Regional Spotlight: Africa
Turn on your television to any channel and each day seems to bring more upsetting news of atrocities committed by terrorist organizations in Africa, such as Al Qaeda in North Africa, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Al-Shabab in Somalia.
While these groups specialize in perpetrating unrest and violence, our Heavenly Father—The Lord of all Nations—is at work in the African church as it takes responsibility for Bible translation, language development, literacy, discipleship and evangelism.
But more than 1,500 language groups are still waiting to hear and read God’s Word in their heart language. That’s why JAARS is there, focusing our resources and solutions in transportation and technology to support our partners’ specific translation and ministry goals.
We have learned that translation can’t happen without travel. Safe, affordable transportation is crucial for Bible translation work to reach remote communities to get input, tests drafts, work with leaders, and start literacy classes. But roads to these communities can be treacherous and sometimes impassable.
A 4WD vehicle is often the right solution to transport people and carry needed supplies. Well-maintained vehicles can help our partners traverse rugged pathways to get to rural villages. The result will be more visits, training, and changed lives.
In some of the more remote locations in Africa, even a 4WD vehicle may not be feasible. Then, motorbikes are often the answer for turning travel time from days into hours. For many, motorbikes are a better fit because they are affordable, easy to maintain, and work almost anywhere. Motorbikes, along with training in their use and care, have been provided for a number of translation teams in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon.
But sometimes air travel is the only answer. Our aviation solutions in Africa focus less on individual aircraft and more on providing locally appropriate, sustainable and timely solutions across the region. In some settings, pilots and aircraft supporting translation work also make it possible for hospitals and clinics to serve remote rural areas, expressing God’s love in vital, practical ways.
Dozens of our partners in Africa rely on technology—from software to satellites—to move forward in Bible translation. But it takes people to fix computers, install software, back up documents, and keep networks running smoothly. Trained IT staff are key. Regional training workshops have proven to be an effective way for IT staff in Africa to improve their skills.
And equipment like laptops, modems, and broadband network systems—along with solar panels to power it all—results in faster, easier, and more accurate Bible translation work and more people groups getting God’s Word in their own language.
Terrorists in Africa may use military weapons to spread fear, but JAARS supports the use of airplanes, 4WD vehicles, motorbikes, and IT equipment to spread the love of God. THANK YOU for your continuing support for the people of Africa, where hunger for God’s Word in their own languages is growing rapidly. To learn more, or add your support, go to jaars.org/Africa.
Author Gary Harris pastors a church in Lancaster, SC and has volunteered with the JAARS writing team for the past year.