‘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.
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.
The whole church family
Reaching out to old and young members alike is an important part of church life, ensuring that everyone feels valued and has the chance to engage with Scripture – something which the Bagwere team has recognised as a vital area for growth within the local church.
As a result, the team has been busy raising awareness of the need for Sunday school classes and Bible reading groups so that the whole community can better access God’s word. This is being done through visiting different churches to raise awareness, producing Sunday school syllabuses and running Sunday school training. In the last training course, in a local village, 11 people were equipped with the skills to teach in Sunday school.
Join in prayer with the team as it aims to reach out to more churches across the area, helping them to value their whole church family.
New Bible resource
A new Bible resource has now become available in the Bagwere language – a collection of verses from Proverbs about family life. The booklet was put together following a recent workshop and also contains pictures by a local artist.
The theme was chosen in response to an expressed need from the community for Scripture on transforming family relationships, and there being a gap in support for married couples. The plan is to initially use the booklets to help facilitate groups for married couples, to teach them about good family values, as well as share them with local churches.
Project and progress
The Bagwere team continues to press on with translating the Old Testament, with the hope that one day soon the community will have access to the whole Bible. A few recent highlights have been:
- progressing with the translation of Psalms, with 90–106 now fully drafted
- completing a full draft of a Bible resource on Jacob and Esau
- carrying out final checks on a Genesis study guide.
Equipping local people
A vital part of the sustainability of Bible translation is investing in the development of local staff and volunteers. Through taking part in training and attending workshops people are able to grow their skills and increase their capacity to carry out the work God has called them to.
Most recently translator Kirya and volunteer Buya were able to take part in an Introduction to Translation Principles course. The course was also co-facilitated by Scripture engagement co-ordinator Gasyodo who was able to share his experiences and brought together people from eight different language groups.
Following on from the training, it has also been encouraging to see a growing number of volunteers. For example, while carrying out community testing, the team has received requests from people to be trained as translators.
To increase access to Scripture the team has been busy sharing copies of the New Testament. In the last few months alone they have distributed 165 copies in the local community. This is also being supported by local church leaders who are increasingly using the translations.
As more copies of the New Testament reach the hands of local people, excitement and enthusiasm for the whole Bible to be available continues to grow. Alongside this churches are expanding as more people are able to read, or listen to Scripture being used in services.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the provision of a new internet modem to improve connectivity
- the Proverbs family life booklet now being available in the community
- understanding of, and enthusiasm for, Scripture growing in the community.
Please pray for:
- the translated word to inspire the hearts of people to be more devoted to God
- the preparations for the next stage of translating Psalms – consultant checking
- the team to stay healthy during the months ahead as they work on the huge task before them.