The Bydla are an agricultural community who live along the banks of a river, in houses usually made from banana or palm leaves over a framework of poles. There are only a few dirt roads and travel is by dugout canoe and bicycle. They are largely self-sufficient and gain income from the sale of honey, cattle, and handwoven mats. Trading is conducted with the people to the north and with business people in towns adjacent to the Bydla area.
The majority of the Bydla community are Muslims and there are only a handful of believers, who are forced to meet secretly due to the risk of persecution for their faith. There are high levels of early child mortality and the majority of people are unable to read or write. The area is almost entirely closed off to outsiders and almost completely unreached with the gospel.
Following the completion of the New Testament in 2018, a local team is continuing with translation of the Old Testament to ensure the Bydla people can access the whole Bible, and providing literacy classes to enable them to engage with Scripture. Alongside this they are discipling new believers, setting up a number of fellowship groups and producing audio versions of Scripture to increase its reach.
As a result of violence in the Bydla region, the translation team has relocated to a safer area, but they visit the Bydla homeland when they can. Progress is being made, with a number of books now drafted, and the number of believers continues to grow. Local people are now leading the literacy efforts. Thanks to their work, 30% of the Bydla population can now read and write.
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