Welcome to our blog!
We would like to share a little about ourselves and the Landuma work so you can get acquainted with us. We both became believers in Jesus as young adults, Yolanda in Louisiana, Kirk in California. God lead us to good churches which taught the Word of God and were obeying the Great Commission of our Lord to make disciples of all nations. We saw God’s command (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, etc.), and the worldwide need (thousands of people groups with no Bible, no Gospel witness in their own language), and knew we needed to invest our earthly lives in the “regions beyond.”
We each began missionary training at NTM’s Bible Institute in Wisconsin, and it is there that we met in 1985. We were married in 1986, and continued on in the missionary training course.
While in missionary training we learned about the spiritual needs of the people of Guinea, West Africa. The country had been closed to missions for decades, but had just recently opened their doors, and were welcoming God’s ambassadors to enter and help their people. Though 85% of Guineans profess a religion hostile to Christian witness, the government remains officially secular, and freedom of speech and religion is the law of the land.
Guinea has about 40 African ethnic groups, whose populations range from 1000 individuals to over 3 million. Most of these groups have very few or no Christian believers. Only a small minority of the people groups has a mature church. We could see that this was a place where much remained to be done, a place where we could invest our lives in service to our Lord.
After five years of training and a year of partnership development, we left for Guinea, in January, 1991. We were accompanied by our sons Colin, 3 1/2, and Cameron, 2.
We spent a year living in the city of Boké (pronounced “bo-kay”), learning French, the official language of Guinea, and getting accustomed to life in Africa. During that year Colton was born in the nearby city of Kamsar. And our daughter Kayla was born in 1994, in Ivory Coast.
While living in Boké we learned about the needs among the Landuma people group. We learned that they practice a mix of animistic African traditional religion and the country’s dominant religion, and that there were no known true believers in Jesus among them. Very little had been done in the way of linguistic analysis of the Landuma language, and there was no alphabet, and of course no books, and no Bible – not even one verse of Scripture had been translated. This was just the sort of people group we believed the Lord was calling us to serve among. So in January, 1992, we moved into the Landuma village which remains our home to this day.
Together with our coworkers we began learning the language and culture of the Landuma people. Our goal was to come to know the Landumas, as they came to know us, building strong relationships with them and becoming fluent communicators in the process. We wished to translate the Scriptures into their language, and teach them God’s Word, especially the good news about Jesus, so that they could come to know God and worship Him in spirit and in truth. We wanted to see the Landuma church born, and grow to maturity.
We applied the tools and skills we had learned in missionary training to the task of learning a new culture and an unwritten language. Eventually Kirk was able to develop an alphabet. A key helper in this work was Masalu, a young man from our village who had studied French some years previously. He quickly learned to write his language, and helped us compile the dictionary, and transcribe many stories which we had recorded on cassette tapes.
Progress in language and culture learning was slowed by technical challenges of teaching a DOS computer to write, display, and print phonetic symbols and the Landuma language; by Kirk’s need to leave the village to provide consultant help other missionaries from time to time; by a home assignment in 1995-1996; and, later, by Kirk’s involvement in field leadership. During this time we also assisted our coworkers Jim and Carol Sheffield in producing a series of literacy primers, so that we could teach Landumas to read and write their language.
In 1998 Kirk had achieved sufficient fluency that he was able to begin Bible translation and Bible lesson development. Yolanda’s progress to fluency was much slower, due to her home schooling the children and homemaking.
TRANSLATING AND TEACHING
Masalu and Kirk began translating portions of the Word of God needed for the firm foundations evangelistic Bible lesson series we planned to develop. Initially Masalu was on his guard, not wishing to be drawn away from his religion. But by the time we had finished translating the portions from the Old Testament (a total of about 1000 verses), he was convinced that the Bible was truly God’s Word, no matter what his religious teachers had told him all his life. He was also convinced that he was a sinner who couldn’t save himself by his prayers, fasting, and other “works of righteousness.” So as we began translating portions from the Gospels, and Masalu heard the truth about Jesus, he knew he had to trust Him and be saved. He believed in September of 1999.
When we finished translating the portions needed from the Gospels, we began writing the Bible lessons. We taught these to Abulay and another man from the village in the spring of 2000. Abulay believed in Jesus at that time.
We have taught Bible lessons in three villages, and to various individuals, but the growth of the Landuma church has been very slow. Few Landumas are willing to listen to God’s Word taught, because they believe it is an inferior message. Since they believe they are already in the only one true religion for today, why would they want to listen to the teachings of an antiquated, outdated religion, the scriptures of which have been corrupted by men who reject the truth? Those who have believed are persecuted, threatened and marginalized by their families and neighbors, which makes others afraid.
Kirk and Masalu continue to translate God’s Word. We are working on Acts and the letters of the New Testament, that the believers might be taught and grounded in their faith.
Please PRAY for the church planting effort among the Landumas!