The Koro Cluster partners with people from four languages: Ashe, Duya, Nyankpa and Waci. Their homeland lies about a two hour drive from the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja. The Ashe, Duya, Nyankpa and Waci people are mainly subsistence farmers, growing rice, maize, beans, peanuts, okra and yams, but also cash crops such as sugar cane and ginger.

Fact file

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Speakers: approximately 442,000 across all four languages
  • Start date: 2008
  • Projected end date: 2021

The Koro teams are passionate about reaching the hearts of these four language groups. There is already a strong Christian church in the Koro area, but the only Bible available to them is in the official language of English or in another major language, Hausa. Using this Bible limits understanding and real engagement. Koro Christians long for the Bible in their own languages in order to ignite transformation at individual and community level.

The costs of initial training and language work had been largely carried by the local communities, but progress into full scale Bible translation was inhibited by the lack of equipment and support for the translators. This project will provide core equipment and support for translators from each of the languages.

Project goals

  • to translate the New Testament and see it being used in churches and communities
  • to establish literacy work, with adults and children learning to read and write in their own language
  • to see the languages thriving, with new materials being produced and people knowing that their language is valuable and useful.

Testing translation

Koro: Testing Nyankpa translation
Testing the Nyankpa translation

One of the Nyankpa translators, called Sunday, was testing the translation of Acts in the village of Mushe. He met about 15 people in the village, mostly women. They were aware of the translation work, but had never met the translators or seen anything from the office. So they were very surprised to see him, when he introduced himself. They brought him water and asked him what brought him to their village. He said it was the Bible translation that they had been hearing about. He said that he was there to get their help. They were surprised and wondered how they, as village people, could really help.

He said, ‘When I read, you will know how to help. You will know what your part is.’ When Sunday reached a place that was unclear, they interrupted him and said it didn’t sound right. He said, ‘There you go! You see! You are my teachers.’ An old man behind the house heard the noise and came to see what was going on. When he found out, he said he was not interested in anything to do with reading. Then Sunday asked his name, and he replied ‘Olem’ (Olem means ‘persuade, or convince’.) ‘Okay, let me read you just a bit.’ Sunday read a portion of Acts where Lydia persuades Paul to stay with her. Once he heard his name, the man became very excited and was more interested in the translation. He sat down and joined the rest of the group in the testing exercise.

Please pray for:

  • the Ashe 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
  • the Duya team to run effective literacy classes, so people are able to read the translated Scriptures as they are produced
  • the Nyankpa community to be more united, and more involved in the translation project
  • training opportunities for the Waci translators.
September 2019

Project and progress

Across the Koro region, more and more churches and local people are engaging with Scripture. Local language services have led to more people coming through the doors; literacy is increasing people’s confidence in using their own language; and Bible studies are increasing people’s understanding. Over recent months teams have been focusing on the following:

  • discourse analysis – an important stage in translation where speech in the text is analysed to check it sounds as natural as possible
  • running workshops to equip people with the skills to run Bible studies
  • training local literacy teachers
  • raising awareness and support for Bible translation in the local community.

Saying goodbye

Baba Duya

It is with great sadness that we share the news that the Duya team and community have said a final goodbye to the much loved Baba Duya, who passed away in July.

Baba Duya dedicated over ten years to Bible translation and inspired many in their walk with the Lord. We share with you some reflections from his funeral:

‘Nothing can replace his smile, his joy, his love for you and his love for Jesus. We are all inspired by his dedication and devotion to serving the Duya people and all Nigerians by serving in the military and then serving the Duya people by giving the end of his life to translate the Bible into Duya. He loved young people and was a good example to them by focusing on things that will last for eternity rather than on things that will soon perish. The two young men he trained to carry on the translation work and the countless numbers of school children that he helped to learn to read and write in Duya are an example of this.’

Please join with us in prayer for Baba Duya’s family and the two men whom Baba Duya trained to continue with translation.

A growing church

If you had attended an Ashe church service a few years ago, you might have been surprised to hear English and Hausa being used to share the Bible, with many people looking on uninterested. Today the story is very different.

Ashe translator Arams shared his delight in what he saw at a recent Sunday service in the village of Katuga:

‘People are coming to church as they love hearing their language. There is an increasing church population.’

The majority of Ashe churches now insist on singing, reading Scripture and praying in Ashe. As a result of this, many more people are now attending church, finding it easier to engage with Scripture and taking part in church activities.

The Ashe team rejoices in this and continues to encourage churches to use the Ashe language and the portions of the Bible that are available in Ashe.

Bible celebrations

In the Nyankpa village of Agbo more people than ever before are now able to read and understand the Bible. It is this which brought great celebrations earlier this year as the community came together to showcase what has been happening. Many people demonstrated their reading skills, including the Chief, who shared his delight in the work.

Local community celebrating

Scripture engagement

Alongside Bible translation, teams also focus on encouraging people to engage with Scripture. The form this takes varies from community to community and for some can be very creative.

One Waci village became all-singing and dancing, with 13 people taking part in a Scripture songwriting workshop. Over three days, participants memorised Scripture and put together a number of songs.

In the Nyankpa community, local Christians are being trained in how to run Scripture listening and reading groups. Most recently, 27 took part in a workshop on this topic. Each went away with an audio device in hand and a commitment to run one audio Bible study group a week.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • the opportunities the Waci team have had to engage with local people through teaching and songwriting
  • the commitment of community leaders towards translation and language development
  • all that is being learnt through the process of discourse analysis, which helps to ensure translations sound as natural as possible
  • Bible study training and audio devices given to a number of Nyankpa people.

Please pray for:

  • Baba Duya’s family following his passing away and for the translation work to continue to move forward through those Baba Duya trained
  • God to raise up more committed people from the Waci community to support the work
  • even more pastors to allow church services to be carried out in local languages and that the number of attendees would continue to grow
  • the recently trained Nyankpa literacy teachers soon to be able to begin teaching.
March 2019

Access for all

Congregation member using print-out of Luke in Ashe language. Photo credit: Tim Robinson

Imagine knowing that the Bible exists in your own language, but still having no way of accessing the precious Scriptures. The First ECWA Church in Katugal helped overcome this earlier this year. They were able to print off copies of the Scripture being studied in a church service and give them out to the whole congregation. This brought with it a special moment as for the first time everyone had sight of the passage being used in the service in their own language.

 

Distribution of Scripture is a vital step for translation teams and can be carried out in many different formats, from paper Bibles to solar-powered audio devices

140 verses later…

Over recent months, the Duya community have been set the challenge of memorising Scripture ready to compete in Scripture reading contests.

It was astounding to witness the commitment of 17-year-old Eri Danjuma, who recited 140 verses in the Duya language. This took him to victory and he was awarded an SD card with Scriptures on for his phone.

Scripture reading contests are open to all and usually take place in local churches, with around 30 participants. Although they aren’t yet a regular fixture, they are helping communities to engage with their translated Scriptures.

The recent impact

Below is a snapshot of the impact your support has had over the last few months:

  • Luke is now available in Ashe on a Bible app
  • the Duya team have made progress with consultant checking, overcoming some difficult technological issues
  • James and 1 and 2 Timothy in Nyankpa have now been printed and audio recorded so distribution has now begun
  • the Waci Scripture engagement team is ready to serve after meeting with church leaders, and has plans for a 2019 songwriting workshop.

Support from the top

Each of the language groups has an appointed chief who leads the community. Teams have been greatly encouraged by the support they have received from these leaders. When in need of a translation office, for example, the team in Panda were overjoyed to be offered a building free of charge by the chief.

One of the Nyankpa chiefs also recently recounted how he had seen the positive impact of the work going on in the region in his own life. Having attended literacy classes in his village, he was incredibly proud to be able to write a letter in Nyankpa to another chief.

I able to write a letter in my own language, Nyankpa, for the first time. I am so proud!

Nyankpa chief sharing his joy at now being able to write in his own
language. Photo credit: Jonathan Barnhoorn

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • good health of Ashe translator Aram’s children after suffering from cholera
  • the support from chiefs across all language groups
  • increased interest in learning to read following the launch of Nyankpa audio Scriptures.

Please pray for:

  • increased community awareness among the Waci speakers, who the team have been struggling to reach
  • strength and stamina for the Duya team as they work through a busy schedule
  • good connectivity for teams working remotely
  • the translators to experience God’s blessing on their work.
July‚ÄďAugust 2018

Progress for all four language groups

Earlier this year, members of each language team gathered in Jos for an interactive literacy mobilisation workshop to discuss what else can be done to improve literacy in each area. The two-day forum was led by a diverse group of Nigerians and expats, Christians and Muslims. Each team brought four members from their local community to join in the discussions with the Scripture Engagement team. Follow-up from this workshop is ongoing in all areas.

improving Koro literacy
The meeting in Jos focused on how to improve literacy for each language group

Progress for the Waci

The team recently welcomed John A. as a part-time project adviser. Along with a consultant check of portions of Luke, the team has been testing their translation to ensure accuracy from the hearer’s point of view. They met with local church leaders to discuss how using mother-tongue Scripture can strengthen their churches, and delivered several literacy training sessions.

Progress for the Duya

The second team and consultant checks of Matthew 8–20, Philippians and Ephesians have been done, and work on the English–Duya primer and other conversational texts is in progress. A new translator, Boniface, joined the team; of the group of testers who met recently to scrutinise the work, some might also make good translators. The Duya team set up 15 one-month pilot Scripture Listening and Reading Groups (SLRGs) across 19 Duya villages over four months, which have been a great success! And soon, on 25 August, the book of Acts will be launched and the Duya language programme promoted at the next Duya national meeting.

Progress for the Nyankpa

The book of Acts has been team checked and back translated, and the team checks of Matthew 1–10 have been completed. James and 1 & 2 Timothy have been printed and are being distributed with the audio versions.

SIL Nigeria’s Jono Barnhoorn reports his encouragement at visiting a local Nyankpa church and hearing the people sing and pray in their mother tongue. He said, ‘For the first time, an entire church service was in the heart language of the Nyankpa... young and old, rich and poor hearing the words of God in the language their heart speaks – a hopeful herald of more fruit to come.’

Progress for the Ashe

The team have been working on fine-tuning their translation of Luke. They were aided by Kathleen Spence, who delayed her furlough to work with the team on grammar.

Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:

  • the two-day interactive literacy mobilisation workshop, and the ongoing plans for each area
  • the Waci team’s new part-time adviser John A., Duya’s new translator, Boniface, and Kathleen’s help with the Ashe work
  • the progress on the Duya New Testament and success of the SLRGs running across 19 villages
  • the Nyankpa being able to worship and hear God’s word entirely in their heart language.

Pray for:

  • a hunger for God’s word among the people in each language group – Nyankpa, Waci, Ashe and Duya – and for the same hunger to drive the teams as they press on with the translations
  • God to raise up people within each language group to drive literacy work in their community
  • church leaders to understand how having Scripture in their mother tongue will help their work and bless their churches
  • good discussions on the issue of community ownership of the translations.
February 2018

Progress for the Nyankpa

The book of Acts has been mostly team checked and is being made ready for consultant checking.

The books of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and James have been recorded in audio format and put onto 120 SD cards.

The book of Acts is now ready for a consultant check.

Several local churches in one of the areas have been organising a ‘Nyankpa only’ service once a month. The team has been helping to translate various resources into Nyankpa in order to facilitate this.

Progress for the Ashe

The book of Luke has been checked and released as an audio version, which you can listen to here. The community had two days of celebrations to mark this, as well as the release of a dictionary and other online materials.

There were several meetings with the members of the language committee. They and the translation team have made some progress in understanding how they can work together.

Koro Ashe Luke launch
Celebrating the arrival of the Ashe Luke resources

Progress for the Waci

Our partners in Nigeria are in the process of forming an effective strategy with the Waci team as they restart work in the language. There are currently two young translators who are willing and eager to get started; both attended a grammar workshop in June last year. They are working with our partners to collect oral folk stories and write them down, and together they have recorded about 15 texts which are currently being transcribed. The next stage will be to lay out each story with a literal translation under every word, so the stories are ready to analyse.

Progress for the Duya

The JESUS Film was dedicated in Ankung amidst much rejoicing and singing. Many people travelled long distances to see the dedication. Around 200 copies of the film were distributed.

A total of five books has been consultant checked in the past three months: 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John.

A changed life

Yakubu is a middle-aged man who lives in the village of Ramindop. When he was young, he attended church, but along the way he became disillusioned when he felt that the pastor was abusing his position for personal gain. Although Yakubu had been married, his wife died a long time ago and he has since lived alone. Since that time he developed a reputation as a drunkard and was always involved with the traditional religion.

One day in September, he heard news about the Duya JESUS Film. When someone in the village purchased a copy and was watching it in their home, Yakubu decided to see what it was all about. He was struck by the fact that he heard Jesus speaking Duya, and was so impacted that he announced that he would start coming to church again and would get rid of his associations with the traditional religion.

Praise God for changed lives. Keep praying that he will continue to change people’s hearts through reading the translation of the Bible and related material.

August 2017

A bright Sunday morning in Kurmin Jibirin, an Ashe community in Kaduna State, brought Ashe believers to church in good spirits. It had been arranged that the translator would be given 15 minutes to read a portion of the translation to the church. This would be a unique addition to the service, as the congregation is used to hearing the Bible read in Hausa or English.

Although it was a week or two after Easter, the reading was Luke 22 and 23 which tells the story of the last supper, the betrayal of Jesus, and the crucifixion.

By their reactions during the reading, it was obvious that the congregation understood the story and appreciated some of the ironies of Peter’s denials.

Several church members, and even the paramount chief appreciated being able to follow along during the reading in some copies of the printed chapters.

At the end, the pastor, who is not an Ashe person himself, remarked that if there hadn’t been non-Ashe speakers in the congregation, he could have just ended the service then and there. The reading itself was good enough. Indeed, the word of God is powerful and clear!

Praise God for:
  • the strong church in the Koro area
  • their passion for hearts to be changed
  • the ongoing translation work among the Ashe, the Duya and the Nyankpa people
Please pray for:
  • two new Waci translators who have been recruited