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By Bob Creson, Wycliffe USA President/CEO

The hot desert day was over and a small group of Borana people—nomadic cattle herders in Kenya—sat down under the stars to share news and stories. As SIL workers Jim and Dorothea Lander joined them, an elder began to speak.

“Long, long ago,” he said, “the Borana people had a Book of God. We called it our Boogi Waqa and everyone had a copy. We read it often to learn how to please God. But as the years passed, our books began to wear out until eventually only one remained—the prized possession of an old, old grandfather.

“Those were years of drought, and our people relentlessly battled for survival. Day after day the old man and his family took their cattle out on long searches for grass and water. One day they left behind a cow too weak to keep up with them. Nosing around for food while no one watched, she came upon the last Boogi Waqa…and devoured it! When the old man came home that night, he found only a few pieces of leather binding scattered on the ground. Great sadness filled the camp.

Guyo - Borana elder

“That night the old man slept fitfully and dreamt that an angel appeared to him. The angel promised that after many years God would send their book back to them. ‘Watch for a strange man from a faraway country,’ said the angel. ‘When he comes, treat him well, for he will bring back your Boogi Waqa.’

“Many years later, the first missionaries came into Borana land. Some of you remember them. They tried to learn our language, and one of them actually wrote a book he said came from God, but we could not read it.” The elder paused, and then with a long sigh, he concluded: “Now, my children, we still wait for the Boogi Waqa.”

Jim and Dorothea were still learning the Borana language, but they understood enough to marvel at the story. A few weeks later, they entertained some Borana men in their home. After dinner and several cups of sweet, creamy tea, a man named Galgalo picked up the Lander children’s English Picture Bible. Galgalo could read it because he’d served in the Kenyan Air Force. He read the story of the Tower of Babel in English, and then told the Borana men what it said in their own language.

Together they looked at the pictures in the Bible and exclaimed, “Look, these men dress just like we do, with flowing clothes and turbans! They pack their camels like we do! And this desert looks just like ours!”

Galgalo turned to Jim and asked, “Is this a Borana book? Is it…could it be…the Boogi Waqa?”

“Yes,” said Jim. “This is the Boogi Waqa.”

Silently the men stared at Jim and Dorothea. Slowly they turned their gaze back to the book. Long into the night they explored the book, examining the pictures and listening to Galgalo read. Eventually they came to a picture of the Israelites sacrificing a lamb, as God had instructed them to do in the Old Testament.

The men told Jim, “Our fathers taught us that the Boogi Waqa told how to sacrifice a lamb, so that God would forgive our sins. And sure enough here it is in this Boogi Waqa! We still do our animal sacrifices, but some of the missionaries say we should stop. Why is that?”

His heart pounding, Jim took the Bible and turned to the tenth chapter of Hebrews. With Galgalo’s help, he explained that God sent his Son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. They no longer needed to sacrifice lambs each year because now they could find forgiveness of sin and eternal life by putting their trust in Jesus, who died for their sins once for all!

Health concerns later sent the Landers back home, but a Borana man, David Diida, drew on their linguistic research to spearhead a revision of the Bible and a very successful literacy program. Many groups of believers can now read their own Book of God all across Northern Kenya.

Dorothea says, “I believe God placed the Boogi Waqa story in Borana history and preserved it in their oral culture so that many years after the original book disappeared, men would seek after God and find in Him eternal life by reading their new Boogi Waqa.”

God left His footprint in the desert sands of Northern Kenya, and He’s left it in many other cultures around the world. Missionaries often think they are “taking God to the people” they are called to serve. But the truth is, He has already been there, preparing the way.

This story is an excerpt from The Finish Line monthly downloads. The Finish Line is a guide to praying for translation projects within three years of completion.

 

Longing to Hear–Tanzania

Luka Musomba was seventy-seven years old when he heard the Word of God read in his heart language of Ndali for the first time. After listening, he shared, “I am happy that I can hear the Word of God easily in my language, which I understand better than when I was hearing God’s message in the Nyakyusa language. There were words I didn’t understand deeply like I do in my language. Now I understand more and I don’t need another person to explain to me. I have been longing to hear the Word of God for the first time through my language of Ndali rather than another language.” Some people wait many years to hear God speak the language of their heart, but when that moment comes, hearing the Bible for the first time is a beautiful thing!Finish Line

 

Want to read more stories about lives changed through Scripture, or learn how to pray for people waiting for a Bible in their language? Sign up to receive The Finish Line monthly downloads today!

 

By Katie Kuykendall

Photo courtesy of Nancy Sullivan

Photo courtesy of Nancy Sullivan

In December of 2013, Godefroy Sossou, a Bible translator for the Akaarakaa Project,* sat down to meet with several Christians from a Nigerian village, including speakers of the Saxwe language. The Saxwe people group is one of three languages included in the project. As is customary, everyone introduced themselves before the meeting began.

“When I announced that I was a Bible translator, there was great joy among all those who were present, and especially the Saxwe Christians,” Godefroy said.

Unbeknownst to Godefroy, he was an answer to prayer. Because the Saxwe population is fairly large—about 170,000 people—some of the Christians from the community in Nigeria wanted to create a Saxwe district church. But church leaders in Nigeria were opposed to the idea, arguing that there is no Bible in Saxwe. Very disappointed, the Saxwe people began praying that God would help them get a Bible translation in their language.

Now face to face with their Bible translator, the Saxwe were overjoyed that their prayers had been answered, and much sooner than they anticipated!

The Need

Nigeria is home to more than five hundred languages, over half of which have no Scripture. Wycliffe USA is sponsoring thirteen projects there this year. There is a longing for God’s Word in Nigeria, and God is clearly at work in the hearts of many throughout the country. In the face of devastating oppression, conflict, radical religious beliefs, and other challenges, we are encouraged by the Saxwe speakers and many others who desire to see God reach their communities through Bible translation.

Our hearts break for those who continue to be affected by radical groups throughout Nigeria. The need for Bible translation is clear—only the power of the Gospel in a language they can understand can truly transform hearts for good.

Will you join us in praying for Nigeria?

  • Pray for God’s protection, comfort, and healing for all those affected by the actions of radical groups in Nigeria.
  • Pray for God’s favor over Bible translation projects currently underway throughout the country. Ask God to provide the personnel and resources necessary to speed the process so that more people can experience Scripture in their language.
  • Ask God to prepare the hearts of the Nigerians who have not yet heard His life-changing message in their language, and to create a desire for Bible translation in more regions of Nigeria.
  • Pray for the protection of the local believers and expatriate personnel who are dedicated to Bible translation despite potential dangers.

 

*The Akaarakaa Project is based in Togo and Benin, where the majority of Saxwe speakers are located. The goal of the project is to translate the “JESUS” film and Genesis film.

Photo credit: Heather Pubols

Photo credit: Heather Pubols

 

By Elyse Patten

In southwest Ethiopia, a rough road carrying more pedestrians and cattle than vehicles runs past this dry landscape with its round houses. When these children’s parents were their age, no books had been written in their language –Guji-Oromo. Today, Guji speakers have a translation of the New Testament, literacy primers, and some health and cultural materials all in their own language. And a translation of the Old Testament is in progress! Thanks to the tireless work of educators and literacy specialists, children like these will be among the first in Ethiopia to have the opportunity to learn to read their language at a young age. You can imagine the implications of such opportunities for the nation of Ethiopia.

God’s Word brings change to three language communities.

The Ubangi Cluster project serves three language communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Mono, Ngbandi-Ngiri, and Pagabete. In addition to supporting this translation work, gifts to the Worldwide Projects Fund also support literacy training and the production of vernacular materials like song books. Although full New Testament translations are not yet complete, the impact of God’s Word in the mother tongue can already be seen in each community.Unity

Mono translators receive regular encouragement from local churches. One Christian brother wrote, “May the Holy Spirit Who guided the authors of the holy Scriptures be with you so that God’s voice can be heard for the salvation of our people by this great translation project.”

A Mono woman named Mado Mowuyo Yokane was overjoyed after attending a Ubangi Cluster literacy course. She said, “I was married with four children, but my husband rejected me because I couldn’t read and write. So my children and I went back to my parents. When I found out that the Mono project included literacy without any age restriction, I went along for the adventure with those younger than myself. I thank God—the Lord of time and opportunity—for blessing us with this project.”

In Ngbandi-Ngiri, the translation is breaking down clan barriers and uniting members of various denominations. One individual said, “Truly the Word of God translated in Ngbandi has become very clear, even without anybody explaining it.”

Mr. Kombele, who is involved in checking the Pagabete translation, said he was delighted by one outcome of having Scripture in his language. “Encouraged by friends, I have begun to pray in Pagabete, which for me was difficult,” he said.

Please join us in praying for the Ubangi Cluster project as it nears a completion date of September 2014. Translation teams are encountering challenges that include a lack of electricity, physical illness, and unrest in their language areas.

By Chris Darby with Katie Kuykendall

Chris and his wife, Marina, are literacy specialists working in Dakar, Senegal, with SIL International, one of Wycliffe’s primary partners.

The translation of the Bible, or parts of it, into local languages is a major activity of our organization. This is a task that takes years, even after completing the necessary linguistic research and work with local people to establish an acceptable written form of their language. So when boxes full of brand new copies of translated New Testaments arrive at our workplace, it’s a cause for celebration and a renewed awareness that the team has many players. All of us—including those helping in finance, guesthouse cleaning, IT support, personnel, or literacy—have contributed to this important achievement and feel encouraged.???????????????????????????????

We had the opportunity to experience this recently when our office was enjoying a visit from the Catholic abbot of a Benedictine monastery some thirty-five miles from Dakar. The abbot is from the Mankanya language group, a predominantly Catholic people mainly located in southwestern Senegal and the neighboring countries of Gambia and Guinea Bissau. During the 1990s he had dedicated himself to improving an earlier phonetic translation of the four Gospels. After becoming abbot, he had to put this labor of love to one side, at the same time that a couple from SIL came to help work on the Mankanya New Testament! Relieved that the task could go on, and recognizing his lack of technical expertise, he gladly welcomed the contact and handed over the work.

On the day of his visit in March 2014 we enjoyed a meeting with the abbot in which he stressed the need to “eat” God’s Word on a daily basis, and made an appeal for Catholics and Protestants to work together in making this “food” available. At the moment we finished, and in God’s wonderful timing, there was a knock on the door and we were invited downstairs.

???????????????????????????????There we witnessed the arrival and unloading of five thousand New Testaments in Mankanya, marking the completion of a work the abbot himself had started. Our director opened a box, took out a New Testament, and wrote a dedication in it before presenting it to the abbot, who promptly knelt in the gravel to receive it.

The official ceremony for the Mankanya New Testaments took place in May 2014. Mankanya songs based on biblical passages have been written and recorded, and an audio recording of the New Testament and Genesis has recently been completed. The next challenge is for the Mankanya to put these precious resources to good use. As the abbot said, the food has to be eaten and digested if it is to do its transforming work.

Please pray with us for the Mankanya people group—that they will engage with God’s Word in their language and let it transform their lives.

Our final stop in our World Highlights series is in Africa. We’ll spend the next three weeks learning about cultures, geography, and Bible translation efforts throughout the continent. Let’s start things off with this infographic, and see what things you discover about Africa that you never knew before.

Africa_Infographic

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