Monthly Archives: August 2018

Francophone Africa

African countries with French as a national or dominant language

As you can see, there are actually lots of countries in Africa which have French as an official language as one sort or another —together they are called francophone Africa. When we started working in DR Congo (DRC), we had to first spend time learning French, because French is the language of government and higher education in the DRC.

Francophone Africa reaches from the DRC in central Africa, to a large chunk of West Africa, as can be seen in the map above. But it isn’t just the geography of this area that is impressive; francophone Africa also includes about half of the remaining Bible translation needs in Africa (details at

While English speaking Nigeria has an astounding 344 languages with no scripture whatsoever, every other non-francophone language has less than 50. On the other hand, the needs are much larger in francophone countries for a variety of reasons: Cameroon has 139, DR Congo has 115, Chad has 74, and CAR has 53 (stats as of Oct 1, 2017).

In terms of the availability of workers, another reality of life in francophone Africa is that one cannot simply go there and work in English (unlike in countries like Kenya or Uganda, where English is an official language). This means more training, preparation and finances, resulting in fewer people ready to do the work. It also means French-speaking translators and linguists have fewer resource and reference materials accessible to the local community.

As we have been thinking and praying about our next assignment with Wycliffe, we have decided to continue to focus on work in francophone Africa. We have the training in French, and we have experience working with Africans under a francophone government. Given that we are ready to meet what remains a real need, we’ll keep at the work in francophone Africa.

So as you think about francophone Africa, pray that the people who live there would have the resources (economically, personally, spiritually, culturally, linguistically) to initiate and sustain local Bible Translation movements, and that we and others like us could do our part to support them.

Changes to our Communication

We have been communicating about our Wycliffe ministry for almost two decades, and during that time we have tried to communicate well in both content and form. Our first newsletter was very plain, with a small picture and lots of text:
Header from the first newsletter we sent

By our next newsletter, we had a title, header, tagline, the Wycliffe logo, and those cool marble bars that came standard with Publisher:
Header from our first Philologos newsletter

Later on, we went minimalist, removing some of the busyness to focus more on verbal and pictorial content, with more white space:
revamped philologos header

Even later, we used pictures as header backgrounds, allowing more visual appeal, but also another place to put a picture, without crowding the rest of the newsletter:

Header for Philologos XIII number 3

In all these reworkings of our newsletter, one thing we had not really re-evaluated is the quarterly two page production itself. Since we joined Wycliffe 17 years ago, we have seen blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other media platforms come (and go). Today our friends and family are more connected by social media than by Email. Similarly, people are more connected by phone than by computer.

Given these changes, it seems that we’ve been writing too much and too little. A two page newsletter is longer than most people seem to read in a single sitting. At the same time, hearing from us each quarter means that an eternity (in social networking time) passes between each newsletter. So, with your permission, we are going to try putting out shorter updates more often.  Don’t worry, those of you who fear missing out on my wordiness will find links to longer articles (like this one) here on our blog. 🙂

I say “with your permission” in all seriousness, because we want to help you be a real part of our work. The last thing we want is to spam anyone, or stuff your inbox with more mail than you asked for. This is one of the reasons we now use Mailchimp, because they don’t allow spam, and because they have a simple unsubscribe function in each footer. But we would love to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns about this change —or about just about anything else. :-)

Our Email address is on each of our Emailed newsletters; if you don’t have one handy, you can also send us a message through our Wycliffe ministry page, through the “Finances/Write Us” link above right (or below on mobile devices), which goes here.

We welcome your feedback! Tell us what you think, and we’ll see what we can do.
Our goal, after all, is to communicate well.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always
in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
—Philippians 1:3-5 (ESV)