‘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.
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.
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.