As we face the global COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority is the health and well-being of our staff, local project teams, and the minority language communities we serve. Our team in Canada has moved to working remotely and has halted all travel, and our national partners are following public health regulations to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Many of the minority language communities we work in are vulnerable to illness, fear, and exploitation. They lack hygiene and health information in their language, and many do not have access to proper medical care. The threat of COVID-19 in these communities is dangerously real.
OneBook is working closely with our partners around the world to monitor the situation in each country and respond appropriately. Our teams are committed to sharing the hope of God’s Word and mother-tongue literacy materials that address COVID-19 with their communities so that people can keep their families safe and connect with Jesus at this time when they need Him most.
We encourage you to pray for health and healing around the world and invite you to support our project teams as they continue their vital work.
December 16, 2020 Update:
In Africa, steady or declining cases of COVID-19 have allowed many countries to ease restrictions on meetings and travel. Project teams in Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, and Kenya are excited to resume many of the activities previously postponed by the pandemic, including hosting workshops and training new translators and literacy teachers. During the lockdown, some projects created Bible and literacy apps so that their community could access life-changing materials remotely. Many people continue to connect using these digital formats.
Asia has been hit harder by COVID-19, resulting in ongoing limitations to travel and assembly in most countries where we work. Although some areas are slowly opening up, believers in these regions must be incredibly cautious about resuming meetings, as the increased scrutiny on gatherings could easily make them targets for persecution. Case numbers also remain high, and one member of a project team was hospitalized with COVID-19. Praise God, that staff member is now recovering at home in isolation. So far, fellow staff have tested negative.
Although poor infrastructure has made online communication challenging for some Asian projects, many are thriving in the digital environment. Numerous projects developed Bible apps and created or updated their project websites. The Gurija project team was particularly successful in their efforts to connect with people online. They launched a social media campaign that included videos, Bible stories, a Bible app, and a songbook. These resources saw a huge amount of traffic and engagement, with hundreds of views, likes, and downloads.
With restrictions still in place, some teams had to adjust their plans for New Testament dedications. On November 22, the Fodigwa project carefully gathered together a small group to celebrate the dedication of the Fodigwa New Testament, and shared this event through an online broadcast so that many more could participate. Meanwhile, the Bali team plans to distribute their New Testament through local churches, where each congregation can hold a dedication amongst themselves. Printed copies of the Bali New Testament are currently being shipped, and they hope to receive the books in the next few weeks.
During this time of crisis, our partners in Indonesia, Kenya, and Cameroon have launched initiatives to translate COVID-19 prevention and awareness information into various local languages. In Kenya and Indonesia, this information is being shared electronically through leaflets and posters, while in Cameroon they are printing brochures and creating audio-visual mobile apps. Local and regional radio stations in Cameroon are then broadcasting these mother-tongue resources to reach a wide number of people. As of this date, information has been translated into more than 59 minority languages.
August 25, 2020 Update:
COVID-19 continues to spread into new areas, including several of the minority language communities we serve. People in the Warka, Hapuma, Lewun, and Birari communities have been hit hard, while Bagat and Duko have also begun to see COVID-19 cases rise. We ask for your prayers for these men and women as they face an uncertain future. Health care is limited, and lives have been lost. Pray that they would be able to slow the advance of the virus, and for healing and comfort for those who are sick.
Our project teams have been working hard to translate COVID-19 prevention information into their languages. To date, a total of 79 minority language translations have been completed by our partners in five different countries, and have been shared through digital and print brochures, audio recordings, radio
May 5, 2020 Update:
Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support for our Bible translation and literacy project teams. As we continue to exercise caution here at home, our partners around the world are taking steps to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19.
All of the countries we work in have implemented safety measures ranging from travel restrictions to full lockdowns in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. This has impacted our projects in a number of ways.
Most of our partner organizations have closed their offices, and staff are working from home where possible. For some, internet access is not readily available. Those who are still going to the project offices are implementing physical distancing and avoiding public transit. These precautions have allowed our project staff to stay healthy for the time being.
Unfortunately, limits on travel and group gatherings have impacted many project activities. Training workshops, literacy classes, and community-checking sessions have stopped. Audio recording sessions, final reviews, and even dedications have been postponed.
Despite these difficult circumstances, our teams are doing all they can to continue the work of Bible translation. Translators working from home are drafting Scripture in their mother tongue, and groups are keeping connected virtually using messaging apps wherever possible. Project members are as passionate as ever about sharing the Word of God with their people.
broadcasts, and apps. Several of our project teams have also distributed food aid and awareness kits to their neighbours.
After a period of waiting and making new plans to adjust to the realities of the pandemic, the Duko, Aghem, and Toussian projects recently held dedications for their New Testaments. Although these celebrations looked different than normal, with COVID-19 precautions incorporated, these communities rejoice in finally having God’s Word available in their mother tongue. Other communities, such as the Fodigwa, have chosen to wait to hold their dedication until conditions improve.
Although travel restrictions and limitations on gatherings are still in place in most of the countries where we serve, OneBook project teams are still finding every way possible to advance their work in translation and literacy. By making the most of online resources and a variety of communication methods, project staff are connecting with each other and with their communities to share encouragement and support in this challenging time. Lives continue to be transformed as people hear the truth of Scripture in their own language, learn how to read and write, and experience God’s presence firsthand.