Map of CAR

‘This vision is not just about Bible translation, but about who we are, what our lives are like. We need to reflect what we translate because in the big picture of reaching others, our lives count!’ – Ngbugu translator

  • Country: Central African Republic (CAR)
  • Language: Ngbugu
  • Speakers:150,000
  • Start date: 1994
  • Projected end date: 2022

The community

Across CAR you find rainforests, grasslands and semi-desert. The Ngbugu language is spoken in the grasslands in the south of the country. The main sources of income for the Ngbugu people are subsistence farming and fishing. Since 2013, CAR has been in turmoil following a coup d’état, meaning that life is often riddled with violence and uncertainty.

The need

Although Christianity is the majority faith in the region, there has been a lack of effective discipleship and the Bible does not yet exist in the Ngbugu language. As a result, traditional beliefs are still strong. Literacy rates are also very low, which means many people haven’t yet been able to engage with Scripture. Over many years of translation the team has seen people growing in faith though, and the New Testament is now almost ready to be launched in the community, but there is still progress to be made before they can have access to the full Bible.

The project

A Ngbugu church celebrating
A Ngbugu church celebrating

Although the project started in 1994, the team has suffered many setbacks, including sickness, death and political unrest. They have also all had to vacate the local area and work from the city of Bangui. Despite this, the translators have persevered with their goals in both translation and literacy. We praise God that they have now completed the New Testament, which is on its way to be printed!

Whilst the team awaits the arrival of the New Testament, they continue to translate portions of the Old Testament, equip churches to engage with Scripture and produce literacy materials.

Join in praise and prayer for the Ngbugu people:

  • Praise God that CAR seems to be more peaceful since the coup in 2013, although there is still unrest in many parts of the country.
  • Give thanks to God that the Ngbugu New Testament is complete and will soon be in the hands of the community.
  • Pray for the translators to be able to put into practice all they have learnt through training and continue to improve their skills.
  • Ask God to grant the team and their families good health, strength, wisdom and insight so they can achieve all that is planned for the next year.
  • Pray that the armed groups in the local area will be totally disarmed and demobilised so that the Ngbugu team can return to their community.
  • Pray for the Ngbugu people to put their faith in Christ alone as they read about him in the newly translated Scriptures.

Latest News

August 2020

Persistent in prayer

Although the work has been interrupted over the last four months due to Covid-19, the Ngbugu believers have not stopped praying for the translators, donors and all who are involved in the project. They were very concerned when they heard news of the effects of the pandemic on the world economy, particularly in the countries where people are supporting the work financially.

The translators and the community rejoiced when they heard that their prayers had been answered and funding for the project will continue. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continuing support for the Ngbugu people.

Tychique, the team leader and translator, said,

‘May God be praised for this marvel’.

Tychique with some of the Ngbugu literacy material

Tychique’s story

Tychique’s father was a pastor, which meant that the family moved around to different areas throughout his childhood. His parents were both Ngbugu but only spoke in the national language, Sango, to their children, so Tychique only encountered the Ngbugu language when, at five years old, he stayed with his grandmother for the first time. She only spoke Ngbugu to him so he had to learn it pretty fast! During his childhood he frequently stayed with his grandmother so he soon came to master the language.

As an adult, working on translation of the Sango language, he fell into the same habits as his parents, only speaking Sango to his children at home.

In 2010 he joined the Ngbugu translation project and realised the importance of speaking his own language. He began to use Ngbugu with his children, and now he often brings home some of the literacy materials or something that he has translated, and they are able to read it well – they are really proud of themselves.

Capturing the culture

A retired teacher named Jules came to see Tychique at the office recently. He told him all about the work he was doing to ensure that the Ngbugu culture was not lost. He is very interested in the work that the team is doing in the Ngbugu language, and had an idea about how they could work together.

Jules has started to draft some of the interesting tales, proverbs and cultural stories that are disappearing. He urgently wants to speak to some of the older members of the community so that their cultural knowledge is not lost and can be passed on to future generations. He would like to share his work with the team to help them to understand Ngbugu culture better, and so that they can help him to decide how to use the information that he has gathered to benefit the community.

Planning for the future

The restrictions are starting to be lifted, the work is restarting slowly and the team has many things planned, including the launch of the New Testament. The planning committee has had to wait four months and they are eager to get on with preparations for the occasion, although no firm date has been set yet. The New Testament is currently in South Korea for printing and will then be shipped back to Cameroon and transported to CAR.

The team is concentrating on a number of Scripture engagement projects. These include a workshop on Psalms, and community testing and review of the book of Jonah. This phase of the translation process is when people from the local community are able to read the translation then make suggestions about how it could be improved and made more understandable.

Praâbalë Ndjapä nyïsə̂ köbo ndə̂ tche nyîndə̂ azə̂ kâkë: Ndə̂ gbô azə̂ ndə̂po tə̂ a-earə̂ ngbongbo rə, Jezü Krîsiti tchû bëte azə̂.

Romans 5:8 in Ngbugu, shared by the Ngbugu team as an encouragement.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • answers to the prayers of the community
  • God’s protection over the team and their families during this difficult time
  • the lifting of restrictions so that activities can gradually begin to resume
  • God sustaining the team over many years and the completion of the New Testament.

Please pray for:

  • the upcoming workshop on Psalms
  • the printing process and transportation of the New Testament back to CAR
  • the community testing of Jonah
  • wisdom as the team works on the cultural history project with Jules.
May 2020

A marvellous milestone

Translators Tychique and Jesse-Joel

It is with great joy that we can share the news that the Ngbugu team has reached a huge milestone by completing the final stages of the New Testament, which has now gone to print.

The final stage of typesetting did not, however, go quite as expected, but the team could clearly see God at work. In the third week of the typesetting, lead translator Tychique was suddenly taken very ill, but after a few days of rest he recovered and was able to continue with the work. They also overcame the connectivity issues they shared in their last update; after previously having only limited communication, they were able to hold multiple internet calls and screen share. This was vital due to the need to work with an overseas consultant to complete the typesetting process. We praise God for bringing the team this far and that the Ngbugu people will soon be able to hold what they have been patiently waiting for, over many years.

Nyë wä la mômô, nyënyê ndə̂ nyê kɨ angêta, q bëte Ndjapä âtroadje ngûla nyê!

Rejoice, you who cry today, for God will wipe away your tears.

Matthew 5:4 in Ngbugu and the translation back into English, shared by the Ngbugu team as an encouragement.

Sharing Jesus

To increase the reach of Scripture and the message of hope that comes with knowing Jesus, the team has been using creative resources.

The team has now completed translation of the script for a mini film series called Walking with Jesus. Over five sessions the series aims to help new followers grow in their relationship with Christ. This is done through depicting common life scenarios and modelling committed Christian discipleship.

As well as the mini-series the team has also been utilising the JESUS film, which takes viewers through the life of Jesus. Unfortunately, the team’s latest screening of this in the town of Bossongo did not go quite to plan. Roughly 500 men, women and children turned up to watch the film, but just before Jesus’ crucifixion the film cut out, and no call to commitment could be issued. Unable to resolve the issue, the team instead prayed with the audience and is aiming to organise another screening.

Working together

Before the launch of the New Testament can take place, there are a number of hurdles that the team needs to overcome. With violence still a threat in the area, they need to make sure that they have adequate security in place, and committed volunteers to help run the event. The team also needs to raise awareness and encourage people from across the region to attend.

Because of these challenges, the team is hoping to collaborate with leaders from different strata of society. The plan is to run a workshop for leaders so that they can find solutions collectively. Local churches have also been working together and have set up a committee to help plan the event.

Persevering through Covid-19

A number of restrictions have been introduced in CAR in light of Covid-19 which has changed the way the team is working. All team members are well and still able to go into the office, but are taking turns to do so to avoid interacting with too many people. All activities in the community are on hold, which will limit progress in some areas.

In the wider community social distancing is difficult as many people live in cramped conditions, rely on going out each day for food and have limited access to health information. Churches have also been closed and gatherings of more than 15 people are banned, something for which church leaders were unprepared. Local partner organisations are looking for ways to equip churches with resources to enable them to care for their congregations during this time.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • connectivity issues being resolved ensuring that typesetting could take place
  • God’s protection over the team and their families during this difficult time
  • churches coming together to support the project
  • God sustaining the team over many years and the completion of the New Testament.

Please pray for:

  • the Ngbugu area to be protected from covid-19 as it could have a catastrophic impact
  • printing to go smoothly and the New Testament to soon be with the community
  • the team to continue to make progress on Scripture resources
  • wisdom as leaders meet with the team to plan the launch of the New Testament.