In April 2009 we witnessed a dedication of the first dictionary in the Ndruna language and the first publication of five Epistles. Among the speakers was a traditional Ndruna chief. This older and vigorous man told how from the time he was a child his father, the chief before him, and others had tried to write the Ndruna language and translate the Bible into it. Every attempt encountered insurmountable problems. They did could not figure out how to write the language. When they tried to do translation, the result was not understandable. Even as a child he was so interested in having a translation that he and his father decided that he would go to the only church school in the area – a Catholic school where the prayers were all in Latin. I was amazed as he recited in Latin the prayers he had learned as a child. He said that he still did not understand them.
He went on to tell how a person sent out by Wycliffe came to help them with linguistic research. That research allowed them to write the language without problems for the first time. Then educated Ndruna men were chosen as translators. They were given specialized training and the translation. In the photo you see Ed those translators and others.
The the chief said that he hoped that the translators would continue to received help from the outside. But, he said, he had complete confidence that the translation would be completed and be done well even if help from the outside stopped. Now, according to him, the translators and others finally had all the knowledge and skills they needed.
The exuberance of the Ndruna traditional dance being performed by the women matched our sentiments – we were thrilled. This is exactly what we are working toward – that Africans will have enough training and skills that they feel confident in doing the work on their own. We also hope that the chief’s confidence will be contagious. Hearing this story, other languages, other community leaders and church leaders might dare to get involved in translation in their languages rather than sit and wait for someone to come and help them.
There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for his life. I would add that if you teach him well enough and give him enough confidence, then he might even teach others to fish, multiplying your efforts many, many times. That is our hope and prayer – that the chief’s words show that we are at a tipping point where the Ndruna and others will have the confidence to go beyond translating for themselves to encouraging and teaching others. Then we will see the start of a self-sustaining Bible translation movement in Africa that will multiply our efforts more times than we will know or can count.If you feel the way we do, or you want to know more, see our website, subscribe to this blog, talk with us on Facebook, or sign up to support us through prayer or financial support.