constant rain presents challenges. “The roads are so bad that cars can’t go on them,” Jon Hampshire, the director of SIL* Eastern Congo Group, said.
During the eight-month rainy season, the dirt roads become mud pits. Sometimes cars—even 4WD vehicles—will drive down into these pits and can’t drive back out. When a truck gets stuck in the mud, a huge line of traffic forms behind it because the dense rainforest on both sides of the road doesn’t allow for passing.
This environment makes it challenging for Bible translation teams to make the necessary frequent trips to villages to test the Scripture, attend literacy trainings, and visit churches to promote their work. Bible translators would often walk to villages, some as far as 20 miles away. They would arrive exhausted.
But with people like you giving to JAARS Land Transportation Solutions, we were able to offer the teams in this part of the DRC a better alternative. JAARS provided seven Bible translation teams with motorbikes—one per team—so they could more easily reach the villages where the heart of the work occurs.
The teams were, according to Jon, “really excited and happy to be getting these [motorbikes].” The Mba team created stickers with their language name, which they put on a few places on the motorbike. Now, when people see the Mba Bible Translation and Literacy Program sticker on the bike, they’ll ask, “Oh, what’s that about?” It’s another means of promoting the translation and literacy work.
The motorbikes will enable these seven teams, which are in different phases of translating the New Testament, to reach villages easier and faster, while also providing more flexibility. “With a motorbike, you can get to places where you can’t get to with a car,” Jon said.
Team members can now navigate around the lakes of mud or lines of traffic. If they must cross a river, they can put the motorbike in a dugout canoe. “They do this all the time,” Jon explained. “They cross the river [in the canoe], and then they [unload] their motorbike on the other side of the river. They can’t do that with a car.”
So now, instead of taking two or three days to reach a village, the translation teams can arrive within a few hours, which means people will have access to God’s life-changing Word sooner!
Scripture can’t come soon enough to the Bali people. They are so thirsty to hear the Word of God in their language that the churches aren’t waiting for the entire New Testament to be translated before giving it to their congregations. They ask the Bali translation team to print the passages of translated Scripture they wish to teach from, so they can read it to their congregation.
In a village in the Mba language group, a pastor used the newly translated Gospel of Luke in his sermon. “Many people in the crowd said they were strongly touched by the message in their mother tongue compared to the same message they often hear in Swahili,” a translator recalled.
In the same language area, eight villages were caught up in land disputes. After speaking with the president of the Mba Bible translation committee, the people decided to withdraw their complaints and not pursue aggression, a change from previous conflicts. “This shows confidence in the Bible translation committee and in the Word of God,” a translator noted. “The activities of the Bible translation and literacy program are having a positive impact on the peaceful resolution of the land conflict in the area.”
*A JAARS partner