‘Can you bring God's Word to our people?’

‘Can you bring God's Word to our people?’

In South Sudan, a heartfelt request to ‘Help bring God’s Word to the Laarim people’ has been heard, and MAF is privileged to help make it possible.

Wes Ringer, SIL’s translation co-ordinator in South Sudan, had his first contact with the Laarim people in February 2008. He was visiting just south of the Laarim area, where Didinga Bible translation was under way.

Wes recalls, ‘I met Joseph, an 87-year-old Laarim man, who asked, "Can you please bring God’s Word to our people?"’

Wes discovered that Joseph’s son Clement had already begun to translate the Bible with just a pen and paper.

Clement’s mother and wife are Didinga, so with an understanding of both the Didinga and Laarim languages, he had begun this initial translation with a Didinga prayer book that contained passages from the Old Testament, Gospels and the Epistles.

Later, Clement travelled to Juba to meet with SIL’s translation team, and so the translation of complete books of the Bible into the Laarim language began. 

This year, MAF enabled Wes Ringer, SIL Country Director Jackie Marshall and Wycliffe Field Co-ordinator Rick Chiesa to check on the Laarim Bible translation project at Kimatong.

Wes shares how ‘MAF enabled us to fly to the Laarim area in less than an hour, rather than taking two to three days to travel each way,’ and added that ‘travel by road can be dangerous, because of robbery and murder.’

The Laarim translators had just completed the community check of Matthew’s Gospel – reading the translation, discussing it, and members of the community to see if it was understandable.

The team also visited the school at Napak to see how the literacy work was progressing there. They were joined by community members and the Laarim chiefs.

Wes says, ‘When I first visited the Laarim area in November 2008, Clement brought the first literacy books written in Laarim for the schoolchildren. During my 2016 visit, a ten-year-old boy stood in front of his elders and read fluently from God’s Word to them.’

Rick smiles and adds, ‘The young boy read perfectly in Laarim in front of his whole community, without a glitch!’

Jackie was encouraged by the visit. ‘It is good to hear that the community values the translation of the Scriptures. They see it as helping them to understand God more.’

Wes, Jackie and Rick were able to fly into Kimatong on one day and fly out the next, spending less than two hours travelling. They spent two days serving the Laarim people, instead of having to travel two days overland just to reach Kimatong.

Translating the Bible into local languages is an integral part of evangelism and mission, and it’s a blessing that MAF can help further the spread of God’s Word in this way. 

Since 2008, SIL’s Laarim translators have completed the translation of Genesis, Exodus 1-20, Mark, Luke and John. This year 1,000 copies of Genesis and Exodus 1-24 will be published. The team plans to complete the translation of Matthew and the book of Acts during 2016.

Next year, God willing, they will translate the Jesus film, and start on the New Testament Epistles.