4 New Testaments Recently Dedicated in DR Congo

LET’S CELEBRATE!  LET’S PRAISE THE LORD!  The Scriptures have been translated into more languages!

Sunday, April 25 was a day of celebration.  It was the dedication of 4 New Testament translations for the Lobala, Mono, Ngangi-Ngiri and Pagabete people groups of NW DR Congo.  These translation projects had taken between 15-17 years, but the of determining the orthography and writing the language had started many years before, back in the late 19802 and early 1990s.

May God be praised for the patience, persistence and vision of the many Congolese and missionaries involved in these projects.  While work on each of the languages was started by Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) missionaries, the actual translation of each of the New Testaments was entirely done by Congolese translators trained by WBT and SIL.  Below are more details of each of these projects and the process of getting the NTs typeset, printed and shipped to Gemena.

WBT- UK missionary David Morgan started work learning and writing the Lobala language in 1986.  The actual translation of the New Testament into Lobala did not start until 2007 and was completed in 2017.  The translators were Rev. Bolobo, the late Rev. Gaston Makpeta, the late Patrice Kassa and Judith Dzindongo Bolobo.  The +65,000 Lobala speakers now have the NT in their language.  In the preceding picture Rev. Bolobo (R) and CECU President Alenge (L) are holding the Lobala New Testament.

WBT-US missionaries Brian & Barb Schrag and Ken Olson moved to Bili in 1993 to start learning Mono.  While they had to leave due to the civil war in 1996-97 Ken continued working from a distance on determining the orthography and writing the language.  The translation itself was started in 2005 and was completed in 2019.  The Congolese translators were the late Rev. Gaspard Yalemoto, the late Rev. Dieudonne Renekuzu, Baudouin Yangbengita and Marie Sunguyashe.  The +100,000 Mono speakers now have the NT in their language.  In the preceding photo Barb Schrag is holding the Mono New Testament with ? and Ken Olson is speaking.

WBT-US missionaries Sharon (Stoothoff) Morgan and JeDene Reeder started working with Rev. Nzongo on the Mono language in 1994.  The actual translation of the New Testament was started in 2006 and completed in 2019.  The translators were: Rev. Roger Nzongo, Kaya Bonaparte; Pierre Yongo et Rombaut Mbombo.  The +40,000 Pagabete speakers now have the NT in their language.  In the photo on the L the translation team: Jedene, M. Mbombo, M. Yongo, Rev. Nzongo plus Adolphine Nzongo.  On the R, Jedene is working with Yongo & Adolphine on the Pagabete dictionary.

The Ngbandi-Ngiri language is an offshoot of the Ngbandi-Nord language, but due to physical separation over years it is distinct enough that the +264,000 Ngbandi-Ngiri speakers need their own translation to fully understand the Bible.  This translation was started in 2004 and completed in 2019.  The translators were:  Rev. Jean Pierre Loaya; Eugene Eyembiala, Henry Fonogbia and Niclette Imbombolo.

The photo to the left shows the chart ACOTBA-SUBO is using to track the status of the translation work.  In the 5th column from the L, “NT en cours” the list 4 languages that are working on their New Testaments: Budja, Fulu, Ngombe-Nord & Ngombe-Sud.  11 languages, right column, have had training in Orality, which is translating Biblical stories for oral story telling.

The Bible Translation process progresses from exegesis, drafting, community checks, consultant checks, vocabulary review and the final read-through. Once these steps are completed, the publishing process for each of these translations was the same.  One of the translators travels to the SIL center in Yaounde, Cameroon where the translation is typeset.  After completion the text it is sent electronically to South Korea where it is printed.  The boxes of printed NTs are then shipped by boat to the DRC Bible Society in Kinshasa.  From Kin they are shipped by barge up the Congo River to the port of Akula.  From there they go by truck to Gemena.  The Lobala New Testaments actually arrived in Gemena in 2019, but Covid delayed the dedication.  The other NTs shipments arrived in early 2021.

In addition, the JESUS film has already been completed in each of these languages, plus Mbandja and Budja. Galen Johnson brought out these newly released films and a number of “backpack projection kits” (transportable and solar powered for village use).   While there for the dedication Galen taught language speakers how to use the kit and the film is now being shown to these ethnic groups.  A year ago our friend Pastor Nzongo told us that “he couldn’t wait to bring the Pagabete version of the JESUS film out to the village and watch people’s reactions when they hear Jesus speaking Pagabete.”  I know these will have a powerful impact on the audiences.

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