A Cameroonian Bible translator was attacked and narrowly escaped death when a white vehicle drove towards his house on 23 May 2018.
He said: “Bullets were flying out of the car towards me. But by the power of God, I was able to escape all the bullets and none of the bullets hit me and I escaped. I ran and hid far away in the bushes.”
The attackers “knocked down the windows and doors. They knocked down everything and set fire on the house. The house is completely burnt and nothing is left. I thank God because before they came, my family was already out of the house. My wife, my mother, and children were out of the house.”
The translator now lives with his family in the bush exposed and vulnerable to diseases and wildlife.
“My children are still too young and I don’t know what I can do now. I am stranded and do not have anything. I have nothing left except the clothes on me; I had them on that morning. All my documents have been burnt, except my ID card that was on me…. I trust in the Living God that I serve, else I should not be here talking now,” he said.
Anka Terence, another Bible translator, was killed by soldiers in the Ngwo region on May 23rd.
Bruce Smith with Wycliffe Associates which has worked with Bible translation partners in Cameroon for about 25 years says the conflict “goes back to the post-colonial season of their history where there was a French-speaking portion of the country and an English-speaking portion of the country that eventually unified to create a federation, which is the current Cameroon. But unfortunately, the people in the western part of the English-speaking majority area has not felt adequately represented or regarded in terms of the governance of the country.”
The English speaking region declared its independence from the Cameroonian government and have faced violent repression since late last year which has displaced more than 160,000 people and forced more than 21,000 to flee to Nigeria.
“There has been a number of people that have had their homes burned,” Smith says. “They have had to flee into the bush…. The problem is the violence just seems to continue to be escalating with no end in sight. We’re concerned, naturally, for the people of the country, but also for the progress of Bible translation there as well.”
As a result, Smith says, there is “a huge disruption to the whole family of Bible translation projects that are going on.” Smith however pointed out that “the Church is not really a target in this process, but unfortunately as the Church leaders have tried to mediate this disagreement between different parts of the country, they have also been targeted in lawsuits by the government and basically intimidated in order to back down so that they wouldn’t continue to influence the process.”
Mission Network News said Wycliffe is currently working on 85 translation projects in Cameroon. The ministry is hoping to recover lost manuscripts and digital files for the translation projects and resume its efforts in translating the Bible in western Cameroon.