‘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.
A new team member
At the beginning of January this year, a new translator was welcomed onto the team. Mr Weere Benayo has just finished his training and he has already found that ‘there has been a tremendous growth in my faith because I have all the time to read God’s word’.
Benayo is married to Rebecca and they have two daughters. He became a Christian through reading and understanding the Bible, and he now reads it to his daughters.
He has been following the team’s progress for a while. In 2018 he was encouraged when he saw an old lady filled with joy when reading a portion of Scripture in her own language.
He hopes that through the work of the project team ‘many people will draw closer to God since he will be speaking their own language’.
There have been a number of encouragements for the team recently. The Nyole Scriptures are more frequently being used at funerals, weddings and Sunday services, and even during large gatherings, such as a high profile funeral with many guests. Local church leaders have been very positive about the translated Scriptures too.
One of the team’s first ever Sunday school trainees is currently training to become an Anglican minister. She is planning to make use of the Nyole Scriptures in her work:
‘God’s word in Nyole appeals to me; if I leave the pulpit without reading Scripture in our mother tongue, it is as though I have not led a service. I praise the Lord and thank those who are involved in aiding the translation.’
Last November, during one of the workshops to review the work on the book of Proverbs, one of the local pastors who was attending said:
‘When one reads this book in English or other language, it is not as clear as it is in Nyole. I feel edified in my spirit by this workshop.’
Starting Sunday School
As churches begin to reopen, the team is planning to help them to run Sunday school training workshops for adults, to help local communities to engage with the Nyole Scriptures.
Team members are focussing on starting these workshops in their own churches, before visiting others in the area later in the year.
Continuing the work
The team has been making progress on a number of Old Testament books. They are particularly concentrating on the book of Proverbs, ahead of schedule, because the local church is very interested in it after receiving the small Family Proverbs booklet that the team produced last year.
Under Covid-19 restrictions, the translation team met together with a select few youth, church and local community leaders to review the book of Proverbs before it is checked for a final time.
They are also making good progress with the work on 1 Samuel, 1 Kings and Psalms.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the new translator joining the team
- continued protection from Covid-19 for the team
- good progress on the translation work
- the community and local churches using the Nyole Scriptures more and more.
Please pray for:
- Weere Benayo as he settles into the work
- community testing and review of Proverbs and 1 Samuel
- the churches and communities to continue to use the Nyole Scriptures
- the Sunday school training workshops in local churches.
‘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.