Posts Tagged ‘Tanzania’

Cheers in church!

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

When was the last time a Bible reading in your church moved the whole congregation to shout, clap and cheer?  Only a few weeks ago in Luhanga, in the Sangu community of Tanzania, that’s exactly what happened!

Andy, writing on theTask.net, tells us the whole story:

The whole passage of the prodigal son was read by a Sangu translator to the receptive church congregation. (Mbeya Cluster – Tanzania)

I was invited to preach in a church in Luhanga in the Sangu area. My plan was to preach about the prodigal son, a story found in Luke 15. The little church was packed with people. 200 adults and 60 children were counted (as announced by the one who led the service).

When my time to preach came I started with some explanations and then read a few verses in Sangu (Luke 15:1-2). The people liked me reading their language and clapped and cheered.  A bit later Abedy, one of our Sangu translators read the whole passage of the “prodigal son”… (full story)

Freshly printed Gospels of Luke in the Sangu language had been delivered to the translation office in Mbeya, just at the beginning of July.  But the translators at the Luhanga church were caught totally unprepared for the many in the congregation who wanted to buy their own copy.  The copies they had with them were snapped up, and Abedy had to return the following week with extras.

God’s word is heard most clearly in the language we understand best… and in the Luhanga church, they heard him loud and clear that week! Find out how you can help to give the story.

A very good day

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

What events make a day one to remember? Good weather, good moods, good health? A productive use of time at the office or progress made on a project? Ben Gerth has been documenting on his blog the stages of translation for the Jita team translating the first Scripture, and in this extract he describes what made one day a very good day:

Neema, Ben, Magesa and Magoma hold copies of Jonah in Jita.

It was a fun day. It was fun to receive the first copies of Jonah hot off the press (literally). It was fun to hand a copy to Neema and Magesa and Magoma, the Jita translators. It was fun to say “thank you” to them for all their hard work. It was fun to deliver a copy to our next door neighbor, who is a Jita man, and watch him immediately gather his fellow Jita people and start reading the book of Jonah. It was fun to take copies of Jonah out to the village and sell them for [around 18p] each. (The money goes to our office to cover a portion of the printing costs). It was fun to watch people smile when they read the book of Jonah in the Jita language for the first time EVER!

It’s fun to think that Jita people can now learn that Yahweh is the God of heaven, who made the sea and dry land (Jonah 1:9). They will discover that Yahweh sees all the evil that people do (Jonah 1:2). They can read how Yahweh exercises sovereign control over all of his creation (Jonah 1:4, 1:17, 2:10, 4:6, 4:7, 4:8). They can rejoice to see that Yahweh rescues his people when they repent of their sins (Jonah 2:9). They will be excited to see that Yahweh shows mercy to pagan nations who repent (Jonah 3:5, 4:11). They will savor the glorious truth that Yahweh is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster (Jonah 4:2).

There’s more from Ben about the Jita translation work and the previous stages of the work on his blog.

Jonah’s a fantastic book, but it’s very short. Even with this small part of Scripture in their language, the Jita language has joined the minority of languages that has access to some of the Bible. More than 4,000 languages still don’t have the Bible and of those, 1,919 are still waiting for a translation project to begin. Join the team and support Bible translation.

Worth more than many apples

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

How much is the Bible worth to you? It’s a difficult one to answer: the only measurements we can easily see are the £15 at the bookshop or the 15 minutes reading in the morning or evening.

On his blog, Mark Woodward reports a conversation between a pastor working on Bible translation and a local apple seller in Tanzania which gives us a different picture of the Bible’s worth.

Last week a very old man, an Mzee, came to our compound selling apples. They were not very good apples, and they were very small.

First I said “No, Father [a term of respect for an older man],” but I wanted to encourage him, so I told him I would buy one apple.
“Take two,” he said. “They are very good apples. I raised them myself.”

So I took two apples, but I paid him for three. Then I asked him “Mzee! Do you go to church?”

“Yes, I go to church” he said.

“Mzee, do you know Jesus as your Saviour?” I asked him.

“Yes, I know Him” he said.

“Then I have a gift for you.” I told him. I went back into my office and got a Scripture portion in his language. The old man was Kinga, so I gave him a Gospel of Mark in Kinga. He thanked me and left.

About ten minutes later there was a very loud knocking at my office door. It was the Mzee. He held out to me a big pile of apples in both hands.

“You must take these,” he said.

“Me? Take your apples? No! Why?” I said.

“You must take them. The book! The book you gave me. It blesses my heart! I will keep it always.”

And then he said “I have no way to know what such a book is worth. Truly it is worth more than many apples.”

Read more from Mark Woodward on his blog.

Even if this man had all the apples in the world, he couldn’t pay for a complete Bible in his language because it doesn’t exist yet. But if you think the Bible is worth something to you – worth giving to someone else – you can play a part in giving the Bible to the Kinga in Tanzania and others around the world.

Photo by Sven Teschke, via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 2.0 DE

One for the language lovers!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Translation – and especially translating something as important as the Bible – is never straightforward, but you might be surprised by the words that have been challenging the Bena team in Tanzania. Researching how words are used in context is essential as Elizabeth, their translation advisor, illustrates…

tanzaniaGive me justice

One challenging section was the persistent widow story. The Bena have no word for ‘justice’. There was a loan word from the national language Swahili (‘ihaki’) in the text, which the Bena replaced as they know the reviewers won’t accept loan words. We tweaked this verse with the words in bold and came up with

‘…neke kangi pakuva umufwile uyu akufwahidza mbandu, lino ndikumutanga ukupata fye ivagila, ukuta atane ukundaasa mbepali!’

which roughly translates as ‘…but because this widow is really bothering me, now I will help her get as she deserves, so that she won’t bother me again!’ (Luke 18:5) This was the best we could do with ‘justice’.

Sabbath rest

The Bena word for Sabbath is ‘Nyuwabaaha’ which means a day of rest but could refer to any day of the week, not necessarily Saturday.

Heal me

There are currently two dialectal variations of the verb ‘to heal’ in the text – ‘kuhooswa’ and ‘kunaniya’ – but one word throughout which everyone understands would be the best.

Pray for the Bena team: the consultant will be checking the last section of Luke very soon.

Getting words like this right is incredibly important if a translation is going to communicate clearly and accurately, and be well used. If examples like this get you eager to support translation, find out more about how you could be involved.

Translating Jonah

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Many people think they know that the people who live in the far north of Alaska and Canada have a phenomenal number of words for ‘snow’. This is actually a myth, but the principal it’s based on – that people who deal with something a lot tend to have more, specific words for it – is true. In Bible translation, this problem comes up a lot!

Photo from the Gerth’s blog.

Ben and Jeannette Gerth work in Tanzania with the Jita people, who are translating the book of Jonah. The translators saw this problem: what’s the right word for ‘storm’?

Jonah 1:4‘The LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest.’ The Jita translators were struggling with the right Jita word to translate ‘tempest’. They knew that many Jita people are fishermen and would therefore have various terms for storms at sea. Therefore, they decided to ask the community. The testers said they use [rikubuji] for a crazy gust of wind and [echiiwure] for a fierce wind that lasts for a while. The translators decided to use [echiiwure].

The translation team faced the same problem with the plant that grew and died at the end of Jonah’s account. Read about that problem on the Gerth’s blog.

The translation of Jonah reminded Ben and Jeannette of how important Bible translation is for the Jita people:

Jonah 4:2 ‘I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful.’ The Jita translators have been struggling for a long time finding the right Jita word for ‘grace’. Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward man, an undeserved gift from God to man. That concept is not readily accessible in Jita culture (another reason why they need Scripture!). We asked the community testers and the testers suggested [obhwitiriranya] which seems to fit very well.

Read more from Ben and Jeannette on their blog. If these are the sorts of problems you’d love to spend your career thinking about, have you considered a role as a Bible translator? Find out more.

Celebrate what God has done

Monday, November 4th, 2013

A few weeks ago we asked you to pray for the launch of portions of Scripture in 5 African sign languages. The launch went ahead on 28th September with much rejoicing. 110 story sets were dedicated in Ugandan, Tanzanian, Ghanaian, Burundian and Ethiopian sign languages addressing three areas: Know God how? Follow God how? Serve God how?

The day after the launch Deaf translators led a ‘life-changing worship service’ using the translated Scripture. Praise God that Deaf communities in these countries now have the word of God in their heart language and pray that it will impact many lives. Read the original blog post ‘Seeing the Bible’.

It’s all too easy to forgot to praise God for the ways he has answered prayer and blessed us. Because we love to celebrate and we believe it is important to remember what God has done and to thank him for it, at our upcoming prayer event Frontline Prayer Live we have allocated a section of the day to look at what God has already done and how his word is impacting the lives of many. We will also take time during the day to pray for translation into sign languages around the globe. Please join us on Saturday 9th November to celebrate what God is doing – its not to late to register.

Register for Frontline Prayer Live or find out more by visiting the events section of our Facebook page.

How many?

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Mark and Richard are working in Tanzania with a group of languages. After they reported to local pastors on the progress of writing down two of the languages in preparation for Bible translation, the conversation soon turned to numbers:

‘How many Pimbwe [people] are there?’ asked one of the more senior leaders.

Richard answered that there are only about 20,000 Pimbwe according to our estimates, but that we still believe there is value in translating the Bible because of the impact that local language Scriptures can have in the life of the community, even if the language is only spoken in a few villages.

A church building in TanzaniaWe looked up, expecting the pastor to be sceptical, or to advise that our resources could be better used elsewhere. But no… instead he encouraged us.

‘I want to encourage you that this is a work from God,’ he said. ‘When Jesus healed the man with the evil spirits, he ended up sending them into a large herd of pigs who then charged off the hill and drowned. This herd of pigs was the project of the whole village, and they depended on the business the pigs generated. But Jesus cared more about the life of one person than he did about the business project of the entire village.’

He continued, ‘He probably should have been arrested right there, for destroying their business! But the point was that Jesus valued the life of this one man more than the wealth of the entire village. So I want to tell you not to become discouraged because there are few speakers, but rather be joyful that God cares even for a small group like the Pimbwe, and that this is a work of God!’

This report of encourgement comes from Mark Woodward’s blog.

Translating God’s word is a way of showing Jesus’s love to even the smallest communities. Nearly 2,000 language groups are still without a single verse of Scripture or a project started to translate it. Give God’s Story.

Why translate the Bible into Bende?

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Translating the Bible into a language in which there has never been Scripture before is not a short activity. A lot of work is needed even before translation begins. For the Bende translation project in Tanzania, that work is just getting underway. This report comes from the end of last year:

Two Tanzanians read a Bible together at a tableWe were excited to be able to host six speakers of the Bende language, as they took the very first step towards writing their language and later starting to translate the Bible into Bende. During the week that they spent with us they managed to collect nearly 2,000 words in their language, which will later be analysed linguistically to come up with a writing system that is intuitive and easy for Bende speakers to read and write.

There are many steps still to go, but these Bende speakers are looking to the impact of the final Bible translation, the first in Bende:

At the end of the workshop I asked the participants what benefit they personally would envisage from having the Bible available in their language. Here’s what they said:

The benefits would be many, not just one, because there are some things that are written in Swahili that the Bende are unable to read. Some words, for example ‘king’. When they say that Jesus is king, they don’t know that Jesus is their king; they often say that they don’t understand. Because of this, people say, ‘It is better for us to return to our traditional practices, because we don’t understand these things.’

But if we were to have the Bible written in Bende we would be very happy, and we would read it and understand it, even the old people. So our request, from our point of view, would be that this ministry would reach out to us Bende people, in order that it help us in our lives.

Bende is just one of around 2,000 languages where translation work has only just begun or still not started, and where having a Bible is not just a desire, but a necessity for them to grow in their knowledge and love of God. You can help more people get God’s word!

This account was first published on thetask.net.

Sold out!

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Many of us will be happily taking a rest, after battling our way through last-minute Christmas panics, hundreds of carol services and a substantial Christmas meal. And, as is traditional, many of us will choose to spend our well-earned rest fighting our way through the post-Christmas sales.

This account, from Tanzania, provides a bit of a contrast to sale shopping in the UK. (When was the last time you found Bibles sold out in your local bookshop?!)

Image used for illustarive purposes only. By Heather Pubols.This morning, I was told by one of my colleagues that he tried to get a copy of the book of Ruth in the Safwa language, but it was sold out. ‘Good news,’ I thought, ‘all 100 copies that were printed have already been sold out.’

I was so glad to hear that. We asked our colleagues, who usually print books for us, for more copies of Safwa Ruth. Slowly it became clear during our conversation, that they printed 400 more copies in October. So, in total, there were not only 100 copies sold, as I first thought, but almost 500! I knew that the Safwa people were waiting for God’s word in their language for several years and that they were excited about the first Biblical book in Safwa, Ruth, but not one of us expected so many copies to be sold in just over half a year! God is great!

This story is originally from thetask.net, where you can find lots more inspiration about the work in Tanzania and Uganda.

Give the gift of God’s word.

The ‘boring’ objection

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

For some people, translating the Bible is not an exciting concept. People carry around all sorts of misconceptions about the Bible as something that they had to hear about in a dull Sunday school, full of irrelevant and boring stories. One translator in Tanzania went out to test the newly translated book of Ruth with some people who thought like this. Their response blew the ‘boring’ objection away:

An Ikoma woman with the newly published book of Luke.

After completing the initial draft of the book of Ruth, Mussa, one of the Ikoma translators, went out to a village to read it aloud to see what the community thought of it. He had called ahead and asked a man he knew who lived in that village to prepare a group of ten people to be ready to listen and provide feedback on the translation. But when he arrived, a significantly larger group, comprised of some Christians and some non-Christians, was waiting, curious and eager to take part!

After reading two chapters of Ruth, several of the non-Christians in the group spoke up. They said, ‘This is such a good story! We didn’t know the Bible had good stories in it!

Mussa answered that the Bible had many excellent stories in it, and that someday many of the stories will be translated into the Ikoma language, so they can read them all they like in their mother tongue. He had not planned on doing evangelism when he went out to the village to test the Ruth translation, but it seems a few small seeds of interest were planted that day.

Do you ever feel the ‘boring’ objection creeping up on you? Take a look at this brilliant video from Scripture Union or explore our A to Z of ways to get back into God’s fantastically exciting word.

Photo by Michael Nicholls. This account is from thetask.net, which is all about Bible translation in Uganda and Tanzania.