‘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!
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.
In December a 300 strong congregation from the Waci community joyfully gathered together for a worship service like no other.
A Baptist Church in Aribi opened its doors to welcome people from a variety of denominations to take part in a service in the Waci language. Everything, from the songs sung to the sermon and Bible readings, was done in Waci, a new experience for many. The joy of being able to freely worship in Waci was shared by Mrs. Lami Tanko who attended:
‘I was overjoyed by the worship. I feel like I have heard God speak to me, because I understood the Bible portion and the sermon. It would be good, if we can do more worship services in our language.’
Not one, not two, but three of the Koro language teams have been preparing to welcome a new team member to coordinate literacy work. Filling these roles will be one of the first steps towards initiating a community led literacy programme giving people the chance to read and write for the first time.
The Waci team has appointed Rev. Hassan Kagarko to the be their literacy coordinator, and the Nyankpa and Ashe teams have identified some potential candidates to take on the role in their communities. The initial focus for the coordinators will be to recruit and train local teachers to run literacy classes in their local areas and put together an ongoing plan. The hope is that this will increase the momentum of literacy teaching and enable people to engage with Scripture more easily.
In the same way, allow your light to shine in front of people so that they see your deeds that are good and then they will give praise to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
A translation from Nyankpa, shared by the Nyankpa translation team as an encouragement to all.
A positive review
The Duya team has been working hard on a final review of all the books of the New Testament. As part of this process they have the opportunity to interact with local groups from the community and share translations with them.
For one group of reviewers in the Duya community of Ida, this brought much joy. The reviewers shared their excitement at being involved and the encouragement it brought to them. As they read through Matthew 26-28 in Duya for the first time they explained how much clearer it was than any other translation they had read in the regional language, Hausa.
For the team, seeing people’s desire to read Scripture in their own language has brought even greater motivation to complete the New Testament.
Project and persevering
The Waci, Nyankpa, Duya and Ashe teams continue to make progress with translation of the New Testament, alongside encouraging the the community to engage with Scripture.
As Covid-19 begins to impact life in Nigeria, bringing with it many restrictions, the team will endeavour to perservere with translation by adapting to new ways of working. Activities in the local community and training will, however, be suspended. Healthcare is also limited in many areas and it is not possible to livestream church services, so we ask you to please hold the whole community in your prayers.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the Duya reviewers completing the review stage of Matthew
- steps made towards initiating community led literacy
- churches and local people using Scripture with enthusiasm and joy
- the Ashe language committee appointing a new and very committed chairman.
Please pray for:
- protection over the community and teams as they begin to see the impact of Covid-19
- the new literacy coordinators to have a good understanding of their responsibilities
- people as they use their translated portions to understand God’s message better
- good collaboration amongst the churches in the region as they seek to work together.