God is opening the door for the French translation of Bible First to reach West Africa!
An Invitation to Africa
Kelsie Steele · March 12, 2023
It’s not every day you have a Zoom meeting with a missionary in West Africa.
Early this year, Joshua had just that opportunity. A rousing planning meeting was held with 3 other men: Nate, a missionary to Africa, David, a young man familiar with our Bible First lessons and excited about evangelism, and our teammate, Nathan Day. Their mission: to bring Bible First Online to West Africa.
Nate, who is on the ground in West Africa, is coordinating a spring outreach along with David and other friends in the U.S. These men believe that Bible First Online could be an effective tool for them to communicate the gospel. They first hope to use Facebook ads to find interested readers for Good and Evil. Then, to those who click on the ad and read a full chapter of Good and Evil, they would like to extend an invitation to Bible First.
This opportunity for Bible First to go further afield is exactly what we envisioned back when it was only a few years old. We were successfully using BF in Ukraine, but we realized its potential to reach people all over the world. Our desire has been that missionaries and churches worldwide could translate BF lessons and host their own correspondence ministries. For this reason, we’ve spent a lot of time creating a complex web application for Bible First and preparing for additional languages.
Enter the Africa Project. The language needed for effective ministry in West Africa is French. We do have a French translation of all 20 lessons, but there are several hurdles to overcome to make it ready for the online platform. First, it has to be converted to a plain-text format called AsciiDoc so that our web application can read and understand it. All of the user interface (e.g. instructions such as “add student, grade quiz, comment, etc.”) must be ready in French. Lesson questions and their answers have to be input in yet another format.
On the Zoom call, the men determined an initial target date of March 1st to have all these things ready. The primary task – transferring the lesson material into plain text – has been undertaken by Nathan Day. Joshua is handling many other programming details. However, early in February, Joshua’s grandmother, “Meme”, unexpectedly passed away; he needed to make a trip to the US to be with his family and speak at the funeral. During that time, Nathan put in many hours of labor getting French lessons into the proper format for the web. (Go, Nathan!!) Although the original March 1st deadline couldn’t be met, the guys are working toward a new goal at the beginning of May.
May God bless this outreach in West Africa! We are thankful for the vision of men like Nate and David. Though we won’t be going there personally (at least not that we know of) we are excited for this powerful ministry tool to be available there very soon!
If you would like to learn more about Nate and his ministry in West Africa, you can visit his website.
Here is a quick look at some of our other ministry projects…
Ukrainian Family Fellowship
We continue to meet with our Ukrainian families each Friday evening for snacks, singing, and fellowship. Serhii Voronyuk has been bringing us lessons on the names of God and the encouragement we can draw from them. He is good at getting everyone in the group to contribute their ideas!
These Ukrainian families have gone through many losses and face uncertain futures and difficult decisions. We believe and hope that our Friday times together are an encouragement to them as they move forward by faith.
Good and Evil
We are excited to report that as of this writing, we’ve shipped 243 cases of Good and Evil books. At 18 books per case, that means nearly 1/3 of the 15,000 copies we printed last summer are in the hands of Ukrainians! We currently have over 50 distributors signed up in our distribution program, and orders for Good and Evil books continue to come in. We’re grateful for Tanya Herasimova, who is helping to oversee the G&E distribution project and our Ukrainian Bible First students.
Trips to L’viv
Joshua and I were invited to L’viv to teach a marriage retreat in February, but unfortunately, that had to be postponed due to concerns with the war. However, our whole family is planning to visit L’viv in about a week! While we are there, Joshua and I will be submitting applications for our residency to be renewed, as we do each year.
It’s probable we will need to make trips to Ukraine in April and perhaps in May. We feel like the time may also be drawing near for us to return there permanently. The electricity crisis has stabilized, and from everything we know, living in L’viv does not pose a significant threat to the safety of our family. We are praying for God to give us clear guidance in this decision.
How You Can Pray
- Pray for Joshua and Nathan’s successful completion of the Bible First Online French Project, and for God to open the hearts of people in Africa.
- Pray for our upcoming trips to Ukraine.
- Pray for successful renewal of our residency in Ukraine.
- Pray for God’s direction for our family regarding a permanent return to Ukraine.
- Pray for preparations for our CMO project this summer.
- Pray for peace and liberty in Ukraine.
Keep scrolling for more photos of our life and ministry in Eastern Europe…