‘When people read the Bible in French, it is like God is speaking in parables... When people read the Bible in Migaama, even the little ones can understand.’ – Migaama oral storyteller
- Country: Chad
- Speakers: 400,000 people
- Languages: working with 11 different languages
- Start date: 2009
- Projected end date: 2024
Chad is a country with very little urban development outside its capital, N'Djamena. In the centre of Chad lies the Guera, a region known for its mountainous terrain and one that is highly diverse, with 26 different languages and a variety of religions.
People live in villages spread across the area and many rely on subsistence farming. Schools and medical facilities are not easily accessible because of the distances involved in getting to them, and the literacy rate is very low. Due to how hard life can be, an increasing number of people have moved to urban areas.
Across the Guera there is a mix of Christianity, Islam and traditional religions. Some language groups have small churches and others no known Christian believers. The languages of trade and government are French and Arabic, but many people are unable to speak them. As a result, local churches face the challenge of making Scripture available in the many different languages as well as reaching out to their non-Christian neighbours.
For many years, translation teams have been partnering with local churches and organisations to translate the New Testament into five languages. Praise God that amazing progress has been made, with three New Testaments now completed. Alongside this, portions of Scripture and oral Bible stories are being translated into 11 other languages so local evangelists can share the good news of Jesus with the many unreached people groups. The Guera is also a highly oral culture, so a number of local people are being trained to run listening groups, where Scripture is shared on audio devices, and oral storying groups, where people gather together to hear Bible stories.
Join in praise and prayer for the Guera:
- Ask God to help translation teams to persevere over many years.
- Pray for the provision of capable translators who can be well trained to be part of new translation work on the Old Testament.
- Praise God for the many oral storying and New Testament listening groups and the fruit they are bearing in the community.
- Pray for church leaders in the Guera to be enthusiastic about using the local-language Scriptures, especially the newly published Guerguiko New Testament.
- Lift up to the Lord all those involved in adult literacy and children’s preschool programmes and pray for efforts in churches to encourage people to read Scripture.
- Give thanks that people’s lives are being transformed through their faith in Christ.
Across the Guera, oral storying groups have been gathering again, in all kinds of places from millstones to the sides of fields. Believers and non-believers alike have been eagerly listening to stories being shared and discussed. Through these, communities are being brought closer together.
Among the Guerguiko people, those listening to stories have found it impossible to keep them to themselves. One woman shared the stories she had heard with her friends and, little by little, as interest increased this turned into her own group. Each Sunday they meet together with joy, and also receive support from local church leaders.
It has been encouraging for the Dangaleat groups to see Muslims’ attitudes towards Christians softening as they listen in. Many have realised how beautiful the Bible stories about the lives of the prophets are, and that believers have good things to share about the word of God. In other areas, storying groups are seeing non-believers reaching out to them directly, with one Muslim teacher asking for prayer after falling ill.
We praise God that oral storying is uniting all kinds of people, and that there is such a thirst for God’s word.
Scripture on the way
Rejoice with the Migaama team as they celebrate a wonderful moment after more than 20 years of translation work. They have worked hard to finish the final checks and typesetting of the New Testament, which included collaborating with church leaders, who helped check key terms. With this stage now complete, the New Testament will soon be printed!
Meanwhile the Guerguiko community continues to await the launch of their completed New Testament, which was delayed due to Covid restrictions. This has been rescheduled for Christmas time to tie in with holiday celebrations. Whilst people wait, the team has been sharing SD cards on which Scripture has been recorded.
There have now been no reported cases of Covid in the Guera region since August which means that restrictions have continued to ease. Places of worship and schools have now fully reopened, and teams are slowly restarting activities.
Many storying groups have resumed, and in some places new groups have begun. Teams have been visiting churches and villages to bring encouragement and to work with them to find ways for all Scripture engagement activities to restart. Translation teams and committees have once again been able to take part in training and workshops, on themes such as income generation and the role of Christians in peaceful cohabitation.
Alongside these activities, it has been a great relief to once again have access to mobile internet services that had previously been shut off by the government. Thank you for your prayers.
Singing a new song to the Lord
The wonderful gift of music enables people to express their worship to God in new and creative ways, something which local oral storying group leader Esther* has discovered.
Moved by the Bible stories she so often shared with her community, Esther decided to compose a song in her language based on the story of Abraham – a song expressing the importance of following God’s call on our lives, just as Abraham did. And a song which, we rejoice to hear, is now being sung in Esther’s church.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- there being no recorded cases of Covid in the Guera region since August
- many activities and workshops recommencing
- the overcoming of internet problems enabling translations to progress
- communities coming together around God’s word.
Please pray for:
- the delayed Guerguiko New Testament launch to finally go ahead in December
- the Holy Spirit to be at work in all activities and touch many people’s hearts
- wisdom from God on starting new projects in areas where there are no churches
- God to continue to strengthen, equip and encourage the teams.
Gathering around God’s word
Although they may be fewer in number, some oral storying groups have been able to continue whilst Covid-19 restrictions have been in place. These groups have brought encouragement to believers, and also to non-believers, who often listen in. To enable more groups to resume, leaders are being equipped with audio devices to allow people to listen to Scripture more easily.
As well as meeting with their own groups, oral storying leaders have been busy sharing with those meeting together for worship. For many months people have been unable to gather in large groups or at church services so have instead been meeting in small family groups. Through oral storying, these groups have been able to listen to and interact with Scripture.
We also praise God that in the last few weeks the government has allowed places of worship to reopen, enabling churches to once again swing wide their doors and welcome people in.
It has been a relief for teams working from the main office, that it has been able to remain open despite fears that it may be forced to close due to the pandemic restrictions. This has enabled vital routine activities to continue, such as paying salaries and monitoring progress, alongside translation.
In the last few weeks, however, teams working in the Guera have come up against a new challenge. The government has shut off access to some mobile internet services on which they rely to work, and communicate with one another and with the main office. This connection is even more important in the light of Covid-19 travel restrictions which have left teams separated from one another. Join in urgent prayer that the government will soon reinstate the connection, and that this issue won’t cause too many translation delays.
But the teams are remaining positive, and discussions are being held as to how to reinstate activities in the local community which were put on hold, and how to help teams to move forward.
‘Thanks for your faithful support! Work is still happening despite all of the challenges!’ – Guera team member
Connecting across borders
Due to the travel restrictions many teams have been left separated from one another, resulting in the work on translation taking place remotely. Those working on the Migaama translation have used online tools for three-way communication between the capital N’Djaména, a remote Migaama village in the Guera, and Canada. This has enabled them to make good progress on the final corrections of Matthew, Acts and James. As they near completion of the New Testament, join in prayer that they would make wise decisions and that they themselves would be shaped into the likeness of Jesus Christ as they do this work.
Sharing health resources
As in so many parts of the world, Chad has felt the impact of Covid-19. Due to limited testing, and many people being unaware of the symptoms, it is difficult to know the full picture in the Guera. Numbers of reported cases in the area are, however, still low, and there have been few reported deaths.
Efforts have been made to limit the spread of the pandemic. An important tool in this fight has been to provide communities with up-to-date health information. To increase the reach of this information it is vital that it is translated into the many different languages. Through working with partners in the Guera, the main translation organisation in Chad has coordinated an effort to translate health information into ten Guera languages. As well as printed resources, a health-awareness video has been made available in the Kenga, Mawa and Guerguiko languages.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- places of worship now being allowed to reopen
- teams continuing to connect and make progress on translation via online tools
- the health resources now available in ten Guera languages.
Please pray for:
- the activities planned for the next few months to be able to go ahead
- God’s protection over team members and their families
- the Migaama team as they carry out the final stages of completing the New Testament
- the internet problems to be resolved.