Christians in Zambia, Africa, are celebrating the latest milestone in Bible translation, the creation of Bibles written in their native tongues.
According to CBN News, the effort is led by Wycliffe Associates, an organization that offers Bible translations in countless languages. Currently, over 5,000 people are working in Zambia to translate the Bible into 20 native languages.
Bishop Henry Mumba, a pastor and church planter, is assisting church-owned translation work in Munsa. He recalled how he heard his first Bible verse, John 3:16, when he was 19 years old.
“My pastor was a missionary from another country,” Mumba told CBN News in an interview. “And he came into this town and when they preached the Gospel to me, the first verse that I knew was John 3:16, ‘For God so love the world, that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'”
Believers in Mansa, Zambia, were reportedly dancing after they got to read and listen to the reading of the New Testament in Aushi, their native language, for the first time.
“It’s like God is speaking our language,” Mumba said.
The bishop also shared that the Bible is the first written literature in the Aushi language.
“We’ve never had anything before,” he said.
In addition to the Aushi translation, the New Testament was translated into Nynja and Laya.
“Our country has 73 languages. And only seven were considered official languages. Those were the only ones who had scripture translated,” pastor Buster Paul Tembo Tembo of Livingston explained.
Tembo, who leads church-owned translation work in Livingston, contended that Christians having access to the Scriptures in their own language makes a “great spiritual impact in their lives.”
“When you bring it out in your own language, when you read it out in your own language, even the interpretation of it to the people, the understanding you have or bring to the people is so clear,” he said.
Simoun Ung, the President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, explained that the term “church-owned Bible translation” means that the local church owns the translation process and the production of the Scriptures.
According to Ung, one major challenge is determining how to accelerate the translation process without giving up the quality of the translation.
“When you see the field, you see the need for scriptures. People are dying every day without coming to know the Lord. And so the urgency for us is really there, in terms of being able to press forward,” she said.