‘I thank God for making me part of this project. When I look at myself today and look at what is happening back in the community, I glorify God for the project.’ – Ning, Weh team member
- Country: Cameroon
- Language: Weh
- Start date: 2007
- Projected end date: 2021
Community is an important part of Weh life and many people enjoy living in large families. Most Weh people are subsistence farmers. They grow crops such as plantains, yams and avocados. These are used to feed the family and any surplus is sold in the market to gain money for hospital bills, children’s school fees and other basic necessities. Palm wine tapping is also common and some people weave cloth. However, for a number of years their way of live has been jeopardised due to widespread political insecurity and violence in the Weh area, which has forced thousands of families to flee to nearby cities such as Bamenda.
The Weh people follow a mixture of Christianity, Islam and traditional religions. About 5% of the population practise Islam and 15% are exclusively involved in traditional religion. However, a large number of those who call themselves Christians still practise traditional religions alongside their Christian faith.
Due to ongoing unrest, many Weh people have been displaced and have experienced a great deal of trauma. An estimated 30% of the Weh people have also left the area in order to find work or better opportunities. Of those who do still live in the area, it is thought that only about 10–12% are literate.
Inspired by Bible translation going on in the neighbouring area of Aghem, the Weh people were enthusiastic about having the word of God in their language too. To deliver on this vision, a local translation team has been trained and is now making progress on the Weh New Testament, over two-thirds of which is now drafted. Alongside this, an inter-church committee has been formed, literacy classes have been established and churches have been encouraged to use translated Scriptures to help them grow in their faith.
In response to unrest in the country, the team has moved many of their activities to the major towns and begun trauma healing sessions in Weh to reach out to those who have been displaced.
Join in praise and prayer for the Weh people:
- Praise God for the encouraging progress that has been made on translation of the New Testament.
- Ask God to make it possible for electricity to reach the project office – it’s difficult to work on a computer without electricity; generators help, but a direct electricity supply would be much better.
- Pray for a continued spirit of cooperation between the team and the language committee helping to oversee the work.
- Lift up to the Lord those facing violence and being forced to flee their communities. Pray they would know his comfort and protection.
- Pray that, through the literacy classes, new literacy teachers would become available.
- Pray that the community would use the Covid-19 booklet produced by translators and practise good hygiene and sanitation as a result.
A stepping stone to Scripture
For many in the Weh community, engaging with Scripture is not as easy as just finding copies of it in their language. An additional barrier often exists – being unable to read or write.
Literacy supervisor Ejuh Cyprian saw this first hand when he received a call from Teh Peter, a prominent Weh leader. Teh Peter told Ejuh how delighted he was to know that Weh language resources were being developed. He also shared how he had just bought copies of the translated Gospels of Mark and Luke but was dismayed to discover he did not have the literacy skills to read them. He put in a plea to Ejuh:
‘My son, I have had the zeal to work on the Weh language for so many years …. I bought the Bible and I am unable to read it. So I want to arrange with my neighbours so that you will come and teach us.’
Ejuh has since been able to teach Teh Peter and his neighbours, and has already seen progress being made, with Teh Peter reading a few sentences from the two Gospels. Literacy classes are a key part of the Weh team’s ministry, providing a stepping stone to people being able to engage with the Bible. They are currently expanding the reach of these classes.
As in so many parts of the world, Cameroon is seeing the impact of Covid-19 and looking for ways to limit its spread. An important tool in this fight is providing communities with up-todate health information, which will enable them to take preventative measures.
To increase the reach of this information it is also vital that it is translated into the many different languages across the country. So the organisation which leads Bible translation in Cameroon has been coordinating an initiative to translate health information into 45 languages. The Weh team has been playing a part in this too, by helping put together a booklet in Weh on the preventative measures which need to be taken. This kind of information is particularly important as most people do not have access to the internet and have been relying on word of mouth information, much of which has been unreliable.
Finding ways to connect
Unrest in Cameroon continues to impact the team, limiting their connections with the community. It has most recently forced translator Christopher to move his family to the city of Bamenda.
Christopher was the last team member to remain in the area and until the move he had been able to meet regularly with people in the community – something which is no longer possible. The team is now on the lookout for a local church leader who will be able to step in. Through this the team will be able to encourage churches and keep up to date with how they are using translated Scripture.
Although the team has faced a number of hurdles due to the ongoing unrest, they have nevertheless been continuing to make progress. They have been particularly encouraged over the last few months by the new language committee which has helped them to coordinate activities.
Looking forward, over the coming months the team is hoping to continue working on translation of Jude, Revelation, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Thessalonians. This is alongside exploring the possibility of setting up further literacy classes in the town of Buea and the city of Douala, training more teachers, holding a dictionary workshop and working on a Scripture App.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the successful completion of consultant checking of the book of Acts, and community testing of Timothy and Acts
- the commitment shown by the new language committee the team being able to translate vital health information
- the enthusiasm from the local community for more Scripture and resources in Weh.
Please pray for:
- the team to continue to find ways to work safely within Covid-19 restrictions
- calm to be restored to the Nchuabu area of Bamenda so the meeting house can reopen for literacy classes
- the right people to come forward to put together the Weh dictionary
- the latest consultant checking session to help the team achieve their next translation goals.
Sharing the vision
Connecting with the community is a key priority for the Weh team. Through meeting with local leaders and groups they are able to share their progress and vision for Bible translation and build important links.
One impact of this is today seen through the experience of Tem Ernest Ning, the secretary general of the Weh Cultural and Development Association (WECUDA).
During a meeting in Bamenda last year with the Weh team, Tem was greatly encouraged to witness a whole devotional on Luke 12:4-6 being shared in the Weh language:
‘Truly I tell you my brother, despite the fact that I am a trained pastor, I have never really understood these two verses until today, when I have heard them in my own language.’
Today, as a result, Tem has made it the norm that before the beginning of every WECUDA meeting a devotion is shared, meaning that many like him are now also being blessed. The team is also delighted that Tem has come on board to help with Scripture engagement activities.
Life for those living in the Weh region continues to be riddled with the devastation of the persisting crisis. As they face the burning of houses, looting of properties and the killing of loved ones, many have moved even further into the bush.
This also results in the team struggling to run Scripture engagement and translation testing in the community. Most recently in the Nchuabu area of Bamenda, where the team have relocated due to insecurity, the Weh community meeting house has been closed leading to some literacy classes being put on hold. The team members themselves also have to deal with their trauma of having lost family and friends. We pray with the team and community as they continue to persevere.
Project and progress
In the midst of unrest, the Weh team praises God that they have continued to make translation progress. Some recent highlights have been:
- completing community checks on Galatians, Colossians, Philemon, 1, 2 and 3 John
- training and equipping new team members
- working with a consultant on Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, 2 and 3 John
- translating, printing and distributing 200 Weh 2020 diaries.
A growing team
In recent months the Weh team has been growing in size and support, with the local community helping to increase their capacity.
A new language committee has been elected in Bamenda made up of six local people. The committee will help oversee the project and encourage others to support the work.
Alongside local leader, Tem Ernest Ning, who is now assisting with Scripture engagement, the team has also welcomed Ning Elsilia. Ning has been helping over the last year with urban literacy activities and has offically taken on the role of literacy supervisor. For Ning the role has been a lifeline - providing stability, the chance to learn new skills and much needed income. Ning praises God for this:
‘I thank God for making me part of this project. When I look at myself today and look at what is happening back in the community, I glorify God for the project.’
Keeping literacy moving
Although insecurity has led to the closure of the community meeting house in the Nchuabu area of Bamenda where some Weh literacy classes are held, the team has been working on ways to overcome the hurdles holding them back.
Classes are continuing in Yaoundé and in other areas of Bamenda, and in November nine local community members celebrated becoming fully certified literacy teachers. Local churches have been praying for and encouraging literacy teachers in the community. Finally, alongside churches, local leaders have been offering their homes for classes and providing the resources for students to access online literacy materials.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the two literacy classes that have taken off in Yaoundé
- the continued progress being made with translation
- Ning and Tem joining the Weh team
- the opportunity to produce and distribute many 2020 Weh diaries.
Please pray for:
- effective consultant checking of Acts in the first part of 2020
- calm to be restored to the Nchuabu area of Bamenda so the meeting house can reopen
- the new language committee to deliver on their goals
- local people to come forward to be trained as trauma healing facilitators.