Lamb of Sheep

My son found the lost sheep

Nang’uyana Galoro is a teacher at the Rendille Adult Literacy program in Korr. One morning, she walked into the Rendille Translation office with a big smile on her face holding a copy of the Rendille New Testament and her mobile phone. She requested if we could charge her phone battery which was low as she desperately needed to speak to her son who was 300 KM away from Korr looking after goats and the sheep.

As her battery charged, she was joyous and kept uttering a blessing to us, “may the Lord bless you for translating the sweet word of God into my language.” At first, we could not understand what she really meant. In the Rendille culture, you only bless someone who has done something big for you.

She then continued, “Last evening, I received a phone call from my son who is far away taking care of my livestock in search of water and pasture. He informed me that some of the sheep and goats got lost while grazing and he had spent the whole day looking for them but could not find them. I promised to pray for him to find the goats and sheep. It was at that time that I recalled the Scriptures from Luke 15:1-7 about the story of the shepherd, who lost one sheep, looked for it and found it. This also reminded me of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ as mentioned in John 10. I prayed for my son and the lost sheep and goats knowing that God was assuring me in His Word that my son would find the lost sheep and goats.”

When the battery was fully charged, Nang’uyana called his son while with us in the office. True to her faith in God, her son informed her that he had found some of the sheep and goats.

Nang’uyana left the office with great joy in her heart. Indeed, Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who knows all about us and our needs.

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Teresia Rotich left Marakwet Article

Marakwet Audio Bible is my Pastor

Teresia Rotich is an elderly lady from the Marakwet community. She usually holds a personal worship service every Sunday outside her house. One day, Rev. Paul Kanda a BTL translator from the community decided to pay her a visit at her home. During this visit Rev. Kanda realized that it had been difficult for Teresia to attend the usual Sunday services because she had been ailing. He also noted that for the past five years, she had been struggling to sing her favorite hymns and read the Scriptures due to her failing eyesight as a result of ageing.

It is for these reasons that Rev. Kanda presented her with the Marakwet audio Bible. Upon receiving the audio Bible, she was very grateful to God and to BTL. In her own words, listening to the audio Bible made her feel like she was attending church every day; the Marakwet audio Bible was like her pastor speaking to her. Since then, other elderly Marakwet ladies from her neighborhood join her to listen to the audio Bible at the Sunday service outside her home.

Together with these audio Bibles, the Marakwet team has been distributing the Book of Genesis in the Marakwet language which was completed and dedicated not long ago to aid the women to study God’s word together during their group meetings.

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Website Hafare Arabolya Rendille story

Will you teach us about Jesus?

One hot afternoon in Korr, Rendille, I received a call from an unknown number but the voice was familiar. After the usual Rendille greetings, I noted that I was speaking with Hafare Arabolya to whom I had given the Rendille audio Bible and showed the Jesus film at his animal’s camp. On that particular day, he had called to appreciate the visit that I had paid to him and the gift of the Rendille audio Bible.

Not long after this call, I decided to visit him once again. When I got to his home, we sat down in the shade, together with his family members. He excitedly told me that they knew I told stories about Jesus.

“Will you teach us about Jesus?” they inquired in unison.

“We have heard some stories about Jesus on the radio,” they said, referring to the Rendille audio Bible I had a few weeks given to him. People in our village want to know more. We want more of these radios to teach us when you are not visiting with us, come to our home often and teach us about this wonderful person called Jesus.”

The interactions that I had with Hafare and his family raised more zeal in me to tell more of Jesus. It reminded me of the Gospel of Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come”.

The gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached to all so that Jesus can be worshiped in every language and in every nation. No single language can adequately express His worth; it will take people from every language on earth singing the name of Jesus before the choir of heaven can be complete.

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Where are we investing our energy in the ministry?

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation, Romans 15:20. When Paul says ‘where Christ has not been known,’ he means places where there is no worship of Christ at all.

Paul here indicates that he believed that God had given him the ministry of establishing strategic churches in virgin gospel territory. Paul must have felt ‘crowded’ by too many Christians around him. His purpose was, therefore ‘not to build on another’s foundations’ (see 2 Cor. 10:13–18). As he does in 1 Cor. 3:9b–15, Paul uses the metaphor of a building to describe the work of ministry.

To adopt Paul’s other metaphor from the same passage, he had been given the task of ‘planting’; others, like Apollos, were there to ‘water’ the fragile new growth (1 Cor. 3:5b–8). In John 10:16, Jesus says, ‘I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.’ Where are we investing our energy in the ministry? Communities who have never heard the gospel of Jesus for the first time are referred to as unreached people groups.

In Kenya, these communities are: located in remote areas characterized by the harsh climate and rough terrains; have unwritten languages; have low levels of literacy; have high poverty levels; have little or no Christian witness; have little or no church plants and lack of basic social amenities. These are the communities that the Bible Translation and Literacy (BTL) that we serve with seeking to reach, evangelize, and disciple using mother-tongue Bible.

It is my prayer that we should have compassion for ‘other sheep that are outside Christ‘s pen’. This week, as we pray, let us remember the communities in Kenya who have never heard of Jesus, and have no Scriptures written in the form and language that they can understand. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God.”

By Elly Gudo, a Translation Consultant at BTL

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Tharaka Bible, Japhet Nthiga

I found a FRIEND in the Bible

At the mention of the Tharaka Bible, Japhet Nthiga’s face lights up. There is a special bond between him and a special FRIEND he has found in the Bible. Japhet is blind and the only way he can hear about the good news of Jesus Christ is listening to the Tharaka Audio Bible recorded from the New Testament, and when his daughter is reading it out for him.

In July 2019, a month later after the dedication of the Tharaka Bible, Japhet walked into the Tharaka Offices, 25 KM away from his home to get his Bible.

At the time, all the 3,000 printed Bibles had all been sold out; only four copies left in the office which Onesmus Kamwara, Tharaka Project Officer had secured for his family. “I did not even inform him that we had run out of the Bibles. I picked one of my copies and the audio Bible and packed them for him.” During a recent visit to his home, Japhet gladly shared how it has been since he received the Bible.

“I am privileged to have the Tharaka Bible. The Bible speaks to me. It is close to my heart, every time I am listening to it being read to me, or listening to the audio, I feel like I am in a conversation; I likened the conversation to that of a FRIEND.” To God be the glory!

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Bible Translation and Literacy (BTL) launched the Tharaka Bible for the Tharaka people

Tharaka Bible at One Year

The month of June 2020 marked exactly one year since Bible Translation and Literacy (BTL) launched the Tharaka Bible for the Tharaka people. Onesmus Kamwara, Tharaka Project Officer and Consultant in Training reflects over the past year:

“A lot has changed since the dedication of our Bible.

The Tharaka people now read a complete Bible, unlike before when we would have a number of Old Testament Versions and the Tharaka New Testament in our congregations. The Bible is also a great solace and mostly during this period of COVID-19 Pandemic, ‘reading the Tharaka Bible encourages me that God will protect me from all harm, Psalm 121:1-3.’

We thank God that the Bible came to us at such a time as this. There is an increased readership of God’s word among young people. Bible colleges have also adopted Kîîtharaka as a language to be taught in their institutions. With such progress for the Tharaka language, I see the continuity of the Tharaka Church, benefiting from informed teachers of God’s word through the language they understand best.” #TharakaBibleAtONE

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Mzee Mbaso Rowili writing a Taveta story during the Taveta Orthography Workshop

Developing a language

Why does a community need their writing system developed?

To help them develop literature in and for their language.The developed literature helps them write materials for their social, intellectual, spiritual and economic needs both for personal and community’s gains.

Can a non- speaker of the language develop a language for a community?

Yes. A linguist can do this with the help of a language assistant from the target community. The language assistant helps the linguist in collecting the required linguistics data from the native language. After the collection is completed, the linguist analyses the words to get the actual sounds. If the linguist is not from the community, he/she confirms the collected and analyzed data with the community members and writes down the findings into a basic phonology of the language. This is then presented in a simplified way to a gathering of a cross section of the language speakers in an orthography workshop. This persentation includes issues to do with the language sounds, dialects, the language’s relationship with the neighboring languages and the trade language among others. The agreement from this meeting forms the first stage of orthography development called tentative orthography. In this orthography workshop, the community with the help of a linguist decides how to represent the sounds of their language for their ownership. If the community members confirm that the collected data to be of their language, they are adopted. If they differ in some ways, the linguist and the linguist assistant goes back to the field to refine there data now with the input from the workshop. These are then shared for verification in subsequent meetings. The other two stages are; working and established orthographies. Working orthography is arrived at after a detailed study of the phonology, which includes morphophonemics, segmentation, consonant clusters, tone and stress. It tests the tentative orthography and the reactions of the stakeholders. Established Orthography involves writing a paper documenting the community’s acceptance of the orthography. At this point the orthography is considered “finished.”

What are some of challenges you face as you develop a language into a written form?

The challenges vary for communities. A challenge in community A may be a strength in community B. Sometime back while collecting words sounds for a bantu community, I realized that they had borrowed word sounds from their Cushitic neighbors. I brought up this issue while presenting my findings during their orthography workshop. This turned out to be a big issue, community members being adamant that the ‘borrowed’ sounds existed in their language. This took quite some of our time and days trying to amicably find solutions.

How do you test a written language in a community that has never seen their language written before?

We use the alphabet chart and written stories, which are developed during the orthography workshop. The testing does not end at the orthography workshops. Other materials developed beyond the workshop act as testing tools for the language, for instance Scripture portions.

The alphabet Chart in Pokomo language

What kind of responses do you get from communities when you present them their alphabet with their languages written for the first time?

My first interactions with most communities that I have worked with to develop their languages, are usually inquisitive of my capability to develop such difficult languages as theirs. This narrative changes as soon as I present word sounds during the Orthography workshop. It gets better as we work together in developing their alphabet charts. In the year 2015, while working with the Taveta community, a 90-year-old man wrote an article for their storybook collection using the alphabets we had developed. He could not imagine that his language could be in a written form; him being at the forefront.

What current projects are being worked on?

Sengwer and Kabarasi projects. The two communities are at the tentative stages of orthography development and their alphabet charts are presently being printed to be distributed to the community for testing.

Does development of a language come to end?

Yes and No. This is an on-going process and only comes to an end if the initial need for it has been met. As a linguist, I do further researches in order to write papers on the grammar of the language.

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I long to hold the Chidigo Bible

Translation of the Chidigo Bible has come a long way. Through tough battles, God has held the translation team together this far. 76-year- old Pastor Shedrack Mwalonya, Project Advisory committee member relates to the hurdles well.

Pastor Mwalonya has been involved in Chidigo translation since its inception in the year 1987. He has chaired most of the community reviews of the books of the Bible. His passion for this work has been evident; taking lead in using the Chidigo New Testament to preach to his congregation. His devotion to the project saw him call the Project Officer from time to time to inquire of the progress of the translation and the anticipated time the Bible would be ready for his community. At his age, he says that the greatest gift he can leave to his children is the Chidigo Bible.

He believes that the Word of God is the solution to some of the key challenges facing the Digo people, for instance, Witchcraft, unbelief, poverty among others. Praise God for the far that He has brought the Digo project and the community. May God grant Pastor Shedrack long life to see and hear God speak to him in his language. Praise God for his goodness and what He is about to do among the Digo people.

The Bible is currently being printed and soon it shall be launched and dedicated. Alikpwe Jesu! Psalms 107:9 Mana nkumuusira chiru hiye ariye na chiru (nkumuhenda ariye na chiru atosheke), na kumvunisa manono hiye ariye na ndzala.

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I Keep my Sermons Simple

By Justus Mugambi

Two and half years ago, I was riding my motorcycle going round the region of Chuka inviting Christians to attend the Dedication of the Gospel of Luke in Gichuka. When I arrived at Ikuu Market, I heard a voice of a Pentecostal preacher thundering in the air, through two large speakers. You could tell that was the energy of a new preacher in town due to his command in very well polished English. I immediately rode towards that direction. I found Pastor William Muchai of KAG Church, Ikuu holding the microphone in a Lunch-Hour Fellowship. Peeping through the only window of the rented shop space, I could only see three women in the meeting. He later attended the Dedication Ceremony, and we became close friends; he even joined our Oral Bible Stories (OBS) Ministry.

One day he visited us in the office and he shared his experience as an evangelist and Pastor. “I thought that it was very easy to plant a Church. But after one full year, I managed to get a handful converts.” He narrates to us, while seeping a cup of tea. He felt ashamed to mention the actual number of converts. But I kept on probing, “How many?” Then he whispered “Four.” He explained that every Sunday he would preach to his wife and their firstborn child, who was still a toddler, amidst many vacant plastic chairs. Despite the small number, he would still use his microphone and his large speakers, so that his voice could reach the entire Ikuu Market.

When people saw his persistence, they would go to his church just ‘to taste’ the Gospel. He kept wondering why many people attended the Church only once and never to be seen again. He could only blame the enemy and his demons. After attending the OBS Workshop, he was tasked by the trainers to use the OBS skills in his preaching.

He used the Gichuka Book of Luke in his sermon. After that sermon, several people who listened to his teachings came and told him, “Your sermon was very powerful. Keep using our language.” Some of them accepted Christ. He realized that the reason why people attended his service once, and they never returned was due to language barrier. He had thought that preaching in a foreign language was some ‘swag’ or sophistication. Ever since, he only uses his mother tongue, Gichuka, in his preaching. “I have learnt to keep my sermons simple,” Concluded the Pastor.

The Church has grown tremendously. The members of the Church even bought a piece of land and built their own Church building and relocated from the rented shop in Ikuu market. Every time I pass through their new Church early mornings, before 6.00 a.m, I see the lights on and the believers having their morning devotions. I always thank God for them.

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