When the Ilchamus bible was launched in October 2022, the Bible Translation & Literacy (BTL) team was keen to be part of the first sermons off that bible. They visited several churches in the community and witnessed the amazing experiences of ecstatic locals hearing the bible being read in their language for the very first time.
But why is it important for communities to have bibles in their languages when ‘almost all’ Kenyans know Swahili?
Felix Ochieng, the Partnerships Development Officer at BTL reports that reaching people in the language of their heart has tremendous impact than using learned language.
“Because of our education system, it’s easier for most Kenyans to read English and Swahili to some extent,” says Felix. “But for someone who’s not learned and can’t read, they would be comfortable listening to the audio bible in their mother tongue, or listening to someone reading it.”
“That makes it enjoyable and effective for them to hear God in their heart language.”
BTL has developed such audio bibles for communities such as Dasanach in Turkana, Rendile and others. They have also partnered with the Jesus Film Project and Theovision International to produce Jesus films in mother tongues which makes it easier for rural communities to receive and understand the gospel.
In 2023 BTL is focusing on launching complete bibles for the Pokomo and Marakwet and new testaments for the Chonyi, Waata and Taveta communities.
After the translation work is done, the next part is usage. Local pastors are trained on usage of scriptures and the dictionary is also there to help them find meaning of words in the bible.
The run will be flagged off by Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja on 4th March at the Carnivore grounds. Over 15,000 participants have signed up to run in Nairobi. In Eldoret, more than 5,000 people will gather at the Potter’s House Academy for the run. The Nakuru run has attracted 3,000 people and will start at Nakuru High School.
In Mombasa the run will be held on 8th July 2023.
For the first time there will be runs in South Africa on 11th March and Ethiopia on 20th March focusing on their indigenous bibleless communities. BTL Kenya, Wycliffe South Africa and SIL AIM in Ethiopia are members of the global Wycliffe Bible Translators.