(Photo: Syvlain Ndjendolé with a copy of the new Sango Bible.)
When I first met Sylvain Ndjendolé who leads the Bible Society in Central African Republic (CAR), I couldn’t believe the difficult conditions in which he and his staff work.
It was at a meeting in Kenya last year where I heard Sylvain describe the need for a new Bible House. Years earlier, the government had demolished the building that the Bible Society owned in order to build a stadium, and Sylvain was forced to rent a small house for an office.
To compound the Bible Society’s problems, it operates in an atmosphere of corruption found in almost every sector of society. Sylvain spoke to us about his plans to develop a Bible-based ethics program. With so many entities – from the government to charities – operating in unethical, corrupt fashion, Sylvain was adamant that the Bible Society would advocate for good governance based on God’s Word.
Just about a year later, Sylvain and his small team experienced another blow. What little it had was destroyed on June 28, 2013, when an armed group ransacked the office. Two Christian organisations were attacked – the Protestant Centre for Youth and the small Bible Society office.
The attack came on the eve of the dedication of the Bible in Sango, the main language of CAR. Of course, boxes containing copies of the new Sango Bible were carted off by the attackers. In addition, they took $2,000 in cash, seven computers, three printers, a scanner, the refrigerator and a fan. They even took the Bible Society’s 4×4 vehicle, which it uses to distribute Bibles throughout the country.
“The staff are traumatised as we have been completely stripped of our tools and cannot carry out our mission,” wrote Mr Ndenjole. “The thefts are also affecting the churches because we can’t get Bibles to them.”
It’s hard to understand why God would allow one small Bible Society to undergo such problems. After all, the Bible Society is already working in a corrupt society, in an inadequate space, and now it’s lost new Bibles and the car to deliver them.
But God is faithful and I can already see how he is using these events to bring out the best in others. Two days after the looting, the Bible Society in CAR still held its dedication ceremony for the new translation – albeit 4,000 copies short. Sylvain is continuing to work from another location, albeit with little equipment. And three sister Bible Societies have already pledged their support: Bible Society in Congo and Bible Society in Gabon have each given a computer, while the Bible Society of the Democratic Republic of Congo has pledged $5,000. These Bible Societies certainly don’t have money to spare, but they are giving what they can to ensure that Bible work in CAR can continue.
I pray that others will step up and help this struggling but dedicated Bible Society. I also join Sylvain in praying “for the restoration of peace and security in the country.”
Read this article describing the difficult situation in CAR.