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I grew up as a missionary kid in Kenya. My parents worked with a remote people group in the northern desert; a place so remote no roads could take you there. They were on a team that had been sent to begin the task of translating the Bible into the local language.

This was no trivial undertaking, and at the time a devastating famine had just hit the area. The translation leaders, Nick and Lynne Swanepoel took it upon themselves to respond to the dire needs in the area. Teaming up with locals and internationals, they brought in aid, fed people, cared for the sick, and spent themselves in service of the local community. Later they started a school and a literacy project for those who wanted to learn, collaborating with the community elders about which topics would be of most use: camel care and health.

The team grew to be dearly loved and respected in the community. When portions of the Bible were translated and shared, they swept through the entire region like a tidal wave: people loved the Bible. Lives were transformed. And they wanted to know more.

34 years later their initial goal was finally accomplished: The New Testament translation was finally completed.

After my family moved from Kenya to the UK, I was desperate to go back. My parents promised that we would go back when the translation was complete. Each year came and went with no such news. Eventually I grew into adulthood and moved to South Africa. It was all a distant memory. But then one day the translation was suddenly complete, and news reached me that they were going to have a massive celebration. By some divine string of events I was able to represent Wycliffe South Africa in the capacity of photographer.

And so I returned to this almost forgotten place from my childhood to celebrate a project which had taken longer than my entire lifespan to complete.

(Thats me and and my big brother!)

I was moved by the dedication of the people on the project: long years had been spent in harsh conditions to do work that was not for their own benefit. It brought home to me how the truly great things cannot be accomplished with shortcuts or paths which seek to completely avoid suffering.

I had the special privilege of interviewing some of the team I had known since childhood, and capturing some of the story in this video:


A much greener landscape than my childhood memories. In order to protect trees a local committee has instituted a policy that anyone who chops down a tree will have to pay a fine of one goat.

The Samburu and some Rendille live in huts like these. Traditionally the would have been covered in animal hide.

The Rendille lead a traditionally nomadic life, depending on herds of goats and especially camels for survival. Picture on the right: the airport. You are looking at the runway.

Nowhere is too remote for football.

Children always want to be in a photo!

The celebration commences with dancing and singing!

The large crowd overflows the tents provided.

The young are just as excited about this, and they are not excluded from having a voice and a presence at this celebration.

She may be old, but she has not lost her child-like playfulness! Taking a “photo” of me taking a photo of her

More dancing and then a procession to deliver some packages…

Large colourfully wrapped boxes are handed over to be ceremonially unwrapped…

The box, and then its contents are raised high in triumphant celebration.

Such is the excitement that everyone is crowding around to see and get photos of the first printed Bibles. Even us official media people were having a hard time getting a glimpse!

A prayer is said to dedicate these Bibles to God

Emotions running high at this historic moment.

Celebrations continue, and people begin queuing up to get a copy of the Bible.

The new church building: many times the size of an older building that once stood in its place. This large building is full and overflowing on Sundays.

Even with a wide lens, I couldn’t capture in one shot the amount of people in the church. This shot is just one side of it!

Choirs take their turns singing, including the group on the left who have traveled for days to be here

Congregants using their Bibles in church for the very first time!

Jennifer Sophie

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