With 240 languages in need of Bible translation in Nigeria, it is imperative to train Nigerians in all aspects of Bible translation and language development work. Primary opportunities for this training lie in the BA and MA degree programme at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN).
- Country: Nigeria
- Nigerian languages: 510
- Languages still needing translation: 240
- Students: since the first students arrived in 2005, 98 students speaking 59 languages have completed the programme.
- Projected end date: ongoing with yearly review
This project provides bursaries to support individual Nigerian trainees in Bible translation and associated studies and so to move towards having appropriate Scriptures and Christian literature available to the Nigerian Church for the effective evangelisation and discipleship of every people group in Nigeria. Bursaries, available to students who meet the criteria, will provide funds for payment of tuition fees and necessary study costs such as travel, the purchase of study books and costs of field work. Bursaries are available to students at TCNN and other similar training courses.
The Nigerian church and Nigerian missions are increasingly seeing the need for translation within the country. The Bible translation organisations and the Nigerian church need a significant number of well-trained Nigerians capable of working as translators, translation administrators, advisors and consultants.
New training programmes such as the MA and BA degree programme at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria enable such training but the most motivated students are not always well placed to cover the costs of such training. Individuals from minority language groups particularly often have fewer financial resources available to them because of the marginalisation of their communities.
In the past, a lack of degree level training programmes in Nigeria has led to a shortage of well-trained Nigerians. Sending students to overseas courses has been expensive and has often led to difficulties in retaining those who have been trained. The fees for the BA and MA courses at TCNN are much lower than equivalent training in other countries and so this project is an excellent investment in future Bible translation in Nigeria.
We don’t currently have many people supporting this fund, and are keen to widen its support base and increase the number of people praying for the students.
- to provide funding for those who have the motivation and aptitude to excel in translation training
- for students to graduate from the course due to the bursary support they received and continue to be involved in Bible translation and language development work
- for contact to be maintained with graduates to know their continuing engagement in language development and translation work and learn lessons for future bursary decisions
- in due course to aim for Nigerian church contributions to top up the bursary fund so that funding requests can decrease
Testimonies from students
Juliana: ‘Last week I didn’t think I would be able to sit exams. It was like Christmas Day for me when I was granted bursary! When I graduate I am certain I will work with my language, Tyap, to help complete the Old Testament.’
Nwagwu: ‘It means so much to me, it is a very very big help. It is a huge support to my academic work. I come from Rivers State way way south and if it wasn’t for this bursary I wouldn’t be able to ever arrive here! It helps to buy the books so that I can study very very well and do the best work. That is what God has called us to give him, our very best. I hope to get involved directly in Bible translation after I graduate. There is nothing in my language, Echie, at all, that is why I came to study so that my people won’t be left out from having God’s word.’
Manji: ‘Thank you thank you thank you! This bursary has really encouraged me to know that God is calling me to work in this area. I didn’t know where the fees were coming from and I asked God that if I was not to be in this work, the money will not come. So the granting of this bursary has helped me see my calling. When I graduate from here I don’t know where I will work. My own language is nearly finished with their Bible and it has been such a blessing in my life that I want to help others. Kulere is on my heart, they don’t even have an orthography [writing system] yet.’
Please pray for:
- the current students, for good health and stamina as they complete their studies
- wisdom in allocation of the bursaries for the next academic year.
The recent impact
- a total of 107 bursaries provided to students studying Linguistics, Bible Translation and related studies since the project began in 2008
- many graduated students have gone on to translate the Bible into their own language
- a vision ignited in many students to bring God’s word to Bibleless groups.
Mother of two, Wama Gabriel (pictured) was accepted on a BA course thinking that she would improve her English vocabulary. Instead, she discovered that the focus was on engaging with her own language.
Wama and her fellow Bwaatye speakers were used to attending church services in Hausa or English so initially it was a challenge to use her mother tongue in prayer and worship. She came to realise the benefit during one of her first sermons preached in Bwaatye. Members of the congregation expressed their appreciation, explaining that they didn’t usually understand what was happening but had been able to relate to what Wama was saying.
‘I realise now that all I am doing is about God and not about improving my English or getting a degree. God is calling me to work alongside my people. I want [my people] to know God for themselves and relate with him as a personal God’
Richard Chiabuotu (left) is working on his dissertation with the intention of defending it in January. He is teaching the Greek New Testament book exegesis for a translators course at TCNN this year.
Dangana Ncyinian (right) is also hoping to be able to defend his dissertation in January. He has joined a Bible translation organisation working in Nigeria.
- Pray that Richard and Dangana will be successful in their studies and will continue to use what they have learnt in Bible translation.
Ornan Neminaka (left) and Fleesin Buba (right) are both postgraduate students.
Ornan’s mother tongue is Bwaatye (like Wama). He is working alongside the Bwaatye Language Project and plans to develop language primers.
Although the project is not able to provide Ornan with financial assistance, he is supported in practical ways.
Fleesin’s mother tongue is Pyam. He specialises in language documentation. Fleesin has developed a number of pamphlets and has been able to work on a Pyam dictionary from the data that he collected during his field work.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the safe return of most of the students for the current academic year
- a number of students who have been identified as having the potential to join the teaching staff
- the successful visit by a lecturer from Jerusalem to teach biblical Hebrew.
Please pray for:
- many students still struggling to raise their school fees
- students or their families who have been facing health challenges, including one student who suffered a serious motorbike accident
- the provision of lecturers. The department is still heavily dependent on visiting lecturers to cover the required courses.
This academic year 11 students at TCNN are receiving bursaries in order to study in the translation department. Seven of them are studying for their bachelor's degree, and four for their master's. We’d like to introduce you to three of them:
Fleesin Buba Rengkat
Fleesin is married to Habiba and they have six children. He speaks Pyam, which is an as-yet-unwritten language. He praises God for the MA courses that TCNN are now able to run.
He asks for prayer for:
- good health, protection and wisdom for all the students
- Muslim Pyam speakers to have the opportunity to hear the gospel in their own language.
Wama is married to Solomon and they have two sons. She speaks Bwatiye, in which translation of the New Testament is ongoing. She praises God for his provision, sustenance and strength for herself and her family.
She asks for prayer for:
- good health so she can study well
- wisdom for her husband as he takes care of the family while she is studying
- their children to grow up choosing to follow God.
Ornan is married to Catherine and they have two children. He also speaks Bwatiye. He praises God for his goodness in enabling him to continue his studies at MA level.
He asks for prayer for:
- strength for the Bwatiye team as they continue translation
- good health and strength for his extended family in Adamawa State.