The Word of God in Ethiopia!

Two translation teams in Ethiopia have completed the translation and checking of the books of Exodus and Ruth over the past few weeks! There are 22 ongoing translation projects in Ethiopia at the moment, all at various stages of completion. All of these are first-time translations in which the communities have not had access to Scripture in their own languages before.

How exciting to think that soon this will change! Just last year, the complete Maale Bible was launched, and all 121,000 Maale speakers can now read the Word of God in their mother tongue.

The Guji translation team also made progress with the checking of I & II Chronicles, as well as I Kings. The Guji New Testament was released in 2008, and they only have one book of the Bible left until the whole Guji Bible can be distributed!

Please continue to pray for the Guji translators and the consultants who are working with them as they near the end of their long and arduous journey to bring the Word of God to their people in their mother tongue.

Where Christ is, There is Freedom

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Geresu is one of the translators working on the Basketo Old Testament in Ethiopia. He is married and a father of four children, one girl and three boys. He came to Christ in 1981 due to his father’s illness.

Geresu´s father was critically ill and it had become known that one of the best ways for people to get out of any kind of physical and spiritual problem was to become a Christian (or a Misona, as the Basketo say).

When Geresu saw that his father was healed of his illness after becoming a believer, he decided to also give his life to Christ and follow Jesus! Geresu himself had many life challenges that he would like to be freed from, and Christ did the same for him.

Geresu has been serving for a long time now as a leader in the Kale Heywit Church in Ethiopia, and was also one of the translators for the Basketo New Testament for the past 15 years. They are now working hard to translate the Old Testament for their people!

There are well over 90,000 Basketo speakers in southern Ethiopia and they are desperate to have a complete Bible in their mother tongue. They value their New Testament, but need the whole Bible to be translated in their own language. Their culture has been adversely affected by years of demon worship and witchcraft and they sorely need to the freedom that Christ brings!

You can make a difference to this people group through sponsoring the translation team here.

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

“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

“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.

Piercing the Darkness

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In the region around Lake Abaya in Ethiopia is the language community that speaks Baiso. Soon, the Baiso-speaking people will have the Word of God in their heart language for the first time!

One local elder, who is a member of the Baiso review committee, had this to say about their excitement at having a Baiso Bible: “I and my community are now sensing our own identity as people who are loved by God, and becoming part of a global community through the Word of God. We were locked in the Island from the rest of the people group, and lived in darkness, worshiping lifeless gods. Now we are enjoying God’s light as we anticipate having the Bible in our heart language.”

How incredible that the light of God’s Word will soon be piercing the darkness and bringing life and salvation to the Baiso communities!

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105, NIV

Life-Giving Water

Photo courtesy of Rafal Cichawa

Photo courtesy of Rafal Cichawa

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them…” Romans 10:14, NIV

And how can people truly understand the Word of God unless they can read or hear it in their mother tongue?

There is a man in Ethiopia named Galaso Gambazo. He is 45, married, and has 5 children. He heard the Word of God in his heart language (Dawro) for the first time through an evangelist. The story he heard was from John chapter 4, the one about the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at the well. The evangelist was reading and explaining this story to Galaso Gambazo, telling him about the water which gives life and never runs out, unlike ordinary water. Mr. Gambazo understood what was told to him and he came to believe in Jesus Christ as his personal savior. His life was transformed by the Word of God, which was translated into his heart language. God is always at work through his Word!

Many Hands Make Light Work

“Many hands make light work.” – John Heywood

Last year in July, we had the wonderful opportunity to launch and distribute the first-time translation of the complete Bible in Maale. The speakers of Maale live in an area of Ethiopia known as Maaleland, and around 10,000 people from all over the area attended the launch. However, our work in Ethiopia is far from over!

Starting on February 5th, Nel Claassen, a consultant with TWFTW, will be working with the Guji and Gedeo translation teams in Ethiopia to consult on several books which they have finished translating. The process of Bible translation is a slow and steady one, involving many different people with many different skills. But step by step, verse by verse, and book by book, the work will be completed.

Please pray for the translators and for Nel as they begin the consultation!

God has done great things!

Praise God for all of the Bible translation work completed among Bible-less language communities in 2016. Some highlights of what God accomplished through TWFTW and partners in 2016:

The successful completion of fifteen Bible translator training events in five countries (the most training events that we’ve conducted in the most number of countries in a single calendar year). Up to six new Bible translation projects in Ethiopia and southern Asia (bringing the total number of TWFTW translations underway/completed to 105, and breaking the 100 translations milestone for the first time) were started. Additionally, the publishing of the complete Bible for the (approx. 120,000) Maale people in Ethiopia was celebrated. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Ethiopia: Training Students in Bible Translation

Altogether we had again 80 students this year. 53 Students are involved in Bible translation. Some of the translation projects are working on the translation of the NT and others on the translation of the Old Testament. The majority of projects are managed by TWFTW staff.

TWFTW is grateful for organizations who sent students, the TWFTW support bases and a German trust’s contribution to make this training event possible. The actual in-country training costs for the training are fully covered.

Most teachers were The Word for the World staff.