Under the Shadow

By Rachel Greco

Under the shadow of the volcano, Mt. Nyiragongo in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a team of people translates God’s Word into four local languages: Havu, Kobo, Nyanga, and Hunde. These dedicated men and women not only work under the shadow of a volcano, but also under the shadow of the Ebola disease, COVID-19, civil unrest, and dangerous road conditions.

Members of the Kobo team collaborating on the translation project

The translation project for these languages is based out of Goma because large populations of each language group live there where it is much safer. However, at least half the people in each language community still live in villages out in the bush. To ensure that their translations are appropriate, well-received, and used by village communities, as well as the urban communities, it’s vital that they are included in the testing of the translated Scripture.

These language teams empower their communities to take ownership of the projects by visiting the villages where they can include local pastors in Scripture engagement activities, fundraising, and decision making for future project activities.

Currently, the teams use public transportation—motorcycles, buses or boats—to reach these villages. Hiring motorcycles is expensive because the teams must also pay for the driver’s food, lodging, and any other travel fees during the journey. When taking public transportation, they must take more than one vehicle to reach their destination.

The roads have been declining since the 1960s, so travel is difficult and uncomfortable during the dry season and impossible during the rainy season. This is why JAARS has committed, with your help, to provide six motorcycles and training in their use to these language teams. The motorcycles will save the teams’ time and money, enabling them to give all they have to the vital work of Bible translation.

And that work continues, despite the way various challenges threaten to engulf and stop them. By God’s grace, these translators keep pressing on through the shadows of life and have made progress! All the teams have completed the translation of Luke and are working on translating the script of the JESUS film. Now that visas are once again being issued to visitors, the teams hope and pray that the recording team from the JESUS film organization will be able to come and record the film script in all four languages.

The Banyanga people, who live near Goma, have heard about the continuing work on the Nyanga translation and “everyone is waiting for the release of this Bible,” one of the translators remarks. This translation team sees the need to make Scripture accessible in places where young people communicate in Nyanga, like Facebook and WhatsApp. They have even created a YouTube translation account so they can share Scripture when it’s available. They have also produced a radio program in Nyanga and a program on a local TV channel to help get the word out about the translation.

Kobo translators praying together for their work

Many families of the Kobo translators have come to understand that translation is for the entire community, spiritually and socially. Kulu Kasay, who translates for the Kobo people, is also a math and physics teacher in Goma. He says, “I thank the Lord for joining me in this work of translating the Bible. I like this job because it allows me to have the Bible in our language and keep my mother tongue, which is endangered. May God give us the knowledge and the strength necessary to accomplish the task entrusted to us.”

Please join us in lifting some of the darkness engulfing this translation team by giving to Transportation Solutions so they can safely and easily access those who need the gospel. Thank you!