‘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.
United celebration among the Migaami
On 30 December 2021, the Migaama New Testament was launched in Baro, Chad, with a great celebration. Over 500 people came, and there were readings from the Migaama New Testament, dancing, singing and food.
This came only 12 days after the enthronement of the new ‘Chef de Canton Migaami’ (the Chief of the Migaami area), who said at the launch: ‘The word of God translated into our language can change lives.’ The enthronement of the Chief had helped to bring reconciliation and forgiveness among a number of village chiefs who had been in conflict for a long time; these chiefs were united at the New Testament launch.
There was a strong sense of community and harmony among all the Migaami, Christian and Muslim alike. A group of Muslim women happily cooked the food for the celebration so that the Christian women could attend the event. Emma, who serves with Wycliffe Bible Translators and worked with the Migaama translation team, commented:
‘Such participation and cooperation was not imaginable in the recent past when there were tensions between the Christian and Muslim communities.’
Recording of the Migaama New Testament
In August last year, a team from Ghana came to record the Migaama New Testament. They had a closing ceremony on August 31 with the Migaama readers, three translators, along with various church leaders, committee members, and others. The community was very thankful to God for this accomplishment. The translators also expressed their thanks:
‘God has done marvellous things among the Migaama people, and we think that with this translated word many will hear and will be called by the Lord.’
Guerguiko Listening Groups
The Guerguiko listening groups have been working well, although they were put on hold during the rainy season. Women seem to be more interested in the stories than the men are. Some of them say that they want to become Christians, but they are afraid of their husbands.
One young man asked to buy a ‘Proclaimer’ (a listening device) for himself because he felt that 30 minutes at a listening group was not enough for him, and he wanted to carry on listening to the Scriptures at home.
Many non-Christians have been attending regularly, which has been encouraging for the leaders of the groups.
Praise God that his word is being used and engaged with in these communities, and that the people of the Guera are learning more about Jesus.
Peace and stability
After concerns following the death of President Idriss Déby at the hands of militant forces last April, the political situation in Chad is now much better. Government control has improved security so the team can move around without worrying; they give thanks for peace after the uncertainty. The Covid-19 situation is also much better, as infection rates have been declining and there are now very few cases.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- unity and peace at the Migaama New Testament launch
- the recording of the Migaama New Testament
- peace and stability after a time of great uncertainty
- a decline in Covid infections
Please pray for:
- the Migaama New Testament to be used effectively as it is read and listened to
- courage for the women in the listening groups to embrace Jesus
- God to continue to sustain and protect the team
Stories from the evangelists
A group of evangelists from the Guera region met together at the end of June to share stories of their recent work.
One man reported that he takes a listening device to the local health centre and plays chapters of the New Testament for the people waiting there each morning. He has had a number of interesting conversations with local people and has been able to give out some Chadian Arabic New Testaments. People who are interested often come back to him to discuss what they have read.
At Christmas he gave out 160 books as gifts for local children. The local Islamic committee was not happy with what he was doing and instructed the Muslim families to burn the books, and some did so. But some families kept the books, as other local Muslims intervened and said that those who had agreed to burn the gifts were not true Muslims. The families who regretted their actions received replacement gifts.
Another evangelist has been able to make good contacts within his village. He has distributed tracts and was able to gather a group of 12 people together to watch the JESUS Film. He was also able to distribute over 150 Christmas gifts to the children in the village. Among the participants at the gift-giving event was a local Imam.
‘The path of Jesus is good’
‘S’ is a lady who works with the team telling Bible stories. In her village she is called ‘Pastor’ because of her strong Christian faith. Her husband, a war veteran, is not a believer. In their culture he could have forbidden his wife to follow her faith, but he has not prevented her from sharing the good news.
As part of her work, S has a listening device that plays stories from the Bible. Her husband has a hearing problem so found it difficult to listen to the stories, so during the night, she put the device under his pillow so that he could hear it as he was falling asleep.
After he had been listening to the stories for a long time he said to her,
‘Truly, S, the path of Jesus is good, only there is shame and other things of life that make people have difficulty in making their declaration.’
New Testament news
After the New Testament dedication last December, 20 new Guerguiko New Testament listening groups were created, with a total of 325 people attending. Six churches are involved and the team can already say that the New Testament is being used effectively. They continue to pray that many lives will be changed and that the church will become strong.
The story of the Migaama New Testament is also almost finished. The books have been printed and have arrived in the region, and a dedication service is being planned for December. The team is also working on an audio version.
In May a song composition workshop took place with three of the Guera language groups represented – Migaama, Dangaleat and Guerguiko. There were 52 participants from 11 churches, and they composed 12 songs during the three-day event, which were recorded to be used in churches.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the interest in the villages where the evangelists work
- the effective use of the Guerguiko New Testament
- the completion of the Migaama New Testament.
Please pray for:
- ‘S’ as she witnesses to her family and friends
- continuing good relationships with local leaders
- the recording of the Migaama New Testament.