‘It was amazing to watch God work in the lives of the Israelites as we went through the book of Esther.’ – Koma translator
- Country: Ghana
- Language: Konni
- Speakers: 8,000
- Start date: 2011
- Projected end date: 2022
The Koma people live in the Northern Region of Ghana. Their villages are sometimes described by their neighbours as ‘overseas’, because all the major paths leading to the area cross rivers and are impassable by vehicles in the rainy season. Their location has not only isolated them from education and development going on in other parts of Ghana, but has also isolated them from the gospel.
There are a small number of Muslims and Christians among the Koma people, but 96% follow the traditional animist religion, which includes animal sacrifices and ancestor worship. In 2006, the Konni New Testament was completed, and we praise God that it has already had a huge impact. However, it is now vital to translate the Old Testament, which has a lot of similarities with the traditional religion and culture. Koma society is largely oral, so there is also a need for audio Scriptures.
The Koma translation team is currently working hard to translate the Old Testament into Konni, which is now fully drafted and in its final stages of checking. Alongside translation, the team are helping to encourage local churches to utilise Scripture in their own language and equip them with evangelistic tools such as the JESUS Film and the God’s Story video. They have already seen the impact of these, with many people accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour and churches growing in strength and number. Audio versions of Scripture are also being produced to enable more people to hear the good news.
Join in praise and prayer for the Koma people:
- Pray for churches in Ghana to have the ambition of the apostle Paul: to preach the gospel where Christ is not known, so that they would not be building on someone else’s foundation (Romans 15:20).
- Ask for God to grant the team and their families good health as they work, particularly in light of Covid-19.
- Praise God that the team is close to completing the Old Testament, meaning one day soon the Koma people will have access to the whole Bible in their own language.
- Pray for an increasing number of Koma people to accept Christ into their lives.
- Pray that the Lord will replenish the resources of those who give towards this ministry.
‘Disability is not inability’
One afternoon while the team was visiting the Koma community, they came across a local man called Gorogu Seidu reading one of the Konni* literacy booklets. Gorogu was injured when he fell from a tree some time ago, so he has to use a wheelchair now. When the team asked him about his motivation for trying to learn how to read and write in his own language, he told them that during the farming season, almost everyone in the village goes to the farm to work and leaves the disabled behind. He wants to learn how to read and write so that when he is left alone, he can read his Konni New Testament, as well as the many other books that are available in the language. Konlan shared why he thinks that this is so important:
‘Disability, they say, is not inability’ – Konlan, Koma Team Leader
*Konni is the language of the Koma people
Nearing the finish line
The Konni Bible is almost ready to be sent to the printers! The team is continuing to revise and check the New Testament. They have completed revision of the Gospels and some of the Epistles. They will soon be reading through the whole Bible before it is sent off for the first stage of the printing process later in the year.
People from local churches are getting involved with the project, reading through the Scriptures to make sure that they can be understood. They are enjoying reading the Konni Scriptures and are making many helpful suggestions to the team. Church leaders are encouraging their congregations to use the Konni Scriptures in their services too.
The team has also organised showings of the JESUS Film in local churches, which have been well received.
Ahead of the next set of literacy classes beginning, the team put on a one-day refresher training course for 16 literacy teachers to remind them how to use the Konni literacy resources.
This year, 140 students were enrolled in classes across all of the different levels. The classes normally happen during the dry season (Oct–April) as there is not so much to do on the farms, so the young people have time to learn in the evenings. During classes the teachers look after the whole class and the students are encouraged to help those who are working on the levels below them, alongside their own work.
The hard work by both the teachers and the students paid off. By April, 15 students had completed the whole literacy programme. They were all given a copy of the Konni New Testament.
The team has, of course, been affected by Covid-19. Many of the project’s activities, such as the literacy classes and the showing of the JESUS Film, will now be put on hold. Churches have been unable to meet, as the government has advised people not to gather in large groups and to ensure a social distance of about one metre. Thankfully all members of the team are well, and they can continue to work on translation from home on their computers.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- continuing good health for the Koma translation team and their families
- the good progress that has been made in revising the Konni New Testament
- the success of the literacy classes
- the news that many Koma people and churches have continued to use the translated Scriptures.
Please pray for:
- the literacy classes and JESUS Film showings to be able to resume when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted
- the team as they complete the various checks to get the whole Konni Bible ready for the final stages
- provision of a good vehicle for the team, as the current one is old and often breaks down.
In the hands of the community
The full Bible may not quite be complete in Konni, the language spoken by the Koma people, but that doesn’t mean they have to go without Scripture. Alongside distributing the New Testament, the team has been coming up with ways to share books of the Old Testament.
Rather than leaving the community to wait for the full printed Bible, using translation technology the team is able to print PDFs of Old Testament books as they are completed. They are also uploaded to a phone app to increase reach.
This has led to Scripture reaching the hands of more people in the community than ever before, with churches, individual believers and even local Muslims utilising the resources.
A Christmas shared
Local churches came together over the Christmas period to share the good news of Jesus in their community. This was done creatively with the Church of Pentecost and Good News Church organising a showing of the JESUS Film.
Many gathered to watch the film, which gave them the chance to witness Jesus’ life for the first time in their own language. We praise God that during this time 43 people gave their life to Christ. The churches have committed to looking after these believers, and continue to pray for them.
We praise God that he has been working through your generosity and prayers. The Koma team sends greetings, with gratitude for your partnership in Christ:
Thanks once more for your prayer and support for all these years. May the Lord replenish your
resources and grant you good health and strength as you continue to serve in his vineyard. – Konlan, project manager
Join together in prayer as the team continues to make significant steps forward in ensuring that one day soon the Koma people will have the full Bible in their language. The team is now working on the final revisions of the Old Testament before being able to prepare it for print.
A unique language
Alongside progressing with the Old Testament the team has been taking the time to look back over the translated New Testament.
Through doing this they are able to make revisions which ensure the Scripture sounds more clear, natural, and accurate to the Koma people.
The team has discovered that some of the key terms used need to be revised. For example, new terms for beliefs and miracles have now been introduced. Project manager, Konlan, shared how this has also reminded him how unique the Konni language is, and the need to celebrate this.
Literacy for life
Literacy has been opening the door in the community to more than just learning to read and write. The Koma team has been equipping local churches with the tools to run Literacy for Life classes using Scripture.
Literacy for Life classes are run in local churches and, alongside the usual literacy resources, learners are given Scripture guides. Teachers come alongside learners to help them work through the guides and at the end of the class learners are given the challenge to memorise a verse of Scripture. As people gain confidence in their reading and writing skills, they are then able to engage more fully with the translated Scriptures and apply them to their own lives.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- literacy classes and JESUS Film showings being able to restart now the rainy season is over
- people coming to Christ through the showing of the JESUS Film
- the team being close to finishing the Old Testament
- understanding of Scripture growing and impacting people’s lives.
Please pray for:
- the team to be able to identify the areas of the New Testament that need to be revised
- good health for the Koma team members and their families
- the team and community as they begin to see the impact of Covid-19
- the Koma people and church to continue to use the translated Scripture.