The Translation of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans

The Translation of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans
One of the greatest single achievements of the South African Saints was the translation of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans. At a meeting in Johannesburg on May 14, 1972, when the Afrikaans Boek van Mormon was introduced to the South African Saints, it was a happy and, at the same time, an emotion-packed experience for those in attendance. A missionary who attended the landmark event said that “to sit in that meeting and observe the rapt attention and subsequent tears in the eyes of the audience when the first few pages of Die Boek van Mormon were read aloud was one of the greatest spiritual experiences of my mission.”
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Bishop Johan Brummer of the Johannesburg Second Ward, one of those who shepherded this valuable and important translation, told of the divine guidance that made its publication possible. He had translated about a third of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans, but it had been a long, tedious effort, and it was imperative that the translation be completed without further delay so that the building up of the Church in South Africa could progress with greater speed and with every possible advantage. But where could a person be found with the necessary academic excellence and sufficient spirituality to complete such a task?

One day an acquaintance of Bishop Brummer brought his friend, Felix Mynhardt, a language teacher from Pretoria, to meet him. The man not only had a consuming interest in everything related to the scriptures, but he also had been raised in a home with a spiritual atmosphere. His father, the Reverend C. F. Mynhardt, compiled the first concordance of the Afrikaans Bible.

Felix’s facility with languages was phenomenal. When he was a young boy he could read Latin text; at nine, he read Latin and Greek fluently; by sixteen, he had mastered English, Afrikaans, Aramaic, and Hebrew; then he took up other languages —German, French, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Finally, he gained a reading skill in Chinese.
Bishop Brummer bore testimony of divine intervention in the translation: “I can tell you that I have no doubt about this that when Felix Mynhardt made his appearance in my office on a given day, it was not just a coincidence. He was sent to us by the Lord. This has been confirmed to me on many occasions since then. You might well ask the question whether a man of such academic pre-eminence and authority would have the necessary humility of spirit to enable him to do work of this nature.”
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Felix Mynhardt, a non-member, provided the answer to that question himself. During a difficult period in the translation Felix said: “It’s as though darkness seems to settle on my mind when I get down to work so that I just cannot get the translation done. On some occasions I have in absolute despair gone down onto my knees and asked the Lord to help me. I have come to you today to tell you that I think you folks are just not praying for me.”

Felix was blessed as he worked on the translation so that the Afrikaans speaking people can read the Book of Mormon in their own language, just as members around the world can read it in any of 110 languages. The Lord said, “For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language…” (D&C 90: 11). Die Boek van Mormon was published in 1972.