‘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!
In February, the Nyankpa team ran a two-day leaders’ forum to inform and challenge church leaders about the use of the Nyankpa language in everyday life. One of the challenges presented to the leaders was to use Nyankpa in church services, especially in the villages where it is the main language spoken. A number of churches have taken up the challenge and are holding services in Nyankpa once a month.
Church leaders have reported that the response has been very positive. Church attendance has increased on those days, especially of older members of the congregation who attend faithfully but don’t understand much of what is going on when it is not in their own language.
Last year, when the literacy coordinator held literacy events in Nyankpa villages, local people did not seem interested in attending. This year, however, at one event there were around 60 people there! Since there were so many people with different levels of ability they split them into two sections, one for beginners and the other for advanced readers. Everyone was happy with the literacy course and begged the trainers to stay longer. Although they were not able to stay at that time, they plan to hold more events like this in the future.
In March, the Ashe and Waci project teams were invited to give a presentation about their projects to local pastors and church leaders. They were happy to raise awareness of the translation projects and to compile a list of church leaders who are interested in helping with the work by checking the translations, suggesting improvements or approving texts for publication.
The people at the conference were interested to see what the teams had been working on. Fortunately they had taken along some of the books that were already published, such as guides to reading the languages and the Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel.
After the presentation, seven more Waci speakers volunteered to become part of the translation review committee.
Nyankpa literacy coordinator, Sunday Apeigo, is currently finishing the last semester of his university course. Teaching for the entire year was condensed into five months due to the Covid-19 situation, so Sunday has been very busy with his university work this year.
Another member of the team, also called Sunday, has recently moved about 30 minutes away from the language area so that his wife can attend an educational course. He is still able to travel to work in the office two or three days a week.
Student becomes teacher
The Duya literacy teachers were recently encouraged by one of their students who has made incredible progress. Only a few months after starting the literacy classes, she is so excited and eager to learn that she teaches the class whenever the teacher is away.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the success of the leaders’ forum
- the enthusiasm for the literacy classes
- continued protection for the teams as they travel around the area
- connections being built with local churches.
Please pray for:
- wisdom for the teams as they continue to build relationships with their communities
- the Waci team as they check Luke’s Gospel over the next few months
- more creative ideas for the Nyankpa team to use to help Nyankpa people see how they can get involved and help in the work
- the success of the Nyankpa literacy courses, and for potential teachers to be discovered from these events.
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.