Wait, you’re what?

by Amanda Ernst

Otherwise Entitled: A Story That’s Maybe Slightly Confusing Because There Are Two Daves…

Ernst Family 2021
Ernst Family 2021

In 2019 Dave (Ernst) was contacted by his former student Dave (Hare), about helping with a Bible translation project he and his wife Stacey are working on for the Kwakum people in Cameroon, Africa. The villagers there had no written language and though many can speak some French, almost none can read it. 

In addition to that, the Kwakum have little to no understanding of many foundational Gospel concepts, such as Grace or gifts freely given (if they give something, they expect something in return). They don’t even have a word for hope! 

Kwakum villagers attending Bible study
Stacy Hare Teaching Bible Stories to Kwakum Women.
Kwakum children learning to read.
Kwakum Children Learning Their Brand New Alphabet

Dave and Stacey have worked tirelessly with the Kwakum to build an alphabet and literacy materials and are now beginning their Bible translation project with a storybook Bible (Read more about that on their website.) and they want it to be filled with high-quality artwork that is relevant to the Kwakum, and symbolism that is meaningful to their oral-story-telling culture. 

Dave (Hare) asked Dave (Ernst) if he would use his love of art and understanding of semiotics (the science of how pictures and symbols communicate meaning at a level more fundamental than written, or spoken, language) to create art that will bring Bible stories alive and help teach hard-to-translate Biblical concepts to the Kwakum people, beginning with illustrations for the Storybook Bible project and later many other projects including animated Gospel stories. 

What followed was over two years of prayer, investigation and lots of discussion—with World Team in Africa and in the US, with friends and family, and with our local church—as we worked out what this new concept and position might look like. In 2021, World Team offered and we accepted appointment as missionaries to Cameroon, though because of the need for stable electricity and internet we will be based in the US. In fact, we won’t move at all. Dave will make yearly or twice yearly trips to the village to work with the translation team, get to know the Kwakum, and understand their culture more thoroughly. 

Man in Kwakum Village
Dave In the Kwakum Village

But for the next year or so we will be focusing on further training and partner development before hopefully transitioning to full time missions status in 2024. 

Would you join us in prayer as we move forward to work together and bring the Storybook Bible to the Kwakum? You can sign up for a monthly email newsletter here, and follow our blog on this site. Financial gifts can also be given to support World Team’s gospel mission in our name using our unique Account # 14139 at World Team’s website

Of course we’d love to talk to you personally and answer questions. You can email us at dave.ernst (at) WorldTeam (dot) org or amanda.ernst (at) WorldTeam (dot) org

And you can read more about Visual Translation in this post: What Does Stained Glass Have to Do With Translating the Bible?

Thanks for helping give the gift of Hope to the people of Cameroon. 

—The Ernst Family

Dave Ernst, Dave Hare, Stacey Hare & Amanda Ernst in Cameroon with Kwakum friends from the local community.