‘When you have finished translating and when our children read this, then this town will understand the truth and will change!’ – A Flame* imam
- Country: West Africa
- Language: Flame
- Speakers: More than 300,000
- Start date: 2007
- Projected end date: 2028
The Flame people live in the central region of a country in West Africa. Over 99% of the 500,000 Flame speakers are Muslims. In recent years some Flame people have moved to surrounding towns and neighbouring countries for work, but the centre of Flame cultural life remains in 60 or so small villages. Homes are very tightly set together in groups by family clan. A circle of rooms provides a central courtyard for cooking and eating in the day and for protecting sheep and goats at night. The language of education is French, and the majority of rural students do not continue beyond primary school. As a result, literacy rates are very low.
The Flame language is used for business and trade by several surrounding Muslim groups, making it the most widely spoken language in the region. It is therefore a key language to translate the Bible into so that many unreached people in the region have the chance to hear the good news of Jesus.
We pray that Flame Muslims and the surrounding groups will read God’s word and turn to Christ as their saviour.
We praise God that the Flame team has completed translation of the New Testament and Genesis. These portions of Scripture were launched in the community in April this year. The focus going forward is to translate the rest of the Old Testament, which will help to build stronger bridges with the Muslim community. From an Islamic perspective, the biblical canon comprises the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch), the Prophets, the Psalms and the Gospels. The team will therefore first translate the Torah, then the Psalms, then the Prophets and then all the remaining books, so that in 10 years’ time, the whole Old Testament will have been translated.
To increase reach of Scripture, the team is also aiming to record all of the Scriptures so people can listen to them and share them on mobile phones. To meet literacy needs and bless the community, the team works in cooperation with local non-governmental organisations to teach Flame* literacy classes for adults.
The team’s ultimate hope is to see individual lives and Flame society transformed through people hearing God’s word in their own language and growing in relationship with him.
Join in praise and prayer for the Flame people:
- Praise God that the New Testament with Genesis has been translated and is now in the hands of the community.
- Pray for the team as they work on the translation of the Old Testament and prepare the audio New Testament.
- Ask God to protect the team against any spiritual and physical attacks from adversaries.
- Pray for the sale and distribution of Scripture and for the impact of God’s word in the hearts of the Flame people.
- Lift the Flame people up to the Lord. Pray they would thirst after the Scriptures, and for their transformation in giving themselves to Christ.
* name changed for security reasons
Ten new literacy classes
Recently, the Flame team received funding from a partner organisation to run ten additional literacy classes this year. A refresher course was promptly organised to prepare ten teachers; it has been a challenge to launch classes at short notice, but both the teachers and learners have shown amazing commitment and enthusiasm.
Both the first- and second-year students in the existing classes are making very good progress with their reading skills, and some of them have received additional lessons in maths.
The teaching team would really like to have more copies of the textbooks for the students, but there is currently no extra stock. Please pray that they would be able to get more books soon.
Helping the community
In June a representative from one of the project’s partner organisations visited Flameville* (the main town) to distribute Covid-19 banners and handwashing stations to seven churches and mosques.
Later that month the team held a full-day seminar for 30 participants on how to read and write in Flame, using the Ajami (Arabic-style) script. Team leader Pastor Paul reports that this seminar opened doors in the community for mutual acceptance. During the seminar the team was able to honour one of their long-term collaborators. His faith community had previously been hostile towards his collaboration with the Flame project, but during this event his work was recognised and validated.
‘We understand Scripture better in Flame’
A pastor of one of the local churches wanted to raise awareness of the Flame team’s work. To motivate his church members to read the Flame New Testament for themselves, and to use it to reach out to their community, he launched a reading competition. There were prizes for those who had read the most over three weeks.
The Flame speakers in his church found the challenge quite easy. But he was surprised and encouraged by the number of those who speak Flame as an additional language who also learned to read the Flame New Testament very well in just three weeks! All of the participants said,
‘We prefer to read the Flame New Testament because we understand Scripture better in Flame than in French.’
‘I recommit myself to God’
The translation team is making good progress with several Old Testament books. They have read through and checked the books of Exodus and Joshua and look forward to inviting members of the community to read them and give their feedback as soon as Covid restrictions allow.
They are also planning to hold a workshop in September to begin drafting 1 Samuel.
One of the translators writes:
‘The team checking sessions have led me to discover what God expects of his children… I see that when we are faithful and patient, God will accomplish for us, in the right time, wonderful things. I recommit myself to be faithful to God, and to persevere, so that I do not miss out on any of the good things God has promised me.’
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the ten new literacy classes that will be starting soon
- good relations with the local community
- the enthusiasm of local churches and leaders
- good progress on the Old Testament translation.
Please pray for:
- God’s protection on the Flame team members
- the additional literacy classes to be successful and bring blessing to their communities
- the Scriptures to have an impact on local believers
- the ongoing work on the Old Testament.
As part of their plans to promote the use and development of the Flame* language, the Flame team held a two-day seminar at a local secondary school. The seminar was aimed at Flame people working for the government, in schools and businesses, who are already literate in French but want to learn how to read and write in Flame.
25 people came to the seminar, which involved lessons on grammar and how the Flame language is written. They were also encouraged to promote the Flame language themselves. Participants studied three books over the two-day course and prizes such as T-shirts, books and New Testaments were given to the winners of a writing competition.
The Flame team was very pleased with the response to the event; those who attended were very enthusiastic and wanted to spread the word among local chiefs so that seminars like this can be run all over the area.
New Year encouragement
Throughout January it is traditional in the Flame region to visit friends and neighbours with a card or small gift as a New Year greeting. The Flame team members usually distribute their own calendars and cards. This year, producing calendars was expensive and they are already well known in the area, so they almost decided not to do this, but now they are glad that they did.
Last March they invited the local chief of the majority religion to attend the New Testament launch. He came in person and was given a copy of the New Testament. The team decided to follow this up with a New Year visit. They were a little concerned that he would not like seeing himself in one of the calendar pictures, but he was happy to receive it.
He asked his visitors for a new copy of the New Testament because he had shown his copy to a friend, who wanted to keep it. The chief wanted a replacement as it was ‘very interesting to read’.
This simple gesture allowed them to see the impact that God’s word is having on influential people in the local community:
‘Our hope is strengthened into faith. People walking in darkness will receive the light and the spiritual darkness will be no more.’
God’s Story continues
Covid-19 is still having an impact on the work in the Flame region. Travel restrictions have made running training courses difficult and simple tasks like going into the town are made harder by law enforcement checkpoints.
Despite these challenges, in December the team launched the ‘God’s Story’ app in the Flame language. At the launch event they sold DVDs and memory cards to local pastors, missionaries and churches. The app guides users through what the Bible says about commonly asked questions such as, ‘Where did we come from?’ ‘Is there a God and can we know him?’
There is great spiritual hunger among local Christians. Only a handful of authorised churches are able to meet in person and Zoom church is not common, as internet data plans are very expensive for most people.
Changes to updates
We wanted to let you know that these project updates will be changing. In order to ensure we are stewarding our resources well, we shall be sending updates twice a year rather than quarterly. We pray these will continue to encourage you as you see God at work across the world.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the good feedback from those who attended the transition literacy seminar
- ongoing good relations with local religious leaders
- the launch of the ‘God’s Story’ book and app
- good sales of the Flame New Testament following the launch last March.
Please pray for:
- good health for the Flame team members
- distribution of the Flame New Testament to local churches
- spiritual thirst to lead people to read the New Testament, and for the fruit of this – lives transformed and relationship with Christ
- ongoing work on the Old Testament.