‘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 Bagwere team has been encouraged by the way in which the local community has responded to the translation work. Church leaders are promoting the use of the Lugwere New Testament (Lugwere is the language of the Bagwere people) and inspiring their congregations to pray for progress in the work on the Old Testament. Also, the Covid-19 restrictions have helped families to spend more time reading the Bible and listening to the radio broadcasts, so the word of God has been getting out into the communities, even with many churches closed.
The team received a generous donation of food, masks and translated Covid-19 information leaflets from a partner organisation. They were able to distribute them in the local community, making a real difference to people who were struggling.
Gasyodo Mitala’s story
Gasyodo Mitala is one of the translators with the Bagwere project. He is a pastor at one of the local village churches.
Gasyodo became a Christian in his teens after one of his cousins was saved at an evangelism event in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Gasyodo’s cousin kept encouraging him to give his life to Jesus, but he was hesitant as he didn’t know how his father would react, and whether he would continue to fund his schooling. He eventually went to a local church on the way home from the shop to buy alcohol for his father. People there prayed for him and he gave his life to Jesus.
Gasyodo has been involved with the Bagwere project since 2016 when he completed a training course in Nairobi and joined the team as a translator. He also loves to write and has published several books in Lugwere. He has seen God at work through his work and loves to see people learning to read and write in Lugwere. He longs to see the Lugwere Bible flooding churches and is keen to see the completion of the Old Testament so that the people can have the whole Bible.
Recently the team has completed the book of Proverbs. They are currently working on the book of Joshua, with plans to start the translation of Judges early next year.
They have also been able to distribute many copies of the New Testament; in fact, they are almost running out of stock! They are currently looking into the possibility of getting more copies printed. They have updated their app too, with some of the Old Testament books and new features, so people can read the Bible on their phones.
The church in the Bagwere region has not traditionally welcomed children into their services and used to see them as disruptive. This attitude is now changing in many churches and the team has been running workshops to train Sunday school teachers and writing a Sunday school syllabus; the part on the Old Testament has recently been drafted. There is a large population of children in this area, so it is important to involve them in the churches.
1 Peter 4:19 in Lugwere
Nʼolwekyo, abo ibo abagada neye ngʼoKibbumba niiye akitakire atyo, bali nʼokwesibira oku Mubbumbi waabwe iye oyo omwesigwa, era nʼokweyongera okukolanga ebisa.
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- God’s provision of the two new computers that were needed
- the interest in the New Testament
- the good progress in the work on the Old Testament
- the work God is doing in and through Gasyodo.
Please pray for:
- continued protection from Covid-19 and other illnesses
- the local churches, as they continue to promote the use of Lugwere Scriptures
- the checking of Judges, and other translation activities
- the printing of more copies of the New Testament.
As Covid restrictions are easing in Uganda, the team was able to hold an in-person workshop recently. The workshop introduced people to the Family Proverbs book that the team produced last year, designed to help people use the book of Proverbs to improve their family relationships.
A couple of local pastors who attended have said that it has challenged them personally and that they want to introduce it to their churches.
‘By the time we complete discussing the Proverbs book, we shall have changed families, which will bring change in the church.’ – Pastor Stephen
Another pastor wants more workshops on the rest of the book for his church.
‘We need to organise another workshop where we shall discuss the whole book together and ask questions.’ – Pastor James
Davis Dedya is the project leader and coordinator for the Lugwere translation team. He became a Christian whilst he was studying to become a vet at university. He was reflecting on the difficulties that he had experienced so far in his life, and heard a voice in his heart saying, ‘If you do not give your life to Christ, in future you are going to face tougher situations in your life.’ This prompted him to go and find some Christian course-mates who were living in the same block. He told them that he wanted to be saved and they excitedly prayed with him and led him to Christ. Despite other challenges he has faced in his life, Davis says he has never regretted becoming a Christian.
Davis first became involved in the Lugwere translation project in 1994. He had a few years away from the region due to his veterinary work, but during that time he had a vivid dream that a man handed him a bicycle, telling him that this was to ensure that he had transport and need never miss a Lugwere translation meeting. In 2009 a vacancy for a translator arose. Davis applied and was accepted.
‘I hope that God is going to use this work to lead many people to turn to meaningful Christian life as they access his word in Lugwere, the language that speaks to their hearts.’ – Davis Dedya
Some of the team were chatting to Florence as she came to buy two New Testaments, one for herself and one for her daughter.
Florence said that since the launch of the New Testament she has bought more than eight copies. Whenever she buys a new one she only keeps it for a short while before passing it on to someone else who cannot buy one for themselves. She believes that it is God’s plan to use her to distribute the Scriptures.
Praise God for people like Florence who are able to pass on the good news of the gospel to others.
The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected the distribution of the translated Scriptures as travel has been restricted, and large gatherings of people have not been allowed.
Bagwere churches and communities have also been struggling financially due to the pandemic, and they have been prioritising the purchase of food and health supplies rather than the purchase of Scriptures.
The country also held a general election in January; this led to political tensions which also hindered the work.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- God’s protection of the team from Covid-19
- good progress on the translation work
- good responses from the community to the Family Proverbs workshops
- Davis’ testimony and his work with the Lugwere team.
Please pray for:
- continued protection from Covid-19
- God’s provision of two new computers for the team
- Florence and others in the community who are distributing the Scriptures
- the team as they continue with the work despite the challenges.