Press Release: May 15, 2024

God At Work

When War in Liberia Broke Out, God Redirected Translation Efforts

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19

When civil war broke out in Liberia in 1989, Lutheran Bible Translators’ missionaries faced the terrifying reality of violence and were forced to evacuate the country for safety. It’s estimated that 200,000 people were killed and around 1 million people displaced during the turmoil.

Alvina Federwitz was one of the Lutheran Bible Translators’ missionaries in Liberia at the time when war broke out. When asked during an Essentially Translatable Podcast interview what ways can people get involved right where they are, she answered, “Prayer. Prayer has brought us through so many challenges. It’s brought us through a civil war, it’s brought us through learning a new language, it’s brought us through just the challenges of ministry.”

As the missionaries and their families settled in other areas and began work with other programs, God showed a glimmer of light during that devastatingly dark season. The Kalanga language community in Botswana had not been on the Lutheran Bible Translators’ program list. Because of the war in Liberia, the efforts of several dedicated missionaries were now available to be directed to Botswana to support the Kalanga in their translation efforts. In 1999, the completed Kalanga New Testament was dedicated to the glory of God. Nineteen years later, God continued the work He began for the Kalanga community with the completion and dedication of a full Bible translation.

Two civil wars disrupted Bible translation efforts in Liberia between 1989-2003. When peace was restored to the country, translation work was also revived and God again made a way for the work that was started to be finished. The complete Bible is now available for the Kpelle and Kisi languages, the Vai and Bandi New Testaments were also printed and as of today three Bible translation programs (Bandi, Dan, and Maan) continue to promote reading and use of newly translated Bibles.

Even in the midst of the most terrible storms of life, God is faithful. In the darkest of circumstances, His will for His people stands firm. We have the Word of God as a testament of His faithfulness through the generations. His story continues as He works through His people today.

Alvina Federwitz and her late husband, Rev. Dale Federwitz, began their missionary career with the Lutheran Bible Translators in 1971. She currently serves as Mission Participation Coordinator for Lutheran Bible Translators. She retired from full-time service in 2017 but continues to serve in an adjunct capacity.

Click Here to listen to Alvina share her experiences in Liberia.

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