Yesterday, along with Cameroonian friends, church leaders and SIL colleagues, representatives of the Seed Company, and Wycliffe Associates USA, our team from Wycliffe USA celebrated a milestone as the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL) marked 25 years of service to the peoples of Cameroon.
It was a milestone that represented more than just a ‘birthday’ celebration. This picture shows the first African, a Kenyan, Mundara Muturi (left), who is the Wycliffe Global Alliance Africa Area Director. He is honoring the outgoing General Director of CABTAL, Dr. Michel Kenmogne (right), and newly appointed General Director, Efi Tembon (center). Never before has a picture like this represented so much: the intentional efforts on the part of many to build the capacity of Africans to take leadership role in Bible translation across the continent.
For Dallas and me, along with our whole team, it was an emotional time. While we in no way take credit for any of this, we know that God used us, along with the support from Wycliffe USA, in small ways to contribute to this historic day in Cameroon.
Having the opportunity to say a few words to a large group gathered last night in a celebration and appreciation of partners, including local language communities, church leaders, SIL Cameroon, and Wycliffe USA, who helped contribute to the 25 years CABTAL was celebrating, I related the story of my friend, Peter Yuh.
Pictured (right) at the dedication of the KOM New Testament, I related the story of Peter coming to my office in Yaoundé in 1989. Peter, who at the time was employed by the government of Cameroon as a teacher, was being asked to return to his home area in the Northwest Province of Cameroon to facilitate the translation of the New Testament into his mother-tongue, KOM. It was a difficult decision for him because his family had sacrificed financially to send him to get a university degree; he was the graduate in his family and was, along with his salary from the government, helping to support other family members. Peter was being asked to step into an uncertain future.
My question to the group last night was, “What if Peter had said ‘no’ to this call?” Of course, these matters are in God’s hands, but Peter said ‘yes’ to the call of God in his life.
Fast forward to present day. The New Testament is complete, the Jesus Film is done, an audio recording of the New Testament has been done by Faith Comes by Hearing – there are active listening groups engaged with the Scriptures.
Peter has, since the dedication of the New Testament in 2005, gone to graduate school at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) and completed his PhD in Bible translation. Peter is now a Bible translation consult for other translators working on New Testaments and whole Bibles.
God used Peter’s availability to build His Kingdom in the KOM community. One of the speakers yesterday reminded us that every language community in Cameroon will be in Heaven…it is God’s promise.
“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9, 10 NLT)
Peter is humble, he does not want credit, but God used him, along with many others who supported the KOM translation, to ensure worship for Himself from the KOM community. In addition, Peter is representative of the capacity that CABTAL has developed and continues to develop.