The Tharaka people long to have the whole Bible in their language. It has been translated, but the funds are not yet available to print and distribute it. Will you help the Tharaka people to have access to the Bible?
- Country: Kenya
- Speakers: 176,000
- Timescale: One-off need in order to fund printing of the recently-completed Tharaka Bible
- Funds needed: £27,538
The Tharaka people live on the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya, their nearest major settlement being Meru town. Sixty percent of the Tharaka people are less than 15 years old. The Tharaka are mainly small scale farmers raising cattle, sheep, goats and chickens and growing corn (maize), millet, sorghum, cotton, green peas and sunflowers. Most families live in ‘homesteads’ consisting of the husband and wife (or wives) with their children. Sons or even grandsons who are married may also live in the same compound.
A sense of belonging is an important aspect of life among the Tharaka. The most respected person in the community is called the Mukuru (elder, or old man). Some of the traditional culture of the Tharaka has changed because of outside contact. Now only a few men marry more than one wife. The young people are often quick to accept new ideas, while older people resist change. More and more people in the Tharaka area see the importance of knowing how to read and write, and feel the need for educational opportunities in their area. The popular proverb ‘Gutiri mbiji itari mbiire’, ‘No-one knows without being told’ illustrates the positive attitude they have towards learning.
Christianity came to the Tharaka people in the early 1930s, but our partner’s work in Tharaka didn’t begin until 1988. This lack of Scriptures for the early Church in the Tharaka region meant that most people did not understand basic Christian principles, and for many their faith was nominal, or mixed with other religions. The New Testament was completed and dedicated in 2001. The thirst for the Tharaka Scriptures was very tangible in this community – the first 5,000 copies of the New Testament that were printed all ran out. The community requested additional copies and a reprint was done but copies have since run out again. The Tharaka people keep on asking for the New Testament but have been advised to wait for the full Bible.
Another donor has pledged to pay half the cost of printing, but £27,538 is still needed in order for the Tharaka people to have the Bible in their language, so that the Church can grow stronger and deeper in its faith.
When can we stop this stammering?
A Tharaka speaker who was reading an Old Testament passage in a neighbouring language during a church service faltered a few times and after finishing asked, ‘When will the Tharaka Bible be completed so we can stop this stammering and confusing people? I’m sure most of you listeners had problems following what I was reading.’ People really feel the need to have the Bible in Tharaka – hopefully soon they will have it.
‘Yet I will rejoice in the Lord’
Habakkuk chapter 3 has been a very encouraging portion of Scripture for Tharaka believers. They’ve been praying like Habakkuk that they may see God’s intervention in their hard times. For about two years, most parts of the Tharaka areas have had insufficient or no rain. Few or no harvests, dying livestock, little income and general hardship are being experienced in the region.
Habakkuk 3:17-19: ‘Though the fig tree does not bud … and the fields produce no food … yet I will rejoice in the Lord’ has had much relevance for the people and has been read aloud on various occasions. One church leader commented that this Scripture was meant for the Tharaka for such a time as this and urged the people to wait on God.
- praise God for the thirst the Tharaka people have for the Bible
- pray for the Church in the Tharaka region to grow in depth and number as people hear God speaking to them in their own language