15 December 2017

Why translate the Bible?

The Sound of Music on Mount Elgon

For over 1,000 years the Sabaot people have lived on Mount Elgon in western Kenya. Traditionally nomadic herdsmen and hunters, they have become trapped between down-country agriculture and a protected national forest. Resources are limited and their self-esteem has suffered – but joyous music is breaking out over the slopes of this mountain.

Francis Kiboi, a Sabaot with a master’s degree in church history, is one of the team members. He says, “Africa has a long history with Christianity. But it’s never taken root because the Scriptures weren’t translated into the local languages. God’s word in mother tongue is absolutely imperative for evangelism and church growth.”

When reading the newly translated Gospel of Luke to a group of people, suddenly an elderly woman understood what she was hearing. She jumped to her feet and called out, “Read it again, so the rest of these people can also hear it! I just heard that for the first time! Please read it again!”

The Sabaot New Testament was published in 1994, and literacy classes are in constant demand. Mount Elgon is humming with the sounds of reading classes – which are indeed music to God’s ears, as people learn to read His Word.

Francis Kiboi says, “Before the Scriptures came to my people, Jesus seemed to be distant and foreign. But now that we have the Scriptures in the language, He is walking with us on this mountain. God is with us, and he is Sabaot!”

Read more online about the impact of Bible translation on the Wycliffe website at wycliffe.org.uk.

By Karen Weaver