True Heroes of the Faith

By Rachel Greco

This article highlights participants in the website-building workshop mentioned here, which you can read now if you missed it.

Join us in celebrating God’s provision and goodness in the lives of those who attended the workshop hosted by the JAARS-funded Scripture website partner in Cameroon, Africa. Come see what the Lord is doing in this country despite many challenges!

Jacob* and the Kari People

It took the Kari people 12 years to finish translating the New Testament.

When the team began the translation process, they thought it would be easy. They thought they’d say some things while other people wrote them down in their language. Then they’d combine it and publish it. “We didn’t know that we have to go to the heart of it,” Jacob, a Kari Bible translator, said. God graciously gave them the expertise they needed to change the words from the trade language to Kari.

Jacob works on his language’s website during the workshop.

God also helped them overcome other obstacles during the translation process. Because of civil unrest in their region, they sometimes had to run away from the center where they did their translation work and hide in the bushes or forest. They would run with the portions of Scripture that they had already translated, so as not to lose them. “We continued translation work even in the forest and the bush,” Jacob explained. “When places [were] calm, we came back to our center, and we entered [the words] into the computer. So among all the challenges, God still helped us to arrive at this stage.”

Despite how close they lived to death every day, they had the mindset of Paul: “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Their greatest concern, even more than for their lives, was that people in the community would be able to read the Word of God in their mother tongue and come to Christ.

Some of those people are eager to receive the printed New Testament and to consume it on the website that Jacob built at the workshop!

Eli and the Ioni People

God is already working mightily through his translated Word among the Ioni people, who also live in this region.

For Eli, who attended the workshop as the implementation coordinator for six language groups, reading the Bible in Ioni has made a huge difference to him personally. “There are some expressions that I read in the King James Version which didn’t mean a lot, but now reading them in the [Ioni] New Testament is making things clearer,” Eli explained. When he would read in 1 Thessalonians 5 where it says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss,” it didn’t mean much to him because his community is not a community of kisses.

But after the translators looked at the background and translated that phrase, it became clear to Eli that the Ioni people do have a way of welcoming people as a brother or a sister.

The parables of Jesus have also impacted the Ioni people. This community loves to sing, so they turned all the parables of Jesus and the books of Jonah and Ruth into song. They invited core groups from all six dialect areas of Ioni, and they sang God’s Word. When they sang the story of Ruth, young married women said, “Our singing of this is making us change the way that we relate to our mother-in-laws.”

Before COVID-19 arrived in Cameroon, the people experienced restrictions on gatherings because of the civil unrest. No more than 25 people could meet, but this didn’t stop the translation team from showing the JESUS film; they just did so to family groups. “No matter how small the household was, they said, ‘We will come there and project [the film],’” Eli explained.

God has used the JESUS film in the Ioni language to save and transform many lives! “Many people have repented, and many people have renewed their commitment to God,” Eli said.

Once, there was a showing of the film planned close to Eli’s house, so he invited his neighbor. This man was in court every year, spending his time and money on grabbing as much land as he could.

The Ioni team listens intently during the workshop.

As the two returned home at the end of the film, Eli asked his neighbor: “What was the most striking thing for you?”

The man said, “What else [would] be striking apart from what the bearded man [John the Baptist] said: ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise’ (Luke 3:11).”

Eli’s neighbor decided to stop his land disputes because where else would the people eat and live? He never did pick them up again; God had changed the man’s heart through his words spoken by John the Baptist in this man’s language.

The Ioni people have also benefited from the JAARS aviation partner—SIL Cameroon—and the flight subsidies we’ve provided to them. “Not only have they been a collaborator to us, but we also see them as an impact partner,” Eli said.

Before the crisis, JAARS-trained pilots flew to this region of the country to pick up the translation team and take its members to the center for trainings. “[They] saved our time and our energy, keeping us healthy, keeping us alive,” Eli explained. Without SIL Cameroon Aviation, the team would have had to travel over rough roads for two days.

Some of the pilots also helped distribute the material that the Ioni team had translated. When one pilot landed in a town in this region, everyone would come to look at the plane. So the pilot would tell the people to turn on their phone, and he would upload films and Scripture portions that had been translated into their language. He’d also hand out printed copies.

Praise God for how he’s working among the Ioni people!

Samson and Levi and the Bombi Language

God recently gave Levi, the manager for SIL Cameroon’s international language and media services, the desire to work on materials in his language of Bombi. “I caught this vision because I realized that if I don’t do something for my language, who would?”

Levi had attended a previous website-building workshop but needed someone to help him translate all the material and text on the site into Bombi. Then, at the most recent workshop hosted by our Scripture website partner, Levi met Samson, who had come to work on the website.

Samson had translated the New Testament into Bombi and had also narrated the JESUS film.

When Levi saw Samson and realized who he was, he said, “I’ve been rescued.” He was relieved that Samson would be able to help translate the text on their website into Bombi much faster than he could.

“When he told me that he’s the one who narrated the JESUS film, I melted [because] I was finally sitting here with a hero that I’ve been hearing all about.”

Jacob, Eli, Samson, and Levi are true heroes of the faith who have devoted their lives to serve the Lord.

One of the Bible translation teams takes notes during the workshop.

Join us in praying for God’s protection over them and for changed lives through their work.

*All names have been changed for security reasons