A Bible in My Language

I'm Mrs Regine Masuku and I live in Dombodema with my husband, Peter Masuku. I'm joyful to hear that the Bible will now be translated into our language of Kalanga. We normally use English or Ndebele Bibles, but it is so difficult because there are elderly people here who do not understand English. So I find this translation to be a good work that has been planned. We ask and desire that God may bless us with this and we also thank the person who came up with this idea, because this person has remembered us. May he also give us wise people who are fully equipped who will make it possible for this Bible to be produced. Let us unite as Kalanga people and see that our Bible is produced, because if we don't have our own Bible, it's like we are lost. It is said that a child who does not cry will die of hunger, so let's cry together, crying as we act, as we work, and as we help each other.

Story and photo provided by Piniel Zimbizi.

Bible Study in Litembo

One of the villages in Tanzania that speak the Matengo language is called Litembo. The Word for the World translators have already completed about 44% of the translation of the Matengo New Testament! In the village of Litembo, there is a group of villagers who meet together for fellowship every Saturday to pray and read the Book of Mark, which has been translated into the Matengo language.

The group testifies that their fellowship has been excellent and began when the village leader encouraged them to gather and read the scriptures together. They are very thankful that the Bible is being translated into the Matengo language and they pray for God to make it possible for the whole Bible to be translated. One young man has even begun preaching the Gospel to people in nearby villages using the translated Gospel of Mark!

They are thankful for what has already been translated, and to all people who support this work of God! Thank you for helping us to bring people the Word of God to them in their heart language. To get involved, visit twtftw.org/give.

Story and photos supplied by George Chombo

Greater Understanding

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My name is Phaphama Sibanda and I am married to Mr K. Ncube, who is a pastor. I live in Tjompani in Dombodema, in Zambia. When I heard that there is a project going on to translate the Bible into our language of Kalanga, I was very, very happy! We have been facing challenges because when we are reading the Ndebele Bible, which is the one we have access to at the moment, some of us don't understand the language, even in preaching. So when we read the Kalanga Bible in the future, we will be able to preach effectively. We are not able to understand because some of the Ndebele words and it makes it difficult to preach what we don’t understand.

We are very happy and we also ask God to help the translators and give them strength so that it may be a success. The Bible leads us and guides us in all things that pertain to life. We ask that God would give the translators strength and wisdom and that the project will be a success, in the name of Jesus Christ!

Story and photo provided by Piniel Zimbizi.

Language: the Human Essence

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“When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the ‘human essence’…” -Noam Chomsky

Language plays an integral part in our lives, to an extent that we sometimes aren’t aware of, especially when we speak a widespread language such as English or French. Our world caters to our linguistic needs and we don’t think about what it must be like to not fully understand what we hear or read. Our identities, linguistically and otherwise, are respected and provided for. When we go to church, we are spoken to in our first language. When we read the Bible, we read it in our first language.

What if you are a Meqa speaker in Ethiopia, with only 1% of the entire Bible (3% of the New Testament) translated, and not even printed yet? Or a Matengo speaker, with only 10% of the Bible (44% of the New Testament) translated?

Think of the nuanced complexities of the Word of God – and now imagine having to read it in a second, third, fourth, or even fifth language. Imagine feeling like God does not speak your language – does not understand that very crucial, underlying aspect of your identity and your culture.

That is what we seek to change. To learn more and get involved, start here.

-Veronique Kruger

Free Indeed

The Word of God brings freedom! Victor Muhando, a man from the Zigua-speaking village of Kwediboma in Tanzania, was saved from alcoholism and his smoking addiction when he read the Bible in his own language and encountered God for the first time. He first received scripture in Zigua in 2015, and when he started reading it, he was drunk and ill with liver and skin diseases because of his drinking.

He was touched in his heart after reading that God has a good plan for eternal life for every human who accepts Him. He went straight to the church where he was led in a prayer of repentance. He began going to church every Sunday and reading the Word of God, and was inspired to change his life and become healthy again.

Now, two years later, he is still regularly attending church and says that he likes to serve God by using his language to speak to his own people about the Lord. Praise God for freedom and victory in Christ!

Story and photos supplied by George Chombo.

Persecution and Perseverance

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Bahadur*, our translator from a community in South Asia, was facing a lot of resistance from his friends, relatives, and elders of the village. However, he continued with the translation and used to share from the books of the Bible that the tam had translated so far. Their community has no other written material in their own language. Fascinated by the text in their own language and Bahadur’s commitment to the project, his people continued to visit and talk to him.

The governing body in the village, hearing of his determination, took him to task. They decreed that he should either leave the Christian faith or face excommunication. This meant that he had to leave his house, family, relatives, and friends to go somewhere else to start his life anew. Since Bahadur has been translating the Bible, he drew strength from it and decided to stand firm for the name of Jesus. He bid farewell to everything he had known so far and without hesitation left the village.

Bahadur’s daunting and courageous stance convinced his parents and some friends of his faith to trust Jesus. Reading from the Word of God lent credibility to his words. The story of Jesus, his persecution, and death mirrored the situation they saw in the case of Bahadur. In time his sister and brother-in-law began to see the hope of salvation in Jesus and became believers. Soon he started getting visits from others who kept their faith in Jesus a secret. Over time, inspired by Bahadur's stance they started making their faith public. They have now decided to voice their right to live and believe in Jesus, in as much as those who oppose them. They are preparing to start a church in the very village that once excommunicated Bahadur!

Our hopes and prayers are that the Church, based on the Word, will be an enduring hope for those seeking truth and salvation in that community.

*pseudonym

 

Eyes of Light

Jesus made some pretty profound statements while he was here on this earth. Often times, a simple-seeming metaphor is not just food for thought, but a complex, sixteen-course, dining adventure for your mind! One of the great tasks for a Bible translator is to unravel these complexities and to make them clear in his or her own language and culture.

While working through the Gospel of Matthew, Soli translators working in Chongwe, Zambia got stuck on one such passage. In chapter 6, Jesus compares our eyes to lamps and says, “if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” The Soli words for lamps connotate electricity, wires, and switches, so do we have Jesus talk about turning on and off lights? Do we change the metaphor or educate about Jewish lamps? How can we say the same thing differently? And, the questions are not only about a word, but the concepts too—how can light be darkness? Is this talking about the medically blind or the spiritually lost? What does God want to say to the Soli people?

Well, He not only gave insight to the translators but this passage became a larger metaphor for the project itself. Instead of talking about physical lamps and bulbs, the translators were inspired to talk about “sources” of light and darkness. This took on special meaning for the translators, because the Soli Bible Translation project has been a source of light shining in some dark places and situations.

Now, with the entire New Testament available in Soli, Jesus’ powerful and oft enigmatic words can be heard and understood in new and amazing ways! Yes, Jesus speaks Soli and now the New Testament messages of truth, love, and light are available for the Soli people to understand clearly—in their own language.

Joel Brown

What Does the Bible Mean to You?

Spiwe Masikasika is a woman of the Ndau language group from Chipinge, Zimbabwe. They already have the complete Bible in their heart language of Ndau. The translation of the Bible into the Ndau language began way back in the early 1900s, and was published by the Bible Society of Zimbabwe. See more info here.

I visited Spiwe at her home in Harare, Zimbabwe recently to find out how she feels about having the Bible in her heart language. Spiwe is, as she says, “thrilled” with the way the Ndau translation was done and says that it is understandable, clear, and natural to her to read.

As heard from the testimonies by Spiwe, when people receive the word of God in their heart language, it is more effective in transforming their lives and building their relationship with God. People are transformed and lives are restored and communities are equipped for the benefit of the body of Christ.

Your continued support in whatever form to the work of The Word for the World is greatly appreciated. Become part of the vision to bring God's Word to all people in their heart language by 2050 and visit our Give and Volunteer pages to see how you can get involved.

-Piniel Tawanda Zimbizi

Soli Deo Gloria!

A couple of weeks ago our minister gave a sermon on Jesus telling his disciples that one can tell a mountain to go and jump in the sea and it will be done. That reminded me of a message from the International President of The Word for the World on the same subject, saying that he knew how it could be done: by taking a shovel and a wheel-barrow, going to the mountain, and saying: “Thou shalt be removed!”, and then start working on it.
 
Looking back on my history with TWFTW, I can still see us going to Malawi (the Funnell family), Ethiopia (the van As family) and Zaire (yours truly), with our imaginative spades and wheel barrows and much faith in a good God, doing just that. In hindsight I can only testify about the abundant blessings of God on the work accomplished in His Name, and the fact that he gave us excellent leaders to direct and drive this wild cart and keep it (and us) on track! And we did have some serious road works on the way.
 
I always say I work for God with TWFTW, because at the end of the day one’s walk depends on obedience to God. Herewith I add that there is no other organisation that I would rather work with. Our vision in TWFTW is to have 500 complete Bibles by 2050 – hopefully by then I will be sitting next to Jesus, cheering everyone on. At the moment we are working on 109 projects in many different countries, mainly in Africa. We also have 10 full time consultants and 19 in training; 364 students, and 325 full time translators. We also run literacy courses where people cannot read – because the Bible is not like a lucky charm to be displayed or dusted when the pastor visits. And all this because of God’s grace and to His glory.

Nel Claassen, a TWFTW translation consultant