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Splash is a Bible translator. He belongs to a small team, just three San people working to translate a written version of the Bible in the San language, Khwedam. He also works closely with the Seed Company field coordinator, Eben Le Roux, on the oral translation project in the Khwe communities of Northern Botswana. In the past five years, Splash has helped translate and write numerous Bible stories including those found in Jonah, Genesis and throughout the Gospels.

Translating Scripture is difficult, and he has sacrificed much for it. Most days, Splash only gets through 10 verses of Scripture. The work is tedious and keeps him very busy, and to be quite honest, he could make more money in another line of work. But the sacrifice seems little in light of what he believes his community will gain.

“If I left the project, the translation would collapse,” he says. “If the translation collapses, it means our people will not know the Word of God.”

Outside of the community of San believers, the Scriptures and God’s true character are unknown among the San. Without an eternal belief system rooted in truth, the San people face difficulties – including addictions to alcohol and a lack of respect for each other.

“God right now for our people is not a positive force but that is because of a lack of knowledge of who He really is.”

When Splash discovered our Creator‘s true character through the work of translation, his perceptions about God changed. In fact, when Splash was first hired by Lutheran Bible Translators to begin translating the Bible, he didn’t believe what the Bible said was actually true.

“My family – my brothers and my father – were Christians. I didn’t believe, but I knew Christianity could help other people. At first, I just wanted to speak for my people and for our language to be standardized.” 

It didn’t take long for Splash to change his mind about the real meaning of the work he was doing. As he began to pour over Scripture day in and day out, he could’t help but see it as good news, saving news, for himself and for his people. 

 

“The more I read the Bible, it told me a lot of things. What made me believe was the understanding of God as I was reading the Bible. I realized that God is the only God that created the Heavens and the earth, and He so loved us that He put us in a garden He made for us to live in. He created us in His image.”

Splash is living a new life – a transformed life – fully committed to his new identity in Jesus, sacrifices and all. And in the midst of all of the hard work, he’s giving his life away. He’s a mentor for new believers who are just beginning to know God’s word; working hard to be a humble servant, versus an authoritative leader. As for his dreams? Someday, he wants to record Gospel music in Khwe.

“Splash is someone who is very dedicated to spreading the word of God,” Eben says.

Before we returned home, Splash took us to Tsdillo Hills – the place many Khwe people consider their ancestor’s original home. The hills are an anomaly against the flat, desert landscape of northern Botswana. They rise and drop quickly with shadows keeping the earth beneath them cool and wet. Rumors of lions followed us throughout the day, as we searched for painted rocks telling stories from the Khwe’s earliest days as a tribe.

It’s a place many are proud of, and a refuge reminding Splash and his people of their original roots and the way God created them to be. So often, this identity for the Khwe and other San people is so often marred or forgotten by the world. Splash is hopeful the work he has been called to do will change this.

“If the project continues, I think there will be an impact to my society, like there was an impact in myself,” he says. “A lot of people who are lost, will know the direction. Then I think the spirit of jealousness and pride — those things will be reduced.” 

As we sat on the large, blue stones of the hills, Splash talked about the difference translation work will bring for the identity of his people. He doesn’t want to abandon the many good attributes of his ancestors, but fully believes that it’s only through God – the God of the Bible – that true goodness can be reached. He will continue to work until the entire Bible is translated he says, for each part is necessary and important for his people to read.

Photos by Esther Havens
Written by Kelsi Williamson