The Banyole are one of the Bantu ethnic groups of Uganda. They live in the south-east of Uganda, in an area of green, rolling grassland, surrounded and divided by papyrus-lined swamps. There is little land within their area that is uninhabited; most of it is cultivated. The language of the Banyole people is called Lunyole.
- Country: Uganda
- Speakers: 530,000
- Start date: New Testament translation started in 2005; Scripture engagement project started in 2016
- Projected end date: 2019
The Banyole are primarily arable farmers, but nearly every home also keeps domesticated animals such as cows, goats, sheep 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. Most cultivation is done by hand.
The principal means of transport is by bicycle, even for transporting crops. Some Banyole rice farmers have to travel many miles to their fields.
The Lunyole New Testament was launched in January 2017. The translators are continuing with Old Testament translation with support from the community and outside funds. In addition, efforts are being focused on literacy and Scripture use work, to help the Church make the most of having the Scriptures in their own language. The funds sent from Wycliffe Bible Translators will pay the salaries of the translators and the Scripture-use members of the team, enable some Old Testament translation and encourage the Banyole Church to mobilise itself to lead further translation work.
- to have a Scripture use worker and a literacy teacher running activities and courses to equip the Banyole people with the tools they need to access the published New Testament.
- to translate some portions of the Lunyole Old Testament and make them available to the Banyole people.
God speaks to us
Over 2,000 people gathered to celebrate the arrival of the Lunyole New Testament in January 2017. As a participant said, ‘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.’
Ms Apofuya, a board member of a local technical institute, is reading the New Testament from cover to cover. ‘As I read the Lunyole New Testament, it is like conversing with God and Jesus,’ she said.
Give thanks for:
- a successful launch of the New Testament in January 2017
- progress in translating Genesis and Exodus
- the increased interest of the Banyole people in the New Testament and the opportunity to publicise its availability recently on local radio
- ongoing progress in checking and community testing Exodus
- 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.
- a revival among the Banyole people through reading God’s word
Banyole are the people;Lunyole– or Nyole– is the language; and Bunyole is the place where the Banyole people live.
With the Banyole New Testament complete, the focus now is on making progress with translating the Old Testament. Alongside this, the team is working to encourage and equip local communities and churches to use translated Scripture, and to improve literacy.
Thanks to their hard work, the generosity of supporters and the grace of God the team have made encouraging progress. Translation on many occasions has been ahead of schedule. The team have drafted 1 and 2 Kings, and have been busy checking portions of Psalms and Proverbs.
In addition, the team have visited many different churches and praise God that they witnessed many joyful congregations using the translated New Testament.
Delighting in our language
Believers and non-believers alike have been delighting in hearing portions of Scripture shared in their own language, Nyole.
The Banyole team recently spent time community checking their draft translation of Psalms 1–40. Groups made up of all different backgrounds gathered to hear the Scriptures read aloud.
Marriam Nakwaga and Salama Nduga, both believers of another religion, shared their joy:
‘We have admired to hear the word of God being read to us in Nyole … Thank you for blessing us.’
Wahima Robert, who is Anglican, had this to say:
‘I have loved to hear Nyole words like epiima and ebijofu.’(‘sword’ and ‘chains’)
As part of the community-testing process, local people are given the chance to feedback on what they hear. This not only helps improve the fluency of translations but also acts as a vital tool for engaging the community.
A new team member
The Banyole team were thrilled to welcome a much-needed new member earlier this year, Aggrey Gwali. Aggrey has taken on the role of Scripture Engagement and Literacy Coordinator.
With someone dedicated to these areas of work, the hope is that the team will be able to increase community engagement with the Lunyole New Testament and enable more people to learn to read and write in Lunyole.
This is also in direct response to community needs. For example, a request came from Maimuna Kagoya, who is now 80 years old and has seen the team at work for many years, for more literacy materials and lessons for people of all ages.
As more and more churches use the Lunyole New Testament, it is essential to equip local leaders with the tools to engage with Scripture.
Earlier this year the team held a workshop at the Kangalaba Church of Uganda. The 20 leaders who attended were trained in how to hold a Bible study. One pastor, Mr Mwima Gideon, shared:
‘I have discovered that I have been “preaching” instead of conducting Bible study. It is through this Scripture engagement training that now I have gained knowledge to help others in the steps taught. This is helpful for me as a leader.’
The plan is to increase the number and reach of these workshops over the coming months.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the provision of a new team member, Aggrey Gwali, as Scripture Engagement and Literacy Coordinator
- the successful team checking and community testing of Psalms 140
- the gathering together of local leaders for Bible study workshops and the skills learnt
- visits made to many churches and the joy of congregations using the New Testament.
Please pray for:
- the next stage of the translation of Psalms 1–40, which is consultant checking
- good health and unity for the Banyole team
- continued opportunities to hold Scripture engagement and literacy workshops
- strength and wisdom in translating Psalms 103–130.
- increased distribution of and engagement with the New Testament among the local community.
The recent progress
- publication of Genesis and Exodus
- the successful running of a review workshop of Deuteronomy
- Scripture engagement workshop held
- the first drafting of portions of Proverbs
- funding enabling the team to move from part-time to full-time, increasing progress.
Going beyond translation
Members of the project often visit local churches to promote the work and encourage use of the newly translated Scriptures. At a recent public relations visit, Lead Translator Aristarchus received a lot of positive feedback from members of the church who are using the Lunyole New Testament. One lady testified:
‘My Nyole New Testament is so dear to me. I enjoy reading it because I get a very clear understanding of what I read straight away.’
Bible study principles were taught at a Scripture engagement workshop in September. One of the participants reported that the training had resulted in a deeper understanding of God’s word.
‘This workshop has helped me to value the Nyole New Testament more than before. I used to take it as any other book, but now I know, it is God’s word.’
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- increased funding so that the translators are able to give more hours to the project
- the team successfully achieving almost all their goals for the last quarter
- the enthusiasm with which the translated Scriptures are being received.
Please pray for:
- continued strength and wisdom in translating Psalms 10–130
- a successful consultant check of Deuteronomy 1–20 in December
- continued good health for the team
- spiritual reawakening as God’s word impacts the Banyole
- the local church to get behind the project financially.
Impact of the New Testament
Since the launch of the Lunyole New Testament last year, churches have been using it more and more in their services and meetings.
During an overnight prayer meeting on New Year’s Eve, the visiting preacher in one church requested that someone from the congregation read some passages from the New Testament. His expectation was that the reading would be from the Luganda Bible, but some Banyole people were excited to be able to point out that they now have their own Lunyole translation.
A pastor in a local church said,
‘The Lunyole New Testament has simplified my work of preaching as people are able to understand the meaning directly and without needing to hear an interpretation, unlike other Bible versions. I am so pleased with our Lunyole New Testament.’
A participant in a recent Bible study workshop also expressed their appreciation:
‘This Bible study workshop is exactly what we have been missing over the years. I am convinced it will make us grow and know God better.’
Another woman commented,
‘I have been reading the Bible, but without understanding what I read. Now I believe I can understand most of the things I read.’
All of the participants were excited, and are looking forward to the next Bible study workshop.
Give thanks for:
- the impact that the New Testament is having in the churches
- significant recent progress in pre-publication testing of Exodus, consultant and community checking of Deuteronomy, and the first draft translation of Psalms 27–150.
- wisdom as the team continues with pre-publication checking of Exodus and typesetting the entire book ahead of the planned publication of Genesis and Exodus in early June
- the team members, who are facing challenges in terms of time and finances as they seek to meet their project goals
- control of team leader Aristarchus’ blood pressure and good health for the rest of the team.
Since the launch…
The translation team has been very encouraged by people’s attitude towards the New Testament. Tom Dambyo, a local church leader, commented, ‘The Lunyole Bible is interesting to read. The Lunyole used was written as it is spoken.’
There was initially a lower distribution of New Testaments than hoped. One factor was that the launch came at a time when the community was struggling with extended drought which damaged a lot of crops, particularly rice. People’s priority was to put food on the table for their families. In addition, people were not sure where they could find copies of the New Testament until the team had an opportunity to speak about the project on a local radio station. They were surprised by how many phone calls they received after the broadcast, expressing appreciation for their work, including from people of other faiths. The broadcast also led to opportunities to speak on other radio programmes.
- checked Exodus initially with the translation team and then with the wider community
- started translating Deuteronomy
- continue translating Deuteronomy
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the positive attitude of the community towards the Lunyole New Testament
- good progress in translating Genesis and Exodus
- the impact of the Lunyole New Testament in the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike
- supportive relationships between the local translation committee and the individual translators, so that each is motivated to play their part
- wisdom and good health for the translators as they continue their work
- good internet access for the Skype sessions with the translation consultant in the US
- good rainfall for next year’s crops