A map of Kenya

‘In all this we have seen God’s power to preserve us no matter the challenges that we face.’ – Leafa translator

  • Country: Kenya
  • Language: Leafa
  • Speakers:10,000
  • Start date: 1994
  • Projected end date: 2023

Community

The Leafa* are a group of hunter-gatherers. In recent years, however, conservation laws have come in that now protect a range of wildlife species which for centuries were key sources of food for the Leafa community. The government has encouraged a move towards subsistence agriculture and a settled lifestyle. Some Leafa men now work in labouring jobs, but most still prefer to live in remote rural areas and survive with little money. Losing the right to hunt threatens their whole lifestyle and culture, and they have little to fall back on. They also live in an area of Kenya which is often subject to militant violence. Travelling is dangerous, and during the rainy season, the few tracks that serve as roads become soft mud, capable of carrying only traffic by foot.

The need

Life can often be difficult for the Leafa people. They have little access to education, struggle to make a living and remain largely cut off from the rest of society. Most Leafa profess a faith in which they believe in one god, and have sacred spot set aside as a place of prayer. They also consider themselves to be cursed and have low expectations of life.

The project

A typical Leafa home
A typical Leafa home
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Prior to 1996, the Leafa language had never been written down. People value their language and were eager to see it in written form. After many years of language development work, an alphabet and dictionary have now been put together and good relationships with the community have been established, providing the basis for Bible translation and literacy work.

A local team is now working to translate the New Testament into Leafa and establish a community-based literacy programme. They are also working to find ways to safely distribute Scripture, with the hope that the Leafa community will be transformed spiritually, socially and economically. Although the team has been forced to relocate away from the community due to security issues, they continue to persevere and make progress.

Join in prayer and praise with the Leafa people:

  • Ask God to bring peace in the Leafa homeland, and safe access to those areas that are still insecure.
  • Praise God for the small but growing number of believers from the community. Pray they may grow in maturity and courage, and be fruitful.
  • Pray for those who have committed to learning to read and write their language, that God will prepare their minds and hearts to receive his word.
  • Pray for two team members who are currently involved in literacy and translation, that God will use them in the near future to be translators in the Leafa project and so speed up the work.
  • Pray for the partner organisations working with the Leafa team as they look for ways to maximise use of translated Scripture. This is not easy when the safety of translators is such a concern.
  • Pray for Kenyan churches and believers to be called specifically to serve this people group.

* name changed for security reasons

Latest News

July 2020

Laying the foundations

Translation of the Bible into the Leafa* language has been going on for over 15 years. Much of this, however, has had to be done in secret due to the fact that the majority of Leafa people follow another religion, and the risk of persecution. Finding ways to connect with the community to enable the work to continue has therefore been vital.

Learning how to read and write

Providing literacy resources has been key for this. It has been a real encouragement to hear news trickling in from villages that the distribution of literacy materials back in 2012 has led to increasing interest in learning to read and write. The importance of this has been shared by the team:

‘We believe this thirst to read literature in their mother tongue will pave the way for the word of God to be unveiled to the community soon. We praise the Lord for the milestones so far.’

The team has been continuing to work on literacy materials, and has just finished drafting five more story books. We praise God for their faithfulness over so many years, obediently following him and laying down the foundations for generations to come.

Translation technology

Finding ways to distribute Scripture safely is an ongoing challenge for the team, a challenge they are gradually overcoming through the use of technology. An exciting step forward has been taken, with all four translated Gospels now being published on a Scripture App. The app enables Scripture to be read and shared easily on mobile phones.

To trial the app, translator Simon* has shared it initially with his family and a few believers. The team is now exploring ways to distribute the app in the community, with the hope that it will provide an opportunity for more people to engage with the living word of God.

Connecting with the community

Finding ways to work

After having had to take time off as a result of Covid-19 precautions, the team was able to resume translation in early May. Their office environment has been adapted to ensure they are following the strict Covid-19 measures which are in place, but they are nevertheless making progress.

Over the last couple of months they have been working on 1 & 2 Timothy, 1 Peter and 2 & 3 John. This has enabled them to reach an encouraging milestone – drafting all the books they had planned to complete this year. Alongside this they have also been able to grow their skills through taking part in translation software training.

Areas of work which require interaction with the local community do, however, remain on hold, including community checking of translations and distribution of language resources.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • God’s protection of the team and their families from Covid-19
  • the connections made with the community through literacy
  • a Scripture App now being available
  • translation being resumed and the progress being made.

Please pray for:

  • continued good health for the team and their families
  • activities in the community, that it would soon be safe to resume
  • wisdom in how to utilise the Scripture App
  • Leafa Christians to continue to grow in their faith and love of the Lord.
April 2020


Hidden treasure

Hunting and gathering is a way of life for Leafa people, with many spending days in search of wild honey and fruits like makoma or tiyal, and hunting small game in order to feed their families. People just like Leafa family man Clive*, who on one recent search uncovered something more precious than anything he had found before.

After hearing news that villagers had found mercury in areas which previously were oil sites, and that it had brought them riches, Clive eagerly gathered a group to join the search. After much digging, the men were unable to find the treasure they were so desperately seeking. But through this disappointment the men were introduced to a far greater treasure. On hearing of the men’s plight, a Christian visitor to the village used the translated Leafa Scriptures to share the story of a different kind of hidden treasure:

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.’ (Matthew 13:44)

Praise God that Clive and his friends listened with open hearts and asked to hear more about the eternal treasure to be found in the Kingdom of God.

Love in action

Meet Ruth*: she is about 70 years old (although no one truly knows, due to no records being kept of birthdates) and spends almost all of her time at home due to her age. Those around her go out to work in the fields or forests but Ruth is left behind. The whole community lives with the realities of conflict, poverty, isolation, and little access to schools or healthcare. Working together is vital, and even at 70 Ruth helps those giving birth.

Through Ruth the team has seen the importance of sharing Jesus’ love practically with the Leafa people. Working alongside the translation team is a Christian organisation which does medical outreach. On a recent visit to Ruth’s village she greeted them with the good news of a newborn baby, to whom they were then able to give vital vaccinations. Ruth shared with the team what their visits meant to her:

‘You are my people and I have no one else to help me than you. You are my sons and you are my brothers.’

This reminded the team of Jesus’ words in John 13:20: ‘Whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me’. Join with them in prayer that Ruth, by accepting them as God’s servants, will accept in her heart the one who has sent them.


Persevering through Covid-19

The impact of Covid-19 has begun to be felt in Kenya, bringing with it many restrictions. All members of the team are currently well but are struggling to continue with translation from home due to limited internet connections, and they are unable to meet. All visits to Leafa villages are also on hold. However, progress is being made on upgrading internet connections and setting up meetings online.

Within the wider community, the team is concerned about levels of anxiety and welfare, as people have little access to healthcare. The partner organistion leading translation in Kenya has been providing teams with vital Covid preparedness information and tips on how to stock up on medical supplies and food in case the situation worsens and the country goes into full lockdown.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • the national day of prayer held by church leaders across the country in response to Covid-19
  • the organisations reaching out to the Leafa community
  • God speaking into people’s lives through Scripture.

Please pray for:

  • protection over the community and team as they begin to see the impact of Covid-19
  • more opportunities for Scripture to be shared in the community
  • an improved internet connection to be put in place to ensure translation can continue
  • Leafa Christians to continue to grow in their faith and love of the Lord.