A mission group that will soon open a new center in a war-torn African country says missionaries often report fewer conflicts once locals absorb the Bible.
Wycliffe Associates, which supplies skilled volunteers to support Bible translation efforts, recently announced it will construct a Bible translation center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The DRC, located in central Africa, has been at war since 1997. The conflict has resulted in some 4 million deaths, with some aid agencies estimating upwards of 1,400 deaths per day because of conflict-related causes, including disease and malnutrition.
World Vision calls the conflict in DRC the deadliest since World War II. Meanwhile, Belgium-based Crisis Group describes the country as the "the site of one of the world's worst ongoing humanitarian crisis."
Amid the turmoil, Wycliffe will establish a permanent language translation center in the city of Bunia, located in the northeastern part of DRC.
"The violence has quieted in the Ituri region of the DRC and Bunia in particular," said Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. "There's a window of peace, of security. If we move quickly, we can establish a permanent translation center. The Christians of the Democratic Republic of Congo are begging for this opportunity not to be missed."
At the translation center, which will be established at Shalom University, the Bible will be translated into five new languages, making it accessible to about 1.6 million for the first time in history.
But aside from making the Bible available in local languages, Wycliffe Associates believes the translation of the scriptures can help reduce violence in the DRC.
"Missionaries tell us again and again that conflict subsides when people begin to absorb the Bible in their own heart language," Smith said.
He added that with the violence in a lull, workers are available right now and the price of building materials have dropped dramatically.
"The work can go forward faster than it ever could have before if we can provide the funding for construction," Smith noted.
Currently, Wycliffe Associates has provided half the funding for the library of the translation center. DRC nationals have made and donated 50,000 bricks and put together a labor force for construction. Wycliffe Associates will also provide volunteers to help with the construction work.
The DRC translation center still needs another $100,000 for construction. Efforts are underway to raise the remaining amount.
Last year, Wycliffe Associates recruited 4,124 volunteers who served in 49 countries alongside Bible translation teams. The organization hopes to mobilize more than 4,800 volunteers this year to serve in 41 countries with building and renovating facilities, constructing roads and airstrips, teach Vacation Bible School, and help with language development and office work, and computer related activities.