‘For a long time I have heard teachings and sermons on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I even read that portion of the Bible several times and in different versions. But when I read the crucifixion scene in my own language, I shed tears! The words chosen to describe the scene were accurate and natural, and were very moving. Tears flowed, even without me realising it!’ – An Ifè believer

Map showing locate of Ife project on the border with Benin

 

  • Country: Togo and Benin
  • Langauge: Ifè
  • Speakers: 170,600
  • Start date of the Old Testament translation project: 2014
  • Projected end date: 2026

 

The community

The Ifè people live in the southern part of Togo and in part of neighbouring Benin. In the towns many speak the trade languages or some French, but in rural areas where the majority of Ifè live most only speak Ifè. For many, life is centred around agriculture, and there is little access to schools, medical facilities or clean water.

Thirty-five years ago there were few, if any, Christians among the Ifè. Many people followed the traditional religion, which involves ceremonies and sacrifices to many divinities. But today we praise God that the number of Ifè Christians grows daily. The translation of God’s word has been a key factor in that change.

The need

In 2009 the Ifè New Testament was published. Since that time, more and more people have been seeing the power of Scripture at work in their own lives as they have the chance to read it for the first time in their language, but Ifè Christians long for the whole Bible in their own language. There is also a need to encourage believers in their faith and equip churches to worship God in their own language, whether through Scripture or song.

The project

Local believers reading the New Testament together in Ifè
Translator Komi reading New Testament with local Ifè lady.

The team continues to make progress with translation of the Old Testament, with the aim of completing it by 2026. Alongside this, the team is working with local churches and organisations to encourage people to engage with Scripture, with the hope more lives will be transformed by the living word of God.

To increase the reach of the New Testament, an online and an audio version are now available, and a number of local people are being trained to run listening groups. The team also regularly shares Scripture over the radio and equips churches with resources in their language. Finally, the team has been involved in a major adult literacy effort for many years. While the funding for that (from other partner organisations) has ceased, the team continues to run a few classes, teaching people to read, write and do basic maths in Ifè.

Want to find out more? Then visit the project's very own website (in French or Ifè) or Facebook page.

Join in praise and prayer for the Ifè people:

  • Praise God that the Ifè New Testament has been completed.
  • Pray for wisdom and energy for the translation work and for the team’s other activities.
  • Pray for an increase in the number of church leaders using the Ifè New Testament for their services.
  • Ask God to protect the team and their families and keep them in good health.
  • Pray that many Ifè people’s lives would be transformed through the word of God.

Latest News

November 2020

Listening to the word

Kaleb gives an audio device to Kadjato

We praise God that listening groups, who gather together to listen to Scripture on audio devices, have been able to start meeting again recently. The team has been very encouraged that three new groups have also started up.

Kadjato is an Ifè speaker and an evangelist. The team met him when he came to the office to pick up one of the audio devices. Kadjato had been playing audio recordings of Scriptures in the market place in his village, but local people had not been interested, as the recording he had was not in Ifè.

One evening he was listening to the radio and heard a New Testament passage being read and explained in Ifè by the team, who also said that audio recordings of the whole New Testament were available.

He travelled to the office, collected an audio device and was trained to use it. When he got home he told two of his friends, who are pastors, about it, and they have all started their own listening groups.

‘I would like to express a big thank you to …donors, who have made available to us, the servants of God, this precious tool to help us in the work in the Ifè region.’ – Kadjato

Radio lifelines

Ifè radio broadcasts, like the ones that Kadjato listened to, have been vital for local believers during the last few months. Covid restrictions have meant that believers have not been able to meet in church. They love these broadcasts, and local church leaders have been getting in touch with the team to ask for the portions of Scripture that have been translated, but not yet published. The team has been more than happy to print these for them.

Through the broadcasts an increasing number of people are also becoming interested in the Ifè language, and becoming aware of the importance of having the word of God in Ifè. They are participating more and more in the teachings from the Ifè Scriptures. Sermons, when they can be preached, are being interpreted into Ifè, and 60 copies of the New Testament have been sold in the last three months, despite ongoing economic problems.

Team changes

Going-away meeting for Komi and his wife

Komi, the Project Coordinator, has a new role as the Togo-Benin Translation Coordinator based in Kara in the North of Togo, around four or five hours’ drive away from the area where the Ifè team works. Although he will still be doing some work with the team and stay in contact with them, he and his family have moved to Kara to begin his year-long transition into his new role.

 

Komi has been part of the Ifè team since 1999. He was a new Christian when he was first involved with the project, but through his work his faith and his knowledge of Scripture have grown, and his wife, having seen the changes in his life, has also become a believer.

Continuing to make progress

The team is continuing to make progress on the translation of the Old Testament. The book of Joshua is ready to go to print in early 2021.

They are also continuing to assist with the translation of public health information relating to Covid-19.

Restrictions are lifting a little, so they hope to be able to run some workshops and training in the New Year.

Team needs

Please pray for translator Kaleb’s daughter who is in hospital and needs an operation on her foot. Pray for Kaleb as he needs God’s provision for her operation and hospital stay, and for wisdom for the medical staff as they treat her.

Please also pray for provision of a new vehicle for the team as Komi is taking his car with him to Kara. He was the only team member with a car, and some of the areas they visit are inaccessible without one.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • the listening groups that have restarted, and the three new groups
  • God’s protection from Covid-19
  • the progress made on translation and the team’s continued perseverance
  • the good response to the radio broadcasts.

Please pray for:

  • continuing good health and strength for all the team members and their families
  • Kaleb’s daughter’s health, and her operation
  • Komi and his family as he starts his new role
  • the provision of a vehicle for the team.
August 2020

A new understanding

Partnering with local churches is a vital part of increasing the reach of Bible translation. This is something which shines through in the ministry of Mr Samuel Fombo, a local Ifè church leader.

Another church leader, Yakuba, recognising the need for Scripture in Ifè

Samuel, who is deacon of an Assemblies of God church, regularly read the word of God in French and Éwé (a majority language). But as he read he struggled, like so many others, to understand the true meaning – a realisation which came through his involvement with the team in the testing of the Ifè translation of Deuteronomy. As he began to read Scripture in Ifè, his understanding grew. This has not only impacted his own life, but has also now rippled out into his congregation as he is able to preach with more confidence and testify how important it is to read Scripture in your own language.

Samuel is not alone in his experience; the team is encouraged to see a growing number of church leaders recognising the need for Scripture to be in Ifè in order for it to truly touch people’s lives.

Trusting in the Lord

Feeling inadequate, uneducated or even worthless are emotions which so many of us battle with during different seasons of life. For former Ifè literacy student, Abla Deborah Fombo, this story is familiar, but she praises God for pulling her out of this condition.

‘From zero, from nothing at all, the Lord made of me the person I am today.‘

At the age of 25 Abla felt uneducated so she enrolled in Ifè literacy classes. During this time she was able to read Scripture in Ifè for the first time. As Abla’s faith grew, she felt God call her to Côte d’Ivoire for further education, where she remains today. This journey was not without its challenges, but Abla has learned the importance of trusting in the Lord throughout. Today Abla wants to encourage other people, no matter what stage of life they are at.

‘It is not easy. People will make fun of you, but it is enough to know for yourself what you are seeking and that the Lord is faithful and can raise you up with dignity if you want to learn. Accepting to learn to read in your language is accepting to learn to read the word of God to better understand God.’

Sharing Scripture

Covid-19 restrictions may have brought many challenges for the Ifè team with cancelled training, events on hold and churches closed, but it has also led to creativity as the team turns to technology to share Scripture.

The team has been using a number of different tools. They have promoted the New Testament through placing an image on their WhatsApp status, made announcements over the radio, shared details on Facebook and informed church leaders, who in turn have told their congregations. As a result, 40 New Testaments have been distributed over the last few months. The team has also been encouraged to see a thirst for God’s word, in particular amongst young people, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Translation progress

The team continues to persevere with translation, and has found ways to safely meet together, resulting in encouraging progress. A few highlights have been completing the first draft of Proverbs 20-31, team checking of Deuteronomy and Ezekiel and carrying out an exegetical check on Daniel 4. The translation organisation which helps oversee the project has also continued to translate health resources into Ifè and has been regularly passing these on via online social networks, and over the radio. These have been received with gratitude by local people.

A local marketplace

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • the team continuing to find ways to distribute New Testaments
  • God’s protection over the team in light of Covid-19
  • the progress made on translation and the team’s continued perseverance
  • churches and individuals growing in their faith and understanding of Scripture.

Please pray for:

  • good health and strength for all the team members and their families
  • the next stage of translating Isaiah, Haggai, Psalms, Deuteronomy and Malachi – consultant checking
  • Scripture engagement activities to be able to resume soon
  • Churches to increase their understanding of the need to support the project.