05 October 2010

Dedication of the Bible in Cebaara of Korhogo

As I sit here after 2 hours of speeches, songs, sermons and prayer I can't help but think of how faithful God has been to us and to the Senoufo people in allowing us to see this day. Just yesterday I was able to buy a case of Bibles fresh off the press for re-distribution to those we know who read this language. As we listened to Pastor Dossongomon read the list of all of those who have collaborated in the translation of the Bible I could not help but think of the faithfulness of God towards us through the faithful efforts of his people. As he read through the list of those individuals who had contributed to this accomplishment he had to stop several times to let us know that many of them where no longer among the living. Among those who are still living, very few could even be at the Dedication. None of our WorldVenture colleagues, who had had a hand in guiding the translation team during the past 40 years, could be here today.

We were informed that the Cebaara Bible is only the 3rd Bible to have been entirely translated since translations have been happening in Côte d'Ivoire. This is not only a religious event but a social and cultural event which elevates the Cebaara language to the ranks of languages which have a Bible!

As the Pastor Soungalo shared, language is the soul of a people and for some reason God in His grace has permitted and made it possible that the Gospel be heard and told in multiple languages of the world. From the day of Pentecost to today, telling the Story in the mother tongue has been an important aspect of what it is to be a follower of Jesus. On that day in Jerusalem people from around the world gathered for other reasons, heard about why Christ had suffered and how He had risen from the dead. Soungalo pointed out the Pentecost was a divine reversal of the confusion created at the Tower of Babel so many thousands of years earlier.

The best part of the ceremony was when the organizers called on a young girl 14 years of age and had her read from Deuteronomy 6.1-10. As I sat there and listened I could not help but think that this is the main reason for all of this noise, to hear God's Word ring out at this gathering of well over 5000 people. As the fete came to a close and the last prayer was prayed we streamed down from our seats out onto the parade grounds and began to dance in praise to the God who allowed this day to be. I think there will rarely be a day like this, this side of Glory where we will find so much joy and unity at hearing God speak.

As the celebration came to a close and we spoke with so many friends and acquaintances it was with tears in our eyes realizing that the years of faithful service has come to this. To see the eyes of those who read Cebaara light-up as they read passages they have always read in Bambara or French is a rewarding experience and one we hope to see repeated often in our fellowships.

God has done an amazing thing to allow us to see this day. Our prayer is that we will be able to practice what the whole Word of God teaches in our context of Côte d'Ivoire. God is faithful and this day we have witnessed that He is all of that and more!
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone. Provided by MTN CI

04 September 2010

About Parties and Presidents

Last Sunday in churches all over Côte d'Ivoire the announcement was made that the Cebaara Bible Dedication planned for the 4th of September (this Saturday), had once again been postponed. It is because there has been a concerted effort on the part of some of the organizers that the President of Côte d'Ivoire be invited to the party. It was only last week that we learned of the "high interest" of the president to be there for the dedication. The problem was that the 4th would not be possible and so in good Ivorian fashion, everything is put on hold until such time that the President can find time in his busy calendar to attend such a dedication. Of course this does not take into account that the WorldVenture Board Representative had to toss out his flight tickets again, nor that this means that the Bible will not be available for we don't know how long, and that all of our other plans for trips, meetings and a hundred other things have to be adjusted.

But who's to complain. In this country where only recently anyone was allowed to say anything that might be construed as being an attack on the government and its leaders, such an attitude is entirely understandable. There is an up side to this delay however and that is that the entire country will be presented with the fact that there is an important Christian community in the north of Côte d'Ivoire. This is important because much of the fuel for this 8 year long conflict has been the notion held by many Christians in southern Côte d'Ivoire that everyone in the north are Muslims and foreigners who should simply be eliminated. At the beginning of the conflict there was a concerted effort on the part of some "Christians" in southern Côte d'Ivoire to characterize the conflict as that of Muslims trying to take over the country. This failed to take into account that the north of Côte d'Ivoire is far more diverse than that. This attitude was evident, sadly enough, in the multitude of prayer vigils organized by Christians in blind support of the government, going so far as actually collecting money in churches to support the war effort against their brothers from the north. Many times during this conflict we have hung our heads in shame at the attitude of our so called brethren from southern Côte d'Ivoire. With that background one can understand better why having the President present for the Dedication of the Cebaara Bible might be so important.

Another and by far less important reason for having the President come to the Dedication is that normally his office will more than likely foot the bill for the manifestation. This of course helps us think big and as a result he will get a "free" platform, so to speak, for his presidential campaign. Incidentally, the presidential elections are programmed for the end of October this year, again! Like the Dedication, this does not mean they will actually take place the end of October!
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone. Provided by MTN CI

24 August 2010

2 Weeks and Counting

Long before I was born and well into my adult life there has been a translation project taking place in northern Côte d'Ivoire which has come to an end. The translation part of the project has been over for several years now and the final manuscripts have been in the hands of the Alliance Biblique (United Bible Society) for several years now. Last January we were contacted concerning this project and we were told that the final product would be printed by the end of May 2010. Being used to disappointment, we were not sure what to make of this news right then. However, true to their word this time, the Alliance has delivered and even as I write these words the final shipment of Cebaara Bibles is making its way north to Korhogo, the capital of the north and the cultural and traditional center for the Cebaara speaking peoples.

"Excited" is a feeble term to describe the feeling in our churches across the region as they anticipate the arrival of this treasure. For the past several months we have been planning and working on a dedication celebration for its arrival to which the President of Côte d'Ivoire has been invited. This dedication is planned for the 4th of September in Korhogo. There has been a special cloth made for the festivities which will be sewn into a hundred different styles and sizes by thousands of tailors to clothe the 10.000 faithful expected to attend this celebration. Of course, when a president makes the decision to come to such a fête there are implications which go far beyond any one person's ability to appreciate. In this case and under the actual tension that already exists in a country that has not been at peace for almost 8 years, an event of this size and of this kind can have serious outcomes. Our prayer is that as we celebrate the publishing of the first edition of the Cebaara Bible that its message of true peace with God would ring out as we celebrate together the accomplishment of such a weighty task. To be able to read the Bible in one's own language brings new meaning to old stories which are now "told" in words that make far better sense than anything you have seen or heard up until now.

We just met last night with the organization crew in Korhogo and our budget for this party is now set at a little less that $20.000 USD. When a president arrives and during a time like this only 2 months before the re-scheduled elections, you cannot sit back and enjoy the scenery! That will come in two more weeks!

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone. Provided by MTN CI