Tanzania (MNN) — For the first time, this year the Lughulu people of
central Tanzania can read the Christmas story in their native language. According to Steve
Salowitz with The Seed Company, they now have the Gospels Mark, Luke, and John in print.
"This is the first time that
they will have — especially Luke — in their language. They'll be reading the
shepherds' story in some of the congregations during the Christmas season."
Just over 800,000 Lughulu live in a very rugged, mountainous region of
Tanzania. They grow maize, cassava,
sorghum, sweet potatoes, coffee, and fruits on terraced mountainsides. Missionaries are working to teach literacy
among the Lughulu in their native language.
The terrain of the region is rough, and some communities of people can
be difficult to reach. However, newly-translated books of the Bible come in small booklets, which circulate rapidly
through the community and its churches.
"Last June, I was with the Lughulu, and we did that [distribution] with
the Gospel of John," Salowitz explained. "So the people did receive it, and they were
able to begin reading right away. And
pastors could preach and teach from it at the same time. So, they circulate fairly quickly through the
communities and can help the churches in that way."
The Lughulu churches also use discipleship materials provided by the The JESUS Film Project. The JESUS film, as
well as a Bible overview booklet, has already been translated into
Lughulu. Salowitz said the people get
excited when they see literature and film in their heart language.
"They really can't believe that in the Jesus Film, Christ is
speaking Lughulu. They can't believe
that someone has taken the time to really analyze their language and put it
down into script, and they really get excited," Salowitz said.
"They have a love for the language because it does get used in the
home, and especially in the remote communities. The national language of Tanzania is Swahili,
and it's not spoken very much in these very remote areas, especially with older
women and children."
About 50 percent of the Lughulu profess Christianity, but most of them
still live in bondage to fear of witchcraft and evil spirits. It is hoped that
translations of the Scripture will open their eyes to the truth and free them
from this bondage. The books of Ephesians,
Colossians, I & II Corinthians, and I & II Thessalonians are expected
to reach completion soon.
"The New Testament should be completed by the end of 2012, and the Old
Testament should take about another 5-6 years beyond that time," Salowitz said.
"So we're looking at maybe by 2017 they
could have the whole Bible."
Your support can help make this happen. "It takes nearly 8,000 people sponsoring
one verse, at $26 each verse, to produce the New Testament," Salowitz said.