Posts Tagged ‘Central African Republic’

Meet Elvis

Photo by Zeke du Plessis

“If we are to understand the Word of God, God needs to translate himself into our language, so that his words can speak deeply to each person,” reflects Elvis. “It’s the translation of the Word of God into my language that is at the base of my own faith.”

When this photo was taken, Elvis was serving as the language program manager for ACATBA (Central African Association for Bible Translation and Literacy in English). His pastor, Georges, says of Elvis: “Elvis is a man of God. His work in translating the Scripture means that all people in CAR can make good use of the word of God.”

According to Wycliffe Global Alliance, there are 83 languages spoken in the Central African Republic, and 54 of those have no Scripture at all. But because of people like Elvis who are dedicated to the work of Bible translation, this number will continue to decrease as the number of languages who have the Scriptures increase.

Elvis is dedicated to bringing God’s Word to the Gbeya speakers in Bossangoa, Central African Republic. You can help fund Bible translation in Central African Republic here.

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By Margaret Hill with Richard Gretsky

Fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been intermittent for the past decade. The fighting has resulted in much death, rampant destruction of property, and countless other travesties. Many have suffered emotionally devastating wounds from being involved in, or witnessing, the fighting and its results. These wounds are often deeper than any physical ones and are much more difficult to heal.

Trauma Healing - Bangui 2In an effort to help some of the people affected by war in the CAR, a trauma healing team from Wycliffe and its primary partner SIL held a workshop at the Central African Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (ACATBA) Center. Five staff persons led twenty-nine participants from five different organizations in the five-day course.

 The course consists of a series of Bible-based lessons that guide people in how to use good mental health principles to deal with deep emotional wounds in their lives. It gives verses from Scripture to meditate on and leads people to pray and communicate with others about those hurts, so that with God’s help—and the encouragement of their peers—they may find healing.

 According to the staff, the class—which was a cross between a healing group and an equipping seminar—was a resounding success. They said that all of the participants seemed to receive a degree of healing, which should help them deal with the continuing problems in the country. In fact, a large number of course participants were enthusiastic about starting healing groups of their own, leading other people in the process toward health.

 Beside those two major benefits, there were three other areas of the course that the staff was very excited about:

  • A number of participants said that they were encouraged to know that people from outside the country cared about their plight enough to facilitate this seminar. Previously, they thought they had been forgotten.
  • CAR has had problems in the past bringing different churches together. The workshop seemed to open the door for Christians to see the need to work together.
  • The workshop gave the participants an oasis of calm for a week. They enjoyed each other, and had plenty of good food each day. The team could see them visibly relax as the week went on.

 With the success of the workshop, the ACATBA staff is planning to host an advanced trauma healing seminar in June or July of this year.


This seminar has helped me be freed from my fear that was caused by the violence I experienced at the hands of the soldiers. It has also helped reinforce my confidence that God is hearing me, especially after I had written my lament. Now I have a great desire to share this with others in Bangui and Bossangoa as too many people are hurting. —FrancisTrauma Healing - Bangui

Because of this workshop, finally my wife and I have started sleeping deeply at night. I’m spending time going over every lesson with my older children. I did this workshop before in 2004 and it was fine and helpful, but this time, because we are still in the crisis, it has really changed my thoughts and feelings for the better. —Elvis

 This is the first time I have ever heard anyone teaching about these things. I didn’t know before you could discuss them and find answers. Now I am ready to help others. —Aristide

 First, I have been healed of my own inner hurts. Now I feel very strongly that I have a special capacity to help others and I really want them to receive healing too. —Maturin

 I was very traumatized when I came, but now I feel almost healed. During the seminar I learned lots of very new things and now I feel ready even to help my family prepare for bad things that might come. I’m also now conscious of my responsibility to help others. —Anon

 After we had taken our pain and burdens to Jesus on the cross and burnt our papers, I felt healed. That night when I started again to think about the things I had written down, I found I couldn’t worry about them or feel hurt anymore! I really want to share this with others. —Jean-Noel

: Pray that people in the Central African Republic would continue to look to God, community, and workshops like this one to help them heal from the atrocities they’ve witnessed.

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By Elyse Patten
Photo by Marc Ewell

Playful young girls in the town of Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) happily greet a visitor to their school. The people of CAR have been through tense times over these last two months of political unrest. Despite a peace plan signed in early January our Bible translation colleagues have recently had two of their offices looted and vandalized and have at times needed to hide for safety. Please pray for the safety of the staff of Wycliffe’s partner, ACATBA, who leads the country’s translation and literacy work, as they respond to this crisis and for the rebuilding that will follow. Our colleagues, like Elvis and Francis, have worked during unrest before. Please pray for the work of Bible translation and literacy to move forward despite these challenges.

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by Beth Wicks

“If we are to understand the Word of God, God needs to translate Himself into our language, so that His Words can speak deeply to each person,” Elvis Guenekean reflects. “It’s the translation of the Word of God into my language that is at the base of my own faith.”

Elvis was once an atheist, an eager student of humanistic philosophy, and firmly set against Christian faith.

“When my wife would return home from prayer meetings, I would mock her, asking her a series of philosophical questions,” he remembers. “I aimed to persuade her that God didn’t exist and that her faith was useless.”

His remarks would often make her cry, but she was never dissuaded from praying for him.

After completing his studies and training as a teacher, Elvis’ further academic plans were blocked by a lack of finances. In answer to his wife’s prayers, this roadblock became a turning point in his life. He decided to look for opportunities to use his skills to benefit the local community. He even approached the pastor of a local church and offered to start literacy classes for the large number of people in the church who could not read or write.

The pastor encouraged him to instead enroll in a translation training course under the direction of Christians with experience in translation. It was being offered to members of the community so that they could begin to translate the Bible into Gbeya, Elvis’ own mother tongue, which is spoken by more than two hundred thousand people in the Bossangoa region of Central African Republic.

“I had no idea at the time that this was God’s plan for me,” Elvis said.

At first Elvis saw translation as just a challenging intellectual exercise. But as he sought the meaning of each passage of Scripture, and grappled with the best way to express it in Gbeya, he began to discover the God of the Bible.

“As I became immersed in the Word of God, I began to understand the incredible love and grace which He freely gives each one of us,” Elvis recalls. “I couldn’t even imagine why God would want a relationship with me. My deep intimacy with God is one of the most amazing things I take from this ministry.”

Soon Elvis went from being one of the translators on the Gbeya translation team to being the coordinator for translation and literacy projects in the whole Bossangoa region.

“Ever since I accepted Jesus as my Savior,” he said, “my entire life has been such an adventure in faith.”

It has now been over a decade since Elvis first got involved in Bible translation, and today he oversees the translation and literacy projects for the whole country. Elvis’ family and church are supportive of his work. Even in childhood, his father had encouraged him to be a wholehearted servant of God.

“God chose [Elvis] to work for him, studying the Bible,” said Michel Samedi, Elvis’ older brother. “My prayer is that his work will be a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.”

Photo by Zeke Du Plessis

Beth Wicks is a writer for YWAM AfriCom, a network of communicators that serve YWAM in Africa. Learn more about them on their web site: www.ywamafricom.org. This story was written for the Wycliffe News Network of the Wycliffe Global Alliance.

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