‘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.
Listening to the Bible
To increase the reach of the Scriptures available in the Banyole language, a key resource that the team has helped to produce and distribute is audio Bibles. In recent months these have been utilised by a partner organisation to provide training for 23 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.
Following the training, the team received a number of calls from people who are blind requesting audio Bibles, showing their importance in ensuring that no one is left without access to Scripture. The team is now exploring and praying for avenues to provide audio Bibles to the blind in the community.
For more and more Banyole church leaders, the importance of interacting with Scripture in their own language is being felt. Leaders like lay reader Mr Aggrey Hadanya, who during a recent workshop held by the team, read Proverbs in his own language for the very first time. For Aggrey this brought a whole new understanding:
‘I realised that I have been reading these Proverbs in another language without getting a deeper meaning. During this workshop, I have come to understand that the book of Proverbs is indeed a source of wisdom.’
As people hear the Scriptures in their own language, the understanding of how they can apply them to their own lives and bring transformation to their communities also grows. Something to which fellow participant Reverend Padere Samson testified:
‘This teaching has inspired me and shown me that the Bible can be applied to daily living and in our family lives too …. I have been reading this in other languages for the purpose of preaching to others, but now I can see how I should first apply it to myself in my everyday living’.
The team is working on completing translation of the whole book of Proverbs, as currently only a portion is available in the Banyole language.
The team rejoices that over 20 church leaders gathered, from different denominational backgrounds, to hear about Bible translation and offer their support. During the meeting the team shared details of the progress being made in the community, and the project budget, to encourage church leaders to help raise funds in response to the local need.
The team has also been particularly encouraged in recent months to see the local church becoming more and more involved in the work. Many regularly ask for news and prayer requests from the project.
Persevering through Covid-19
Covid-19 restrictions have been introduced in Uganda, and this has changed the way the team is working.
All team members are well but are facing challenges while 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 at a much slower rate.
But the team is working hard to stay connected with the community. They regularly share Scripture through text messages and phone calls. With churches closed, in more rural areas where Zoom meetings are not possible, church leaders are also recording messages and sending these via Whatsapp.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- an encouraging response from the inter-denominational church leaders meeting
- the two Scripture engagement workshops which took place, and growing understanding of Scripture
- the completion of team checking of the entire book of Proverbs
- progress made on 2 Chronicles and Psalms.
Please pray for:
- God’s protection over the team and Uganda as they face the impact of Covid-19
- the upcoming community testing of Proverbs
- the next stage of translating Psalms 73-110, consultant checking
- plans to come together for an upcoming meeting of the language committee.
Putting Proverbs into practice
It is a joy to be able share news that the latest Banyole Bible resource – a booklet of proverbs on family life from the book of Proverbs – is already having an impact, helping people to apply the living word of God to their lives.
During a recent workshop on family values, attended by 24 local married people, participants had the chance to reflect on what the Scriptures in the book of Proverbs say about the things that a good husband and wife should do. For participant Edward Tabo, the fruits of this are already being seen:
I confess that I have been rude and harsh to my children on many occasions, thinking that it did not matter … These selected proverbs from God’s book of Proverbs have helped me to realise that I need to be loving and also to teach my children to grow up in the fear of God. I will go back and start to practice love and kindness.’
We praise God for this transformation and that the team has already had requests from churches to run more workshops.
If you were to have tuned in to the local Banyole radio station in November last year you might have had the chance to hear some familiar voices.
Translators Matthias and Aristarchus were given the opportunity to take part in a two-hour radio talk show. The broadcast had a huge coverage and gave the translators the opportunity to share more of the work they have been involved in. The impact of this was seen by the number of people from the local community phoning in to show appreciation, and church leaders requesting materials. As a result, the team would like to have more opportunities to use radio to increase awareness of Bible translation.
Project and progress
The Banyole team continues to press on with translating the Old Testament, with the hope that one day soon the Banyole community will have access to the whole Bible. A few recent highlights have been:
- making progress with the drafting of Isaiah and Daniel
- community checking Psalms 90-150
- preparing 1 Chronicles 23-29 for the next stage of translation – community checking.
Equipping local people
A vital part of the sustainability of Bible translation is investing in the development of local staff. Through taking part in training, attending workshops and meeting with other translators the team is able to grow their skills and increase their capacity to carry out the work God has called them to in their community.
This also extends beyond the current team. Two local people recently had the opportunity to take part in an Introduction to Translation Principles course. The course was co-faciliated by Banyole translator Aristarchus and brought together people from eight different language groups. Following on from this the two local people have grown in their skills and are now able to assist the team as volunteers.
To increase access to Scripture the team has been busy distributing translated portions of the Bible. This has been able to accelerate over the last few months due to community checking giving the team time to visit more Banyole areas. The team was also eager to distribute the new materials on Proverbs, increasing their area of reach. The plan now is to visit more churches.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the team being able to increase awareness of Bible translation over the radio
- community testing of Psalms 90-150 being carried out successfully
- the next section of 1 Chronicles now being ready for community checking
- understanding of Scripture growing and impacting people’s lives.
Please pray for:
- the community to have a spiritual hunger for the word of God and abandon worship of ancestral spirits
- wisdom as the team continues with translation of Psalms, 2 Chronicles and 1 Samuel
- the final team check of Proverbs
- the upcoming translation committee meeting
- more opportunities to run workshops that increase people’s understanding of Scripture.