Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category


Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 by Martin Horton

We started up some ladies’ football teams, but not just to learn football!

Football and the Bible. Not normally a combination you would think of. Though this combination is making a big difference in the Safwa language area in Tanzania.

John and Amani are Scripture engagement and literacy workers in the Safwa language area. In their work they cover areas such as teaching people to read, selling local language books, promoting the local language and Scripture engagement training.

They meet with pastors and members of the community to encourage people to use their own language and teach them to read their language, as well as train people to be literacy or Sunday school teachers or how to lead Bible studies.

Surprisingly, it was Bible studies that led to the setting up of the ladies’ football teams. Amani began it first in his own village and then it rapidly caught on in a neighbouring village too. Three times a week the ladies meet to practice and spend time learning to read the Safwa language and how to lead Bible studies. Their studies have begun with Mark’s gospel.

They come from different denominations and some don’t even go to church but they are starting to learn the word of God. And they want to inspire others too! The ladies have said how ‘they will continue this work of teaching people and will make sure that the word of God reaches every corner, even to their children.’ The ladies have also commented how eager they are to learn Safwa and the Bible so it can be used in their communities.

Please will you pray:
• For protection over John and Amani as they travel, often over rough roads.
• For connections with significant people in communities that will open the door to the word of God reaching many people in the Safwa language
• For the ladies on the football teams, that they would not only have fun playing together, but would be motivated to read the Bible and would be changed by the power of God’s word and his Spirit at work amongst them.

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The value of 10,000 words

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 by Martin Horton

How much are 10,000 words worth? A short story? Ten pictures? For a language community in Senegal, 10,000 words are worth a lot more: it’s their first step towards having a Bible in their own language.

A lot of work needs to happen before a translation project can begin, and one aspect of this work is word collection workshops. A rapid word collection workshop was held in February in Thionck Essyl in Senegal for the Gusilay language. The goal for the workshop was to collect 10,000 words, which could then be turned into a Gusilay-French dictionary.

So how do you actually do a rapid word collection workshop? Wycliffe UK member Clare Orr describes the process they used to collect the words.

‘Folders had been prepared, with questions relating to all sorts of different topics, arranged in hierarchies of domains. For example, one domain was “The universe, creation”. This had a sub-domain of sky, which had a sub-domain of weather, which had a sub-domain of rain. For each sub-domain there were a selection of questions, like the ones above, for the participants to reflect on and write down any relevant words.’

There were 1,792 domains covering all kinds of topics, from the material to the intangible. And by the end of the workshop, 1,700 of them were covered.

The goal was 10,000 words, but even with fewer participants than they had expected, the final total of words gathered was 12,485! By the end of the workshop most of these had been translated and typed, and a first draft was printed to show what had been achieved. This draft is now being refined and made into a dictionary, which will serve as tangible evidence that their language can be written down and is valuable, and will also be a useful resource for future Bible translation work.

Pray for the Gusilay team:

  • Pray for those involved in preparing the dictionary for publication, that they would work well to create a useful resource for the Gusilay community.
  • Pray for preparations towards Bible translation, that all the background work would be completed well so that translation can start for this unreached people group.

Further prayer items from Wycliffe’s prayer magazine Words for Life are available daily as Daily Prayer. Download Words for Life or subscribe to receive it by post.

Life-changing, even in draft form!

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 by Martin Horton

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. Phil 4:2 

In a blog post in 2016, A DOOR to the Good News, we shared about how God’s word is beginning to come to the Deaf*.

Believed to number around 70 million globally, the Deaf are perhaps the largest unreached people group. There are an estimated 400 different sign languages around the world, yet not a single complete sign language Bible in any of them.

These are dismaying figures, yet God’s word is still making a difference, and in surprising ways.

In Kenya, a team of Deaf Bible translators had completed a final draft of the passages in Philippians 4 and they wanted to share it with the community to gather feedback. This is a very important part of the translation process.

Community testing has two benefits. First, it brings sign language Scripture to a local Deaf community and secondly it is a great way of showing the DOOR team how they can improve their translation. In this case, two churches agreed to help the translation team with their community test.

This all sounded like a great idea until the team realised that the two churches weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. As James, one of the translators shares, ‘Upon our arrival, we were shocked to find the two Deaf churches in the area couldn’t agree about anything. They were acting like rivals.

This was exactly the issue addressed in Philippians 4:2 and that verse was amongst the verses that were tested. As these two churches engaged with this verse in their heart language, they realised how they were behaving, and through the power of God’s word settled their disagreement.

Please stand in the gap for DOOR’s work in Kenya and all translation work for the Deaf worldwide.

  • Praise God for the ways he is transforming Deaf lives both in Kenya and around the world.
  • Please pray for open communication and a sense of unity between these two Deaf churches.
  • Pray for breakthrough in the work of translation for the Deaf and that soon many sign language groups will have a complete Bible.

This story is adapted from a story that originally appeared on Mission Network News. You can read the original article here.

Find out more about DOOR’s work or have a look at their website.

Subscribe to receive our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and prayer information.

*Deaf is generally capitalised when it refers to not just hearing loss, but Deaf culture.

Mentoring new believers

Monday, May 29th, 2017 by Camilla

Splash is a Bible translator in Northern Botswana. Translating Scripture is difficult, and he has sacrificed much for it. Most days, Splash only gets through 10 verses of Scripture. The work is hard and keeps him very busy but the sacrifice seems little in light of what he believes his community will gain.

‘If I left the project, the translation would collapse,’ he says. ‘If the translation collapses, it means our people will not know the word of God.’

Splash says, ‘My family were Christians. I didn’t believe, but I knew Christianity could help other people. At first, I just wanted to speak for my people and for our language to be standardised.’

It didn’t take long for Splash to change his mind about the real meaning of the work he was doing. As he began to pore over Scripture day in and day out, he couldn’t help but see it as good news, saving news, for himself and for his people.

Splash is living a new life – a transformed life – fully committed to his new identity in Jesus, sacrifices and all. He’s a mentor for new believers who are just beginning to know God’s word; working hard to be a humble servant, versus an authoritative leader.

Splash talked about the difference translation work will bring for the identity of his people. He doesn’t want to abandon the many good attributes of his ancestors, but fully believes that it’s only through God that true goodness is possible. He will continue to work until the entire Bible is translated, he says, for each part is necessary and important for his people to read.

This blog post is adapted from a story by our partner The Seed Company.

Want more? Read great stories from the world of Bible translation in our magazine, Words for Life! Words for Life is a free magazine available online or delivered to your home. Sign up to get yours!

A confident smile

Monday, May 15th, 2017 by Camilla

Under a white bucket hat and blue-tinted glasses, Michael Kativa’s smile is as wide as his face.

The foundation for Michael’s vibrant joy lies within the confidence he finds in Jesus. He sits back, crossing his legs, and explains, ‘I am thankful I am saved and that my life has been transformed because of God’s word. It has brought me peace with God.’

Before he knew the stories found in Scripture, Michael would often get into fights and drink too much. His wife left him many years ago, and he has since experienced the death of his daughter and has become estranged from his son. ‘The Bible exposes what is wrong in your life,’ he says.

Now an elder in the community, Michael says hopes to be a father figure to many of the young people that live nearby. He passionately lives a changed life in order for more lives to change.

Many people in the community do not know how to read. For the San people, the life of Jesus is a story best told orally, around a campfire or under a neighbor’s tree. Michael has been part of the Bible storytelling project in Botswana since it began just over a year ago. Many more young people in his village have started attending Bible studies organised by field coordinator Eben Le Roux. This is a big accomplishment because, ‘the young people are disillusioned,’ says Eben. ‘Many do not believe that the Scriptures bring hope.’

The local village chief also recently started to come to the meetings – a small act that could greatly affect the rest of the village. Michael has welcomed the chief with open arms and glorifies God for the opportunities ministering to the chief will create.

His confidence is not just a character trait, but clearly a work of the Holy Spirit. He is an elder set on changing the world around him because he can proudly proclaim, ‘God is the same, he doesn’t change.’

This post is adapted from a story by our partner The Seed Company.

For more great stories about the fruit of Bible translation, sign up for our magazine Words for Life!

Finally knowing what it means to believe and depend on Christ

Thursday, May 11th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Many Dukawa speakers finally know what it really means to believe and depend on Christ, whereas before they had not really understood. Over 3,800 Dukawa people have turned to Christ as a result of hearing God’s word in their own language!

In early 2016, after the Dukawa New Testament was completed, a recording of the New Testament and some Old Testament portions was made. Hundreds of audio Bibles with these recordings were given to Dukawa churches, and they have produced an amazing result.

When the Dukawa team first started handing them out they believed they would help believers to grow in their relationship with Christ.

But in practice, the impact of the audio Bibles was bigger than the team could have imagined, and shows the impact of mother tongue translation.

Many Dukawa speakers had been using the Bible in the trade language, Hausa, and thought they understood. But with the Bible finally available in their own language, people started to realise they hadn’t really understood what it meant to follow Jesus.

Even local pastors admitted that they have not understood the Bible in the trade language. One of the pastors even said that some of what he had been teaching was wrong because he misunderstood the Bible.

For many of you reading this, as you may have more than one version of the Bible in your mother tongue, it is understandably hard to grasp how the Dukawa people are feeling. May the testimony of this Dukawa man give you a glimpse of the transformation that Bible translation brings.

When I first heard the audio Bible, I felt as if I was dreaming, but when I heard it 2-3 times, I realised I was not dreaming. Now I can understand…I am going to be…a Christian.’

Here are some ways that you can pray for the Dukawa people:

  • Praise God for his work in using his word in the Dukawa language to draw more Dukawa people to himself in truth and understanding.
  • Pray for pastors to have the courage to be open and honest if they realise, after hearing Scripture in their mother tongue, that what they have been teaching is wrong.
  • Pray that the Dukawa people will grow in their faith and continue to receive fresh revelation as they listen to the Scriptures in their language.

This story is adapted from a post on the Robinson family blog, Impact of Audio Scriptures.

Interested in praying regularly for translation projects? Sign up to receive our magazine Words for Life which is packed full of interesting articles as well as our prayer diary giving daily prayer needs.

A book for everyone

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

Thank you for praying for the launch of the Baka New Testament and Genesis in March (Seeing with blind eyes). God answered your prayers in an incredible way; the event was able to take place, the books containing the New Testament and Genesis arrived and all the visitors were able to travel safely.

The launch celebrations were held in Maridi in the province of Western Equatoria. It was the biggest event held there – ever. Not only was it large but it was high profile; the governor of Maridi State and his wife as well as other dignitaries including a retired army general and bishops and archbishops of various denominations were in attendance.

Over 7000 people came along to join the 5 hour long celebrations which included speeches, singing and dancing, a meal, performances by local choirs and a showing of the JESUS Film in Baka. The film had been shown in Juba late last year but this was the first time it was shown in the Baka homeland.

We are so excited that this New Testament has been endorsed by both the Anglican bishop and the Catholic archbishop of the region. In the speeches it was made clear that this book containing the New Testament and Genesis is for everyone, it is not the possession of one denomination or another.

When the boxes of New Testaments were opened to sell, a big crowd surged towards the tables, waving their money in the air. As people got their hands on their copies they sat down and started reading immediately.

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing way that he answered our prayers. Please pray:

  • that the Baka will continue to read the New Testament in their language and that it will transform many lives
  • that God would bring peace to South Sudan and provide for those impacted by the famine

Does this answer to prayer encourage you to pray for Bible translation regularly? Subscribe to receive our free magazine, Words for Life, which is full of interesting articles and includes a prayer diary with daily prayer needs for Bible translation projects around the globe.

A day of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the Beliyan people!

Monday, April 10th, 2017 by Camilla

Rebecca Sharples writes about experiencing the all-day celebration of the launch of the Oniyan New Testament in Senegal.

In a region called Kedougou in the southeast of Senegal, a few hundred people gathered together to celebrate the completion of a very special book: the New Testament and Genesis translated into the Oniyan language. This language, sometimes referred to as Basari, is spoken by the 20-30,000 Beliyan people living in Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

The event began at 10am (only an hour behind schedule!). Locals, SIL staff, funders and guests flocked into the Kedougou stadium dressed in all their colourful Senegalese finery and found their seats in one of several large marquees that had been set up just a few hours before.

From start to finish the event was hosted by an animated Oniyan speaker who gave the announcements, introduced the speakers and got everybody warmed up for the music and dancing (not that it took much!).

The speeches were given by people from around the globe whom God has brought together for his mission of getting his word to the Beliyan community. The speakers included the funding manager of The Seed Company (American), the director of SIL Senegal (Swiss), Pastor Nicodème (Senegalese), and two long-serving missionaries (Canadian and American), among many others. The speeches were given in either French or Oniyan and always with a translation from one to the other.

In the midst of the speeches a car pulled up carrying the precious cargo: the New Testaments had arrived! They were carried in boxes into the stadium before being paraded and presented by members of the Beliyan community. It was a tear-jerking moment to see these New Testaments arrive which, after several years of dutiful and diligent work (especially by the chief translators Nicodème Biesse, Paul Boubane and Jérémie Boubane) can now be held in the hands of Oniyan speakers and read aloud in their homes in their own language.

But the printed New Testaments weren’t the only Scripture material being celebrated and shared. The Beliyan community were also able to take home an SD card containing the dramatised audio recording of Genesis and the entire New Testament, performed by local voice actors.

In the year before the launch, members of the Beliyan community and several local staff members also worked together in workshops to create, perform and record Scripture-based songs written in the Oniyan language and performed using traditional instruments. These recorded songs were then added to the SD cards, just in time to be made available at the launch.

Now the Oniyan community can not only read God’s word, but they can also listen to God’s word and sing songs about God’s word in their own language.

Could there be a better reason to rejoice and give thanks?

For more great stories about what’s going on in the world of Bible translation, sign up to our magazine, Words for Life!

Praying in new members for the team

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 by Jo Johnson

A large nation, dominated by rainforest, where infrastructure is generally poor and the repercussions of long years of unrest and fighting are still significantly impacting daily life. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in central Africa is a poor nation which faces many challenges.

I was surprised to find out, however, that the greatest personnel needs are not for skilled linguists or translators, as national staff are doing a great job with the nitty-gritty of translation. What the translation projects here need is more support staff.

We praise God for what he is doing. After years of struggle in the eastern part of the country, in March 2016, three language communities celebrated the launch of their New Testaments (see our blog One New Testament? How about three?). Another New Testament is due to be launched this August but there are still over 100 languages that need the word of God and where translation has not yet even started.

However, without workers the harvest can never be gathered in. The greatest needs at the moment are for an assistant for the language programmes manager, and a finance mentor to support nationals in the bookkeeping and finance systems. Both of these roles will significantly increase the capacity of those involved in training and translating.

Please ask God to send the right people to fill the following urgent needs:

  • A finance mentor, short or long term but available for a minimum of 5-6 months. They must be able to speak French well and willing to live in Bunia, eastern DRC.
  • Assistant to the language programmes manager to support the various translation projects around this large nation. Long term involvement is preferable but even a 6-12 month commitment could make a significant difference. Again a good level of French and willingness to live in Bunia is required.

Find out how your specific skills can be used to support Bible translation.

Go along to The Next Step and find out more about Bible translation and serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Sign up for our free magazine Words for Life, which is packed full of interesting and informative articles as well as a daily prayer need for Bible translation around the world.

Full steam ahead for the Kamuku project

Thursday, March 30th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Your prayers make a difference, even from a long-distance. One of the featured projects in our prayer goody bag Finishing in God’s time is the Kamuku project in Nigeria. A lady in Scotland started praying for Bible translation to begin there, in the early 1980s. She carried on praying until 2009 when the project had started.

The Kamuku project started slowly in order to establish strong roots and has faced many challenges so we asked you to pray. Praise God, exciting things are happening; God is answering your prayers.

On 7th April, the Gospel of Luke will be launched in Kamuku both as a book and as audio recordings on SD-cards. This will be great for those who have not yet learned to read or just prefer to communicate orally.

To help the Kamuku people use Scripture well and understand it, listening group leaders have been specially trained. They have audio players to use and gospel Scripture materials with which they hope to engage the group members.

That’s not all. The Gospel of Mark has been sent off to their translation consultant for checking and the team is now working on Acts and some of the shorter epistles. They feel that they are experiencing a major boost and that it’s full steam ahead!

Here are some ways that you can pray for the continued progress of the Kamuku project:

  • Praise God for the printer who is printing 1000 copies of Luke. Pray that they are good quality and available in good time for the launch.
  • Pray that the launch will boost interest in learning to read and write and that the project will be able to meet any increase in demand.
  • Pray that many will come along to the listening groups and that many lives will be changed as a result.
  • Pray the committee has wisdom as they use funds raised from the sale of the books. It is hoped that there will be enough money to employ a full-time translator.

Check out our goody bags and pray for significant needs faced by Bible translation projects.

Subscribe to receive our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and prayer information.