Malawi (MNN) – In Malawi on November 18, the Chewa people finally received all of God’s word in their native tongue as Biblica launched the first ever Chichewa full Bible.
The Chewa People
Biblica’s Vice President, Global Translation, Hans Combrink shares, “They are actually the largest ethnic group in Malawi…they number about 9.5 million people, so [they’re] a fairly large language group. Internationally they are even known for their mosques and secret societies as well as some of their agricultural technique.”
Malawi is a complex country. It’s densely populated and is also one of the least developed nations in the world. The life expectancy is low in the country, infant mortality rates are high, and roughly 10 percent of people in Malawi live with AIDS. That being said, it’s easy to see how this country has both social and spiritual challenges.
“The majority of Malawians profess to be Christian. Animism is widespread and there’s a high degree of syncretism, as in mixed with Christianity and traditional animistic religions, which leads to a lot of confusion,” Combrink shares.
“Also, Islam is prevalent in the South. Our experience, especially in the places where there is a number of major religions present, people are confused about the truth. And that is why it is so important that [they have] not only the New Testament in Chichewa, but the full Bible.”
Why a Chichewa Full Bible?
Previously the Chewa people had an outdated New Testament translation, but many people struggled to understand the language. Furthermore, it’s important for the Chewa people to be able to read through the informative history in the Old Testament about Israel, God’s involvement in the world and through Israel, and God’s plan to bring redemption and salvation to all of humanity.
“Through God’s Word he is breaking through the lies of false religions and syncretistic rites to draw people into a relationship with His son,” Combrink explains. “A lot of that obviously happens through reading the Bible, but it can only happen when people understand what they read. And that is why this specific translation is so important because it is a contemporary translation in Chichewa.”
Combrink also shares the Chewa people are excited to finally have a translation of the full Bible. One woman exclaimed she wanted to take a whole box of these Bibles back to hand out in her village.
“People asked her, ‘Why are you so excited about this?’” Hans shares. “And she said, ‘Well, if we read the old Bible, we always have to go and bother my grandmother and ask her about the words that we do not understand. But this version that I’m holding now, I can read without trouble.’”
A Long Journey
It’s taken three generations to bring this Bible translation to fruition. The vision for a full contemporary Bible translation began with a single family. The family persevered in seeing this translation come to life despite, at times, less than ideal situations. Internet interruptions and power outages are common in Malawi, making it difficult to consistently work on translation projects.
“Towards the end of the project there was even funding challenges,” Combrink says. “So, it’s a testimony to the vision and the perseverance of a whole team of people, but especially the faithful family.”
Rather than distributing the Bibles for free, the Bibles are instead affordably priced for the Malawi people to purchase. Biblica does this because when people invest their own money in items, they value and care for them better.
So please, pray for the Chewa people to find Christ through this Bible translation. Pray for lives and communities to be transformed through it. Also, pray for God to be glorified by all the work, dedication, and people who came together to help put this Bible in print.
We are blessed to have had the opportunity to work on this exciting Bible translation for the Malawi people. Click this link to give to Biblica's ongoing Bible translation efforts around the world: http://bibl.me/2ywsJWn
Posted by Biblica – The International Bible Society on Thursday, November 16, 2017