My wife and I recently visited our friend Christine, a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators, working in Cameroon.
In this picture, Christine is meeting with two of the first people to ever learn to read and write in the Bamukumbit language. She has lived in their village for many years, learning their language and developing an alphabet with which it can be written. As a single woman, she is the only “white man” (as they call her) in the village or for miles around. In this meeting, they were listening to an audio recording of village folk stories and proverbs, and transcribing them into written form. They were working together to expand vocabulary, understand the language’s grammatical construction and develop forms of spelling that will be useable by the villagers.
They are now in the early stages of developing literacy programs to enable children and adults to read in their own language. And in anticipation of the much longer vision of Bible translation, a few children’s Bible stories have been written in Bamukumbit. This is one of the first things ever printed in the language.
The Bamukumbit people are a small ethnic group in Northwest Cameroon. There are only 15,000 of them, of whom 8,000 still live in their traditional village. What a wonderful picture of the love of God. No group of people is too small to invest in. Christine and her colleagues are willing to pour their lives for years, even decades, to make the Bible available to this small group of people in their mother tongue, “Bamukumbit-talk”. We are told not to “despise one of these little ones” for it is not the will of the Father that “one of these little ones should perish” (Mt 18:10,14). Perhaps that includes “one of these little” people groups. The world at large will barely notice the impact, but the Father’s heart is pleased with those like Christine who immerse themselves in the eternal welfare of the little ones in remote obscurity. Such is the work of a true African Queen.