One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for the Kwakum
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
You may have heard that we held our first Kwakum Language Committee meeting on March 14th. What you might not have realized is how big of a step this is for our project. I just talked to a Bible translator while attending a conference in YaoundÃ© and he told me that their people group did not form a language committee until they had been there 3 years and it took about 3 more years before it started to carry out its responsibilities. While we cannot really speak to how well our committee will function,we can praise the Lord for he progress we have made after just one month. He is answering our prayers!
If you are wondering what a language committee is, and why it is needed, here are some key points:
- We cannot translate the Bible if there is no written form of the language.
- We have been told that in the development of the language (determining an alphabet, choosing a central dialect, teaching literacy), the fewer people that are involved, the fewer people will accept the language in the written form and thereby rejecting the Scriptures before they are even read.
- The language committee has representatives from all of the Kwakum villages and therefore represents the entire community.
- The committee will be the group that makes the decisions regarding the alphabet, dialect, etc. so therefore no one will be able to say that the Americans came in and tried to change their language. It will be a community effort with decisions made by Kwakum people.
- The committee gives us people on the ground in the villages that can help us gather data, spread the word, and even begin teaching literacy. The more hands in this work the better as there is much to do.
So, all that to say, we are thrilled to have already achieved this milestone. We left just a few days after the Language Committee meeting for a conference in the capital and are looking forward to diving into language learning and analysis.
You may remember that one reason that we chose World Team is that we felt like we should not just be involved in Bible Translation as an end in itself. Instead we really feel like our purpose in missions is to grow the church. Therefore we did not choose to go with a Bible translation organization, but with a church planting organization. This week we are in YaoundÃ© for our field conference and a church planting seminar. We have been stirred once again in our desire to build up the church in Cameroon. One of the main focuses was encouraging people to genuinely study the Bible to gain understanding. The Great Commission calls us to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Matt 28:19-20). It is through God's Word that people learn how to follow Jesus.
Of course, the majority of the Kwakum cannot read the Bible, so our time also cemented the need to translate for the health of the church. This is a reality that we have seen in our church in Dimako. The Christians are few, and those that are believers are blocked in their growth unless they can read French. This includes very few men and almost no women in our community. Can you imagine trying to grow in your spiritual walk without being able to read the Bible? We believe that true church growth only comes with true spiritual growth. And so we press on with our goals to translate the Bible into Kwakum.
What Else is Going On?
Since our last newsletter weâ€¦ finally moved into our house! Not that all of the work is done, but we are now living in our community. We have been able to start to form relationships with our neighbors and experience how they live.
We decided to put three of the kids (Kaden, Makyra, and Zoey) into the bilingual school in our town two days a week. Elias stays at home with Mom and Dad, but the other three are enjoying their experience. They have started to use French more with the neighborhood kids, which is a blessing. We still homeschool too, so the kids are staying busy.
We are still waiting for a language partner from the committee to start our formal language learning, but we have started informally. We have met a handful of times with a neighbor and practiced some methods we learned in Linguistics school. We can now identify the words for a dozen body parts. So, that is exciting!
Overall we feel like we are finally making progress and that is really encouraging. We are grounded in the community, we have Kwakum people working with us, and the kids are having a lot of fun.