‘If God loves the whole world, then the Leoma people are included, but how will they know that God loves them if they do not have the message in their language? That is what keeps us going.’ – Leoma* translator Ibrahim*

  • Location: South Asia
  • Language: Leoma
  • Speakers: More than 15million
  • Start date: 1992
  • Projected end date: 2030

The community

An elderly Leoma Woman

The Leoma people are an ethnic group of more than 15 million from the middle of their country. Today, Leoma people live in all of the country’s provinces as well as in a neighbouring country. They have adapted well to the extreme environment with soaring summer temperatures and very little rainfall, and they value generous hospitality and loyal friendships.

Life can often be difficult due to poverty and a low literacy rate (50%). Most Leoma are agriculturalists, working as farm labourers for local landlords. Due to the wealth disparity in the area, relationships with neighbours can often become strained.

The need

There is a real lack of educational opportunity for the Leoma. As a result, many are trapped in a cycle of poverty, fear and ignorance. The majority of people also follow Islam. The team is desperate for the whole community, including the small but growing church, to have Scripture in their language so they can be transformed as they come to know Jesus.

The project

A local team has been trained over a number of years and has made progress on translating Scripture portions. They aim to complete the whole Bible in Leoma one day. Since few people in this community can read, their approach is to use a written style that is poetic and easy to understand, as well as producing audio versions. This will give people access to God’s word in a form that is culturally appropriate and accessible.

Translation has to be done discreetly due to the dangers which come with openly being a Christian and each member of the team has overcome many hurdles. In spite of this, more than 90% of the New Testament and 10% of the Old Testament has now been translated. The team is also looking for opportunities to share Scripture in ways that are relevant and sensitive, and they have been working on online resources.

Join in praise and prayer for the Leoma people:

  • Give thanks for the team’s perseverance over many years and the progress they have made on translation.
  • Pray for safe ways for the team to test translated Scripture portions in the community, and for continued protection over all involved.
  • Pray for more opportunities to distribute Scripture and good relations with the community.
  • Pray for the recently launched website and social media content. Pray that the team will have wisdom and a continued desire to make these platforms places for people to respond as well as read.
  • Pray for good communication and understanding between members of the team as those involved are spread across four countries and speak different languages. Pray that they will all work fruitfully for God’s glory and honour among the Leoma people.
  • Pray for many Leoma people to choose to follow Jesus as they access God’s word in their own language.

*name changed for security reasons.

Latest News

July 2020

Going social

Utilising online tools to increase the reach of Scripture is something the team is continuing to explore. They are now looking to the world of social media.

Through learning from observations made in another language group, the team is hoping to soon launch a Facebook page and campaign. The aim of these will be to locate Leoma speakers who are interested in spiritual conversations. The plan is to focus on various topics, for example, forgiveness and mercy, and share verses of Scripture to give a new perspective on each topic. Some of this will be done in audio format, with snippets of Scripture being recorded and shared. Alongside this, cultural content and Covid-19 information will be included to raise the profile of the page.

The new website has now been live for a few months and contains a number of language resources, but has not yet had many hits. This has, however, been a helpful indicator to the team that they need to continue to review their online strategy in order to maximise the reach of Scripture.

The life of a Leoma believer

Supporting one another in faith

Today we praise God that there are an estimated 200 Leoma people who have accepted Jesus into their lives. But for these believers life is riddled with persecution and challenges.

Challenges arise even before a commitment has been made, with anyone even interested in studying Scripture receiving insults and pressure from their family to turn away. When someone steps out in faith and begins a new life with the Lord, these challenges increase. Often people are forced out of their homes and jobs, treated as strangers by their families, and are subject to death threats. Through these trials people can be left discouraged, depressed and isolated, which is why it is crucial for their new worldwide church family to support them in their faith.

It is therefore vital to equip Leoma believers with Scripture in their language and share it in a way that makes it acceptable beyond the Christian community. This helps encourage, teach and welcome believers with joy into the body of Christ.

Looking forward

The Leoma team has been looking to the future with great hope, taking time out in recent months for meetings to plan for the next five years.

Alongside the exciting aim to publish the New Testament sometime next year, they will also be focusing on beginning the audio recording of some Old Testament stories and translating a selection of Old Testament books. They will kick this off by translating Psalm 23 later this year.

We praise God that he has brought the team this far and we pray that they would continue to trust in him as they persevere with translation.

‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ (Psalm 23:4)

Health prayer and praise

Following our recent update on translator Wajid* suffering from kidney problems, it brings us great joy to report that he has now been able to access medicine and is well on his way to recovery.

However translator Alfred’s* son, who is now 11 months old, has been ill for the last two weeks with a cough. The community also continues to face a number of problems as a result of the ongoing pandemic. The cost of everyday items has gone up considerably – grain in particular is very expensive – and unemployment has risen. Join in prayer that Alfred’s son would soon recover, and for God’s protection over all those who are struggling.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • the team looking forward with hope following planning meetings
  • Wajid recovering from his health problems
  • the Leoma people who have stepped out in faith to follow Jesus
  • the provision of a new laptop which is helping the team to improve the quality of audio recordings.

Please pray for:

  • healing for Alfred’s son and the health of the whole Leoma team
  • the logistics of the work which have been complicated due to new governmental bureaucratic processes
  • wisdom as the team works on their online strategy
  • Leoma people to be impacted by Scripture and put their trust in the Lord.
April 2020

Sweet as honey

Progress is being made on a resource which celebrates the richness of the Leoma culture and language, showing the community that they are valued. The team has been working in collaboration with another organisation to create a website with resources in Leoma, from history to poetry and even TV channels.

As the website gains credibility, and confidence in the language grows, the team will gradually introduce Scripture. It is vital that this is done in a way which is sensitive to the Leoma culture, so alongside Bible portions there will also be a downloadable Koran. Those involved have been carefully thinking and praying through the best way to present information. We are happy to report that the website has now officially gone live. Below is a taster of it from the introduction page:

‘Our Leoma language is as sweet as honey. It is a reality that this language is spoken by more than 15 million people in our country. We love our mother language. We want to read and write in our language but we do not have many opportunities…. We also want to take part in the development and promotion of our Leoma language. Therefore we are presenting this website for you so that many unique and precious things are together in one place’

Alongside the website the team is also working on a social media campaign.

Thank you

We praise God that he has been working through your prayers and partnership. In the face of many obstacles and persecution the team has now translated 90% of the New Testament and 10% of the Old Testament. As the team looks for openings to share Scripture, which continues to be a challenge, they share this message with you:

‘Please join with us in prayer that the translation and distribution of the Leoma Scriptures will continue unhindered, bringing light, faith and hope to the millions of Leoma people who are still in darkness. Thank you!’

Persevering through Covid-19

The impact of Covid-19 has begun to be felt in the Leoma country, bringing with it many restrictions. All members of the team are in lock down at home but continuing to work on translation. Translator Wajid* is, however, not well, suffering from a problem with his kidneys. He has seen a slight improvement in recent days but is still in much pain and does not have a close support network around him. But the other members of the team and their families are doing well.

The team asks for prayer for the wider community as medical resources are limited and many people rely on going out to work each day to feed their families.

Praise and prayer

Give thanks for:

  • the progress being made on online Leoma resources
  • God sustaining the team as they continue to move forward with translation
  • the launch of the Leoma website
  • the team being able to continue with translation from home during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Please pray for:

  • healing for Wajid and an easing of pain as he fights off illness
  • gate-keepers and people of peace who have a good standing in the community and can promote Scripture as it emerges
  • protection for those living in rural areas with little access to health care
  • Leoma people to be impacted by Scripture and put their trust in the Lord.