Archive for August, 2014

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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. In 1995 he began translating the New Testament into Mankanya out of a belief that his people had never really understood the Gospel due to the lack of the Scriptures in their own language. He worked on the translation for five years with other Mankanya speakers, until he was appointed abbot of his monastery.

He then handed over the responsibility for the translation to the recently formed Mankanya Catholic Translation Association. The association asked for help from SIL, and so an SIL missionary couple joined the work on the Mankanya New Testament!

On the day of the abbot’s visit in March 2014 we enjoyed a meeting 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.

This post was last updated in September, 2015.

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Editor’s note: This infographic was updated Nov. 18, 2014.

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.


As always, you can check us out on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our RSS feed to learn more!

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The Sangu language group is part of the Mbeya Cluster, a group of thirteen languages working together to develop writing systems, translate Scripture, sponsor schools, and improve literacy. Sangu speakers recently conducted a community check of their Scripture translation.

Sangu map“We thank the people who … sent people in order that they should work in our language. God has used them in order that we should know God in our language,” said one Sangu speaker. “We are hearing the Word of God in our own language, which we understand better than the language of Swahili. Some of us did not study or know Swahili well. Also our language is not widespread, because we are a small group of people and it was possible to lose our language. But now it is impossible for our language to be lost.”

Now they long to read the Scriptures for themselves.

“We ask you to come and teach us to read, because we do not know how to read the Sangu language,” said another Sangu speaker. “If you teach it to us, we will have the ability to read it for ourselves.”

You can help provide printed and digital materials, literacy classes, and literacy training for pastors and Sunday school teachers in the Mbeya Cluster of Tanzania. Every gift during the month of August will be matched! Visit www.wycliffe.org/tanzania to support Mbeya teachers and leaders today.

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