‘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.
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.
Training local writers
Local Bagwere people have been delving deeper into Scripture through utilising Bible study guides. These centre in on a book in the Bible, or on a specific subject, such as ‘family’, helping people to grow in their faith and grapple with all kinds of life issues.
To increase the number of resources available, the Bagwere team is now looking to people in the local community. In the coming year they plan to host a number of writing workshops for church leaders and aspiring local writers, equipping them with the skills to produce new Lugwere language resources for their people.
Over the next few months the team will be distributing a Jacob and Esau study guide, as well as beginning work on a Daniel study guide.
‘They began joining letters one by one as a child learning to walk. As I speak now, they are growing rapidly in reading.’
Translator Gasyodo is one of five siblings, who grew up facing many challenges due to a series of family tragedies and few educational opportunities. Coming to know Jesus and joining the Bible translation team has helped him overcome these hardships; and not only Gasyodo, but also his family.
Enoch and Abraham, two of Gasyodo’s brothers, were forced to leave school after just a few years. Over time, not using their reading or writing skills, they forgot what they had learnt. However, when portions of the Bible were published this sparked in them a desire to be able to read again.
Gasyodo continued to give them Scripture and story books as they were published, and little by little, they began to rebuild their reading skills.
‘The gifts which had been buried because of illiteracy came back into use’ shared Gasyodo.
Alongside literacy, Enoch and Abraham’s faith has grown too as they are able to read more and more Scripture in their language. Today Abraham is an Anglican pastor and Enoch is an evangelist.
The increase in mobile phone and internet access in the Bagwere community has led to the team receiving many requests for further development of Scripture and Lugwere language apps. In response, this year the team will be promoting more widely a dedicated Lugwere Scripture app. This has already received a positive response from users, with people calling for the Old Testament to be available on it too. Alongside this the team will be sharing SD cards and memory sticks with the audio New Testament on.
Technology is also increasing awareness of Bible translation. Many Bagwere people use social media platforms to communicate and share updates on translation.
Praise and thanks
We rejoice that not one, but two of the Bagwere team have celebrated the arrival of a new family member. George and Gasyodo have both, in recent months, welcomed into the world a baby boy.
This Christmas the team also shares a message of gratitude for supporters just like you, who have faithfully stood with them over many years.
‘We thank God through our Lord Jesus Christ because of their generous heart. May God bless them in all their needs, in return for preaching to the Bagwere community through supporting translation of the Bible in Lugwere. May the seeds which they have sown into Bagwere be remembered forever.’ – Translator George
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the healthy arrival of both George and Gasyodo’s new baby boys
- the progress made in translating portions of Joshua, Psalms and Proverbs
- an easing of Covid-19 restrictions and God’s protection over the team’s health
- God working through your generosity.
Please pray for:
- protection against illness as children head back to school
- God’s provision as the team looks to replace two of their ageing computers
- the team and local people working together to produce Bible resources
- wisdom as the team takes on the next stages of translating Psalms 107-150.