The Revival of Kar Culture

The Word for the World’s work of Bible translation is playing a key role in the history of the Kar* people of Southeast Asia. Since TWFTW has been involved and the Kar people have been putting great time and effort into translating the Bible into their own language, their eyes have been opened to the value of their culture’s written stories, folklore, and songs. Every Kar-speaking village is abuzz with talk of Kar literature, vocabulary, and their written language! Their enthusiasm has even resulted in some technological advancements—there is now a Kar Gospel of Mark mobile application, as well as a Facebook page about Kar literature and translation developments. The impact of Bible translation is lasting and far-reaching.

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Food for the Soul

John Kapuku lives in the Matengo-speaking village of Mapei in southern Tanzania. He is 90 years old and has lived alone for a few years now, since his children are grown and his wife died some time ago. When we first met him outside his tiny house, he told us that he had no one to care for him, so we helped him to get food and to clean himself up.

After we helped him, he sat down and spoke with us. We shared with him about God and about the love of Christ, and he was very interested in what we were saying. We decided to give him the Matengo book of Mark, which was completed by TWFTW translators. As we read to Mr. Kapuku from the gospel, he started to smile and his face was full of joy.

“Please, how can I be connected with this Jesus?” he asked us. “This Word of God is speaking with me in my heart.” We prayed with him and he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, and then he said that he could see angels in his house, which he had never seen before.

We spent a few more days with him and continued to help him and pray with him. Before we left, he said to us, “Now I believe that Heaven must be a beautiful place.” Eda Lupogo, one of the TWFTW Matengo translators, now cares for Mr. Kapuku and makes sure that he has food to eat and that he stays clean and healthy. We care for him as if he is our father. He has some of the scriptures in his own language that he can read and that feed his soul as food feeds his body.

Veronique Krüger and George Chombo

The Whole Bible for the Gamo People?

Reverend Derese of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus lives in the Gamo-speaking village of Zala, in Ethiopia. He has used an Amharic Bible all his life, despite his mother tongue being Gamo. After The Word for the World completed and distributed the Gamo translation of the New Testament in 2012 (see video), he was able to read scripture in his own language for the first time! Around 1.2 million people in Ethiopia speak Gamo, and now all of them can read the Bible in their own language.

How incredible it is when people can finally have access to the Word of God in their mother tongue!

“I easily understand when I read from the Gamo New Testament, and not only I can understand it, but my people as well. I benefit greatly from this, now that I can read the Bible in my own language and understand the Word of God easily,” Reverend Derese said after receiving the New Testament in Gamo for the first time. A Gamo translation of the Jesus Film has also been produced.

The Gamo Bible translation project started in 2003 in partnership with The Seed Company and churches in the language group area. The four Gamo translators—Andinet Meaza, Arega Adada, Tesfaye Tole, and Teliko Tona—are currently working on getting the complete Gamo Bible ready for publication and audio release. If all goes according to plan, the complete Bible will be sent to publishers in 2018! Our prayer is for speedy typesetting and that the funds will be available to publish and distribute the complete Gamo Bible.

How incredible it is when people can finally have access to the Word of God in their mother tongue!

Veronique Krüger

Impact of Bible Translation

Until Bible translation work began among the Tag* people of India, their language was on the verge of going extinct. The Tag-speaking community is not very large and the language has generally been seen as inferior by speakers of other languages in the area. The Tag people themselves also adopted this viewpoint and were ashamed of their language, but now they have changed their perspective.

Believers in the community are overcome with gratitude to have the Scriptures in their own language. On top of the excitement about having a Tag Bible, the translation project taking place in their community has inspired them to promote and preserve the unique beauty of Tag culture and traditions through the Tag Cultural Society. Bible translation has lasting impact on a community, often in more than one way!

Veronique Krüger

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First Steps in Southeast Asia

In May and June of this year, training took place in Southeast Asia that was the first step on an incredible journey for those with a heart to translate the Bible into their own language! A total of 13 students from 4 different language communities came to the training in order to be the best translators they can be for their projects. That’s 4 language communities that currently do not have the Bible, but thanks to the hard work of these students, that will soon change. All of the students are already working on their projects, but the Diploma in Bible Translation training will greatly improve the quality of their translations, resulting in the best possible Bible for their people.

In a month’s time, the students sat through 132 hours of lectures (amounting to about 6.5 hours per day) in 4 different subjects. It was an intense time, but hugely successful! Tularam Bele, one of the student translators, said, “It was a good time. It was the first time that we have learned the process of Bible translation and the principles of Bible translation. Through them we can do Bible translation work properly.”

We praise God for this time of enriching and learning, and are proud of the students, all of whom made it through this intense month. Please keep them in your prayers as they continue their training in the future, and as they keep working on their translations in the meantime so that their people can also know that God speaks their language.

Launch of the Lambya New Testament in Malawi

A group of around 85,000 people in Malawi, Zambia, and Tanzania who speak Lambya as their mother tongue have just received the New Testament in their language for the very first time in 2016! Pastors from all denominations are preaching from it in their churches, and believers are reading the Bible in their own language for the first time. What an incredible thing to finally have the Word of God in your heart language!

As for the Old Testament, it is also well underway! 20 books, from Genesis to Proverbs, have already been checked by consultants, and the book of Daniel is currently being checked.

Audio Bibles in Lambya have also been distributed, and they have been so popular that there are no more available! People are so hungry for the Word of God in their heart language and audio Bibles are a wonderful way for the Lambya communities to access scripture. Please pray with us that more audio Bibles can be made available to every single person who wants one!

Sadly, John Kadalinga, who started the Lambya Bible translation project, passed away recently due to medical issues. Although we are greatly saddened by the loss, we know that the work he began was not in vain, and under the guidance of project leader Robert Mulagha, it will be completed. Please continue to pray for all of our translators and their families as they do this incredible work.

The Story of the Bible

We know that Bible translation is important so that everyone can read the Word of God in their mother tongue and know that God speaks their language! But what about after the translation is completed, printed, and distributed? What if the Bible isn’t used as much as it should be?

The Word for the World places great emphasis on “scripture engagement”, which means making sure that people in the language community interact with scripture so often that God’s Word truly penetrates their society! We do this right from the start by recruiting and choosing prospective translators from the community, and by having a committee of representative community members helping to run the project and review the translation. TWFTW also works closely with the local churches.

Sometimes Bible stories are translated and put together in a more digestible form so that the community can have access to them before the complete Bible has been translated. We also partner with other organizations for scripture engagement projects like recording audio versions of the Bible and translating the Jesus film. We will continue to make every effort to ensure that the story of the Bible is told, known by heart, and allowed to permeate society!

By Veronique Krüger

God’s Word Changed Our Lives!

Having the Word of God in your mother tongue is powerful and life changing! At a church in a village called Ngugwini, Tanzania, people who now have the New Testament in Zigwa express their joy by singing only worship songs in Zigwa. “Don’t pass me oh Lord, when you visit others, oh Lord, visit me…”

The pastor of the church, Grace, now preaches using the Zigwa Bible. She says that having the New Testament in a language they understand has been an enormous blessing and has greatly enriched all of their lives. People understand her sermons more easily, and the church has been growing rapidly since getting the Zigwa New Testament. Before, there were only 15 people in the church, but now there are over 70 and counting! Muslims and Christians in the village even read the Bible together now that it is in their own language.

“The Zigwa NT has enabled people to believe in God in amazing ways,” said the pastor of another church in a nearby village called Magereza. “When you preach and teach from the Zigwa NT, you can see the Word of God penetrate their hearts. The people have now become good friends with their Bibles because when they read it in their own language and understand what it says, they can see the love of God and that He has a purpose for their lives. They see that God is their friend, because He is speaking their own language.”

Some members of this church did not attend school growing up and did not learn Swahili, so they were only able to speak Zigwa. Before they received the New Testament in their own language, they didn’t go to church because the preaching and Bible readings were in Swahili. Now they not only go to church and hear teachings in their own language, they also go to other villages to spread the Word of God! There are so many stories of healing and of people coming to Christ in these two villages and the surrounding ones. The Word of God is indeed powerful and life changing!

Please pray for the translation team as they work relentlessly on completing the Old Testament. You may also give by visiting twftw.org/donate.

Photos by George Chombo.

Servants of The Word

The Prophetess Anna by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

The Prophetess Anna by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

“…to know the Lord and to make Him known to all people, and to give them the message that God speaks their language, loves them, and has not forgotten them.”

This is the bottom line of what The Word for the World strives for in the words of Dalene Breytenbach, the author of Servants of the Word. Dalene came to TWFTW in 1996 after a lifetime spent in journalism. She proved to be an avid supporter of Bible translation and a dedicated co-worker.

Dalene, who sadly passed away in 2012, was determined despite several health issues to complete Servants of the Word, which is an account of the first 30 years of TWFTW’s existence as seen from her perspective. She always said that everything she had ever done throughout her life was only preparation to work with The Word for the World, and she continued her work right up to the end of her life.

This book is written specifically about the development of TWFTW, but really, it is a story that we are all part of—the story of the people of God working towards the goal of all nations hearing about Christ and having a relationship with Him. We hope that you will find it informative, thought provoking, and most of all, inspiring! It is available at the following links:

https://www.amazon.com/Servants-Word-observed-Translators-1981-2011/dp/1539975789

https://www.takealot.com/servants-of-the-word/PLID45233152

Veronique Krüger

Training and Literacy

It’s no secret that The Word for the World is a Bible translation organization. What drives us is the belief that God wants every person to have access to the Bible in their own heart language so that they can understand God’s Word as clearly as possible and know that God speaks their language. But with that mandate comes two other very important tasks that you may not know about! Both of these are crucial to the work of Bible translation.

Training: TWFTW has developed a program that provides training for all the different participants (nationals) involved in the translation process: prospective Bible translators, testers, stylists, and church leaders. It’s aimed at arousing the desire for lifelong learning and providing a solid academic grounding so that students can continue with their studies.

Literacy: We also work with language communities to plan and initiate mother-tongue literacy programs alongside Bible translation that teach people to read and write. Many languages we work in have never had a writing system! Based on their sound system, a writing system is developed, usually using the alphabet of the state language as the basis. We then provide training and workshops to the people in how to set up, implement and run literacy programs in their communities.

Veronique Krüger