‘Lord, we ask you now for wisdom to render your word clearly into the beautiful language of Kinga.’
In the Mbeya cluster project’s offices in southwest Tanzania, Bible translation consultant Samuel Mubbala opened the day’s work with that prayer in his soft mellow voice. At the table also were Kinga pastors and translators Saul Lwilla and Zakayo Swallo. A draft of Hebrews 10 in Kinga shone brightly, projected on the wall. Their laptop computers were open, ready to edit the text.
To make a translation of God’s word ready for people’s hearts, it must be carefully checked. Samuel has been checking the work of other Bible translators since finishing a translation in his own Ugandan mother tongue several years ago. Today his job would be easy. Lwilla and Swallo are nearing the end of the Kinga New Testament project and their work has become very good.
Today’s work on Hebrews 10 began by simply reading. Samuel read aloud slowly in English. Saul followed him, reading the Kinga draft. Both spoke with feeling, clearly savouring the great truths of covenant and sacrifice. After each section was read, they discussed notes from Samuel’s study of the draft. Should the Kinga word for ox be used for bull? Should we say ‘the first covenant’ or ‘the old covenant’? In some African languages, God’s glory can be confused with shining. Does Kinga have this problem?
But the problems and notes were few. Yes, the work was very good. Good enough to impact these three men even in the midst of their checking. While reviewing covenant theology, Samuel suddenly became very personal.
‘When we come to Christ, something is…’ Samuel hesitated, obviously searching his own heart. ‘Something is “installed” in us,’ he continued. ‘We receive a new person and a new life. That is why [God] said, “I’ll make a new covenant. I’ll write the laws in your heart.” And we call that [being] born again.’
Lwilla and Swallo smiled and laughed, knowingly.
For two more days, these three African brothers continued smiling and laughing and thinking together very carefully through the remainder of Kinga Hebrews. Still, the text was not yet ready. Reviewers in the Kinga community must also agree. And as the Kinga New Testament approaches completion, the entire manuscript must be reviewed and typeset.
It will soon be planting season on the Kinga mountainsides. Good seed will receive summer rain and grow. The same will soon be true of God’s seed; his word ‘in the beautiful language of Kinga.’
This blog post is adapted from a story which originally appeared on Wycliffe Global Alliance’s website. Read the original story here.