One day last fall, I sat in my kitchen at home in Nova Scotia and entered a contest on Facebook to win a trip to Africa with OneBook.
I won the contest!
As a result, I spent this past week in Bamenda, Cameroon, with a group of global leaders in the Bible translation movement. When I get home, I am sure people will ask: “How was Cameroon?” And the answer I must give is, “It was humbling.”
Why was it humbling?
Imagine you are a peewee hockey player and you somehow make the Canadian Olympic hockey team, playing alongside Sidney Crosby, Carey Price, and all the other pros. That is what attending this conference is like for me.
I got to learn from leaders of national Bible translation and literacy organizations in nine different countries in Africa and Asia. These folks gathered together in order to present results of an Impact Assessment study in Cameroon and Burkina Faso, and to share ideas and experiences so they can effectively transform their nations through Bible translation.
Did I mention that all these people were from the Global South? I had heard that Christianity and missions had shifted from the Western world to the Global South, but this week I really saw that for myself. Here are people who have taken ownership of Bible translation and literacy in their own countries. And they are doing a really good job of it.
I met Béatrice, from Burkina Faso, who leads the biggest literacy program in the country. I met Peter, from Kenya, who plans a fundraising run each year that attracts over five thousand participants. I met Diolia from the Philippines, who casually told the story of being one of six people riding a single motorcycle to a Bible dedication in a remote village.
If I may borrow the expression, these people have not only translated the Bible: they have let the Bible translate them.
Getting to know these leaders and hearing about their strategies has been very encouraging for me. The North American church has a lot to learn from our brothers and sisters elsewhere: if only we would listen!