Eyes of Light

Soli New Testament to be Released Soon!

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.

You see, these translators have been working through a period of drought—physically and spiritually. The Soli are subsistence farmers; life with limited water has increased economic hardship and decreased general health. Even though Soli people and churches have embraced Christ-like values, preaching and counseling against polygamy and ancestor worship, hard times breed temptations to seek help anywhere, anyway, and anyhow. The spiritual darkness that was pushed back when the Soli started turning to Jesus Christ has been creeping back into daily life.

The spiritual battle is not just a generalized one either. Over the course of the past few years, the translation team itself has been beset with tragedy. A founding team member died from health-related issues. Another translator was poisoned while working with local churches—later saying that, “I really felt the big man standing in for me.” Recently, members of the translation committee were involved in a horrible car accident—two persons dying from the injuries. However, the team has faithfully sought after God in the face of these troubles, and have found the peace and strength needed to carry on.

Alongside their work completing the New Testament, and using skills they’ve learned while pursuing Diplomas in Bible Translation, the Soli translators have been able: to release a Soli version of the Gospel of Mark, translate and show the Jesus film in Soli, support radio stations and newsletters with translated Soli scripture; begin to gather support for a literacy program; and support local church ministry endeavors. In so many ways, they have become “eyes” for the Soli community, looking into the Bible and revealing God’s truth in deeply meaningful ways. The translators have become a source of light in their dark times.

Now, with great joy and celebration, we get to announce the release and dedication of the Soli New Testament soon. The Soli Translation Committee has received a truckload of New Testaments, and for the first time in their history, the Soli people—children and adults, teachers and students; pastors and leaders—will have the New Testament in their own heart language.

This is a landmark occasion for the Soli people! When crowds were first able to see and hear the Jesus film in Soli, many were awestruck, saying, “Jesus speaks my language!” Now, with the entire New Testament available, 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.

Please, pray for the Soli Translation Project. Pray for the families affected by the recent accident. Pray for safety and wisdom for the translators as they continue to the Old Testament. Pray that the hearts, minds, and eyes of the Soli people will be open to the light of Jesus Christ!
If you want to get involved, start here.

Joel Brown

He Speaks Matengo!

This is the first time that the Matengo people of the southern highlands of Tanzania can read the gospel of Mark in their own language.

Around 308,000 speakers make up the Matengo community. They make their living in the mountains of Tanzania by farming and raising livestock. Coffee, maize, and beans are abundant here—but they do not yet have access to the complete Bible in a language that they can understand best.

However, with the recent launch of the book of Mark, their history is changing! In the 2 years that the team has been working on it, around 26% of the New Testament (which is about 6% of the whole Bible) has been translated into Matengo. It is our hope that they will soon have the complete Bible in their heart language!

As the gospel of Mark was being distributed, people were clamoring to get a hold of a copy, reaching their hands out in anticipation. They were saying, “We are very surprised because when we read this, it speaks to our hearts and we can understand what God is saying.” Now every man, woman, and child in the Matengo community can know that God loves them and speaks their language!

Please get involved to help the Matengo people to read the complete Bible in the language God gave them.

Veronique Krüger and George Chombo

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.

*Pseudonym

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

God is at work in Southeast Asia

We are so happy to see how God is at work in Southeast Asia and also encouraged to see how the scripture in various forms is impacting communities across the region. Thank you all for praying with us and generously giving for the spreading of His Word!

Much progress was made in the consultant and exegetical checking of translations in several languages, as well as the drafting of a number of books of the Bible that had previously not been translated. In one language in particular, the Gospel of Mark is completely ready to be printed and distributed. Everyone is waiting with great excitement to hold the living Word of God in their heart language.

Aside from the actual translation work, there have also been a great number of Scripture Engagement activities. Bible stories were written and used for help with Bible study, and the Gospel of Luke and Matthew were recorded in one of the languages so that audio books could be made available.

And last but certainly not least, we once again see that the Word of God is living and active. In one area of Southeast Asia there are six translator teams working on six different languages. When they began working on their translations just over a year ago, none of the 22 team members were believers. Now, all of them have given their lives to Christ and serve the Lord wholeheartedly. How great is our God!