The Guerguiko New Testament was launched at an event in Moukoulou, in the Guera province of Chad, on 28 December. The launch had been delayed on several occasions and only just avoided another lockdown in the capital, N’Djamena, that started on 1 January, but the persistence and patience of the Guerguagui people has finally been rewarded.
For the Guerguiko-speaking community, finally being able to handle the printed New Testament is a joyful and literally hands-on moment.
‘Now, today, the dedication of the New Testament gives me great joy,’ says Rateigna Terap, a member of the Guerguiko translation team. ‘I have the New Testament in my hands, and I am going to use it myself in my mother tongue.’
A former member of the translation team, Issa Atche, says: ‘Truly, the Guerguiko New Testament is of great importance to the community. Today, we are very proud to have now, in our hands, the New Testament in Guerguiko.’
Translation work first started on the New Testament 28 years ago. Although the printed New Testaments arrived in Chad at the beginning of 2020, a series of events caused the launch to be put back. Initially, the New Testaments were blocked in customs. Then the original launch event in April had to be abandoned because of the coronavirus pandemic. And finally, when a new launch date was announced in October, those who wanted to come from the capital, N’Djamena, were so desperate to attend that they asked for the date to be moved to a holiday time, which the organising committee did by moving it to December.
The event was attended by somewhere close to 2,000 people. The event mixed singing, dancing, speeches, presentations and food. Highlights included the singing of some new Scripture-based songs by the choirs, and public readings from the Guerguiko New Testament. Several hundred copies of the printed version were sold, and the app version was also available for those with smartphones.
A vital community aspect of finally having the New Testament is that it will accelerate literacy efforts among the Guerguagui. Local churches are preparing to start reading and listening circles over the coming months, which will enable church members to practise reading their New Testament as they listen and discuss the New Testament texts.
‘We have 2,000 copies of the NT, and all we want is for all the Guerguagui community to learn to read it in their language, because it is the word of God, it is universal,’ says Ramadan Tara, who oversaw the launch event. ‘We have done everything to raise awareness among the population and the various churches so that people will sign up for the community literacy classes and learn to read, so they can access the word of God in their language.’
And Nangdjegue Khamis, a member of the translation team, comments: ‘My wish is putting into practice this New Testament. It must be read all the time. If literacy classes are there, then the women and those who have not been to school can enrol and can learn, so each can read the word of God in the Guerguiko language to better understand it.’
‘There were times when we wondered if we would ever see the Guerguiko New Testament!’ says Caroline Tyler, who serves with Wycliffe in Chad and helped to support literacy and preschool work among the Guerguiko for a number of years. ‘But the community has persisted in prayer and trusted God that the launch would happen in God’s time. And now here we are! This New Testament means the Guerguiko-speaking believers will have renewed motivation as they teach and reach people with the good news of Jesus. It will also help them as they seek to increase literacy throughout their community.’
The Guerguagui (also known as the Gergagi/Guergagi/Guerke – literally ‘the people who live around Mount Guera’) number about 50,000 people and live in central Chad. Their language, Guerguiko, is also known as Mukulu, Gergiko and Gergi.
Notes to Editors
1. For further information, call Jeremy Weightman on the Wycliffe Communications Team on 0300 303 1111.
2. Wycliffe Bible Translators seeks to enable all peoples to engage with the Bible in a language that speaks to them best. It does this through a range of activities, including Bible translation, literacy and Scripture use initiatives. Currently, Wycliffe has 360 people from the UK and Ireland serving 530 million people who speak 360 languages in 71 countries. Of the 7,360 languages spoken worldwide today, only 704 have the Bible. Around 1.5 billion people (1 in every 5 people) do not have the Bible in their language. As a result, translation of the Bible into people’s languages is one of the critical needs in world mission, to enable the growth of evangelism and discipleship ministries.
3. Wycliffe Bible Translators and its partner organisations are currently involved in about three-quarters of global Bible translation efforts.
4. Images. You can download the following images to accompany the press release, by clicking on the ‘Image’ link and then saving to your desktop. All images should be credited as follows: © 2020 Wycliffe Bible Translators.