‘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.
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.
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.