“I feel as though I’ve spent the day on sacred ground,” said Glenys Sweetman. She’d just listened one-on-one to five Ivorians relate their experiences during months of violence after the disputed elections of late 2010. Each of them recounted very sobering stories, yet each affirmed that God had amazingly and mercifully protected them.
During those difficult days, Bita Tra Didier led the SIL* staff, and since then he has been appointed director of SIL Cote d’Ivoire. God has carefully prepared Didier, whose mother tongue is Kouya, for this position. Languages have always been Didier’s passion. By the time he was a teenager, he was composing poems and songs in his own language and also in French and English. But there was no alphabet that fit his Kouya language, so writing down his songs was hard. No alphabet…and no Scriptures. When the Scriptures were read in church, they were read in French, Gouro and Baoule—but not in Kouya!
That all began to change when Wycliffe UK members Eddie** and Sue*** Arthur came to his village and began working with the Kouya people to develop an alphabet and translate the Bible. Didier was delighted!
During the next few years, Didier earned a Master’s degree in English and African civilization while also working on the Kouya translation with the Arthurs. At first his relationship to the Word was largely intellectual, but as he and Sue searched out the meaning of each passage of Scripture and grappled with the best way to express it in Kouya, he began to think further about his own relationship to God.
One day he translated John 5:44: “You gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.” Suddenly he realized that these words of Jesus applied to him! Today he says, “I can say that I really met the Lord while reading John 5:44 in Kouya. I remember that I cried that day, because before then I had always been trying to please people. I owe John 5:44 everything I am today, and I am thankful to the Lord that he spoke to me through that particular verse.”
As he matured in Christ, Didier’s passion for languages became a passion for people and for the translated Word. He spent seven years as the director for another organization, developing Bible resources, building a network of contacts, and gaining administrative skills. Now, having returned to SIL, he works with his staff to support a cluster project and six other translation projects, while together they explore partnerships with other Ivorian language groups who have requested technical help.
There are potentially 30 remaining translation needs in Cote d’Ivoire and several projects which need to be restarted. These projects had been disrupted due to the civil war. Africa has huge needs—for Bible translation and for trauma healing and other programs based on the translated Word—but the growing number of Africans with a passion for Bible translation, both in SIL and in partnering organizations, bodes very well for the future of Vision 2025—to see a Bible translation in progress in every language needing it by 2025.
Please pray for these leaders, and especially for Didier and his colleagues, that God would protect them from physical and spiritual dangers and guide them as they bring the Word of God to their Ivorian countrymen who still wait to understand His Eternal Word.
*SIL is a partner organization of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA
**Eddie Arthur is currently the Executive Director of Wycliffe UK
***Sue Arthur is a translation consultant with The Wycliffe Seed Company