Danger! ¡Peligro! Achtung! Опасность! አደጋ! Ingozi! Hatari!

Danger can take many forms for Bible translators.

A man stands in front of a chalkboard, holding a book in one hand and gesturing with the other Elie teaching the literacy class

Often it’s because the translators are working in a country where to be Christian is to be persecuted. In many of those situations, even having a Bible can be life-threatening, let alone translating it!

But sometimes it’s because where the translators are working is just downright dangerous: things like civil war, terrorism, bandits and natural disasters are just part and parcel of life.

Danger can be just around the corner, as Elie Naguili and François Saboundou, two Nzakara Bible translators in the Central African Republic, tell:

‘We arrived in our home town of Bangassou on 29 December 2020, and began the work we had come to do – training 20 literacy teachers; revising 2 Corinthians with the local revisers committee; and opening five pilot literacy classes. But the town came under attack from rebels at 5.20am on Sunday 3 January. We fled into the forest and stayed there the whole time the fighting continued, which was until about 11am.

A map of the Central African Republic, with the Nzakara region highlighted in the south of the country CAR with Bangassou and the Nzakara region

‘After this attack, the rebels took possession of the town. Fear took possession too, and we didn’t know what to do. Many people fled across the river to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We were forced to wait a whole week until we could start our work again – and that with a lot of trepidation.

‘But we began the teacher training again on 11 January, with a lot of encouragement from some of the pastors. They said to us, “You must get started again straight away, because the rebels aren’t really causing us any disruption yet. Do it all, at all costs!”

‘Because of the encouraging words we heard from these senior local figures, we were able to get on and do what we had to do! As a result, we trained 17 literacy teachers and revised 2 Corinthians with the committee, and only the five pilot classes haven’t started yet. To God be the glory!

A man points to a chalkboard François teaching the Nzakara language

‘When the rebels took the town of Bangassou, and during the whole time they were in the town, God protected us, and they didn’t threaten us at all. We carried out our mission, and returned home, safe and sound, to our families. We thank God so much for all that he has done. This mission trip was a real step forward. Thank you to the people who’ve prayed so much for our protection and for the carrying out of this trip. Let’s give thanks to God for what he’s done!’

In perilous places across the world, Bible translators like Elie and François are risking so much. For them, their lives are worth risking so that they can help to bring the message of eternal life to those who do not have God’s word in the language that speaks to them best.

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Story by: Jeremy Weightman

Date: 16/06/2022

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