‘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!
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.
Listening with joy
The Ashe team regularly connect with the local community through meeting with leaders, speaking in churches and carrying out community testing, and have even been involved in a local music festival. These events also give the team the wonderful opportunity to share Scripture in the Ashe language and see first-hand the impact of this.
At a community testing session in the village of Chigwa, two elderly men, Jatau and Adukwa, followed the translators to their next meeting in order to express their joy at having heard the word read in Ashe, and to ask to take part in future testing. This joy has also been expressed by leaders, such as the Ashe Chief, Bisa, who heard Scripture read at a recent meeting:
‘I never imagined that one day I would hear the Scripture being read in the Ashe language.’
The team praises God for these interactions and that they too have felt much happiness at being able to study the word of God in their language. They share this verse as encouragement:
Ahãrã ni obe shé takɔɔ, amma irɛmŋwe e ime shini tayɔɔ. – Luke 21:33 in Ashe
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. – Luke 21:33 in English (NIV)
As in so many parts of the world, Nigeria is seeing the impact of Covid-19 and looking for ways to limit its spread. An important tool in this fight is providing communities with up-to-date health information, which will enable them to take preventative measures.
To increase the reach of this information it is also vital that it is translated into the many different languages across the country. In response to this need, the Nyankpa and Waci teams have been able to use translation software to produce a booklet on the preventative measures which need to be taken. The teams’ next challenge is working out how to distribute these safely while the current restrictions are in place.
A child of God
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Waci translator, Jonathan, and his wife, Alheri, have suffered the heartbreak of losing a child. They praise God for his safe delivery on 9th April. After a brief illness, however, he passed away on 20th April. They named him ‘Ahuma’ which means ‘my own’ in Waci.
With Covid-19 restrictions in place, it has often been difficult to continue work. The area where the language communities are has been under complete lockdown. Teams are unable to travel to the city of Jos for workshops, and staff due to assist the teams are unable to visit. Travel restrictions within the area have also meant limited access to the translation office and it is challenging to work from home. Teams have, however, been persevering with translation when they are able, and restrictions are beginning to ease.
The real truth inside
The Koro teams are committed to working with local churches, encouraging them and helping as they deal with struggles. Nyankpa church leaders have been battling the issue of people distorting understanding of the power of the Bible. They have found people carrying out ‘Bible turning’, using the Bible as a charm to determine if someone is telling the truth or lying. It is these distortions which can so often come when people do not understand Scripture because they read it in a language that isn’t their own. As people read the Bible in their own language, they come to see that the Bible is not some magical holy book, but one that has real truth inside that can change people’s lives.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- relationships with local churches growing in strength
- the new literacy coordinators already making progress in the community
- the joy with which people are reading Scripture in their own language
- teams being able to use translation to raise awareness of health issues.
Please pray for:
- protection over the community and teams as they deal with the impact of Covid-19
- provision of a third Ashe translator
- wisdom as teams look for ways to continue to work during lockdown and move forward
- Waci translator Jonathan and his wife to know the Lord’s comfort and peace following the heartbreak of losing their child.