D.R. Congo Container II:
Swahili Books, Hymnbooks & French Books:
We Can't Say No

In early 2006, Everyday Publications was presented with a challenge: in the ten years of savage civil warfare that had devastated the D.R. Congo, many of the believers in that country had suffered the loss of most, if not all, of their Swahili Bibles, hymnbooks, and Christian books. Everyday Publications (EPI) was uniquely qualified to meet this need as it is one of only a very few publishers who are able to produce literature in Congo Swahili. However, this project was much bigger than anything we had ever asked of our small, digital presses. And it was certainly bigger than anything we had ever asked of our small staff of commended workers and volunteers. Also, since the believers in Congo had no funds to speak of, the books would need to be printed and shipped free of charge. This would require us to trust the Lord for a far greater sum of money than ever before. Humanly speaking, it was impossible. But we just couldn’t say “No!” to our brothers and sisters who had suffered so much for our Lord Jesus Christ. Besides, we serve the God of the impossible!

A brief history of EPI

Dr. Ed and Gertrud Harlow founded EPI in 1964 because they couldn’t say “No.” They could not say “No” to the need of the church in the D. R. Congo for doctrinally sound books about the Bible that were scholarly yet readable, written at the academic level of the reader rather than the author. Both of the Harlows had served as missionaries in the Congo and were well-equipped to meet this need. Additionally, they had a vision of the vast potential of Christian literature; Dr. Harlow was one of the co-founders of the Emmaus Correspondence School and Gertrud was one of translators of the Swahili Bible. Dr. Harlow developed a style of writing that he called “Everyday English.” Everyday English, which can actually be defined as a distinct language, is characterized by a shorter sentence structure and a reduced vocabulary which focuses on defining complex terms. Dr. Harlow proceeded to write individual commentaries in Everyday English on every book in the Bible. As soon as he finished writing each volume, Gertrud would translate the book into Swahili. Soon, these meaty yet easily digestible pieces of spiritual food were being shipped by the boxful to Africa. Other missionaries heard of these books and translated them into the languages spoken in their part of God’s vineyard. Today, Everyday Publication publishes more than 350 titles in Everyday English, Standard English, Swahili, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Work is also underway to translate EPI titles into Arabic and Chinese. Since 1964, God has been pleased to use EPI to send untold thousands of books to countries around the world.

Meeting the need

Faced with the need for Christian literature in the D.R. Congo, the gracious enabling of our munificent God allowed us to print over 13 tons of books and load them into a 20-foot container. This container, filled with 71,000 books, traveled from Port Colborne, Ontario to Montreal to Mombasa, Kenya to Kampala, Uganda to Bunia, Congo. Arriving safely in October of 2006, it took just three weeks for these books to be distributed to thousands of hungry believers.

When Gertrud Harlow was able to followup with the committee responsible for the distribution of the books in early 2007, she found that while the believers were ecstatic to receive the books, there simply were not enough to go around, no matter how much they were willing or able to share. The situation was clear: we needed to send another container with even more books. Once again, we couldn’t say “No!”, neither to our fellow believers in the D.R. Congo nor to the Lord we both serve.

Round two

Just over one year ago, another 20-foot container was ordered and placed behind the EPI print shop. Harold MacDougall, EPI’s production manager, began work in earnest, printing another EPI-record book order. Our faithful volunteers have come in each week to help with the binding and trimming. Grace Spence, who handles all of EPI’s shipping, has been busy shrink-wrapping the books and packing them securely into boxes. At the time of this writing, we have almost 78,000 books printed, packaged, and loaded into the container.

What does it take to fill a container with books? By the time the container is fully loaded and ready to ship, we will have used almost 1.4 million sheets of paper, 1000 boxes, and untold quantities of toner, glue, tape, and cellophane. These numbers may be impressive to some and quite insignificant to others. Yet the only number that stirs our hearts is $0.00; that is the amount our brethren in Congo will be asked to pay for these books. We at EPI believe that God would have us print and ship these books free of charge. In fact, since 1991 it has been our privilege to send hundreds of thousands of books to assembly-commended missionaries and national workers around the world free of charge as the Lord enables. Countless other quantities have been sent to believers in North America and Europe at greatly subsidized prices.

Our reason for “pricing” our books in this way is very simple: unless a book can get into a reader’s hands, it cannot be read. And unless it is read, the reader cannot be fed.

Current article published in UPLOOK magazine 2008


Congo Container II has arrived on Wednesday, April 15th, was cleared through Customs, and was in the process of being unloaded by Saturday, April 18th! More…

D. R. Congo Container II is on its way! It was a cold and blustery morning here in Port Colborne, January 5, 2009. More…

The D.R. Congo Conatiner Project II: Yes He Can!, Did!, Will! article published in the Missions Magazine 2008. More…

The D.R. Congo Conatiner Project II: We Can't Say No article published in the UPLOOK Magazine 2008. More…

There was news received this week telling of renewed fighting around Bunia. More…

The in-house printing for the Congo Container Project was completed in early May. More…

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