‘The word of God is like alum. When it enters dirty water, the clean water separates from the dirt. And the clear water is pure again for drinking. This is what I want the word of God to do to us and our community.’ – Local community leader.
- Country: Nigeria
- Languages: Nyankpa, Waci, Ashe and Duya
- Speakers: approximately 359,000 across all four languages
- Start date: 2008
- Projected end date: 2022
The Ashe, Duya, Nyankpa and Waci communities are spread across central Nigeria, about a two-hour drive from the capital city, Abuja. Local villages are often very remote, and some can be completely cut off during the rainy season. The majority of people are subsistence farmers, growing rice, maize, beans, peanuts, okra and yams, but also cash crops such as sugar cane and ginger.
There is already a strong Christian church in the Koro area, but the only Bible available is in the official language of English or in another major language, Hausa. Using the Bible in these languages limits understanding, and many people still observe traditional religious practices alongside Christianity. Few literacy opportunities exist, further limiting engagement. Christians in the area long for the Bible in their own languages in order to ignite transformation at individual and community level.
There are currently four local translation teams working across the Koro area, each passionate about Scripture reaching the hearts of their language group. These teams have been trained and equipped with the tools to complete translation of the New Testament, which they are working towards, alongside encouraging local churches and communities to engage with Scripture. All four teams have made significant progress and one team – Duya – is close to completion, carrying out their final checks over the next few years. To further increase the reach of Scripture, audio versions are also being produced.
To show people that their languages are valuable and matter to God, the team is developing language resources and establishing a locally-led literacy strategy to enable people to read and write in their languages. This provides the tools for people to further engage with Scripture.
Join in praise and prayer for the Waci, Nyankpa, Ashe and Duya people
- Praise God that he has equipped and sustained the teams over many years, enabling translation to progress.
- Pray for local people to develop a hunger to know God’s word in a deeper way which will lead them to invest in the work of Bible translation
- Pray for the community leaders who have agreed to offer their time to this work in each language community. Ask for renewed energy, and for more leaders to step forward who have a vision for the work.
- Pray for the challenge of young translation teams working with community elders. It is often difficult for the old to listen and support the contributions of the young in these communities. Pray for older people to be advocates for the translation teams, especially for the younger team members.
- Pray for the Koro teams as they promote, distribute, and ensure widespread use of the translated Scriptures in the next couple of years. May their efforts bear much fruit!
Training local people
The impact of Bible translation, and your support, has been rippling out in the Waci community, opening up all kinds of opportunities. This is something which local man Paul Madak has seen in his life:
‘Before now, I did not know how important it is to be literate in my mother tongue. Now I know that I have been in darkness all this time.’
Paul, like many others across the Koro region, has been able to attend literacy lessons provided alongside the work of translation. These enable people to engage more easily with Scripture, but also access other vital resources such as medical information and further education.
To ensure that literacy classes are sustainable and can continue to be provided for people, new local teachers are being trained up. In early October, 11 new local literacy teachers were equipped with the skills to start literacy classes in their own communities. Paul attended the training and shared his delight:
‘I will go back home and do my best to see that more people from my community also learn to read, write and understand in the Waci language so that more people can come out of darkness into light.’
For the last four years Moses has been working part-time, along with Arams, to translate the Bible into Ashe. He has been juggling translation with a number of church responsibilities which have become increasingly demanding. As a result, Moses has decided to step away from translation to focus on church ministry. We praise God for the many blessings Moses has brought to the team, and his commitment to ensuring his people have access to God’s word.
Moses’ absence will be felt, but we praise God that two new local people have been identified as potential translators – one part time and one full time – and Arams is currently helping to train them. Alongside the new translators, a new literacy coordinator has also been identified, helping to fill a vital gap. Thank you for holding the team up in prayer during their search.
Sharing the good news of Christmas.
We rejoice that this year the Ashe people have been able to uncover the Christmas story in their own language. The whole community was brought together to celebrate the launch of some exciting new Christmas resources.
The team worked hard to publish the first two chapters of Luke, and a Christmas story book, so people could read the story of Jesus’ birth in their language. These were met with great excitement and more than 200 copies were sold. The event helped to raise the profile of Bible translation but most importantly gave the Ashe people much to celebrate at Christmas as they read of Jesus birth.
A Gospel milestone
The Nyankpa people will soon also be to read the Christmas story. The Nyankpa team has been working hard to make the final checks to the Gospel of Luke which is now ready for publishing and has been audio recorded. The aim is to make the recordings available via SD cards and audio device early next year, followed later in the year by printed copies.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- God’s protection from the pandemic, meaning restrictions can ease and teams can meet together in person again
- the success of literacy classes and the enthusiasm for learning to read and write in their language
- the provision of willing people to fill the roles of Ashe translators and literacy coordinator
- churches increasingly taking delight in using Scripture in their own language in worship.
Please pray for:
- God’s blessing on Ashe translator Moses and his family as he focuses on church ministry
- the wife of Waci translator Ibrahim, who has been struggling with her health
- the Duya team to stay focused as they press on with final reviews of the New Testament
- wisdom and good discussions as the Nyankpa team builds key relationships.
The Waci team has been making waves in the local community – over the radio. Having caught the attention of the local radio station FARMA, the team was invited on air.
Three radio shows were broadcast, in which the team shared updates on Bible translation and gave listeners the opportunity to phone in to interact with them. The response was explosive. People called in to ask questions, give encouraging words, express their joy and share their hopes for the future of the work.
These kinds of interactions with local people provide a vital opportunity to boost awareness of Bible translation. As people begin to recognise the importance of translation, it is hoped that they will invest in and support the work, ensuring it can continue long into the future.
Earlier in the year we shared news that the Nyankpa team was considering some potential candidates for the role of literacy coordinator. The team has now welcomed local man Sunday Apeigo into this role. Already Sunday has been hard at work engaging with district leaders, and organising literacy training.
Since there are fewer restrictions in rural areas, Sunday was able to move around freely. He visited a number of a villages, spending five days in each place carrying out literacy training. This was met with much excitement from local people, and also increased interest in the project. One participant in the village of Turkpa, Amos Francis, expressed gratitude on behalf of his village:
‘The training was extremely helpful for all of us. It felt so important and like something that we had been missing.’
After a number of setbacks, the Ashe team is still searching for a literacy coordinator. The local language committee has expressed how important it is to fill the role, recognising this as a real need, and is continuing to work hard to find someone.
Working with the word of God
As well as local communities and churches growing in their faith, translators are seeing transformation in their own lives as they engage daily with Scripture.
Local team members Moses and Arams are working hard to translate the Bible into Ashe, and shared a little of the impact this has had on them:
‘We feel so happy that we have learnt and are still learning more of the word of God. Our motivation is in knowing that we are... working with God's word. This is helping us to live godly lives, striving to be good examples and models to our families and our communities.’
It has been a difficult season for the Koro teams with much of the work slowing significantly. With restrictions continuing, team members have been left separated from one another, and forced to find new ways of working. For example, the Ashe team members have been connecting over the phone, and via video calls when the internet connection allows, and the overseas team member has compiled a training guide to enable more independent work. Pray for teams as they continue to rethink ways of working, and that these challenges would draw them closer to the Lord.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- teams growing in their faith through translation
- the warm response the Waci team received during their radio appearance
- the Lord helping Nigerians to overcome panic, and the church drawing together during a time of crisis.
Please pray for:
- teams to draw closer to the Lord as they lean on him in the face of challenges
- the Ashe team in the search for an additional translator and literacy coordinator
- safe ways to meet together amidst travel restrictions and security concerns
- God’s help for Nigeria as it faces the impacts of a Covid-related recession.