Bible Translator Anton’s Story: From Alcoholism to a Dream Come True

Bible Translator Anton’s Story: From Alcoholism to a Dream Come True

September 23, 2014


“We want a Bible to read in our own language because many don’t know how to read in other languages, and some don’t know how to read at all.”

A dream led Anton to discover the truth of the Bible. Now it’s his dream to make sure others have the same opportunity to read, hear, and know Scripture.

Watch Anton’s story:

Anton, a San believer, is a fighter for culture and faith … because he is a dreamer.

“On a night when I was very young and asleep, a huge light hit me through my family’s tent. I woke up suddenly, only to discover the light was gone. I wondered where it had come from but went back to sleep. For many nights throughout my childhood, the light continued to return and was followed by a dream.”

The Search for a Beautiful Building and a Mysterious Book

Afrikaans Bible
Bible in Afrikaans, which is widely spoken in southern Africa

“In the dream, people would surround me, one would take out a black book and they would talk with me. There was a beautiful building in my dream, and I thought, How do I get to this place?”

“When I was around 11 years old, I actually saw people, all with these same black books, go inside a building. I went with one of my friends to see inside and realized that this was the building I had dreamt about. It was a church. That day, the preacher told the story of ‘The Prodigal Son.’”

As a storyteller, Anton is the keeper of many dreams. Over the course of his 40-something years—through dreams, knowledge, and difficult circumstances—Anton has learned God is with him. In response, his passion is to spread God’s love to others.

San people sit around a campfire
San people sit around a campfire

A Guardian of San Culture

Today, Anton dreams about his people’s future. As an avid learner, he seeks out the wisdom of his San elders and passes it along to the youth. He’s a gatekeeper of knowledge about the land and plant life, tracking animals, and traditional San music.

In this mix of ancient cultural traditions, by pointing the San people to their gifts and culture, Anton knows he will also point them to their Creator. And wherever he goes and no matter the response, Anton is quick to share God’s Word.

Anton reading Scripture
Anton reading Scripture

His mission has not been an easy one. At a young age, polio left him unable to use his legs. He met frequent taunting from his peers with anger. Then he discovered alcohol as an equalizer. “The whole day, the whole night—I would have drunk until my life went,” Anton says.

Although he heard Scripture in church, Anton’s life didn’t change until he brought an Afrikaans Bible home with him. As he read God’s Word, Anton says, “I started to feel like I shouldn’t drink.” As Anton discovered God’s character and promises, his life began to change.

He hasn’t struggled with alcohol since.

Created Beautifully Unique

Anton, a modern-day activist for cultural and agricultural preservation, is at the forefront of the fight to establish a sense of identity for his generation and the ones to come.

Anton says, “If we forget where we came from, we also forget how God made us as a people. The first book of the Bible tells us that each and every tribe has been created a certain way.”

Anton believes our unique cultures are proof of both God’s creativity and his consistency. He recognizes that though the San people have a distinct identity, they share the same Creator and Savior with everyone on earth.

“The Holy Spirit has the same power in different languages, so we cannot forget what and where we are coming from. The One with us today continues to spread through everybody who preaches in his name and in his nations, wherever they live. We are one when we recognize God is not just where the San live.”

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.

— Psalm 119:90 (NLT)

A Garden in the Desert

Living in the lands made famous by the Kalahari Desert, Anton is no stranger to thirst. Yet, he sees a garden in the midst of the desert. Motivated by indigenous irrigation technologies, Anton is determined for life to thrive.

The change in his own life has inspired Anton to help quench the thirst of others through Scripture. He’s now helping his people learn about God’s true character in the way and in the language they understand best.

“To know God,” he says, “you must also know who he has created you to be.”

Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

—Psalm 119:73 (ESV)

Because the San are storytellers, Anton and others are working to translate Bible stories to be shared in a traditional oral fashion. It’s in the midst of this storytelling community and immersed in the passages of Genesis that the San are discovering their own God-created uniqueness.

Since Oral Bible Storytelling began in 2014 in the San Cluster, Anton has attended every Khwedam (one of nine San languages selected for Bible translation) workshop. He fills the air with joy and is always willing to help others work through a translation or listen to a story.

Near the fire each night with his friends and family from three different countries, Anton pours his heart out through song lyrics about the struggles his people have faced and the hope they have in Jesus. He plays the homemade Ndingo—his instrument, rusted over from rains and wear and tear—with the same passion with which he lives his life.

A booklet of the history of the Kwe people
A booklet detailing the history of Khwedam, or Kwe, language speakers

“We want a Bible to read in our own language because many don’t know how to read in other languages, and some don’t know how to read at all.”

The future of his people and their culture rests on access to the Scriptures, Anton says. This means both oral and written translation in his heart language of Khwedam, also known as Khwe, is essential.

San people recently completed Oral Bible Translation passages in seven languages! You can learn more, and hear a Bible passage read in one of these languages, in the Southern Africa Pray for Zero Journal.

There are still thousands of people groups, representing hundreds of millions of people that do not have a single verse of Scripture in their heart language. Seed Company exists to come alongside these people groups and help resource the Bible translation process. We invite families and churches to partner with us through prayer and financial investments.

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No one-size-fits-all approach exists when a people group is ready to begin a Bible translation project.
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Help Reach People Waiting for God’s Word

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