Do you have a favorite book? Maybe a paperback that you’ve read over and over or a treasured book from childhood? If so, you know what happens when paper publications are well-used over a period of years. Dog-eared, tattered, loose or missing pages. Perhaps you replaced the book when the original copy became unusable. Many people, like the Subula* in Cameroon, haven’t had that option.
Elliot and Serena Derricks began service with the Subula translation project last year. Another organization worked with this language community in Cameroon 40 years ago, but that project was discontinued after only a few Biblical and literacy materials were completed. The Derricks were surprised and gratified to learn that some of those materials had been preserved by a faithful Subula man who steadfastly awaited the day when a new translation project would begin.
Another surprise discovery was the Subula songbook. “The songbook was last printed in 1989,” said Elliot. “Due to the many years that have passed and the harsh climate, only a few of the books still exist. We will often see a group of 15 people or more gathered around a single book to sing together.” The Derricks are currently working to digitalize the songbook, and have it reprinted.
Enthusiasm for the new translation project is high among the community. Commenting on a recent workshop Elliot said, “We had about 30 participants, each selected by their communities, that represented nine of the twelve dialects of Subula. The workshop went even better than we had envisioned with an incredible amount of data being compiled and great relationships built.”
The workshop participants were also able to examine the materials preserved from the previous translation project. “There was so much joy when the boxes were brought out it was quite emotional,” Elliot remarked. “It was interesting to observe the participants reading Mark and pointing out the errors in spelling or wording that they saw, confirming to us that a revision will be necessary.”
Soon the Subula will be able to sing from new copies of their songbook. And after a 40-year wait, they can finally look forward to the day when God’s Word will be available to them in a language they understand. But there is much work to be done before Subula speakers can hold the Subula Bible in their hands. You can help support this project as the translation team and Subula community implement translation and literacy work. Click here to learn more.
*Pseudonym used due to sensitive situation