The Aghem people live in the Northwest region of Cameroon, not far from the frontier with Nigeria. Their homeland is made up of hills and lowlands, plains and plateaus.

Fact file

  • Country: Cameroon
  • Speakers: 26,700
  • Start date: 2005
  • Projected end date: 2018
  • Funds still needed for October 2017–September 2018: £116

The Aghem are mostly subsistence farmers, growing plantains, groundnuts, maize, bananas, sugarcane and beans for their own consumption, with very little that they can use to trade for other commodities. Not surprisingly, a large number move to the towns and cities to try to gain a better standard of living.

The long-awaited goal of the launch of the Aghem New Testament could be achieved at the end of 2018 if good progress is maintained.

The team has been showing the JESUS Film in Aghem villages and it has been very well received. Eighteen listening groups have been formed in Aghem, spread throughout the community and the churches, and literacy classes are now operational, based in four churches.

The use of Aghem in schools is being discussed with the education authorities. This project is being used to inspire related language communities and, using new software, the translation can be used to produce a draft in each of these related languages.

Project goals

  • to translate the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament
  • to establish a community-based literacy programme supervised by the church

Opportunities through literacy

Mama Elizabeth Shu gave her testimony: ‘I have been going to church every Sunday, but was never committed because I never saw the need; but when I started attending a literacy class in my church, my teacher gave me some portions of the Bible to read. Today I read very well and when I read the Bible in Aghem I understand better and it has changed my life for the better. I even preach to my friends who have been going to church without understanding anything, like I did. This is thanks to the literacy classes in my own language.’

Toh Vogegih said, ‘I was challenged hearing my kids reading the Bible in the mother tongue. When they left I picked up the portion of Scripture they were reading, to read it myself, but I could not. I then decided to start attending the literacy class situated beside my house. Today, I compete at home with my children on who can read and even memorise portions of the Aghem Scriptures better!’

Praise God for:

  • the leaders and denominations that continue to support the project faithfully
  • the good health of the project staff.

Please pray for:

  • people to continue to use their new literacy skills to read the Bible and allow God to apply his word to their lives
  • God to help those who took part in recent listening group training to take up the running of these groups in their churches
  • the timely completion and launch of the Aghem New Testament.
An Aghem child
An Aghem child
July 2018

Recent progress

Aghem team translators' copy
Members of the translation team with the printed draft version (Translator’s Copy) of the New Testament

The remaining checks on the New Testament have been completed, and the church is eagerly awaiting the dedication of the final printed version.

In the meantime, several Bible-listening groups are using a recorded app of the Gospel of Luke. The Aghem dictionary and book of local proverbs are nearly complete, and should be finalised in 2019. Also, the Lord’s Prayer posters, other literacy, Scripture and health resources, and 200 copies of a revised memory-verse book are now being printed and distributed.

Challenges and setbacks

Despite the progress on the translation work and the numbers of active Bible-listening groups, there have been some setbacks. The completed Aghem JESUS Film was supposed to be released in April, however it has now been delayed until September. There has been some dismay at the shifting dates for its release, as the Aghem churches are very eager to see it and to have the New Testament.

Also, as a result of the ongoing unrest in the northwest of the country, a curfew has been imposed from 8pm–6am. This caused a lot of fear in people’s minds, and affects attendance at literacy and Scripture-engagement classes. However, most groups have adapted by rescheduling the sessions for an earlier start.

Impact stories

Pastor John Meeh, head of the Kene quarter, challenged the members of his community to begin reading and writing in the mother tongue. He took the literacy supervisor from door to door to mobilise them and their children to join a literacy class, and he and his children were the first to write their names on the class list. He said, ‘Our mother tongue is escaping while children speak rubbish. It needs to be revamped and documented!’

Today Kene quarter has one of the best literacy results, thanks to his efforts.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • two primary classes being taught in Aghem
  • the staff who are still willing to volunteer, and for Tschong Nelson (one of the translation team members) being able to do his PhD
  • the JESUS Film being finalised for release, and the churches’ eagerness to see it.

Please pray for:

  • peace and stability in the country
  • a functional literacy programme to be launched in Aghem as the farming season starts
  • a successful launch of the JESUS Film and the New Testament
  • the Lord to provide food for the population as the harvest this year was not good
  • God’s assistance and support for the work during the rest of 2018.
January 2018

Good news

Romans, Hebrews, Philemon and Revelation have now been reviewed, completing the whole New Testament check! A draft version of the New Testament was printed, and its arrival was celebrated by the whole team.

Aghem NT translators copy celebration
Celebrating the arrival of the draft Aghem New Testament

Bad news

Recent social unrest in the two anglophone regions of Cameroon has affected the usual pace of work, and the military presence makes people afraid to leave their houses. This is a major setback for most of the project’s activities, because people don’t feel secure. It has discouraged attendance in literacy classes and some people are even doubting God’s care for them.

Praise God for:

  • the complete checking of the Aghem New Testament
  • the families in Aghem that are open to listening to the recorded Gospel of Luke
  • good health for all the project staff.

Please pray for:

  • churches to continue to open their doors for the project’s activities such as Bible translation Sundays
  • an effective literacy programme in Aghem, especially during the farming season
  • all those who took part in the Listening Group training to use it in their churches
  • an end to the ongoing crises in the two anglophone regions of Cameroon
  • God’s wisdom with the consistency check and the translation of the glossary into Aghem.