‘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
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.
Prayers of protection
The Flame team has been reminded of God’s faithfulness as they weather opposition. Following the launch of the New Testament with Genesis, a small group with religious fervour, who see the Flame Scriptures as a great threat, schemed and plotted to harm project coordinator Pastor Paul*. Their initial plans were exposed and Paul received protection from civil authorities, but the group instead turned to spiritual attacks such as magic, sorcery and poisoning to take him down. Paul even received reports that his own family were collaborating with the group to bring him harm.
Through all of this, however, Paul has seen the Lord’s hand of protection over him - in the friend who is a moderate Muslim leader warning him of attacks and in the plans themselves being exposed. Looking back over the last few months is sobering but Paul concludes:
‘The Lord delivers us always. We feel that we are in the heat of battle and we know that your prayers are alongside us.’
Despite this small minority pressuring people to reject God’s word, the team continues to see a growing number of Muslim people avidly reading and mediating on God’s word, as well as sharing appreciation:
'Your New Testament is very beautiful, like the Koran; it’s even in Arabic-like Ajami script.’
Light shining in the community
Fears around Covid-19 have been heightening in the community as reported cases increase and stricter measures are brought in. The team is determined to not give in to these fears and knows that now, more than ever, people are in need of God’s word.
The team has been going above and beyond to continue distributing New Testaments whilst keeping everyone safe and healthy. With the help of a travel permit they have personally been delivering copies in areas where they are needed most. When in the office, the team is working hard to keep within Covid restrictions whilst remaining welcoming to anyone that visits. They happily sell copies of the New Testament to anyone who requests one. Although distribution is challenging, and may be limited at times, the team is putting their confidence in God as they continue so that the light of his word will shine in their community.
Translation team at work
We celebrate this month that translator Naomi* is currently on maternity leave with her newborn baby girl. We thank God for this safe delivery and good health of both mother and child.
Alongside continued translation of the Old Testament, the other two translators have been focusing on making edits to the New Testament audio recordings. In light of the momentum from the New Testament launch, it is now a key priority to complete these recordings so they will soon be available on a Scripture app.
A number of other vital resources are also being translated which will benefit the whole community. These include a number of Bible studies and Covid-19 health information.
Local church interest
Local churches have also been working closely with the Flame team to ensure God’s word reaches the whole community, with one Church recently providing a safe space for a series of underground prayer meetings. Together they covered the team in prayer, asking God for a positive community response to his word and for protection from spiritual attacks. Join them in prayer today.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the team finding ways to safely distribute Scripture in the community
- the safe arrival of Naomi’s baby, and the good health of both mother and child
- opposition not quelling the growing thirst for God’s word
- local churches utilising with joy the translated Scriptures, and supporting the team.
Please pray for:
- God’s protection over the team against all spiritual and physical attacks
- God’s word to have a powerful impact on Flame speaker’s hearts
- good progress on Scripture apps and translation of the Old Testament.
- religious leaders to be drawn to the Scriptures, that they may become ambassadors for Christ.