A Bible translation team helps a tribe find its voice

By August 11, 2011

South Asia (MNN) — Despite 100 years of Christian presence among them, only one percent of the Walmi people of South Asia have turned to Christ.

How could this be? Walmi has never been a written language, thus the Bible has yet to be translated in written form for them.

The Seed Company reports that language surveys estimate that more than 1 million people speak Walmi as their only language. Because the language is used regionally, the total number of speakers ranges between 3 million and 13 million people and includes four dialects of the language and several people groups.

Even though many have interacted with Christians, rural Walmi people practice a traditional animistic religion, attributing power to the spirits of ancestors, trees, and other objects they believe control their lives. Urban Walmi practice a more sophisticated form of animism that includes worshipping idols and celebrating many festivals. Either way, fear and superstition seem to rule their lives.

Heartbroken for the Walmi, The Seed Company is determined to provide the Scriptures in their heart language. The written New Testament will be the first written-form of the Walmi language.

This, of course, presents all sorts of challenges. Since Walmi has never been a written language, it's necessary to come to a decision on how some words should be spelled. Good progress is being made, and the New Testament is scheduled to be published soon.

Kalidas Haska, a dedicated and well-qualified mother-tongue speaker of Walmi, is the translator. As the Walmi team approaches the goal of a published New Testament, they're focusing on two main objectives: ensuring that the translation is meaning-based, and that it's free from error. Pray that the team hits their mark and produces an excellent New Testament for the Walmi.

Pray that this New Testament–soon to be followed by the Old Testament–would be the start of a kingdom movement among the Walmi. Pray that many would turn to Christ as they learn to read His self-authenticating Word for the first time.

You can help put the Scriptures into the hands of those who have yet to read it in their own heart language. Click here to help with the Walmi translation.

 

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