‘Today we are celebrating having God’s word in the language of our heart. Yes, the language in which we mourn, think, sin, live and dream. God speaks to be understood. That is why we have translation. God has used many people to bring about what we see today.’ – Banyole attendee of New Testament celebrations
- Country: Uganda
- Language: Lunyole (Nyole)
- Speakers: 530,000
- Start date: 2005
- Projected end date: 2027
The Banyole live in the south-east of Uganda, in an area of green, rolling grassland, surrounded by papyrus-lined swamps. Little of their land is uninhabited, and most of it is cultivated. They are primarily arable farmers, but nearly every home also keeps animals such as cows, goats and chickens. They grow some crops for sale, mainly rice, cotton and coffee. Their staple food is finger millet, but they also eat sorghum, maize, cassava and sweet potatoes. The main means of transport is by bicycle, even for transporting crops. Some Banyole rice farmers have to travel many miles to their fields.
Following on from the launch of the Lunyole New Testament 2017, there is still a vision to ensure that the Banyole people have access to the whole Bible in their language. There is also a need to work with local believers and churches to equip and encourage them to engage with Scripture in their own language.
The local team is continuing to persevere with translation of the Old Testament, with the aim of working on Psalms and Proverbs over the next year. Another vital part of the project is Scripture engagement, so the team is running a number of workshops for local church leaders, producing Bible resources and training local people to run listening groups. Alongside this, an increasing number of New Testaments, both printed and audio, are being distributed.
Have a bit more time? Watch the video below to find out more about how God has been transforming lives in the Banyole community:
Join in praise and prayer for the Banyole people:
- Give thanks that the Banyole people now have the New Testament in their language and for their increasing engagement with it
- Pray for ongoing wisdom and progress as the team continues with translation of the Old Testament
- Pray for church leaders to find ways to help their people to read and listen to translated Scriptures at home as well as on Sundays
- Lift up to the Lord church leaders who may lack confidence, or struggle themselves to read. Ask that they will have the courage to seek support, and will be enabled to grow in confidence to teach and preach from the Banyole translation
- Pray that as people engage with Scripture they will hear God’s invitation to serve their community - and that the Banyole people will see life-giving, practical changes as a result
- Ask God for steady rainfall resulting in good crops; working hard to get food on their tables in times of drought can distract the translators from the work
- Pray for a revival among the Banyole people through reading God’s word.
‘Who is translating who?’
Through the process of Bible translation lives are changed, not only of people in the community, but also in the teams hard at work translating, as day after day they delve deep into Scripture.
For Banyole lead translator Aristarchus, who has spent more than 10 years translating the Bible into Lunyole (the language of the Banyole people), it has brought joys and challenges. He shares how differently he now looks at Scripture, through having to tunnel down to find the intended meaning of a given text.
‘In the process of translating, I find myself convicted, challenged and renewed. I have translated Scriptures and in turn the Scriptures have translated me. So who is translating who?’
Seeing other people in the community respond to Scripture, as they are able to hear it in their own language, is also something that brings much delight.
‘There is a joy that floods my heart when in a church service someone reads the Banyole Scriptures and people either clap, smile or nod their heads.’
Church at home
Covid-19 may have forced churches to lock their doors, but that doesn’t mean church has been cancelled.
Having access to Scripture in Lunyole has meant that people are able to gather around God’s word in their homes, instead of needing to rely on church leaders. Being able to read the New Testament has been a lifeline, enabling people to press on into God’s word and worship. Join the team in praying that God will continue to grow the Banyole church wherever it may be.
Connecting with the community
With Covid-19 restrictions beginning to ease, the team has been able to carry out community testing – a vital step in translation.
This step is where the community has the chance to listen to and read translated Scriptures. Their feedback helps to ensure that the translation sounds natural and is understandable. We praise God that the team has completed the community testing of Proverbs. Thank you for upholding them in prayer as they met with the community.
We join the Banyole team in looking ahead to the coming year expectantly as they press on with translation of the Old Testament and find ways to engage the local community.
The aim is to make progress with 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Psalms and Proverbs, bringing them ever closer to having the whole Bible in their language. Alongside this, to encourage people to use Scripture, they will be working with local churches to train Sunday school teachers, and publishing Bible study guides. Finally, to expand the reach of Scripture, they will continue to distribute the New Testament and Scripture portions.
Join Aristarchus in his prayer: ‘I hope to see God help bring his full word to the Banyole people in the language of their heart.’
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the successful community testing of Proverbs
- the progress made in translating Psalms 73-89 and 1 Kings
- people meeting together to worship and share in God’s word
- an easing of Covid-19 restrictions and God’s protection over the team’s health.
Please pray for:
- continued protection from Covid-19
- wisdom in the next stages of translating 1 Kings, Psalms and 1 Samuel
- God to continue to grow and strengthen the Banyole church
- one day soon, the Banyole people to have the full Bible in the language of their heart.
The team is continuing to work under the Covid-19 restrictions, social distancing and washing their hands. They praise God for his protection and provision, through your support and prayers. Translator Aristarchus shares:
‘It is good to hear of such people who support us even without having seen us. God bless them. This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 9: “So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Butaleja, Uganda (of Bible translation) will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God”. Thank you for your support!
Many in the local community, who already have very little on which to survive, are now facing new pressures with rising prices for food, medication and travel. So for the team, having a reliable income, thanks to your support, is a lifeline enabling them to provide for their families. The team asks you to hold those who are less fortunate in your prayers.
Enoch, a Banyole translation consultant, has in the past assisted the translation team. Before this he was a senior Anglican minister with responsibility for several parishes in Uganda. He had never seen any reason to be concerned about translating the Bible into minority languages, as he was well educated and could understand the Bible in English perfectly well.
One day a believer from one of his parishes, whose wife was unable to have children, came to him in some distress, and asked, ‘Is it true that if I don’t have any children I won’t go to heaven?’ Enoch was astonished and asked him why he was asking this.
The man told him that on the previous Sunday, the preacher had been speaking on 1 John 5 verse 12, ‘He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life’. The preacher had only read the first half of the verse, and had explained that unless a man had a son he would not have eternal life. This idea came from traditional ancestor worship, which is often mixed in with Christianity when the Bible has not been taught well.
This terrible misinterpretation of Scripture convinced Enoch that people need to have God’s word in their own language so that they can understand it correctly and be set free from false teaching.
Finding ways to connect
The team is still keeping in touch with the community by text and phone as they haven’t been able to visit, or hold workshops due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They have been sending out different passages by text each week for people to read through, and have been getting good feedback.
The team has been able to carry out some community testing with friends and family. It has been easier for groups to meet together in rural areas as they can gather under a tree outside.
With the likelihood that restrictions will continue the team is also exploring new ways of connecting with the community via social media and audio Scriptures.
The team still faces the challenges of working from home with lack of space, interruptions from family, and unreliable internet and electricity supply. The team has, however, been able to go to the office on some occasions and has managed to make progress with some areas of work. They have started drafting 1 and 2 Kings, Leviticus, Zephaniah, Micah and Nahum, and are even ahead of schedule with their work on 1 and 2 Samuel.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- remote consultant checking of Psalms 42-72
- the continuing good health of the translators and their families
- good accuracy checking of 1 and 2 Samuel putting this area of work ahead of schedule
- there still being no positive cases of Covid-19 in the local community.
Please pray for:
- continuing wisdom and protection against Covid-19
- the checking of 1 Kings, Proverbs and Psalms 73-89
- the drafting of Jeremiah (which will be the last Old Testament book to be drafted)
- the community as it faces rising food, medical and travel costs.