The Ngbandi-Ngiri, Lobala, Mono, and Pagabete New Testaments (left-to-right)
In April 2021, Jessica and I traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to participate in the dedication of four New Testaments: Mono, Lobala, Ngbandi-Ngiri, and Pagabete. For me, this was the fulfillment of many years of hard work, sacrifice, and prayer.
In the 1990s, I lived in DRC (then Zaire) doing linguistics research on Mono and laying the groundwork for the Mono New Testament. Together with SIL colleagues and local leaders, we established a writing system for Mono (i.e. alphabet, punctuation, etc.), and this research formed the basis for my PhD dissertation, “The phonology and morphology of Mono.”
In the 2000s, I taught at the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology in a program for training mother-tongue Bible translators. Among my students were the project leaders for the Mono, Lobala, Ngbandi-Ngiri, and Pagabete translation projects.
In the mid-2000s, these project leaders “took the reigns” and began translating. There were difficult circumstances along the way (e.g. funding issues), but the translators persevered and brought the four New Testaments to completion.
Now the Mono, Lobala, Ngbandi-Ngiri, and Pagabete people can read the New Testament for themselves!
Recently, NBC News broadcast a couple of reports about Central African Republic. Besides telling about UNICEF’s work there, the reports also give a good overview of the current political and humanitarian crisis there.
From the Today Show, March 6, 2019 (about 10 minutes long):
From the NBC Nightly News, March 10, 2019 (about 5 minutes long):
One of the languages that I’ve worked with as a linguistics consultant is Ngbugu, spoken by about 95,000 people in the Basse-Kotto prefecture in Central African Republic.
The Ngbugu translation project began in 1994, but it has seen many setbacks over the years, particularly the death of several of the mother-tongue translators. In 2015, the team asked me to help them resolve some issues with the writing system (alphabet and punctuation). It turned out that Ngbugu speakers were having trouble reading the Scripture portions that had been translated. To make a long story short, we revised the way they were writing the vowels and tones in the languages. Subsequent testing showed that the Ngbugu people were able to read the language much better.
The Ngbugu New Testament translation is slated to be completed in 2020. I was very happy that we were able to resolve these issues before they printed the New Testament!
For more information about Ngbugu, check out the following links:
Tucked away in one artery of the Mayo Clinic subway system is a series of posters put together by Mayo staff entitled, 12 Habits of Highly Healthy People. Here’s the list:
1. Physical activity
3. Portion sizes
4. Preventive healthcare testing
5. Adequate sleep
6. Try something new
7. Strength and flexibility
9. Family and friends
10. Address addictive behaviors
11. Quiet your mind
The posters discuss health benefits related to each habit. I was intrigued by the list, because it includes things that have long been promoted by religion (e.g. forgiveness, quieting your mind, gratitude). For example, forgiveness reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, builds the immune system, improves heart health, and reduces the symptoms of depression. Here’s more from Mayo on forgiveness:
In 2015, we traveled as a family to Yaoundé, Cameroon so that I could participate in a workshop to analyze the tone systems of several languages from Central African Republic. While I was busy studying the intricacies of the Ngbugu language, Jessica worked on producing a 4-minute video about the workshop. Here is the result. Enjoy!
From 1993 to 1995, I (Ken) lived in the town of Bili, in the northwestern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (at the time known as “Zaire”). The sojourn left an indelible mark on my life, which I remember with great fondness.
Recently, Heather Pubols traveled to Bili with Marie Yalemoto in order to visit the Mono language community. She did a splendid job of documenting the trip on her blog. It brought back a flood of memories as I viewed the postings. Below are links to the blog entries. If you only have time to read one, read “It Takes a Village.”
One of the basic building blocks in our marriage is spending quality time together. No TV, no distractions, just face-to-face undivided attention (usually with a cup of licorice-mint tea; it’s really quite good!). Quality time is Jessica’s main love language, and she is most happy if she gets lots of it. It’s hard to fit it into a busy schedule, but it is oh so important! Willard Harley, in his book His Needs, Her Needs, puts it this way:
If a husband seriously wants to meet his wife’s need to feel close to him, he will give the task sufficient time and attention. I tell male clients they should learn to set aside fifteen hours a week to give their wives undivided attention. Many men look at me as if they think I’m losing my mind, or they just laugh and say, “In other words, I need a thirty-six-hour day.” I don’t bat an eye, but simply ask them how much time they spent giving their wives undivided attention during their courting days. Any bachelor who fails to devote something close to fifteen hours a week to his girlfriend faces the strong likelihood of losing her. (Harley 2001: 65)
Some things are just plain worth prioritizing!
Harley, Willard F. 2001.  His needs, her needs: Building an affair-proof marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.