‘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.
Smartphones are becoming more widely used in many areas, all over the world, especially among the younger generations. But in some areas, like the part of Cameroon where the Weh team works, internet provision and electricity supplies are not reliable.
In response to this a Bible app for phones has been developed that can be used without access to the internet. Translation teams are able to build a version of the app for their own language to help their community to read and hear the Scriptures without the need to own a printed copy.
The Weh team has been using this technology to create a Weh Bible app over the last year. They are hoping that they will soon be able to get back out into the community to share this excellent resource and encourage people to install and use it. It is important for people to have the option to listen to God’s word, as only about 10-12% of the population are able to read.
Encouraging the arts
Local cultural expression, such as music or dance, is often used to tell stories from Scripture and to encourage worship in local churches that will really speak to people’s hearts.
Traditional arts are in danger of being lost in many places, as older generations die out and young people are not so interested in local traditions.
The Weh team would particularly like to have some traditional music and dance take place during the New Testament dedication service that they are hoping to hold in 2022. Team Leader Wuwih Williams says that this will help them show the community that some of the old traditions are worth keeping alive and that they can be used to worship God:
‘Not everything in our tradition is bad and not everything is good. Here we can identify with the community in their way of life, in a way which gives glory to God.’
In preparation for the dedication, workshops will be held in local communities where participants will be encouraged to learn Scripture songs which are easily accessible to all, from young children to grandparents.
Looking towards the goal
The team has been making plans to continue and develop the project in 2021.
One of their most exciting goals is to finish the translation of the New Testament. They only have six books left to check through with the community and with a language consultant. Then it will need to be printed. The hope is that the finished New Testament would be available for the community in 2022. They are intending to hold a dedication service in 2022 and will be spending time this year preparing for it.
They are also planning to continue their work in the community to distribute the Scriptures to local churches, and carry out Scripture engagement training.
Persevering through Covid-19
The team has continued to work in Bamenda making progress on the various translation activities, despite unreliable internet and electricity. They are thankful that they have been able to continue a few literacy classes and Bible studies in Bamenda.
I kə saa nə buu doʼlənə ni ghəŋŋə ghəə a dzuŋu ghə nəŋə tədzəm, n təŋkey abə saa ka buu doʼo ni ghəŋŋə ghəə a dzuŋu ghə, nəŋə I bəghənu, saa i keelinə naamə.
Galatians 6:9 in Weh, shared as an encouragement by the Weh team
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the technology that enables God’s word to be shared
- the plans to involve the local community in the dedication service
- the progress the team has been able to make despite the ongoing restrictions
- the plans that have been made for the coming year.
Please pray for:
- the team to be able to finish the New Testament next year
- wisdom as the team makes plans for the future
- continuing good health for the team
- the team as they are looking forward to getting back into the communities next year.
Leading and learning
The Weh language committee has elected and welcomed in six new members from the local community. These new members took on their roles with much enthusiasm and proved that it is never too late to learn to read and write in your own language.
After being endorsed and welcomed with joy by the local leader, the Fon, the new members eagerly asked to learn to read and write, recognising it as an important step in being able to engage with translated Scripture. In response, literacy supervisor Ejuh Cyprian, who was greatly encouraged by the request, put in place an intensive literacy programme for the group.
‘I was so motivated by the interest they expressed and the efforts they invested, given their ages, that I travelled over 15km across Bamenda, almost on a daily basis, just to go and teach these few people.’
All the members successfully completed the course and can now read and write in Weh. Pray that this will spur more people on to take part in literacy classes to enable them to engage with the translated Scriptures.
Translation has also been moving forward amidst the upheaval. The forced move out of the local area, to the city of Bamenda, for translator Christopher and his family has turned into a blessing. He now has more time for the project and no longer has to live with the anxiety of leaving his family as he travels in and out of the community. The team has, as a result, made progress on checking a number of books including James, 1 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy and Jude. A colossal 3528 words were also collected for the Weh dictionary in a recent workshop. This has, however, not been without its challenges. Frequent power outages in Bamenda, made worse by the rainy season, have led to the team often working at night to make up for lost time.
A combination of the ongoing crisis, forcing the team out of the Weh area, and the complications of Covid-19 have led to the cancellation of Scripture engagement activities in the local community. Amidst these struggles the team has, however, been continuing to connect with displaced Weh people in the cities. One of the newest members of the team, Mr Tem Ernest, is now running a regular Bible study for two Weh families in the city of Bamenda and is looking to expand this further. The Gospels of Luke and Mark continue to be distributed and are also being utilised in literacy classes.
A number of tools, both online and offline, have been increasing the effectiveness and reach of the literacy programme.
Classes have been improved through the availability of a literacy booklet and translated Scripture is being used to further develop reading and writing. To support students outside of classes, the team provides help via calls, messages and videos. Through these, students can share worries and access further information. More classes have also been set up in response to calls from the community, in particular in the capital city, Yaoundé.
Waazə ghə, ghaa khə ni duʼlə nəŋə tədzəm abə ghaa buʼu keeli kənə lii tə nchɔd tə, n təŋkey chɔd mən mɔm koʼo bəghəm i fəŋ i ghaa seynə, ghaa loʼ ni təmi taw n bəghəm i fəŋ zey ghaa khənə. — James 1:2-3 in Weh, shared as an encouragement by the Weh team
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- the new language committee members and their ability to now read and write in Weh
- the success of the word collection workshop
- the progress the team has been able to make in the midst of Covid-19
- the presence of God’s word in the community and the healing impact it is having.
Please pray for:
- wisdom as the team looks for ways to cope with Covid-19 and still reach their goals
- good health and protection for the team to enable them to continue to work effectively
- the Weh people as they hear the word of God, for it to be a source of healing for their trauma.