‘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.
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.
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.