‘Through the Lugwere New Testament, God speaks more directly to our hearts. I pray that the Old Testament comes soon, so that we get the full counsel of God.’ - Sarah, local community member
- Country: Uganda
- Speakers: 620,000
- Language: Lugwere (Gwere)
- Start date: 2005
- Projected end date of our involvement: 2029
Almost all of the Bagwere people live in small villages in an area of eastern Uganda called Bugwere, west of Mount Elgon and south of Lake Kyoga. Traditionally, the Bagwere people made their living by fishing and hunting wild animals such as buffalo and hippopotamus, but today, along with fishing, they also practise subsistence farming. Their main crops are maize, soya beans and rice, but they also farm millet, ground nuts, cassava, sweet potatoes and cooking bananas. The standard means of transport is by bicycle and the roads are mainly dirt tracks. There are no large towns or hospitals; the main town is Budaka, a large trading centre with a number of schools.
We praise God that since 2016 the Bagwere people have had access to the New Testament in their language. As engagement with Scripture grows, the community longs for the whole Bible in their language. In order to strengthen and encourage the local church and believers to use Scripture, additional resources and training for local leaders are also needed.
The local team continues to translate the Old Testament. They are also continually being trained so they can take full ownership of the project. The current focus is on producing portions of Scripture and distributing these in the community so they can be used for worship and teaching. The team is also running a number of workshops and producing resources to help local church leaders and believers enhance their understanding of God’s word. Alongside this, to increase the reach of Scripture, they are producing audio New Testaments and setting up listening groups.
Join in prayer and praise for the Bagwere people:
- Give thanks that the Bagwere people now have the New Testament in their language and for the great joy this has brought.
- Pray for church leaders, that they may all grow in confidence, and have the tools and desire to enable their people to read and listen at home as well as on Sundays.
- Lift the team up to the Lord and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide them as they continue with translation and look for ways to share Scripture in the community.
- Pray that more Bagwere people would have the vision to support the work of Bible translation.
- Pray for people to turn to Christ as they read about his love in the Lugwere New Testament.
New Bible resources
This year may have been a difficult one for the Bagwere team, but they nevertheless have just put the finishing touches to some exciting new Bible resources.
For the last two years, the team has been putting together not one, not two, but three Scripture study tools. These will ensure that the Bible does not become just a dusty book on a shelf, but something that transforms the local community as they are able to engage with God’s word daily. These have also been created in direct response to local Church need, with leaders crying out for resources to better serve their members.
Two study guides on Acts and Genesis have been put together, alongside a Jacob and Esau storybook. The community now awaits their arrival from the printers.
Building local capacity
Since 2016 local Bagwere team member Gasyodo has been providing the community with resources to help them engage with Scripture. An exciting opportunity has now arisen to increase the reach of these resources and of Gasyodo’s skills.
Gasyodo will soon be beginning an iDELTA (institute for the Development of Languages and Translation in Africa) course, which aims to develop the skills of local people working in language development and Bible translation. During the course, students are able to specialise in certain areas. For Gasyodo this will be Scripture engagement but for others it may be linguistics or Bible translation. Following this, students will become specialists in these areas and use their skills to help develop local languages, often returning to their local communities.
Through iDELTA it is hoped that more and more local people will have the chance to learn new skills and increase the effectiveness and sustainability of Bible translation projects.
Connecting with the community
Due to Covid-19 restrictions the Bagwere team has had to find new ways to connect with the local community. Over the last few months they have been turning to technology.
Encouraging people to keep reading their Bibles even when they cannot attend church has been vital.
Using mobile phone tools, regular messages have been sent to people in the community with Scripture discussion questions to read each week – something to which people have been responding positively.
Online engagement with the Lugwere translation team Facebook page has also been increasing. Through this people are able to keep up to date with translation, and access Scriptures online.
Progress may have slowed and challenges may remain, but, the team has been adapting to new ways of working amidst the restrictions.
Although not planned until next year, the team decided to press on with drafting Joshua and Proverbs, as they have adequate resources to do so. In more rural areas where restrictions have eased, the team is finally able to meet with people in person. They have begun community testing Scripture with family and neighbours, outside under the shade of the trees. They have also been busy planning the year ahead and reviewing their backlog of work.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the good health of the team members and their families
- the completion of three new Bible study resources
- the drafting of Joshua and Proverbs
- technology enabling the team to connect with the community.
Please pray for:
- travel restrictions to ease and churches to reopen soon
- the team to continue to adjust to the prevailing situation and make progress
- local people as they face the increased cost of food, travel and medical care
- the provision of new laptops to enable the team to increase their work capacity.
The latest Bagwere Bible resource – a collection of Proverbs on family life – has already been put to good use in the community, helping the team to share Jesus’ message of hope.
Earlier this year, over 50 people from the local community gathered together to take part in a two day workshop on Proverbs run by the Bagwere team. During the training 27 Proverbs booklets were distributed, and the team also used it as an opportunity to share the gospel. They rejoice that during the workshop they not only saw people growing in their faith, but also coming to faith. On the second day of the workshop, after the gospel message was shared, two young men gave their lives to Jesus and several others came forward for prayer. Many were also challenged by what they heard:
‘If we, both men and women, follow what we have read and discussed from this Proverbs book, our marriages would be paradise.‘ – Suleke Asanasiyo, workshop participant.
As more Scriptures become available in the Bagwere language, Lugwere, the hope is that understanding of how they can be applied to people’s own lives will grow and help to transform the community.
Listening to the Bible
To increase the reach of the Scriptures available in the Lugwere language, a key resource that the team has helped produce and distribute is audio Bibles. In recent months these have been utilised by a partner organisation to provide training for 20 local church leaders on how to run Bible listening groups. In these sessions leaders are equipped with the skills to enable them to go back to their own communities and use audio Scriptures in church home groups.
‘Era oyo iye ampeererya, ateekwa okubba aikiriirye okugumira nze ebinjaba okubitamu, kaisi oolwo eginaaba eeyo omwigulu yena beezye okumutuucaayo. Kale oBbaabba yaliwa ekitiisya iye oyo ampeererya.’
‘Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.’
John 12:26 in Lugwere and English, shared by the Bagwere team as a blessing.
Before Covid-19 restrictions were brought in, the team was able to distribute 232 more New Testaments. This was made possible through partnering with local churches who had bought a number of copies which they then shared with their congregation. Seeing the Church invest in Bible translation was a great encouragement to the team.
Further distribution is on hold due to the restrictions now in place.
Persevering through Covid-19
A number of Covid-19 restrictions have been introduced in Uganda which has changed the way the team is working.
The team is now facing the challenge of having to work from home. Access to electricity is limited, meaning some have to walk a long way to neighbours’ houses to charge their laptops. They also rely on dongles for the internet but access to these has been difficult due to shop closures. Progress does continue, but has been slowed. For example, the team was due to team check Psalms 108-150 but has put this on hold, along with any activities in the local community.
Progress is also limited because the team’s translation consultant, Reverend Enoch Wandera, currently has a fractured leg following an accident. The team asks for prayer for healing as he takes time to rest at home.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the completion of the next stage of translating Psalms 73-106, consultant checking
- the growth of the local church as more people are able to interact with Scripture in their own language
- the latest workshops helping people to apply Scripture to their own lives.
Please pray for:
- God’s protection over the team and their families as they face the impact of Covid-19
- the preparations for the next stage of translating Psalms 78-150
- the team to overcome the challenges of having to work from home
- healing for the translation consultant’s broken leg and provision for his needs.