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

Onward in Slovakia

With the Romani New Testament translation in Slovakia being finished, it’s onward to new things – or, more accurately, old things. The translation of the Old Testament is two years in and, incredibly, ahead of schedule! Thirteen of the historical books have already been translated. In the last year, a third translator, Michal Becvar, joined the other two and has been working with them over Skype, all the way from Israel. How amazing is technology!

As for the New Testament, it is currently being revised so that a parallel Romani-Slovak translation can be printed and distributed. The Slovak Bible Society and the Eastern European Mission are partnering with The Word for the World in this endeavor so that 3,000 copies of the parallel translation can be made available for free.

In the meantime, the Romani New Testament is being distributed far and wide, all the way to England and Germany. Everyone who speaks Romani can now have the Word of God in their heart language. No matter where they are or how far outside of Slovakia they find themselves, God speaks their language.

Veronique Krüger

“My heart is jumping a lot. It’s a miracle.”

These were the words of Tamene, a translator from the Maale region of Ethiopia, after I asked him what it meant for him to have a Bible in his mother tongue. For his entire life, he has had to read the Bible in a language not his own. He and his people had to read God’s Word in Amharic, which some of them don’t even understand.

Until he came into contact with The Word for the World. A few years after high school, he attended a translation training event in Addis Ababa hosted by TWFTW. It took another five years of study in order to begin translation of the Bible into his mother tongue.

“In the beginning, I was frustrated,” he said. “How can I translate this holy book? The holy Bible! How can I translate it into my language when I have so much fear in my heart?”

But he pushed through with the encouragement of his community and the members of TWFTW. Finally, after 14 years, he along with his team finished translating the entire Bible into Maale. It took a further 3 years for it to be published in 2016. Today, he can read the Bible to his children in their language and they can fully understand God’s Word.

After the dedication of the Maale Bible in 2016, Tamene started further training so that he can help other language groups to gain access to the Bible in their mother tongue. I asked him why. After all, his work for his people was done. Addis Ababa is a long way from his home and he missed his family. Why continue his studies when he could just go home?

He said to me, “I see the need of other people. My own people have the Word of God in their mother tongue and I am very happy. But there are other people who also need the Word of God in their heart language. My heart is driving me to help them.”

Conner Krüger

A Heart that Hears

I visited the house of an 86 year-old man named Hodlam Chisongela, who lives in east-central Tanzania. He hasn’t been able to hear for many years, but he can read and speak.

He was once a Muslim, but he is a Christian now. Pastors in the community were telling me about this man, as he has a powerful testimony in the church and in his village. While he and I were eating together, he began to tell me about himself. Since having access to a Bible in his heart language, Nguu, he feels that he has “other ears” within him with which he can “hear” the Word of God. He says that when he reads the Nguu Bible, he is always full of joy at “hearing” what God says in his heart.

He also told me that after he asked God to be able to hear His voice, he had a dream where he saw a new city coming from the sky. A voice came from the beautiful city saying, “My son, I welcome you in this city. Soon this will be your home.” He told me that if this city is heaven and if the voice was God’s voice, then he is ready to go to heaven. Before I left, we prayed together, because in Christ we are one.

When he reads the Bible in his own mother tongue, this deaf man hears the voice of God. How great is our God!

TWFTW is ever so grateful for all the partners and workers involved in Bible translation, to bring the Word of God to everyone in their heart language.

George Chombo and Veronique Krüger

“The unfolding of your words gives light…”

The Yem people, who live in south-western Ethiopia, are another step closer to receiving the complete Word of God in their heart language! Antoinette van der Meulen, one of the Greek and Hebrew experts who work in TWFTW, finished checking the Yemsa New Testament with the Yemsa translation team in mid-May. These consultant checks involve making sure that the translation is accurate regarding the original Greek or Hebrew text, that it is clear in its meaning, and that it is as natural as possible so that the language community will not feel as though they are reading a translation.

In 2007, when the most recent census was taken, there were an estimated 160,500 people who spoke Yemsa as their first language, not including children. How incredible to think that soon, all these people will have access to God’s Word in their mother tongue! As Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of your words gives light…” May the Yemsa people soon be flooded by the light of God’s Word. Please continue to pray with us as we work to finish the process so that the Yemsa people can have access to the Bible as soon as possible.