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James's Story

Bible translation is about more than memorizing and repeating scripture. While these are necessary components, the real key to translation is the internalization and narration of a story. It’s just the same as the difference between writing “I will never again lie about not doing my homework,” 1,000 times and actually never lying again about not doing your homework - the former can play a part in leading you to the latter, but is not an end in and of itself.

When a Bible narrator can finally take hold of a story they’ve learned, passionately applying it to their lives and encouraging others to do the same, this is when Bible translation actually happens. 

James Kangwa is no stranger to this process. He’s seen translation transform his own life and is now actively working to make sure it does the same in his community. The encouragement of Christian Elders in his village first prompted James to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus. “After that, I continued to learn and then even convinced others to believe.”


James cannot understate the importance of involving community in the translation process. He says this is the reason for his faith now, and is essential for God’s word to continue to spread. James is clearly a community man. He is quick to smile and chuckles almost constantly with his buddies around the fire during the week of Seed Company workshops. He waves to neighbors and shouts a quick greeting, and holds his baby daughter, Elina, just like any good dad would do.

“A good life is learning and talking with community,” he says.

The gospel has done more than connect James with his community. Before he believed, he says he often had horrible dreams filled with bad spirits. These dreams would repeat themselves over and over, and James was desperate to alleviate them.

“One of the worst dreams I used to have, I would be going to stay somewhere and spirits would attack me, taking out my heart. I would wake up, my heart racing.”

The elders shared scripture with James, they shared with him the power Jesus has as Savior - from all past, present and future sins. Believing in this power was the only way the bad dreams finally stopped. James began to call on the name of Jesus after a dream and eventually, they stopped all together.

The power of the word of God eradicated James’ dreams and it’s with that same power James hopes to help his neighbors sift through their cultural beliefs in order to find truth. There is now only one God he wants to follow.

“I share the word of God in order for the community to change their beliefs. We believe in many things that are ungodly things, especially when sacrifices are done. I want these to completely change. God is the creator of the heavens and we should only worship him.”

Photos by Esther Havens

Written by Kelsi Williamson


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