Posts Tagged ‘Togo’

A great celebration

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 by Hannah

Do you remember what you were up to 16 and a half years ago? Unless January 1999 marked a big milestone for you, I doubt it. But for Tim Robinson, who is working with Wycliffe in Nigeria, those decade-and-a-half old memories have come flooding back:

In 1998 I took the plunge and went on my first short-term missions trip… On the 14th January 2015, 16.5 years later, I started my journey back to that very same village.

On his blog post, Tim describes the unpredictable and long journey to return to that village in Togo, as well as the warm welcome from old friends. He also describes the walk through the town, speckled with banners and parades, to get to the main event: the launch of the complete Bible in the Ncham language:

The dedication itself was marvellous. There were LOADS of people. There were some very high profile folks out there too. The national director of a denomination, the chief, the Prefet, the representative of the local government, pastors, preachers, most of the Catholic diocese, the church association committee, SIL, Wycliffe, Bible Society, two brass bands and people of literally ALL ages came out to join the celebration.

Ncham translator Samuel with some of the new Bibles. Photo by Tim Robinson.

Read on in Tim’s blog for more about the distribution, the celebration and some of the people who have been involved in the translation project from the very beginning. But the real climax came the next day:

We attended church with Samuel the next morning and it was brilliant seeing so many people clutching their new Bibles…

Happy Bible buyer! Photo by Tim Robinson.

There was a couple who were married 3 weeks before and were brought to the front of the church and introduced (it seems that is customary in this church) and when they came they were clutching a copy of the new Bible. The groom, despite not being a native Ncham speaker, received huge applause as he tried to read a couple of verses. People DO love hearing and having God’s word in their own language!

It’s an exciting day when a new Bible is launched, opening up Scripture for a whole people group. But it’s even more exciting when those books and recordings get used and God starts speaking straight to people’s hearts.

If you have a passion to see Bible words reach people’s hands and hearts, visit our website to explore opportunities to get involved.

God is good

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

As we approach Christmas and celebrate what God has done for us in sending his son to live on earth and die for us, let’s also take time to pause and consider how God has acted for us this year. Of course, we have many things to praise God for, but here are just some of the things that he has done. Rejoice with us!

IMG_0786.jpg Bassar Bible is hereIn both February and September we focused on the challenges faced by the team working on preparing the Bassar Bible for printing (also called Ntcham). Here is a picture of translator Samuel Kpagheri holding the newly printed Bassar Bible, he says:

‘I have seen the first bound copies of the Bassar Bible! Tears of joy flowed on my cheeks.’

In February, June and September we asked you to pray for the Logo team of the Democratic Republic of Congo as they made final correction to the New Testament. The New Testament is in the final stages of typesetting before being sent to print.

In December 2013 the Executive Director Eddie Arthur announced his resignation and the process of finding his replacement began. In both January and again in April we asked you to pray for the search for a new director. In June we were excited to announce James Poole‘s appointment. James began work in September and is settling in well.

Dogara and RussellThe Theological College of Northern Nigeria’s linguistics and translation department was our focus in April as we shared the news of a significant shortage of teaching staff. Here are Dogora and Russell the new teaching staff who were in place and ready to start at the beginning of the new academic year in August.

In April we shared the initial successes of a Bible storying project in several languages of South Asia. Throughout the year we’ve heard of how the storytellers have been given many opportunities to share stories that have been translated and as a result people have given their lives to Christ.

We held Frontline Prayer Live on 8th and 22nd November in 3 venues. One participant said ‘This was the best prayer event I’ve ever been to.’ Another thanked us saying ‘I just wanted to thank you for such an inspiring and informative event …and what a privilege it was to pray with you and for Wycliffe and their partners.’

Thank God with us for these answers to prayer. If you don’t already follow ‘Standing in the gap‘ and receive a weekly email, why not subscribe and join the army of people praying for Bible translation worldwide? We’ll be sharing other ways God has answered our prayers this year in the following post – watch this space!

Prayer is the most powerful weapon

Friday, September 12th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Sometimes the opposition translation projects face is very obvious and at others it is much more subtle. Those working on the Bassar (also called Ntcham) Bible in Togo have faced both sorts in the last year. ‘The devil has been contesting this translation of God’s Word, but in all things God is sovereign, and His purpose cannot be thwarted.’

In ‘The heat is on: finishing the Bassar Bible‘  we told you of how God preserved the life of translator Samuel Kpagheri, the nearly finished Bible proof sheets and his laptop in a serious car accident in December 2013. Taxi roads DSC03265Shortly afterwards the Bible was sent for printing. But in June there was yet another setback when the team learned that, due to unforeseen circumstances, printing had not yet begun.

As a result, the launch that was scheduled for November had to be postponed until January 2015. However, word came at the beginning of September that the printing has, indeed, begun. Praise God that His purpose cannot be thwarted!.

Please pray:

  • that the printing of those Bibles to go well
  • for the safe shipping of the Bibles from Korea to Togo
  • for their smooth transit through customs
  • that they may arrive in good time for the dedication in January.

Not only has the project progressed but Samuel has moved on too. He has just about finished his first year of study for an MA in Bible Translation at the Africa International University in Kenya, a course which is partly residential, and partly done by following courses online.  He is training to be a translation consultant*, which will enable him to support translation in many languages.

As a member of Wycliffe Togo he faces a challenge as he now has to raise support for his ministry. Praise God that this has begun to happen. Samuel wrote: “We need not only financial support but also prayers from our partners. Prayer is the most powerful weapon God has given to his children.

Please pray that he will soon be fully supported.

* Translation Consultants work together with a team thoroughly going over the translation to check for accuracy, clarity and naturalness looking for omissions, extraneous thoughts and possible misconceptions.

Find out more about about translation work in Togo and  Wycliffe Togo. 

Getting everyone on board with Bible translation

Friday, May 9th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

The Ifè New Testament of Togo was launched in 2009 and has been impacting the community ever since:

Men reading Ifè New testament at the launch.

Men reading Ifè New testament at the launch.

‘Mr. Afonfere was a spiritual leader of the traditional Ifè worship of the god Dadoumè.

When the Ifè literacy program came to his village, Mr. Afonfere enrolled in the class, learning to read and write Ifè. Though initially not a believer in Christ, Afonfere nonetheless attended the launch of Ifè New Testament in 2009. He bought a copy and it became his custom to read as passage of Scripture each morning.

He was asked one day why he was so attached to his Ifè New Testament? He replied, “This book is a book of wisdom and riches for all of life.

Hearing of this response, Christians prayed for him and the Lord finally won Afonfere’s heart. In 2013, he told the village authorities, “Please appoint another person to be the leader of the divinity Dadoumè; as for me, I now want to follow Jesus.”

The Ifè association has started translating the Old Testament. They have decided to hold a public launch of the Old Testament translation work. The aim is to provide the opportunity for churches to grasp the weight and importance of this translation to which the association is committed, as well as to grasp the imperative role the local church must play in supporting this work. Not only the good wishes of the local Christians are needed, but also their practical and prayerful support.

The proposed date for the launch is 14 June 2014. However, the team needs to raise the necessary finances first.

  • Please pray that God will provide all that they need for the launch to go ahead.
  • Pray that many will attend and grasp the vision for the Old Testament translation.
  • Pray that the Ifè church will commit to practical and prayerful assistance of the project.

Find out more about Bible translation in Togo and Benin or about the Ifè translation association, ACATBLI (in French).

When the heat is on: finishing the Bassar Bible

Monday, February 10th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

We know, as Christians, that there will always be spiritual opposition to what we do to serve God. It has been our experience that when a New Testament or Bible is near to completion that spiritual opposition often increases. This story from Togo is a good example:

Samuel's car after the accident‘Praise the Lord for his protection of Bassar translator, Samuel Kpagheri. On December 23rd Samuel was driving to Kara for a final revision of hyphens and word breaks for the Bassar, (also called Ntcham) Bible. All of a sudden the steering wheel locked, the vehicle left the road and plunged into a ravine. The car was totally demolished, but by God’s gracious miracle Samuel, his computer and the pages of the manuscript were saved. Praise God! Samuel did have a minor head injury, but the outcome could have been very different. Samuel and all those involved with the project see this as part of the spiritual warfare they are engaged in. There is spiritual opposition to the completion of this Bible.

  • Ask God to continue to protect everyone and all aspects of the work.
  • Pray that they will succeed in completing the manuscript and having it printed soon in South Korea.
  • Pray also for the Bassar language association as they seek to organise a dedication ceremony for this whole Bible in November 2014.’

Praise God that Samuel has finished proofreading the Bassar Bible and it has been sent to South Korea. Please join us in praying for all that needs to happen before the Bassar people can hold the full Bassar Bible in their hands.

Download The Finish Line, a Wycliffe USA publication to help you pray for translation projects that are nearing completion.

Discover more about Bible translation in Togo.


Safe arrivals in Togo

Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by Hannah

Yesterday, five folks from Wycliffe’s Youth Network (WYnet) arrived in Togo, where they are due to visit the Bassar project, which they have been supporting for many, many years. Their latest update:

‘We have made it to Togo! The journey was very good; there were no delays of flights, we made our connection and security checks were not a problem. Our luggage made it too, in Lomé we found it all whilst we waited for our visas to be granted.

‘We are now at the SIL guesthouse in Lomé (SIL is a partner organisation of Wycliffe Bible Translators). Food was waiting for us; couscous and chicken in a green sauce, we then turned in for an early night after thanking God for the day.

‘Today has been very relaxed, a late-ish breakfast, a nice lunch, a few card games in between. Steve had to go out in the morning to change our Euros into CFA Francs and do a bit of shopping for our time in Bassar. Tonight we are spending some time with a member of Wycliffe called Becky who has been here for five years, helping to produce a dictionary in a local language – this will help standardise the language, aid new speakers of the language and improve the accuracy of Scripture that’s produced. In the last couple of years she’s helped to do personnel work for SIL.

‘Tomorrow at 7am we will start our journey to Bassar in a minibus. The journey normally takes around seven hours.’

Some people, like the translator in the Bassar project, do Bible translation by translating. Some do Bible translation by producing dictionaries and doing personnel work, like Becky. Some, like the WYnet team, do it by supporting projects through prayer, finance and encouragement.

Keep the team in your prayers as they travel. Find out more about how you can be involved with furthering Bible translation around the world.

Remembering Mary Gardner

Friday, March 23rd, 2012 by Hannah

Today we fondly remember Wycliffe worker Mary Gardner, who died in Jerusalem one year ago today, and celebrate the continuing work in Togo.

Mary teaching Greek in Togo

Mary had worked with speakers of the Ifè language, in Togo since 1990, and had been involved with developing a writing system and dictionary, starting literacy classes and preparing materials, and working on the New Testament translation with Togolese mother-tongue translators. In 2009, the New Testament was dedicated.

In the early part of 2011, Mary had travelled to Jerusalem, to The Home for Bible Translators, to study Hebrew. Learning Hebrew was part of her training to become a translation consultant, so that she could support the Ifè translators as they translated the Old Testament. It was on one of her days off when that a bomb exploded at a bus shelter where she was waiting.

We praise God for Mary, for her service and her love for the Ifè people. Her death has not stopped their work.

A Togolese organisation, ACATBLI (The Christian Association for Literacy and Bible Translation in the Ifè Language), runs the work of translation and literacy classes in the area, and progress is being made. Their literacy programmes have flourished: 6 areas are covered (including Ifè people in Benin), making up 100 study groups in which 4,000 people meet twice a week. As well as equipping them to read and write in Ifè, classes teach maths and French (the national language). Increased literacy has helped to share information about health issues, including HIV/Aids and Guinea Worm.

Members of ACATBLI shared this about remembering Mary:

“This March 23, 2012 will be the first anniversary of the death of our dear Mary Gardner Mariya from Ifè project wich becom ACATBLI today. Dear Mariya, ACATBLI and Ifè people will not forget you. Rest your soul.”

You can find out more about Mary from our biography of last year, and more about ACATBLI on their website (fr).

The Ifè are learning to read God’s word in their language. 350 million people still can’t, because they don’t have God’s word in their language. What can I do?

A Togolese Adventure

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 by Hannah

A couple of months ago, a small group of young people headed off to Togo to visit a Bible translation project that they have been supporting and praying for through WYnet, Wycliffe’s Youth Network. One of the adventurers, Nathan, reflects:

“I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect before I went to Togo. I’d never been that far away from home before or even left Europe, so culture shock was probably unavoidable. Several things immediately hit me when I arrived: the heat, the humidity and the road safety (or lack of it!).

On the first full day in Bassar, when visiting a church, I was captivated byseeing how the church service was conducted. Although the style of sermon and the arrangement of the church were far removed from what I’m used to, the Lord was definitely working.

I enjoyed sampling a new culture, with new customs and practices. Buying from the local market was certainly a new experience! Other activities like farming and cooking traditional meals helped give a better idea of what the culture and everyday life is for people there.

Seeing how the Bible translation happened was a highlight of my time there. I had a vague idea of how Bible translation worked but having the opportunity to get hands on and fabricate some Scripture booklets was great. It made the trip worthwhile to have something to distribute to people.

The Lord has really given me enthusiasm for evangelism and world mission since this trip. I’ve been praying for Bible translation in Togo for about three years now, but this trip gave me a far better picture of the actual situation and the specific things that need prayer.

The final thing that I took away from the trip was a new appreciation for the beauty, grandeur and majesty of the world that God has created. Seeing the stunning hills and landscapes there was just amazing. It became clear to me that God made such a wonderful world because he is such a wonderful God. That was probably one of the last things I thought I would take away from the trip, but for me was actually the biggest thing I learnt and the thing I will remember most.”

WYnet are devoted to supporting Bible translation and encouraging each other in their walks with God. If you’d like to know more, visit You can support Bible translation – even if you’re not quite of WYnet age anymore – through Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Celebrations in Nyamngan

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 by Hannah

The Gangam people in northern Togo and Benin are getting ready to celebrate the launch of the first New Testament in their language. Work started in the language more than three decades ago.

Celebrating a New Testament Launch in nearby language Moba

Celebrating a New Testament Launch in nearby language Moba

The New Testament has been completed, revised, typeset and now the tentative launch date has been set in November. Work on the Old Testament began as soon as the New Testament went for typesetting, such was the excitement and anticipation for the complete Bible in the Nyamngan language.

The Gangam people — who speak Nyamngan — number more than 80,000 living in both Togo and Benin. They make their living mainly from herding cattle and camels and from subsistence farming, growing millet, beans and guinea corn.

The agricultural nature of life hints at what the biggest obstacle to Scripture use will be after the launch: the literacy rate in the mother-tongue is estimated to be below one percent. So, even after the launch, work will continue to develop and distribute audio Scripture and the new Scriptures will be used to develop more literacy programmes. Find out more about the Gangam people from

The completion of a New Testament is a cause for great celebration. But the 80,000 Nyamngan-speakers are only a small proportion of the millions of people without the Bible in the language they best understand. You can be part of sharing God’s word with them.

Mary Gardner 1955 – 2011

Monday, March 28th, 2011 by Ruth

Born in Nairobi, Mary was the eldest of 5 children.  She started her education at the Kenya High School in 1967.  The family moved to Scotland when she was 15, where she continued her studies in Aberdeen and then at St Andrews University, graduating in 1977 with an MA hons in English/French.

Mary Gardner on her way back from JerichoShe then worked for 2 years with CMS teaching in Kenya, returning to spend a season at Lee Abbey Community in 1980.  From 1981, she continued teaching in Orkney as an itinerant French teacher, travelling between schools by plane and boat.  In 1986 she commenced further training at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, joining Wycliffe Bible Translators in August 1988 stating at the time, ‘The Bible has always been important to me and played a large part in my own conversion.  I am convinced of the value of the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators and that other aspects of mission such as evangelism and church planting are greatly strengthened by having the Scriptures in the language people know best.’

Embarking upon specialised linguistics training with Wycliffe’s British training programme, her preparations for life overseas accelerated.  After a valedictory service at St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Stromness in January 1990, she headed off to Cameroon for her orientation course, and then arrived in Togo in April 1990, the country that was to become her home for the next 20 years.

She was involved in a language called Ifè, developing the orthography (writing systems), working on a dictionary, holding literacy classes, and preparing materials including graded reading primers and maths books.  Bible translation began in 1994 leading to the Scriptures in print and on cassette, and the production of the Jesus film.  She became the leader of translation team, and trained national translators, working in a mixed team of expatriates and nationals.

At one point, whilst checking part of the translation of Romans, the group she was working with came upon ‘Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another…’ (Romans 13:8).  She relates, ‘The small Bible study group was struck forcibly by this verse.  Debt is a way of life in Africa.  Almost everybody owes money to someone, whether for goods bought on credit.  The Christian teaching that debts should be repaid as soon as possible was what challenged this little group as they read God’s word in their own language.  It was so applicable to their own experience, and reading it in Ifè gave it a new impact and a new determination to put it into practice.’

By 2000 the Ifè/French dictionary had been published; Mary was one of the two editors, and 17 October 2009 was the cause of great celebration as the Ifè New Testament was dedicated, nearly 30 years after the project first began.

She was training as a translation consultant, which requires a good grasp of Biblical studies, in order to help with Old Testament translation.  Thus she travelled to The Home For Bible Translators in Jerusalem in early 2011.  Those who studied with her can testify to her keen interest in hillwalking, and her appreciation of wild flowers. Halvor Ronning, (Director) says, “Mary was really enjoying the camaraderie and fellowship she had found in Jerusalem. She told us that until she got here she did not realise how alone and isolated she had been living for years in a remote village in Togo, the only European for miles around.”

Eddie Arthur, Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, said: “I cannot tell you how highly regarded she was. She was an extremely gutsy person, highly intelligent, with huge drive and the ability to stick with the project for 20 years in far from comfortable conditions. It must have been incredibly isolating at times. But she was completely dedicated to her work, and to the Ifè people.”

Mary had shared in one of her newletters, ‘When a person hears clearly what God is saying, it changes lives.  And so we persevere in translating the Bible into Ifè, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book.  We continue to teach people to read in their own language.  We hold courses for church leaders to help them use the Ifè Scriptures in the life of the church.  Why?  Because we long to see changed lives that glorify God.’

Mary’s own life was one that was changed by the Scriptures and which glorified God.  Tragically killed in a terrorist explosion in Jerusalem on 23 March 2011 aged 55, she is survived by her parents and siblings.