‘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.
Literacy for all
The Weh team has already worked hard to increase the reach of literacy classes, even finding ways to continue when they were displaced due to conflict. They have now extended this a step further.
In partnership with a local Weh cultural organisation, literacy classes are soon to be launched in the city of Douala. These join the classes taking place in the cities of Yaoundé and Bamenda, enabling more Weh people to have the chance to learn to read and write in their language.
To overcome the challenge of monitoring classes spread over such a large region, the team has been turning to digital tools. The literacy supervisor regularly receives statistics on class attendance, and messages, photos and videos to show how teaching is going. These enable teachers to also share their experiences and challenges with one another. These reports have shown that the classes currently up and running in Yaoundé and Bamenda have been continuing to go well, with many students now ready to graduate having completed the literacy course.
Through learning to read and write, many more doors are opened – most importantly the one to being able to engage with Scripture as it is translated into Weh.
Rippling out across the community
‘We want to thank you people for the wonderful work you are doing.’
– the warm welcome received by translator Ejuh Cyprian by a Weh community group known as Ghə muu ubi.
Over many years the Weh team has been building connections with the local community and serving them through the work of translation. The impact of this continues to ripple out. In response to the pandemic, the Weh team has used their translation skills to translate vital Covid-19 booklets. The difference these resources make was articulated by Mr Benjamin Geh, the president of the community group:
‘In particular, I have been struggling with how to explain these preventive measures to my mother at home, and did not know how to put it; now you have relieved me from that worry.’
The president also took the time to celebrate literacy classes and the opportunities these are opening up to the Weh people.
Over the last few months the Weh team has been pushing on with translation of the New Testament. They have been busy carrying out a number of checks on 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews and Revelation.
Alongside translation, the team has been resourcing the local Weh language committee. The committee took part in project writing training where they were equipped with tools to help them promote and raise support for the project.
Serving the local church
Kay wù khə kə ni fuu tə fəŋ ə wi diinə, a way dzə tə tə sii uwû nkee tə ghə wi tənnənu, n təŋkey, Zəkə ləghə wù wey tə fuunə n fəŋ ə wi idzəm. – 2 Corinthians 9:7 translated into Weh.
Portions of Scripture, like the one above, can now be heard in many Weh churches. Over recent months the team has been providing Sunday readings to a number of different denominations, as well as distributing the published Gospels of Luke and Mark. These are helping to encourage and strengthen local churches, giving more people the chance to hear the transformative word of God in their own language.
Praise and prayer
Give thanks for:
- God’s protection from the pandemic, with the number of new cases continuing to drop
- the continuing calm in the community
- Weh churches receiving and sharing the word of God in their own language
- the impact of literacy and its increasing reach.
Please pray for:
- translator Kumche Christopher, following a recent diagnosis of high blood pressure
- continued protection over the team, in particular when they are travelling
- the calm in the community to be long lasting
- local people to grow in their love and understanding of God’s word.
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.