On the UNESCO World Day of Romani Language (5 November), here is an update on the Standard Romani Bible translation project.

‘I pray sometimes in the national language, Romanian, and sometimes in my own Romani language. When I pray in Romani I feel I am heard in a different way. We need the Bible in Romani.’ (A Roma man)

It’s exciting times for the Standard Romani translation team – and today, UNESCO World Day of Romani Language, is a good day to celebrate the progress being made. Momentum is building, the translation work continues, more and more Roma people and communities are engaging with the Standard Romani Scriptures, and the word of God is having an impact.

Having published the Gospel of John early this year, the translation team of four has been hard at work on Acts. The initial translation is finished, and the book is now being tested in the community and checked. At the same time, the team is starting to translate the book of Mark.

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‘When the people have the Bible in the Romani language it will help them understand that they are seen by God and they are loved by God.’

Daniel, Standard Romani Bible translator

Meanwhile, the Scripture engagement team is taking the book of John into the community, using it to see and gauge people’s responses as they hear and see the Scriptures in their own language – often for the first time. As well as the printed version (4,000 copies without pictures, 600 with), there is also the phone app version for people to listen to.

Image of schoolchildren in Tinca, Romania, responding to hearing Robert Tompi playing the Gospel of John in Standard Romani on the phone app Schoolchildren in Tinca respond to hearing the Gospel of John in Standard Romani on the phone app

Robert Tompi, the project director, says, ‘When we take copies of the Gospel of John into churches and schools, we get tremendous responses. Recently, we visited churches in Buzău and Târgu Neamț, and they responded very well to the Standard Romani translation. The visit to the ProRoma School in Tinca filled our hearts with joy. Here I met good people with a big heart for Roma children. The children heard the word of God in their language, and were genuinely excited. I love the reaction of children when they hear the gospel in their own language for the first time. From now on they are going to be able to read it and use it.’

As Roma people experience God’s word in the Standard Romani language, their hearts are being changed. Robert tells the following story:

‘A pastor from Piatra Neamț said that he came to a Scripture engagement meeting in Târgu Neamț to tell us that we aren’t doing things well, we are only producing a book for the bookshelf. At the beginning of the workshop he interrupted us many times. But once he realised that Standard Romani is being used in schools and that this work will take years, then he understood that we aren’t an ordinary ministry, but want to do it to the glory of God. He has become a supporter of the translation. He said, “I thought that you are translating, will finish in a few months and that’s it. But because it takes years and the translation has to go through so many stages, that showed me it’s a trustworthy work. And the fact that you use words from Ursari and from Kalderash and other dialects shows that you want to keep the exactness of the Romani language.”’

Already, even in its early stages the Standard Romani translation is changing views and transforming lives.

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‘I think that in 20 years in our country, Romania, there will be churches where the service is in Romani language, and there will be Roma pastors and priests. And people will get to know the God of the Roma and feel and think in the Romani language, their own language. Everything will be related to the Romani language.’

Steluța, one of the Standard Romani Bible translation team

Robert continues: ‘We have plans to cover all of Romania, every geographical area of the country, finding churches, schools, and Roma communities where we can promote the Standard translation so that it will become the Bible of the Roma. And not just in Romania. The team is already promoting the translation work among Roma communities in Bulgaria and Serbia, as well as building connections in France and Spain.’

This is a translation with no borders – a translation for all Roma people.

Partner with the Standard Romani team in prayer

Robert invites us to join the team in prayer for the project:

  • We are very thankful and praise God that we have some more volunteers to test the translation with. Please pray for even more.
  • Please pray for harmony and a good spirit in the translation team.
  • Please pray for safe travel on Romania’s roads.
  • Please pray for more Roma volunteers to present the translation work in different communities.
  • Pray for God’s word to change the lives of those who read and listen to the Standard Romani translation.

Story by: Jeremy Weightman

Date: 05/11/2023

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