Mailing Address: SIL • BP 2075 • Dakar • Senegal • Africa •
Birthdays: Jay - May 24, Sue - August 3, Jamie - May 22, Jeremy - September 1, Jason - November 29, Jay and Sue's Anniversary - June 10
Jay works in the finance office for the region and teaches their children Jamie, Jeremy and Jason. Sue also teaches the children, but mainly she is trying to complete the linguistic analysis of the Konyagi language. Sue currently is working with two Konyagi men in Dakar. They have produced some literary materials, translated some health guides and are currently working on a translation Guide for literacy along with a dictionary. The Konyagi are a mainly animistic group, of about 18,000-20,000. The church has an average attendance of about 45 and needs a New Testament translation.
Jay & Sue Jenkins
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance: and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
Jay and Sue Jenkins are long-standing members of Bethany Church who have served as Missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, Jay for the past 23 years and Sue for 30. This is an abridged version of their incredible story, one that they have shared with their three children.
After Sue received Christ as her Lord and Savior in her Junior year at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, NH, she went on to major in Spanish and minor in French at the University of New Hampshire. While at UNH, she heard about Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) during a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting in 1978. The Mission Statement of WBT reads : “To see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025.”With giftedness in languages and a desire to serve God, Sue’s dream of becoming a Bible translator with WBT began to form.
With around 209 million people in the world not having the Scriptures in their native tongue, the need for translators is daunting. Following graduation from UNH, Sue applied and was accepted by WBT four years after first hearing of their work. While the acceptance into WBT was a huge first step, it was only the beginning of an incredible journey of faith and trust in God, His provision and protection.
There were a number of obstacles at the beginning of Sue’s journey. She completed three consecutive semesters of additional training stateside at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (an affiliate of WBT), and was then encouraged to go on to gain additional training in the Bible itself; she went on to do a full year of study at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. While at Moody, Sue received her field assignment, which was to French speaking West Africa. This was exactly where she had hoped to serve, even though she had only applied to be assigned where she was needed most.
Following the year of study at Moody, Sue had to complete raising the requisite financial and prayer support, which she did during the Summer and Fall of 1984. Finally, at the beginning of 1985, she was commissioned and sent out by Bethany Church. She went first to France for additional study and fine-tuning of her French speaking abilities then continued on to Africa. There still were several obstacles to overcome: following WBT policy, she had to have a partner as they would not allow a single woman to serve alone in the field; there was field training in Cameroon; and she had to work out all of the logistics of moving & living first in France for a year of language study, then in Cameroon for 2.5 months, followed by a final move to Senegal, where she would serve. The first potential partner did not work out, but a second potential partner was found. Sue successfully completed the required field training at the end of 1986/early 1987. Finally, in early 1987, she was able to begin her work in Senegal and Guinea, West Africa.
Her first term on the field consisted of doing language survey work. She and JoLynn Eller were encouraged to work with the Konyagi (also known as Wamey) people and to research the other languages in that group, the Tenda Family. They collected language data from the Konyagi people, the Bassari (also known as Oniyan), the Bedik, the Badiaranké and the Boin.
Because the people groups are spread out over a large area and they had no official alphabet, the language surveys were very time-consuming and oftentimes frustrating. Sue, who had never gone anywhere requiring four wheel drive before, now found herself and Jo-Lynn in the back-country of Africa, working in 120 deg F heat in distant villages under primitive conditions. The surveys required the analysis of thousands of words, comparing the different sounds found in each of the languages. A linguistic analysis of this data showed that each was indeed a separate language (though related) requiring their own translation of the Bible.
After working for over a year on the language surveys, Jo-Lynn resigned from Wycliffe and left the field in May of 1988 to be married. Sue once again found herself without a partner, trying to trust God to provide all of her needs in His perfect time. She served on the staff of the Africa Orientation Course (AOC) from the middle of 1988 through to her (much-needed) furlough stateside at the end of the year.
During her year-long furlough, Sue initially worked in the recruitment office for the WBT regional office in Dallas, Texas. However, when the long-distance phone bills mounted as a result of a blossoming relationship with Jay Jenkins (who had met Sue, and was smitten from the start, during her time at Moody Bible Institute six years earlier), Sue requested a transfer to the Chicago area. Upon her arrival, Jay picked her up at the airport and, that evening, proposed to her over a romantic dinner.
Following their wedding in June of 1989, the whole orientation and training process began again as Jay applied to and was accepted to WBT. Jay had to complete the same linguistics training Sue had, and they had to raise the additional support needed for a married couple. That was followed by another year (+) of language study for Jay in France before they reported to Senegal in 1992 to start again on the translation of the Scriptures into the Konyagi language.
God, in His time, had provided the perfect partner for Sue. While Sue is very analytical, Jay is very relational and was gifted at building the relationships needed with the Konyagi people in order for the translation to proceed. Jay had graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Evangelism. Over the years, he has worked in the Finance Office for WBT in Senegal, home-schooled their three children and been the chief cheerleader and moral support for Sue as she has continued to work on the Konyagi translation. Both are wholly devoted to serving God and committed to the translation of the Scriptures into the Konyagi language, trusting God each step of the way.
A lot has happened over the past 20 years since they returned to Africa. Jay and Sue have been blessed with three children (Jamie 20, Jeremy 18 and Jason almost 16) and have encountered an endless stream of trials and challenges as they have persisted in their task of translating the Scriptures. By 1994, they had developed a Konyagi alphabet and were ready to begin a grammatical analysis. This was followed by some literacy work, the creation of written and oral materials and the translation of the Scriptures.
The translation process is extremely slow, and at times tedious as the selection of words and phrases needs to be culturally relevant while maintaining the integrity of God’s Word. It involves checks and cross-checks, and a translation back into French to validate the accuracy of the message. A translation consultant then works with native speakers and conducts a final verification of the accuracy of the finished work.
The trials and opposition have been constant and at times seemingly overwhelming. Jay and Sue have dealt with bouts of malaria and hepatitis, along with succumbing to many viruses, amebas and unknown parasites that have compromised their immune systems and often left them sick and completely drained of energy. Jay is severely diabetic. The 120+ degree heat is oppressive and the humidity can be unrelenting. To add to the struggle, they have had their home and vehicles broken into and there has been political unrest, frequent power outages and riots in the capital city of Dakar over the course of the last several years. At times, all of the trials have combined to result in periods of intense loneliness and a feeling that there wasn’t anyone else out there who really cared whether they succeeded or failed.
But as Jay and Sue have invested their lives in the Konyagi translation, God has protected them and blessed their work. They have completed translating Genesis and all of the major books of the New Testament, with a goal of completing and publishing the entire New Testament by the end of 2015. Most of what they produce is recorded and made available to a largely illiterate society and there is a growing excitement as the work drives to completion. Informational pamphlets on AIDS and Alcoholism have been produced. New and creative ways of sharing the Scriptures with the Konyagi people in their native language have been received with enthusiasm. These include hand-crank cassette players and solar powered MP3 players with the translated books recorded on them. Theater drama pieces telling cultural stories with a Biblical message in Konyagi have been developed and broadcast again and again on a number of the Senegalese radio stations. Lessons have been held on how to lead a group inductive Bible study, always asking “What do the Scriptures say?” One village has repeatedly requested regular Bible teaching. Recently, a short-term team from Colorado worked with a village congregation to build them a new church.
A month ago, Jay and Sue received an unexpected email from a former missionary to Senegal. He had returned to visit an indigenous mission he helped start in 2005 and discovered that the people filling their small village churches were not actually from the local people groups of the area; they were all Konyagis who had assimilated to the local groups! While the Jenkins were busy translating God’s Word, God Himself was filling churches with Konyagis who are now ready to receive it!
In Isaiah 55:11, it says:
“So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth:
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
Jay and Sue have invested a lifetime in translating the Scriptures into the Konyagi language, and their work is bearing fruit. Despite the ongoing challenges to their health and the daily sacrifices that the work demands, they maintain their perspective on the task as “…. the great privilege of translating God’s Word for the Konyagi people.” This task began at Bethany Church over 30 years ago. Bethany has been privileged and blessed to partner with them during their journey these many years. We now eagerly anticipate seeing not only the completion of the New Testament translation in Konyagi but also how God will use it, and Old Testament portions, to bring Konyagis to Him.
May God bless you and keep you all!
The Jenkins family
Field Address: Jay and Sue Jenkins, SIL B.P. 2075, Dakar, Senegal.
Financial Matters: If you wish to help with the production of materials and other needs in this project you can send a check with our name in the memo box to:
Wycliffe Bible Translators
P.O. Box 628200
Orlando, Florida 32862-8200
*Or, you can contribute financially online:
In the instructions you will be given an option to “click here”. This will take you to a page where you can type in our name (Jay Jenkins) and acct. number (232264). Let us know if this option makes things easier for you!
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