‘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.
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.
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.