‘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.
Joy at New Testament launch
The Guerguiko New Testament was launched on 28 December 2020. The launch had been delayed on several occasions due to Covid-19 restrictions and only just avoided another lockdown, which started a couple of days later. The persistence and patience of the Guerguiko people and translation team has finally been rewarded.
‘Now, today, the dedication of the New Testament gives me great joy,’ says Rateigna Terap, a member of the Guerguiko translation team. ‘I have the New Testament in my hands, and I am going to use it myself in my mother tongue.’
The launch event was attended by around 2,000 people. It included singing, dancing, speeches, presentations and food. Some new Scripture-based songs were sung in Guerguiko by local choirs, and public readings from the Guerguiko New Testament also took place.
During the event, several hundred copies of the printed version were sold, and there was an app version available for those with smartphones.
Listening and learning
The translation team is excited to extend their much needed literacy programme in the community. Some literacy groups are already running and local churches are preparing to start new groups over the coming months, enabling church members to practise reading their New Testament as they listen and discuss the New Testament texts.
Please pray that God will provide people who can lead these groups. Some local people who were preparing to lead have needed to leave the region after the rainy season to look for work.
Preschool programme extended
In 2005, the Dangaléat and Guerguiko communities opened a preschool with classes for four- and five-year-olds where they can learn in their own language.
In class, the children learn various different topics including reading and writing, basic maths, French, an introduction to school life and about their own culture.
The translation teams have developed various books to help with these lessons, including a teacher’s guide, an alphabet book, a large-format basic maths book, and a picture book for children who are learning to read.
This programme has now been extended to 16 language communities in the Guera region, with a maximum of 30 children per class. Teachers who follow the progress of the students as they go on to Grades 1 and 2 find that the students are the best in their classes, and remain so throughout primary school.
A change in 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 launch of the Guerguiko New Testament
- the increasing literacy levels, especially among children
- the many oral storying and New Testament listening groups and the fruit they are bearing in the community.
Please pray for:
- Guerguiko churches and believers to be able to engage effectively with the New Testament
- the provision of capable translators who can be well trained to be part of new translation work on the Old Testament
- God to help translation teams to persevere over many years.
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.