Martha was a village priestess in Cameroon, but most everyone thought she was a deity. She’d even tell fellow villager what kind of animal sacrifices to make.
Then, one day, she was walking through town when something caught her ear, according Wycliffe Associates, which translates the Bible into many languages.
“In my years with Wycliffe Associates, I have been privileged to attend dedication services for the New Testament in isolated parts of the world,” said Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like the rejoicing and excitement as the people hold their new Bibles to their hearts.”
There was a woman on the street reading out loud about a man who had been delivered from evil spirits. It was a story the priestess had never heard. And unknown to her, it was right out of God’s Word, which had been translated into the local Yemba language.
Martha was intrigued and asked this woman how she, too, could be delivered from evil spirits. After hearing about the one true God and His deep love for her, the priestess surrendered her heart to Christ and was radically changed. She burned all the paraphernalia she used for incantations and began witnessing to the villagers about how she had been liberated through Christ -- the highest authority.
There are about 300,000 people who speak the Yemba language in Cameroon. As a people, they are still anchored in the tradition of sacrifice and idol worship. But as with Martha, the translated Scriptures are beginning to take hold and transform lives.
“When the people hear God’s Word in their language, they believe that it is not outside of their culture. It’s part of their culture,” said Jean Claude, a national translator for the Yemba language project.
The public’s support is helping provide national translators in the region with Bible Translation Acceleration Kits and a translation training center, which is quickly moving Bible translation forward.
Cameroon is a developing country in central Africa that offers many natural and cultural attractions, but lacks modern tourism facilities. The busy port and commercial center of Douala, its largest city, contrasts with the relative calm of inland Yaounde, the capital, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Cameroon is officially bilingual. French dominates as the language of education and government in all regions except the Southwest and Northwest, where English is widely spoken.
Through the supporters of Wycliffe Associates, God’s Word is being translated into 89 languages in Cameroon and other tools are helping accelerate Bible translation.
Wycliffe Associates is using new technologies and highly skilled people to accelerate Bible translation. This includes providing national translators with translation acceleration kits and online collaboration systems to ensure they can communicate in “real time” with translation consultants across the world.
Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people are still waiting for a Bible to be written in their language. Wycliffe’s translators are working globally to start translation projects in every language needing one by the year 2025. They call this massive undertaking Vision 2025.