In 1995, Esther Buss and a group of her friends decided to begin supporting the Leafa* translation project in Kenya. ‘We wanted to get in at the very beginning of a translation project,’ she says. Her church and friends formed a group now known as ‘Clifton Friends’, and made plans for a visit in March 1997.
The Bible has played an important role in Esther’s life. She was brought up in a Christian home, and when her father was away in the Second World War, she knew that God her Father was watching over him as well as her. Her mother read to her and her sister from the Bible every day. Her church also shared the importance of clear Bible teaching.
When Esther was nine, she saw some German prisoners of war filling in a trench near her home in England, and one man dropped his gloves into the trench without noticing. She was so frustrated.
‘I could tell him. But I could not speak his language and he could not understand mine!’ So perhaps it is not surprising that she developed a passion for sharing the good news of Jesus with people in the languages they understand best.
God speaks Leafa
When the project first began, Leafa had never been written down. By the time Clifton Friends visited, the project leader – a Kenyan man whom God had called to serve the Leafa people – had established good relationships with the community and was working on an alphabet and dictionary.
Esther and her friends have walked alongside the Leafa people for over 25 years, praying for them, supporting their work financially and visiting them. Life is still very difficult for the Leafa people. Famine, lack of educational opportunities and violence in their area have meant the journey has not always been smooth.
‘I long to see more people hearing or reading the word of God in their own language’
But despite the challenges, the team continues to make progress. They have now translated 22 of the 27 books of the New Testament. At each milestone, Clifton Friends – and other churches and individuals across the UK and Ireland – join their brothers and sisters thousands of miles away in praising God for what he has accomplished.
As Esther says, ‘God is working his purposes out. He is God of the Leafa, and he speaks their language.’
Can you help?
Schoolteacher Gillian and retired minister John have also found new ways to use their time and talents to serve God through Wycliffe.In fact, John is part of the team that writes and sends reports, helping Esther to stay connected with the Leafa project.
‘I don’t think there are many times when I haven’t been encouraged!’ says Esther. ‘I love the Lord, I love his word and I love his people in Kenya. I long to see more people hearing or reading the word of God in their own language and coming to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.’
And as God works out his purposes through Bible translation, there are many different ways you can get involved. Click the button below to find out how.
Header photo: Leafa children in class
*Name changed for security reasons