Eighty-one-year-old retired Wycliffe missionary John Lindskoog looked into the face of a Chachi man, Santiago Añapa, at the dedication of the Scriptures in the Chachi language last month, culminating 53 years of translation work.
“If you had not come, where would we be now?” asked Añapa, referring to the Wycliffe missionaries who have seen the project of translating Genesis, Exodus and the entire New Testament through to completion.
Uncharacteristically, Añapa then broke into sobs, according to Neil Wiebe*, who along with his wife, Ruth, headed the project since 1970 after receiving it from Lindskoog and his wife, Carrie.
“Twenty sets of 40 CDs of Mártires Tapuyo’s recording of the Chachi Scriptures, a five-CD chronological series of 40 lessons on the character of God, and a CD of Chachi music are intended for group use in Chachi communities that agree to listen to them regularly,” said Wiebe. Tapuyo has been one of the main Chachi translation workers for several years.
Lindskoog’s grown children had convinced him to make a final trip to Ecuador for the mid-August event at Zapallo Grande, a town along the Cayapas River in Esmeraldas province. All five of his adult children, a daughter-in-law and six adult grandchildren accompanied him while the Wiebes’ grown daughter, Melody, was also there.
Arriving at Zapallo Grande by canoe from a church two hours downriver, Chachi believers and people from nearby settlements filled the church to overflowing for the Sunday, Aug. 17, dedication. Lindskoog recounted highlights of mission and translation work and Wiebe described specifics, such as expressing key biblical terms with descriptive Chachi phrases instead of borrowing from Spanish.
“I concluded by saying that this work was our offering, first to God but also to the Chachi people,” Wiebe said.
“The official publisher of the Chachi Scriptures is the Bible League, directed in Ecuador by Milton Bustos. His overnight bus trip to Esmeraldas province went awry when bandits held up the bus, robbed those on board and took control of the bus when a police chase ensued.
“The thieves managed to escape, but not before Milton was thrown against a solid object, and he sustained a broken vertebra,” said Wiebe. But his enthusiasm hasn’t waned as he and Mártires will be training Chachi leaders to use simple Bible study guides “such as the one we have just translated for the Gospel of John,” he added.
HCJB Global has a triple tie-in to the translation project’s continuing ministry among the Chachi, who number about 15,000. “Jim Childs, an HCJB Global Voice engineer, enabled us to hook up small 12-volt Gel-Pak batteries to solar panels which are to power the CD players,” Wiebe said. “We trust that the printed and audio forms will complement and stimulate the use of each other.”
In addition, it was the final project of HCJB Global’s Vozandes Printshop before permanently closing. Through the decades, Bibles in the indigenous languages of Cofán and Waorani (Auca) have rolled off the mission’s presses.
While still doing translation work, Tapuyo had begun collaborative work with HCJB Global Hands engineer César Cortez who serves in clean water projects. Serving as a liaison between water technicians and Chachi communities, Tapuyo ensures comprehension of the project rationale and Chachi participation in the work.
“Mártires is working full time for water projects on the Cayapas River, teaching hygiene and preaching the gospel,” Cortez added. “Part of his work is to producing hygiene material with the Ministry of Education as part of the official curriculum for the Chachis’ next school year.” Story posted: Sept. 22, 2008
*In a 1984 Radio Station HCJB Interview, Neil describes the work among the Chachi to interviewer Paul Bell.