Burkina Faso is a land-locked country of the Sahel region of Africa and one of the world’s poorest countries. Its official language is French. Subsistence agriculture is the main occupation in the Bissa area which is in the south of the country, bordering Ghana and Togo.

Fact file

  • Country: Burkina Faso
  • Speakers: 80,000
  • Start date: 2011
  • Projected end date: 2020
  • Funds still needed for October 2017-September 2018: £17,891

At the start of the project there were no Scriptures available in Bissa Barka. The Bible has been translated into Bissa Lebir, a related language. The two Bissa Barka translators are adapting their translation from this related version. The small Christian community is keen to have the Bible in Bissa Barka to strengthen the churches and to lessen the misunderstandings which frequently occur when people hear the Bible in another language.

As well as translating the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the team have been working on compiling a dictionary, producing educational booklets and writing a guide to how the language is written.

We currently only have one church supporting this project, and are keen to widen its support base and increase the number of people praying for it.

A Bissa Barka village
Grinding flour

Project goals

  • to translate the New Testament into Bissa Barka
  • to train a national team to continue with Old Testament translation or to use their skills to serve other languages who also do not have the Scriptures
  • to see evidence of the impact of the Scriptures on church growth, on increased attendance at church activities, and a noticeable transformation in beliefs and practices, as traditional religions lose their grip and believers truly find their freedom in Christ

Opportunities and challenges

  • many pastors and church leaders visit the translation office regularly; they are impatient to have Bissa Barka Scriptures
  • the two translators have been able to attend several workshops to learn new skills
  • Bissa Barka literacy classes have recently begun, and are helping people to be able to engage with the newly-translated Scriptures

Prayer points:

  • praise God for the progress of the work of translation
  • 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

February 2018

Recent progress

  • last year 400 copies of Mark’s gospel were printed, and 81 copies have been distributed so far this year
  • the audio recording of Mark’s gospel for iPhone has been done and so far 20 people have requested copies
  • the consultant has finished checking John’s gospel
  • the revision of the books of Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians is now complete
  • the first draft of Acts has been completed


During the revision of the Gospel of John in the southern town of Cinkansé, a Bissa Barka pastor was amazed. He declared that these sessions have helped him to understand many things in the Barka language. Previously he had found some concepts difficult to translate into Barka because he had spent most of his life in the Moore language area, but now he has been relocated to the Barka-speaking area, and is delighted to be able to communicate the gospel clearly to his people.

A student in linguistics at the University of Ouagadougou saw some documents in Bissa Barka and was motivated to find the project coordinator. They met in September last year. This is what he wrote afterwards:

I had heard about Pastor B from two sources: one was an edited book and the other a Bissa Barka student. Now I have found him and I am more galvanised to learn to read my mother tongue – Bissa Barka. I have other resources such as a primer [reading book], Bissa nuunkii, the Gospel of Mark and a Bissa Barka orthography [explanation of the writing system].

Mrs Z, one of the revisers, says that through taking part in the revision, she has understood many things that she had not understood in other Bible versions (French and Bissa Lebir).

One of the revisers known as SF said, ‘Since I got the Gospel of Mark in Bissa Barka, this is what we use for our family devotions.’

Please pray for:

  • the members of the translation team, that God would give them courage, strength and good health for the work
  • the Lord to provide food for the population as this year's harvest is not good
  • the salvation of the Bissa Barka people
Bissa Barka literacy
Bissa Barka woman in a literacy class
June 2017

The team has now completed the first draft of John’s gospel, and are working on Acts. In addition, they are having a big push on literacy, opening three new classes and re-starting two old ones. This has already resulted in over 120 people being enrolled in literacy classes. Their testimonies give a fascinating insight into the value of this work:

‘I am a tailor but I have never been to school. I took measures mechanically by looking at the figures, it was only during the literacy class I realised what really matched these numbers. I am going every day for literacy teaching. Thank you very much for this initiative.’

‘I feel comfortable in the literacy class because what we learn is in Bissa Barka, my own language.’

‘I give thanks to God for the opening of this class here at Wambako [a Bissa Barka village]. The impact is already evident. Four of the learners began to read during the Easter celebrations. Many have the desire to read in the church and they are just waiting for the opportunity to do it.’

The literacy class
The literacy class

Praise God:

  • for his hand on the work
  • for good communication between and involvement from different partners in the project
  • for all the work the team have been able to accomplish

Please pray:

  • for the security of the country, which continues to be a victim of terrorist attacks
  • for competent and committed people to join the translation committee
  • for the members of the translation team; that the Lord will give them courage, strength and good health for the work
  • for the salvation of Bissa Barka people