What ever happened to the Nyungwe Bible translation?

I haven’t mentioned this recently but there is a lot to be thankful for about the Nyungwe Bible translation. Last month, Pastor Semo and the team traveled to Beira on the Mozambique coast to work with the Sena translation team and an International consultant. The goal was to approve the Gospel of John for publication. Unfortunately because of my emergency trip to the US I wasn’t able to meet with the translators to discuss John 13-21. The good news is that they still did get John 1-12 checked.

Here’s a quote from our Director’s wife Karen who was there in Beira during the session while her husband, Sebastian was checking (simultaneously!) Nyungwe and Sena:

“We are having a riot of a time … with the Nyungwe guys here in the AIM guest flat. They are so easy to have around, and are so passionate about the translation that they spend all evening round the computer doing the corrections of the day! Sebastian is very pleased with the translation, though.”

Isn’t that great news? Thanks to those of you who have prayed for and contributed financially to this translation. More than 250,000 people speak Nyungwe and the Bible not only for them but for all of Tete province where Nyungwe is a lingua franca.

While I won’t be doing translation full time when we get back to Mozambique in February I will still get to check the remaining chapters of John and also be overseeing publication and distribution plans not just for Nyungwe but for more than ten languages in Mozambique.


Sunday stroll


On the Sunday of our translation checking session for Mark and 1 Timothy we took a stroll down by the pine forest. Pictured from left to right are David, Hessel, Bata, Bernardino and Semo.

Translating in "The Garage"

Translating in "The Garage"


Nyungwe translators visit the temporary home of the project with Pastor Muchanga, the Encontro Fraternal liason. This location has been donated to the translation project free of charge by a Brazilian missionary who runs a Bible college out of her home. Land has been given to the Nyungwe project to build a permanent office but the Encontro Fraternal needs to draw up a plan for the site and then find funding. Hopefully they can have something built before September because “The Garage” is going to be a hot place to work in the summer.

Waiting for an office

Pastor Semo and I spent some time working on the adaptation of 1 Timothy into Nyungwe. As you can see from the photo our office was pretty primitive. Because of the heat at this time of the year people in Tete spend most of their time outside looking for a shady spot to rest.


The good news is that very soon the Nyungwe team will have a permanent office. Thanks to the generosity of a Brazilian missionary, the translators will be able to work in a converted garage which doubles as a Bible school on the weekends.

When Mikael and Jeni return from Sweden and move their furniture out of the storage room, Angela has offered the use of that room indefinitely for the translation team to use without charge.

Late Night Translation

Because of the death of his wife earlier in the month, Pastor Semo was only able to visit Nampula for a short time during the translation workshop about 1 Timothy. Because they were busy all day with meetings, the Nyungwe translators had to get together late in the evening to complete a translation of 1 Timothy. Actually it was an adaptation based on the Chichewa translation.

In the picture are Bernardino checking a draft of the translation, Pastor Bata in the middle looking on, and Pastor Semo working on the adaptation of the next section.

Update: Since the translators have returned from the workshop they have finished adaptation of the first five chapters of 1 Timothy and will do chapter 6 in the coming week as well as doing a complete check of the accuracy and naturalness of the text.

Genesis, Mark and John

Sorry I don’t have any photos to show you but translation is not a very photogenic business! But I do want to let you know that some very good progress is being made by the Nyungwe translation team. They completed a translation of the entire book of Genesis in June. It has been completely consultant checked except for a few chapters at the end. I also worked with them in completing the Gospel of Mark in July. A big surprise is that we discovered a version of the entire Gospel of John in Nyungwe that had been done more than ten years ago. Pastor Semo was very pleased with the quality of this translation and decided that it should be their next project. So now the translators are editing John. Pastors Semo and Bata led a workshop over the weekend for church reviewers. I heard that it went very well and that they are now going to start reviewing Mark.

In October the translators will be doing 1 Timothy in a workshop with several other translation teams for other languages.

Praise the Lord that more and more Scriptures are becoming available in Nyungwe.

Studying the Book of Titus

I got to co-teach a workshop in Moatize, Mozambique in February. My co-teacher was Pastor Semo, the head translator for the Nyungwe Bible translation.  One thing that was interesting is that we were using a 2006 calendar with the book of Titus.  Before the workshop no one wanted to buy the booklets because of the outdated calendar.  But after an afternoon of reading the book of Titus in Nyungwe, many copies of the booklets were sold.  One man said, “I want to read this to my wife.”

Nyungwe Translation team 2006


While I was in the US on furlough, the Nyungwe translators continued working on a translation of the book of Genesis. Arriving back in Mozambique I got to go out to dinner with the Nyungwe translators and my colleague, Mikael Bister. It was great to see everybody and talk about plans for the coming year in translation. Posted by Picasa