Turn the Light On

By Rachel Greco

We take it for granted every time we turn on a light or charge our phones—instant electricity. But Bible translators in many remote locations of Cameroon lack this basic resource, a resource that can power their work to bring God’s transforming Word to their communities. Etienne and his IT team at Cameroon Association for Bible Translation (CABTAL) are working to change that.

A team in Africa assembling a newly acquired solar power system

They recently installed solar panels and wifi equipment for 15 communities, chosen because most of them have no electricity or mobile networks and are far away from any kind of communication. Now Bible translation teams can access the internet with their translation software, upload and save changes, share their work with each other, and charge their computers. They no longer have to travel to a city to work, which is far more expensive.

“Solar [panel] systems allow translators to do their work easily—we can charge laptops, use a printer, and have light to do the translation work even at night. It is also very useful during [translation] workshops,” Etienne explains.

The installations were not without difficulty, especially since these were the first solar devices that Etienne and his team installed.

After Etienne and his team returned to CABTAL, one of the language groups had a difficult time reaching them when they encountered snags with the systems. The person possessing the telephone in the community had to walk a long distance to find the network in order to contact Etienne’s team to report their problems.

Through these difficulties, Etienne and his team learned what improvements they can make to the systems in the future and how to better train people in their use.

God also taught Etienne and his team the importance of these resources in the work of Bible translation. According to Etienne, “Solar panels are very important and necessary for the work of Bible translation in Africa because many communities that do not yet have a Bible translated into their language or those whose Bible translation is in progress still do not have electricity. And the work will not be done without electricity.”

Much remains to be done for these and other communities in Cameroon and throughout Africa; many are waiting for someone to help them turn on the light for their translation project.

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