Endurance of the Word

“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

Some of the work that is supported by ELCA Global Mission is the translation of the Bible into local languages. This can sometimes be long, hard, painstaking work. A son and brother of former ELCA global personnel has been working as a translation consultant since 1992. It can also be exhilarating work. I had the privilege of meeting a professor, in Linguere, Senegal who was working on the translation of the bible into Pulaar. It was exciting to sit with him and hear him speak about the nuances of biblical languages and the struggle to capture those nuances in a native African dialect. He felt that his work was exciting work.


There has been much excitement around the completion of and the upcoming dedication of a new Sango Bible in the Central African Republic. Sango is the national language of the Central African Republic. Since the beginning of the year this dedication has been scheduled and re-scheduled because of the rebel activity resulting in a coup de tat.  From the outside looking in, the situation in the country seems to go from bad, to better, then to worse.  Finally, things seemed to be in a stable enough condition to re-schedule and move forward. The dedication of this new bible was something for the people of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic and other protestants in the country to be proud and excited about. The dedication was scheduled for June 30 and then as they say “all hell broke loose.”

 According to reports dated June 29:

Clashes between ex-rebels and armed civilians killed six people in Bangui as anger mounted over abuses by the Central African Republic’s new rulers, police and medics said on Saturday.The violence broke out on Friday in a northern neighbourhood of the capital when a student believed to have been kidnapped by ex-rebels was found dead, a police official said on condition of anonymity.”Protesters, most of them youths, set up barricades and started burning tyres on the street to voice their anger over the discovery of the body of a student… who was abducted in broad daylight by Seleka forces,” he said, referring to the former rebel group now in power.U142P5029T2D545410F24DT20130107080732 The police source said the ex-rebels then “opened fire on the protesters with live bullets, killing one person.”Shots were fired back at the Seleka men, killing two, the official said, adding that another three unidentified people were shot dead in the ensuing confusion. Twenty five people were also wounded.”  

This violence also resulted in the looting and destruction of the Bible Society in Bangui which is where the copies of the newly translated Bible were stored. Many of us who had been hoping and praying for the release and dedication were disheartened. The Bibles were delivered in February; since then, members of the Bible Society and all interested parties have been collectively holding their breath. A line in a string of e-mails I received dated in April read: ” The office of the Bible Society was spared looting. Around the office, all the villas have been looted. For example, this morning full day (8:30 to local) Seleka rebels raided private villa not far from the office of the Bible Society. . .”  In June, this time, the Bible Society was not spared.

There was destruction, damage, theft of office equipment and vehicles. Money was stolen. Yet, the Bibles at first thought to be destroyed, remained intact. On Sunday, June 30,  the dedication of the Sango Common Language Bible  took place and everyone in attendance went home with copy. th

Who knows when the situation in Central African Republic will be stable and secure.  I wrote in my very first blog on this site, I am disappointed that we do not hear more about such tragedies in our news. What I ask is if you read this blog: take a moment, say a prayer for the people of the Central African Republic, for peace in the entire world and pray that the word of God will somehow bring comfort to those who now have the ability to read it in their native language.

I am westafricabound.

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  1. Trackback: Endurance of the Word | westafricabound

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