Tee Latahn, a Nazarene pastor, school director, and radio host, lives in Karnplay, Liberia. He is from the Dan people group and speaks the Dan language. His congregation also speaks Dan, as do 5,000 Nazarenes on his district, plus an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people in Liberia, and more outside of Liberia. Although Dan is spoken by many, written materials in Dan are scarce.
"Most of the Bibles that were printed in the early 1980s are now disappearing," Latahn said.
Recently, Tee and his wife, Bouyanue, had the opportunity to attend a translation summit in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, in which they finished translating the Church of the Nazarene's Articles of Faith into the Dan language. The conference meant a great deal to them. Having all of the Articles in Dan provides a great discipleship resource for those in the church and also helps those who listen to their radio program.
Tee originally started his church by teaching about the church and sharing the Articles of Faith on the radio.
"Many have called the radio station to ask for a written copy [of the Articles of Faith]," he said.
Some have walked long distances to the church after hearing them on the radio. One such listener who walked to the church and asked for a copy gave $50 as a contribution toward their new church building. This was a generous gift considering that some workers, especially in farming communities, make as little as one U.S. dollar a day.
For the past 13 years, Tee and Bouyanue have had a radio ministry with a listenership in the tens of thousands.
"We usually give our message in English and then give a summary translation in the Dan language," he said. "Unlike other radio producers who only use English, our [program] has caught the attention of many Dan listeners. Many listeners want to get a copy of the Dan language Bible. In the past, we have translated parts of the Articles of Faith and also had a mini-conference with pastors for three days [to discuss them] and then they later took copies to their churches. At the National Conference in Ganta, we shared our work on the Articles of Faith with the other zonal leaders and pastors."
Tee said that even those who opposed the church's holiness message in the beginning are now embracing the message. Some have had a change of heart after listening to the radio programs.
In addition to pastoring a church and running a radio ministry, Tee is also the director of a school he started during the civil war when many of the government schools were closed. Tee and Bouyanue, who teaches there, wanted to keep children from becoming child soldiers, which was very common in his area. He shares that before the war, they used to have limited materials to teach the Dan language, but now they do not have any.
In a country plagued with a history of civil war and more recently Ebola, the translation of Christian materials, like the Articles of Faith into Dan, offers hope to many in the church and beyond.
Author's Note: On April 9, one week after the interview, Tee's 10-year-old son, Emmanuel, died when he fell from a tree. A few weeks later, Tee sent the following message:
"The death of Emman was a sad event . . . but by the help of our Lord, we are being consoled. Emman's death brought together thousands of friends, relatives, and sympathizers of different backgrounds for one week. More than 10 were converted only because of our testimonies and devotional messages. Our God provided the means to feed all the people during the one week. We bless our Lord and thank all of you for praying."
Continued prayer is requested for Tee, Bouyanue, and the Latahn family.