Born and raised in Indiana, Diane graduated from Taylor University in 1985 with a BS in mathematics education. While teaching in Cedarville, Ohio, a call to missionary service led her to spend two years teaching at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, a school for missionaries’ children. It was in Kenya that she recognized an interest and ability in languages and linguistics. She then completed a Master’s Degree in linguistics through SIL and the University of Texas at Arlington in order to pursue full-time service in Bible Translation. During that time she also received training in ethnomusicology. Diane arrived in Chad in 1995 and served four years with Africa Inland Mission. Although she met Mark, another Bible translator/linguist, within days of her arrival, it was three years later when they decided to trust the Lord and walk through the rest of their life together. In July 1999 they married and Diane came to work among the Kwong people. With no children of their own, Diane has found much room in her heart to love and teach the hundreds of Kwong children around her.
Diane and Mark are the only missionaries to one tribe of about 20,000 people called the Kwong. They do whatever it takes to help the Kwong church grow and mature to the point that it will survive for generations to come, that means they both do much more than Bible translation.
In 2006 they started a low-power FM radio station as a tool for transmitting Kwong Bible teaching. Diane became the primary radio programmer. In this role she oversees everything that goes out on the radio in Kwong, Arabic, Fulfulde and French. She writes, directs and edits radio plays in Kwong. She writes and records Bible teaching or health programs for the women. She uses her ethnomusicology training to encourage Kwong Scripture song writing and has even written several Kwong songs, herself.
When she?s not doing radio, Diane also teaches women throughout the Kwong area. Although Mark is the primary Bible translator/exegete, Diane completed her first Bible translation project this past year, the book of Ruth, and plans to start a New Testament book soon.
The Kwong people are the last non-Muslim tribe as one moves north through this part of Chad. Their territory is a crescent shaped area some 60 miles long by 30 miles wide lying between the two major rivers of Chad. The gospel first came to the Kwong in a limited way in the late 50?s and 60?s, but it would be the 1980?s before enduring churches took shape. Today, there are about 25 churches and perhaps 800-1000 believers among the 20,000 people who are Kwong. Most of the Kwong still worship the gods of their ancestors, and a part of the tribe has become Muslim. The church?s great need in the 21st century is for trained leadership and a love for the Scriptures. Mark and Diane Vanderkooi have been serving among the Kwong in ministries of Bible Translation, discipleship, literacy, and teaching since 1991.
Primary Prayer Request:
Pray that God would raise up Kwong men and women, boys and girls who take His Word seriously and to let the Spirit transform their lives.