" ... Pray for us without ceasing," ended a 2013 letter to colleagues from the Director of the Bible Society in the Central African Republic. His country was in chaos, the government violently overthrown. The Bible Society itself suffered looting and the loss of much of their stock, including copies of the long-awaited new Sango Bible.
This was by no means the first crisis to challenge translation staff in this country, and especially those in the Sango Bible translation project. In 2001, one of the main translators of the Sango Bible was killed during a time of unrest. In the same year, doctors found cancer in the throat of another one of the translators. He died in 2012. These emotional and painful setbacks could have stopped the project, yet the team pressed on, confident in God’s power to overcome.
When the manuscript of the Sango Bible was finally finished, it was unusually difficult to find funding to print it. The project stalled, hindered by this new obstacle. Time passed and eventually the money was raised, some of it the result of “pre-sold” copies. Despite more political unrest, the printed Bibles were delivered in January 2013.
Early that year, the translation team made plans to hold a dedication celebration to launch the Sango Bible, but postponed it twice due to insecurity in the country. Ultimately, they scheduled the launch for June 30, but our spiritual enemy was not finished trying to sabotage the arrival of God’s Word in Sango.
Two days before the planned celebration, armed robbers entered the compound of the Bible Society. They stole boxes of Bibles, ransacked all the rooms, and took all the computers and a car. After the looting, only few Sango Bibles remained. Even so, the celebration did take place, and it was peaceful. Attendees described it as being dignified and joyful.
Through all of these struggles, those involved with the Sango project persevered, trusting God each step of the way. They prayed. They hoped. And they planned for ways to overcome the disheartening situations. Others prayed too — including prayer partners who prayed for the project through The Finish Line publication.
Now, we can rejoice together and praise the One who has heard our prayers and answered — a second printing of 9,000 new Sango Bibles has arrived safely in the country!
Let's not forget that at any time and any place we can pray, and God is listening and eager to respond. The work of Bible translation is ongoing, and around the world there are translation personnel calling out, “ … Pray for us without ceasing.”
To continue your prayers for Bible translation projects nearing completion, consider using The Finish Line, an online and print resource providing updates and prayer requests on translation projects from all around the world.