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.

“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

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!

The Launch of the Maale Bible, Ethiopia

I’ve always heard my dad say to people, “If you want to see what The Word for the World looks like, get on a plane with me and I’ll show you.” For the most part, we don’t have office buildings. We don’t have neat, corporate headquarters where you can come and visit us in air conditioned rooms and discuss far-off fieldwork while we all sip on bottled water (although, you should probably bring some with you, where we’re going).

On July 10th we had the dedication of the first ever complete Maale translation of the whole Bible, a TWFTW project that was started by Jacques and Jeanette van As* in 1999. Maale is in southwest Ethiopia, and getting there involved flying in a tiny plane from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to a dirt-and-bushes runway, followed by trekking over extremely rough and rocky roads for 2-3 hours. For some TWFTW staff, it took 2 days of rugged, bumpy driving to reach the area. Many of the approximately 10,000 Maale people who attended walked for hours or even days to get to the dedication location so that they could receive, for the first time, the Bible in their mother tongue.

This was a fairly good percentage of the 140,000 people that make up the Maale people group, especially considering the difficulty of getting to the location. By the time the dedication ceremony started, the people were sitting tightly packed together in the grass, and some on the outskirts of the crowd even had to climb trees (much like Zacchaeus in Luke 19!) just to be able to see what was going on at the front. The crowd was so dense that photographers and videographers who were there to capture the important day sometimes stepped on people’s hands and feet as they moved among them.

It took 14 years of translation and consultation and another 2 years of preparing the manuscript for publication for the Maale people to receive this Bible. They have waited, prayed, and hoped, and a great deal of hard work and sacrifice has gone into the project. The translators (Oesha Tushkulo, Mesert Metaferiya, Tamene Lale, and Asefa Gebeyehu) were often away from their families for long periods of time in order to get the work done. And, of course, moving from a city in South Africa to a rural village in Ethiopia without any amenities with two young sons was no small sacrifice for Jacques and Jeanette van As. But all of this is a testament to how passionate everyone involved in this project has been about getting the work done, and getting the Maale Bible to the people.

At the end of the dedication ceremony the Bibles were finally unboxed and crowds of people thronged around the distribution areas to get their hands on a copy. Some walked off carrying several Bibles, and as we left the area to return to the plane, we saw people many miles along, carrying whole boxes full of Bibles to take back to their own families, churches, and villages. It may seem foreign to those of us who are privileged enough to have always had a Bible in our own languages, but the amount of sacrifice and time these people had to put in to obtain their own Bibles was astonishing.

What an incredible thing to think that in 2016 the Maale people, for the first time in history, can now read the Word of God in their mother tongue, and know that God speaks their language.

Veronique Krüger