Originally published in The Christian Post
Christian missionaries and Bible translators in Cameroon say they’re continuing to spread God’s Word to the people even as violence mounts and fears of a genocide continue to grow in the troubled African country.
Efi Tembon, the executive director of Wycliffe Associates’ Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy, told Mission Network News on Monday that the French-speaking military attacks on the English-speaking southwest, which is seeking autonomy, are pushing the nation to the brink of civil war.
Deployed military causing atrocities
“It’s actually like a genocide where the war is going on in one part of the country, in the English-speaking part of the country. The military has been deployed in that part of the country and they are causing horrible atrocities,” Tembon said.
He said that the violence has forced 30 000 people to flee as refugees in Nigeria, while over 200 000 people have been internally displaced. A number of the victims are women and children, who are hiding in the bush without food, protection, or medical care.
Tembon revealed that military troops have burned homes and shot civilians in the southwest.
“The people decided to fight back, so they have young people who get together and form their own groups in communities to defend their communities. So they ambush soldiers, they take weapons from soldiers and when weapons are taken or a soldier is killed, then the military goes out into the community and burns the [homes] and kills more people,” he added.
Wycliffe Associates’ Bible translation projects have been directly affected by the unrest, and some of their local translators have been killed.
“The husband of one of our translators was shot and killed and we had to go rescue them in the forest. They were hiding in the bushes for weeks with babies and even older people,” Tembon said.
“Whole families were hiding in the bushes, so we’ve taken them out into the regional training centre where translation will be taking place now to help them. But even that centre is not safe because it is at the heart of the crisis.”
The translation initiative is seeking to raise $170 000 (over R2.2 million) in donations to restore computers and translation materials that have been damaged and destroyed.
Still reaching out to people
“In the midst of all of the violence, our teams are still working. God’s Word is still spreading. They are still reaching out to people,” Tembon added.
The team has also been responding by providing trauma healing workshop for Christian leaders, so that they are ready to respond to the trauma people in the country are suffering.
Back in June, Bruce Smith, president of Wycliffe Associates, revealed that a local translator by the name of Anka Terence had been killed on May 23 by soldiers in the Ngwo region.
“There has been a number of people that have had their homes burned,” Smith said at the time.
“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.”
AFP meanwhile reports that Cameroon will hold its presidential elections on October 7, as the country struggles to end the violence.
Beside the trouble in the south, the north of the country has also been subjected to attacks by radical terror group Boko Haram from Nigeria.