From Refugee To Bible Translation Work
August 21, 2023

Buta Kapoko Domingos cannot believe how God has changed his life! He grew up as a refugee child with no experience of ever having as much as a pair of shoes, a school bag, or even lunch. He never imagined he would be part of Bible translation work. After he and his family fled Angola during the war, they tried to settle in Namibia. Life was exceedingly difficult for his family throughout his childhood years as they were fully reliant upon organisations like the United Nations and UNICEF whom, he reflects, were like their parents. But refugee status is not something that lasts forever - in June 2012, their refugee status came to an end, and they were forced to stand on their own feet.

Buta and his family were living the kind of daily challenge for survival that is hard to describe. In his desperation, he tried to look for work in his home country of Angola, but things went from bad to worse, and he ended up becoming very sick and unable to work. He was forced to return to Namibia to recover.

His friend Jundo Zeferino asked him to come and work at Kunene Power Station Christian Academy as a Portuguese language teacher. For nine difficult years, he gave it his all, even being appointed as headmaster for five years. But he mostly received no income, which brought him unimaginable stress as he needed to provide for his children, his siblings and his parents.

But, God had an unfolding plan.

Mid-2022 Buta’s old friend, Pastor Rizera Hipakua, paid him a visit to discuss an intriguing idea. Pastor Rizera is a man who desires to devote himself to God, and passionately shared his vision and dream about a Bible ministry in Namibia. He whispered in anticipation that he had seen on the internet that there was a possibility to help their Namibian, indigenous community. He shared his dream with Buta - he wanted to see something happen to bring transformation to the people they so loved, and he wanted Buta to be involved. Buta felt surprised, but enthralled, and he thought, “What kind of vision is this? Count me in, I definitely want to be part of this!”

Things started to move quickly, and Buta and others were invited to travel to Zambia for orientation and training – where the real challenge began. Buta had no passport, and wouldn’t be able to get one any time soon. The complication was deeply upsetting for him because he felt that he would miss out on possibly the most exciting opportunity of his life – to serve God in Bible translation – because he didn't have the money, resources, or a passport! He felt powerless to change his circumstances because his ID did not match up with his actual name. This, he explained, is part of the difficulty of growing up as a refugee in another country. His uncle had applied for his ID when Buta was 10 years old, and somehow the incorrect name was processed. The Department of Home Affairs told Buta that they could not help him and that he needed to apply to the courts, and that would not take less than a year!

But, God had an unfolding plan.

In a wonderful plot twist, a high-ranking lawyer and government official heard Buta speaking at the Department of Home Affairs, and he spoke to Buta privately outside the building. He said he would personally go through all the correct channels and would expedite his passport application. That man followed through on his promise, and in no time, Buta had his passport! More amazingly, God wove that man into His preparations to bring about the new Bible translation project in Angola. That man was himself Angolan, but he was not a Christian. He was invited to meet the leaders of Bible translation work in that region, and somehow in that meeting, God deeply touched his heart. He had originally only been interested in the work from a practical perspective, but as he related with the other men, God opened his heart. He was overcome with emotion and couldn’t stop crying as he asked for prayer. Buta had the opportunity to say to him that God had chosen him for a purpose. He expressed his new desire to take his relationship with God seriously, and since then, he has become increasingly excited about the Angolan Bible translation project. He is part of the project in an advisory capacity, and keeps checking in with Buta and others to see how the plans are developing - he doesn't want to miss a single detail!

By God’s grace, Buta was able to go through the orientation and training. As he went through the curriculum, he could feel passion and joy stirring up in his heart. The vision and mission to equip local heart-language speakers to become Bible translators excited him. “My testimony is this: in such a short space of time, and only through just having become involved in this work, my life has been radically changed on multiple levels.”

Now, it was action time! He found a Project Coordinator - none other than Jundo Zeferino, his long-time friend who had helped him get that teaching job so many years ago. Jundo is a trained and professional teacher and also an Angolan national who lived in Namibia. Since then, they have worked together to build relationships with local authorities, pastors and different community leaders to establish all that is needed to start the project. Currently, there are six language surveys scheduled to take place over July and August. They are establishing a board, identifying a national team, finding the languages in need of Bible translation, finding a location for the national office and a place to host the training. Once that is complete, the first step will be to provide Diploma in Bible Translation (DBT) training planned for October.

The progress in Angola is truly inspiring! Stay tuned for God's unfolding plan in our next blog where we will share a few stories of what God is doing in people's lives all the way across the globe in Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia.

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