‘I could not imagine for even one second that I would see a translation of the New Testament in my own mother tongue... Praise be to God!’ – Bissa Barka church leader Mrs Diessengo

Map of Burkina Faso


  • Country: Burkina Faso
  • Language: Bissa Barka
  • Speakers: 80,000
  • Start date: 2011
  • Projected end date: 2022


The community

Burkina Faso is a land-locked country in the Sahel region of Africa and one of the world’s poorest countries. Its official language is French, but it is home to an estimated 71 different languages, one of which is Bissa Barka. Subsistence agriculture is the main occupation in the Bissa Barka area, which is in the south of the country, bordering Ghana and Togo.

The need

Churches regularly use the trade language, Moore, as well as the neighbouring language, Bissa Lébir, and then orally translate into Bissa Barka. Although there is some degree of multilingualism in the Bissa Barka area, many people understand very little of any other language than Bissa Barka. The small Christian community is crying out, as a result, for the Bible in Bissa Barka to strengthen their churches and lessen the misunderstandings which frequently occur when people hear the Bible in another language.

The project

Before this project began there were no Scriptures available in Bissa Barka. Spurred on by translation into the neighbouring language, Bissa Lébir, a team is now working on translating the New Testament into Bissa Barka. To increase access to Scripture, a vital part of the project is to also provide literacy classes for the many people who are unable to read and write, as well as audio versions of Scripture.

Alongside Bible translation, the team has been producing language materials and running workshops to encourage church leaders to use translated Scriptures. A local team is also being trained to ensure that translation will continue on to the Old Testament and so they can use their skills to serve other communities without Scripture in their languages.

The hope is that through this work the local church will grow and believers will truly find their freedom in Christ.

Join in praise and prayer for the Bissa Barka people:

Local church member, Josias, being baptised
Bissa Barka church member Josias being baptised
  • Give thanks to God for the progress the team has made with translation and pray this would continue.
  • Praise God for good health and his protection over the team members and their families.
  • Praise God for the good start to literacy work among the Bissa Barka people.
  • Pray for many Bissa Barka people to put their trust in Christ.

Latest News

June 2020
Reading Scripture together
Reading Scripture together in your own language

Partnering with local churches

Over many years of Bible translation the Bissa Barka team has built positive connections with local leaders and churches. Through these partnerships, awareness of the great need for Scripture in Bissa Barka has grown.

One church leader, Sare Joseph, shared his experience and why it is so important to continue with translation. In his own church he noticed a change when they shared the Gospel of Luke in Bissa Barka:

‘We noticed the enthusiasm at the reading of the Scriptures in Bissa Barka. In reality, when we read the Scriptures in other dialects, we feel a kind of disinterest or indifference because the language is neither natural nor really understandable.’

Sare also now helps the team with the revision stage of translation, and has been able to meditate on the revised portions when they are complete. He has shared that he has come to treasure these Scriptures, and seen them bear fruit in his own life.

At the most recent meeting of church leaders this prayer was said for the team. We invite you to join with them today:

‘Our prayer is that the Lord bless them and give them the strength and means to finish the work for the happiness of our people.’

Bissa Barka online

After spending time at a media workshop run by a partner organisation, the Bissa Barka team worked hard to create a website. Recognising that more and more people are using digital platforms, they decided to put together this exciting online resource. The brand new website contains an array of audio and visual Scriptures, as well as a number of cultural resources. The hope is that this will increase the reach of Scripture and encourage people to celebrate their language. As more resources become available they will added to the website. If you would like to take a peek, follow this link or search: www.bissa-barka.net/fr/node/1

One of the team wearing his mask.

Persevering through Covid-19

Over the last few months in Burkino Faso Covid-19 restrictions have been introduced. The team members are all well and have been adapting to new ways of working.

The team is able to work in the translation office with precautions in place, but progress has slowed due to being unable to carry out community-focused translation stages such as community checking. They have instead altered their translation schedule to focus on drafting further books.

Churches are also unable to meet but translator Alphonse shared that, although he has to worship from home, he has been able to reflect deeply on Ephesians 5:14-17 and how he can use this time for the Lord.

Balaa, hɔ lɛʋ k'a tɩ yɩŋ sɩrɩɩsɩrɩɩ bɩ han à ba à taaŋ lɩgɛgule. Bɩ y'a ka n n a hɩn n ʋ q Ɩrɩɩ k'ɩ tɩ hunkubaŋ bɩ, gu hunku ma, q ɩ ɩ bɔ genno bide n, q kʋn Krista n lɩgɛgu ɩ n. Han bɩ minto bɩ, k'á dudu á hɔbar gi mɩŋŋa. - Ephesians 5:14 in Bissa Barka

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • churches and leaders recognising the importance of Bible translation and supporting the team
  • the opportunity to share Scripture on the new Bissa Barka website
  • the newly trained literacy teachers
  • God providing for and protecting the team.

Please pray for:

  • The team and community as they deal with the impact of Covid-19
  • the planting of churches that worship in Bissa Barka
  • the ongoing security of the country and the threat of terrorism
  • wisdom for the team as they look for ways to progress with translation.
February 2020

Scripture for all

Ouandaogo reading Scripture in Bissa Barka

Being able to share translated Scripture with the whole community has been having an impact on believers and non-believers alike.

Ouandaogo Seydou Jacques, who is a Muslim, recently shared his amazement at being able to access the word of God in his own language. He is now able to read and understand Scripture much more easily.

‘What impressed me about the Christian faith is the accessibility of the word of God. I thank the Lord for this work and may he bless all those involved in it.’

The team continues to actively encourage local people to read portions of Scripture as they become available and prays this will open their hearts to the truth of the Gospel.

Literacy needs

Providing translated Scripture is not the final step when it comes to giving people access to God’s word. Many Bissa Barka people are unable to read, which makes the translated Scriptures inaccessible. Providing literacy classes is therefore a vital stepping stone. The team also recognises the need to provide audio versions of Scripture for those who find it difficult to read.

For learner Bancé Noelie who was unable to complete her education, literacy classes opened up a door – and not only for her but for those around her too:

‘I followed the literacy lessons assiduously. Today, I am able to read and understand well, especially the translated biblical texts, and I help children to do so too.’

Project and progress

Over the last few months the team has been making encouraging progress with translation. A few highlights have been:

  • the drafting of Hebrews and 1 and 2 Thessalonians
  • carrying out a community check on Romans
  • making revisions to James and Philippians
  • attending a workshop on Revelation.

Increasing local capacity

A vital part of the sustainability of Bible translation is investing in the development of local staff. Through taking part in training, attending workshops and meeting with other translators the team is able to grow their skills and increase their capacity to carry out the work God has called them to in their community.

In November last year the Bissa Barka team, beginning work on the book of Revelation, took part in a week long workshop to help them to start out in the right way. Following on from this they were able to progress more rapidly with the drafting of Revelation, and expressed the need to take part in more such workshops. As a result, they would next like to attend training on completing the New Testament to help them in their final steps.

A national celebration

Every year celebrations take place to mark Burkina Faso’s national independence day, and the latest one gave the team even more reason to celebrate.

The city of Tenkodogo, which is located in the Bissa Barka region, was chosen to host the celebrations. It was an occasion of joy for the Bissa community to not only host the event but also use it as opportunity to share the Gospel. Local churches and organisations gathered together to reach out to the community with the good news of Jesus. The team also praises God that no security issues arose at the event.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • a smooth start to the new school year
  • God’s help in the national independence day with bad events being prevented before the celebrations
  • believers and non-believers engaging with the word of God
  • God’s provision and wisdom enabling the team to progress with translation.

Please pray for:

  • the security of the country and God’s protection over the team and their families
  • the planting of churches that worship in Bissa Barka
  • the salvation of souls among the Bissa Barka community
  • the translators to continue to grow in their skills and use these to bring them closer to finishing the New Testament.