‘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.
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, in Mongo, 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, the remote village of Baro 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.
Learning through translation
On a recent visit to encourage those translating in some of the more remote Guera language groups, the project administrator was able to see first-hand the impact translation can have, not only on those receiving it but also on those translating.
Among the Mawa people there are two local translators working on Scripture portions and a number of worship songs. The two translators follow different faiths and live in separate villages but both share in the joys of translation. For translator Joshua* it has opened up his eyes to more than just learning how to translate:
‘I am happy with the work I am doing. It not only helps me to earn my bread, but I am learning a lot: first of all, about my mother tongue in writing and speaking. Then I learn a lot about the question of God.’
Even though many in the Mawa area follow a different faith, the community has been eager to take part through helping with testing. They delight in hearing the word of God in their language and want to see the translation progress.
*name changed for security reasons.
In the last update we shared news of the Guerguiko New Testament being delayed on its way to Chad, meaning a postponed launch. The team is now facing further hurdles, but continues to wait patiently.
At the end of February the New Testaments did finally arrive in Chad, but have not yet reached the community due to Covid-19 restrictions. The team had rescheduled the postponed celebrations to take place at the beginning of April, but had to cancel these as large groups are currently not allowed to meet.
We praise God, however, that a small pre-celebration did take place on the date of the original launch, 1st Feb. Visitors from overseas were able to attend, and audio recordings of Matthew’s Gospel were given to churches. The team is also continuing to translate Genesis to give some backdrop to the New Testament, and is encouraged by increased church growth.
Where to go when churches close
As in so many communities across the world, churches in the Guera have had to close their doors to limit the spread of Covid-19. In the face of this, listening and oral storying groups have become a lifeline for many as they are able to share fellowship together.
Due to the small numbers, these groups are able to meet safely, and provide a space for Scripture to be shared. The importance of still being able to lean into God’s word is seen by the impact of these groups. The Kenga team has shared how lives are being transformed, with two local women attending and giving their lives to Christ.
Teams have also been looking into how to effectively resource and equip these groups to enable them to continue. All other activities in the community have been suspended due to restrictions.
Translated Scriptures continue to be used to equip evangelists with the resources to reach out to the many unreached groups in the Guera. Through collaborating with the local community in how these are shared, relationships are strengthened and more opportunities open up to share the Gospel.
The Dadjo evangelists have been able to openly sell Scripture SD cards and Scripture booklets on market day, and rejoice that they are experiencing much less hostility. They praise God that they can clearly see his hand at work in the amazing progress that has been made.
‘I find that people are interested in the word of God and try to understand how we Christians have an idea about this or that thing related to the word of God. I give thanks to God for this open attitude of listening to God's word.’ – Guera evangelist
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- local people still being able to meet in small groups for fellowship
- relationships improving in unreached areas and the growing openness to Scripture
- the arrival of the Guerguiko New Testament in country and the pre-launch celebration.
Please pray for:
- teams to be united and strong so they can make a greater impact on the life of the people of the Guera and on the church
- the impact of Covid-19 to ease so that many of the cancelled activities can resume
- God to grant teams wisdom so they continue to make progress.