πετροστελος

April 3, 2009

I was a soldier / Je fut militaire

A few years ago I was teaching a course in church history in Bangui, and one of my students came to see me.  He wanted to explain why he was studying at the seminary.  He said to me in French, “Je fut militaire” (I was a soldier).

I remember this because of the simple past tense, which is literary and sounds funny in spoken French.  He had been a rebel soldier and had spent years in the forest of Congo on the opposite side of the Ubangi river from Bangui; as a rebel, he could not return to Bangui until President Ange-Félix Patassé was deposed by François Bozizé, the current President.  While in the forest, he said, they had little to eat and nothing to do. They started reading the Bible together and praying, and so the soldiers in this new church elected my student to come to seminary to become an army chaplain and to lead them as a pastor.
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March 27, 2009

Beka Project 1999

dominique-barthelemy-et-francois-2

I had an occasion to help the Beka Project in Central African Republic in 1999.  We held a seminar on how to do Greek word studies and one on New Testament textual criticism.  The participants were two Bayaka, Barthelemy and Francois, and their translation consultant, Dominique.  I presented in French and Dominque translated into Bayaka or Sango (it’s all Greek to me).

After learning about the many variants in the New Testament, Barthelemy said that he was greatly encouraged, because before he heard this, he had great fear that he might inadvertently make a mistake in translating and that God would be angry with him. But once he learned that there was certain level of precision which was missing even in the NT text, it was as though he was relieved of a great burden.  Later, he spread the news of the seminar to all the pygmies in the forest and all of them learned the glories of NT textual criticism.

The Beka Project continues.  Today, I posted their latest newsletter plus an archive of the newsletters between 2006-2008.  I’ve also published a booklet, A Journey to the Center of Africa:  First Impressions (1999) about my first trip to CAR and my visit to the Londo, the pygmy village deep in the forest near Congo Brazzaville.

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