Every weekend, Augustin Tine makes the journey down the A1 road from Thiès – the third largest city in Senegal, where he works as a Bible translator during the week – back home to his family at the coastal town of Mbour.

But one weekend last year, he brought something that had never existed before – the recording of the first book of the Bible translated into Contemporary Wolof, the language spoken by the vast majority of people in Senegal, including Augustin’s family.

Image of Augustin Tine, a member of the Contemporary Wolof Bible translation team Augustin Tine

That Sunday, Augustin and his wife Thérèse took their seven children to the Mbour Baptist Church as normal. As usual, he played guitar in the worship band; his heart filled with joy as he helped lead people in worshipping Jesus.

Then in the afternoon, Augustin’s wider family gathered at his house and he did something very special. He placed his phone on a table, turned up the volume and pressed ‘play’ on the Gospel of Luke.

‘That’s how I met the Lord’

Unlike over 97% of the population of Senegal, Augustin didn’t grow up as a Muslim. ‘When I moved to Mbour, the church I used to go to was very far from me,’ Augustin explains.

One day, Augustin and Thérèse were talking to their neighbours and asked them what kind of church they went to. ‘They said it is an Evangelical Baptist church and they invited us to go,’ Augustin says. ‘So we did, and the church leader invited me to Bible studies he organised, and that’s how I met the Lord.’

The Bible Augustin studied in coming to faith was in French, which is not the language he uses in daily life, thinks in, or talks to his family in. ‘At the time I was working as a builder,’ Augustin says. ‘But I had a friend who worked in Bible translation, so I saw the importance of having the Bible in local languages and I was drawn to getting involved in translation.’

Image of the Contemporary Wolof Bible translation team at work The Contemporary Wolof translation team at work

Then Augustin met Pastor Bagne, who leads the Contemporary Wolof translation project, and became excited about the impact a Contemporary Wolof translation could have across Senegal. ‘Bagne invited me to translation training,’ Augustin recalls, ‘and after that I became part of the translation team.’

‘The massive majority of the people in Senegal are young’

When Augustin thinks of the difference this translation will make, he primarily thinks of future generations. ‘The massive majority of the people in Senegal are young,’ Augustin explains, ‘and the main language they speak is Contemporary Wolof – so for them to understand God’s message they need to hear it in Contemporary Wolof.’

This is why the Contemporary Wolof translation team is working with such passion and dedication. The first book the team translated was Luke, which is now being released as an app, so people can access it on their phones. The team is currently deep into translating Acts.

Image of two men testing the Contemporary Wolof version of the Scriptures Jacques (left) explains to community tester Blaise what it is like to hear Acts in his language for the first time

Testing – to ensure that what people understand when they hear the translation is accurate to the original meaning – is a vital part of the translation process. As part of the early stages of testing, members of the translation team ask their families to listen to the translation. Which is how Augustin came to gather his family and to press ‘play’ on Luke.

‘They understood it and accepted Christ’

That Sunday afternoon in Augustin’s home, listening to the story of Jesus in Wolof for the first time, had a huge impact on his wider family.

‘When I played them Luke in Contemporary Wolof,’ Augustin recalls, ‘they understood it, and it resulted in my brothers, my sisters-in-law and my niece all accepting Christ as their Lord and saviour.’ That’s six people who became Christians on the first day they heard the gospel in their language!

That the translation, even at this early stage, is doing what it is intended to do – enabling people to know Jesus through the Bible – has been a huge encouragement to Augustin. ‘I was praising God,’ Augustin says, ‘and I also had a sense of satisfaction that God was using me and my work to reach people for him.’

Image of the Contemporary Wolof Bible being recorded on a phone The draft Contemporary Wolof translation being recorded on a phone

‘Hope for the next generation’

Augustin knows that he couldn’t do this work without the financial and prayer support he and the Contemporary Wolof team get from people like you.

‘The message I would like to send to the Christian community in the UK and Ireland,’ Augustin says, ‘is that we are so thankful and please continue to support us, because the work we are doing together is so worthwhile.’

Given the impact the draft translation of Luke had on his family, Augustin has big hopes for the impact the completed translation of Luke will have. ‘My dream,’ he says, ‘is to see the Senegalese people accept Jesus as their personal Lord and saviour.’

Augustin’s prayer is that his work will be part of leaving an invaluable legacy for future generations. ‘I have hope that through this translation people will know who God is and will understand his word. My hope for the next generation is that they will be able to share that with their children, and their children with their children, and all the generations to come.’

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A gift for the generations to come

My hope is that all the generations to come will have the Bible in their language’ (Augustin)

Gifts in Wills are one way that we can ensure the future of the vital work of Bible translation.

Would you consider a gift for Bible translation in your Will?

If you are interested in finding out more, either visit our Legacies pages, or contact our gifts in Wills specialist, Matt Smith, on legacy@wycliffe.org.uk or 0300 303 1111.

Story by: Alf Thompson

Date: 13/02/2024

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