Mozambique (MNN) — A translation project that started 20 years ago finally culminated in the Takwane Bible Dedication in Mozambique earlier this month.
Mission Aviation Fellowship was able to put its new Caravan aircraft to good use, flying several SIL missionary couples from various towns and villages in Northern Mozambique to attend the dedication celebration in Mocuba.
Gerd LePoidevin with MAF in Mozambique shares, “We flew a team of SIL missionaries, part of their team here in Mozambique…. So that’s when we used our new Caravan that we just got on Easter Sunday. This was our first actual real booked flight that we did in the Caravan. It was just really exciting to have the maiden flight be to inaugurate a new Bible translation!”
The town of Mocuba was an ideal location for the dedication ceremonies since it was a central point for two language areas to attend the celebration. One of the SIL missionaries and the Director of SIL both spoke at the dedication.
“They made distribution points all over the place and [were] leaving Bibles with different churches for them to sell them. So it was organizing with the church and the leaders there, and inviting all different kinds of people from different churches and the provincial government,” says LePoidevin.
“There was a big meal afterwards for a couple hundred people, and that took a lot of organization, getting ties for everybody from the states and buying cloth pieces for all the ladies to have the same wrap-around cloth piece, so a lot of details went into that.”
According to The Joshua Project, the Takwane language people group has a population of 267,000 in Mozambique. Now that they have a Bible in their heart language, that’s thousands more people who are able to read about and grow closer to God through His inspired Word.
LePoidevin says the missionary involved in the translation project gave this illustration: “A man was out walking in the rain and got soaking wet, and he went to a store and asked, ‘Can you give me something that will keep me dry in the rain?’ And they said, ‘Well, here, you need an umbrella.’ So he bought an umbrella and went out and it started raining again, so he put the umbrella on his head and that didn’t help at all, so he went back to the store and complained. He said, ‘This didn’t work!’ And they said, ‘Well you have to open the umbrella for it to work.’”
“So [the missionary] was comparing that to the Bible and said here’s this really cool Bible, but it doesn’t work if you just put it on your head or leave it on the shelf. You have to open it and read it! And so that’s the challenge now, is for people to read it and apply it, but obviously the potential of God’s Word is so great and it’s alive and active, so the fact that they can now read in their language where they can really understand it, that’s just phenomenal.”
The LePoidevins have known the missionary translators with SIL since they attended language school together in Portugal in 1996. It was then that the work to get a Bible in the Takwane language started.
LePoidevin shares, “They began the [translation] work soon after that, serving and learning the language, living among the people, and then starting with a team of translators. And I guess they actually finished their part a couple of years ago, and then they took a couple years for all the printing and all the typesetting to be done. And they came back now to help with the distribution and then actually having the dedication ceremonies.”
Two years after language school, the LePoidevins arrived in Mozambique in 1998, and they have seen dramatic changes occur in the country over the past 18 years.
“It was soon after the war had finished so it was very poor, I mean there was almost nothing. The shelves were bare, the road systems were terrible. Basically, nothing. You had the fend for yourself…. Just as an example, there were maybe three or four flights a week that would come in, they were all domestic flights coming into the Nampula airport where we live. And today, there is so much traffic everywhere and construction and the stores are filled with just about anything, and we have three or four flights a day coming in now. So there have been huge changes.”
MAF has beeing carrying out ministry in Mozambique since 1999, providing aviation services to indigenous churches, mission organizations, and various NGOs.
“We basically have three [ministry focuses],” says LePoidevin. “We have hope, and help, and healing. Helping missionaries get their kingdom work done, also helping with new medical work, and anything that helps the country to move forward with any kind of development and business and agriculture, more the commercial side of it. That’s what we do in Mozambique.”
The MAF teams are now working on a new medical project to reach three different villages in the far northern reaches of Mozambique.
“It’s the most remote area of Mozambique, very unreached and very difficult to get to. So pray that these details would come together so we can fly up there. We would be bringing Christian doctors, dentists, a nurse, to minister to the people. [Pray] that people’s heart would be prepared to receive this and see God’s love being given to them through our medical people.”
Please also pray for the people in the Takwane language group. Pray that they would take their new Bibles and grow in their faith in the Lord, and use them as ministry tools to reach their neighbors and friends with the Gospel message.
As the LePoidevins and their missionary translator friends close the chapter on this 20-years long project and seeing God work through them, she says, “It was exciting to be part of it, and to kind of be there with them at the beginning and now at the end as well. Having been their friends the whole time and seeing something come to completion like that, it was just very special for us.”